Board of County Commissioners

Gadsden County, Florida

Regular Public Meeting

November 16, 2021

6:00 p.m.


Present:               Brenda Holt, Chair, District 4

                                Dr. Anthony “Dr. V” Viegbesie, Vice Chair, District 2

                                Eric Hinson, District 1- via Zoom

                                Kimblin NeSmith, District 3

                                Ronterious “Ron” Green, District 5

                                Edward J. Dixon, County Administrator

                                Clayton Knowles, County Attorney

                                Marcella Blocker, Deputy Clerk

                                Sara Green, Deputy Clerk



  Holt called the meeting to order at 6:02, asked for a moment of silence and asked everyone to please keep the injured deputy that was shot earlier in the day in their prayers.  She then led in pledge of allegiance.



  Mrs. Daniels sat in as Mr. Dixon was out-asked to pull Item 9.

  Holt- has supporting documents for item 10 to be included in the record.





Election of the Chairman and Vice-Chair

  Green nominated Dr. V.  and there were no other nominations.

  Dr. V becomes the new Chair.  


Mr. Dixon joined at 6:05PM.


  Chair V introduced nomination for Vice-Chair.  He nominated Commissioner Green.


  Green became Vice Chair.







 Approval Brenda/Green. Passes 4-0


Ratification Memo



Approval of Minutes

·         October 19, 2021 Regular Meeting



Approval of Library Annual Plan of Service 2021-2022



Approval to Accept the 2021-2026 Mutual Aid Operations Plan between the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Forest Service and Gadsden County Fire Service, and the 2020-2021 Annual Forestry Report and Operating Plan



Approval of the 2022 Board of County Commissioners Meeting Calendar



Approval of Signatures for Special Assessment Liens and Rehabilitation Contracts-State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP); Hurricane Housing Repair Program (HHRP); and Emergency Repair Program (ER)



Approval of the E911 Rural County Grant Award Agreement for E911 NICE Recorders Maintenance





Anyone wishing to speak on agenda items or non-agenda items should schedule or notify the County Administrator’s Office before attending the meeting and will be asked to follow the Gadsden County Public Meetings Citizens Access Guidelines.  Also, public comment for Commission meetings can be submitted via email to until 11:00 a.m. August 17, 2021.  Comments submitted after the deadline but prior to the meeting will be added to the official record, but the County cannot guarantee that Commissioners and staff will have adequate time to review comments prior to the meeting.



  NeSmith read the above statement.

  Holt- said there was a speaker request form for a non-agenda item


  Chair V brought up Shirley Parker.


  Shirley Parker- water is running off 27 and damaging their homes. Holding ponds is not effective.


  Hinson- has spoken to Park and Richardson about the problem.


   Dixon- Asked Mr. Lee about getting their information and someone would follow up with him in the morning.


  Hinson- this is in Dr. V’s district, other party put a fence up, look into legality of the fence at the easement. Put a holding pond at the front as well. (Started breaking up) 


     Dr. V- code violation going on as well and to speak with Mr. Lee/ the Co. Admin regarding the problem.



Lillie Richardson- 450 Long Pine Dr. Tallahassee, Fl.- Property damage, drive way, water run-off, holding pond.



Shirley Parker, Marilyn Williams, and Eugene Richardson- 3851 Fl. Ga Highway, Havana Fl- Driveway Easement, property damage, etc.


John Revell- 307 Live Oak Lane- Cell tower


Vernon Edward- 125 Harrison Road- Cell tower

Neal Blount- 125

Cyndi Tarapani- 22 N. Spring Blvd. Tarpon Springs, Fl.-Item 10

Townsend Tarapani- 172 Harrison Rd, Greensboro- Item 10





Public Hearing-Approval of Resolution 2021-039-Grant Budget Amendment fir FY 2021




Public Hearing-(Quasi-Judicial)-Greensboro FL 1776 Telecommunication Tower Conceptual/Preliminary Site Plan (SP 2021-05)

  Dixon introduced the item.


  Dr. V brought up the Robert Volpe letter in support of the item.


  Neal Blount- 125 Harrison Road- In opposition to the cell tower. Unsure how far from the road the tower is, was told 300 feet. Says his residence is 400 feet from the tower. Asking that the tower be denied with consideration to the deviations from 1500 setbacks from residents. Deny deviation from the tower, says if the tower falls it’ll fall onto someone’s land. Doesn’t want to see a cell tower when he walks out his front door. Unsure of the guide wires. Says there’s a better place up the road half a mile and still on this owner’s land.


  Cyndi Tarapani- 22 N. Spring Blvd- Representing Townsend Tarapani, her son and landowner that is adjacent to the tower property. Speaking to the planning issues regarding the tower. Land has a home that was built in 1935 in close proximity to the tower. Says the tower should meet all requirements. Isn’t meeting the setbacks, will be about 250 feet. Set back of 223 feet to the property. Ask that the tower be required to meet all requirements or be moved further to the north. Asks that if the tower is to be 250 feet, that it be camouflaged.


Commissioner Hinson joined the meeting at 6:26PM.


 Dr. V brings up Townsend.


  Townsend Tarapani- 172 Harrison Road- Objects request for variance.   


   John Revell- 307 Live Oak Lane- Speaks in opposition. Not against cell towers, against changing the setbacks and rules. Companies should follow the same rules as citizens of Gadsden County. Asks that BOCC be consistent with the rules.


  Holt- Haven’t heard from the presenter.


  Robert Volpe- represents Tarpon Towers. Thanks BOCC for considering application. Brought Allara Gutcher as well. Shape and size of the property dictates the deviation of the setbacks. Verizon will be initial/primary carrier, there will be 3 additional carriers on the tower. EMT and public antennas can be on the tower free of charge. 5g capable. Applicant is agreeable to all the conditions of approval.


  Allara Gutcher- Spoke in approval of the tower. Setback of 1.5 times of the tower so setback has to be 375 feet of the property line.  Deviation request for the south as property size/shape doesn’t all for 375 feet on all sides of the project. 1500 setback from tower is not required. Area is predominantly rural,


  NeSmith asks for what page Gutcher is reading from. Gutcher says page 2 of report that was submitted.


  Gutcher continues- second deviation is not required as there’s not a predominantly residential area within 1500 feet within the project lines. Camouflage option, a 250-foot tall “tree” tower is less attractive than the actual tower. Camouflage only goes to 150 feet towers per Gadsden Code. Historic house doesn’t apply as it’s not a historic land use category. Tower would help improve quality of life within Gadsden County.


   Green- you feel as if this is the best area/property? Gutcher- cannot testify on the science behind why the tower/property is appropriate. Volpe- all parcels are sent to radio frequency engineers to analyze and choose from. Out of all the circumstances this was the best property.   


  Commissioner NeSmith- says commissioners are bound to the needs of the constituents. There is a need for better cell phone service in that community, have an opportunity to meet with Mr. Blount/other opposing citizens. Gutcher- Did not but Robert Volpe has reached out. Volpe- After the hearing he spoke to several who were in opposition. Has also reached out to Tarapani, sent letters to those who wrote/spoke at the planning meeting. Spoke to Tarapani’s recently. Deviation would be needed no matter which direction the tower is moved. NeSmith- if tower were to fall, it could land on his or her home? Volpe- there’s a fall zone letter from an engineer. Fall zone of 110 feet. Tower would fall into itself. Closest residence is 750 feet.


   Cyndi Tarapani- says Volpe did not reach out. She set up a meeting with him.  Distance from the tower to Townsend’s property is 223 feet. They can move the tower to the north, they’d need a deviation but the property to the north is vacant. Would not impact the existing home.


  Green- why not move the tower to the north? Volpe- initial location was further north but they had 3 deviations there. Wanted to meet as many setbacks as possible. If they were to move north they’d be closer to the multiple homes and not within the 1500 feet setback.


  Dr. V- Must it be 250 feet? Volpe- to meet the radio frequency and connectivity. V- Why can’t it be moved to the north for compromise with the neighbors. Absolutely not possible? Likes the project but not to the disrespect of the citizens. Volpe- the letter sent to all neighbors is in the packet. Attempted to call numbers of those they were able to get. Proposed a spot to the north but staff suggested move it to the south. Can entertain it but that would require a 3rd deviation. They will have to submit an application with 3 deviations instead.


  Blount- was not contacted by Volpe’s group. Found out when surveyors showed up in the yard. Was told after the planning meeting he’d receive something and never did.


  Green- Possible to ask Mr. Stiell to come up. Concerned about the chain of communication. Did Stiell know of any letters that should have gone out to residents? Stiell- Received a copy of the letter after he started, letter was dated October 12th. Planning made recommendation to reach out to citizens. Appears the applicant has been acting in good faith regarding reaching out to the community.


  Holt- sent out letters? Volpe- yes. Holt- have any returned? Volpe- no.


  V- Any sense of urgency with the project? Not hearing any opposition to the tower but rather their concerns with deviations. Tower is needed but there are safety concerns. Volpe- if BOCC will approve with 3 deviations then they can reassess. Can’t agree to an unknown from here. This is an approval on code requirements.


  V- want to hear what the administrator has to say.


  Dixon- wants to ask Mrs. Gutcher, talk of movement to the north, do you just encounter a different set of people to the North? Gutcher- there’s a great density of people to the north than the south.


  V- Volpe made a legal comment. Don’t have to legally approve this project. Haste makes waste. No sense of urgency let’s see what we can do.           


  NeSmith- asks that we need to provide Volpe direction? Make sure we are legally sound. Clayton- quasi is whether or not your decision is arbitrary or not.


Green stepped out at 7:20PM.


  Clayton- need to make a decision based upon what you already have in the land development code. Decision needs to be based off evidence heard/seen today.


    V- need a motion.


  V- can we send it back to planning and zoning? Clayton- doesn’t believe so because P and Z are just recommending. BOCC needs to make a recommendation to approve or deny.


  Holt- Anything in there that you cannot do? (page 13 of 160) Volpe- everything here has been met. Holt- section C, all have been met? Volpe, yes. Holt goes through the rest of the sections and Volpe says they have all been met and are not detrimental to the public.    


Green returned at 7:24 p.m.  And an


  Holt- when things are sent out the Board receives copies of the letter sent or returned. Ramifications for if they don’t meet a-d qualifications? Clayton- Section B, there are no deviations for tower height. Section C is supplemental information application is required to provide. Section D is what BOCC needs to look at when approving. Approval/denial is based off what BOCC views to be best evidence presented.


  Holt- only concern is the availability of contact back and forth, notification. If you move the project you’ll have 3 deviations.


  V- we’ve heard from everyone and should be able to make a decision based off what we’ve heard. Can he reapply for the same site? Stiell- yes. Volpe- if there’s direction from BOCC for moving the site, it’d be helpful.


  Hinson- this is in NeSmith’s district so he should be the first to make the decision.


   NeSmith- we need these services. How do we give direction moving forward given we cannot have it part of our motion? Clayton- can in theory table the issue.   


  Tarapani- Experience is if there are issues the item can be deferred back to Planning or they can deny the tower and the applicant can reapply.


  NeSmith- can the item come back with adjustments? If we say move to the north, (unsure of his question). Clayton- if you say move to the north, that’s an approval. He suggests tabling the matter if that’s the Board’s will. Be beneficial to give some manner of closure tonight.  


   V- asks Dixon, what would be your suggestion for how to get the project done and compromise with citizens? Dixon- if tabled/defer, they’ll try to find a situation that’s more appealing to citizens. May not be to the north, would try to find an answer for how to find a smaller impact to those present. Reality is, goal is always to affect as few people as possible. If that’s possible or not it’ll be brought back before the Board.

  NeSmith- motion to table the item. Holt seconded.


  Hinson- one of the heartburns is 250 feet. Can we prove that it’s 238 feet from the house instead of more? Have to have a balance between the people and the corporation.  


  Holt- 1 and 5 need to be addressed further. 


  Motion to table is approved with Hinson being in opposition. 4-1. 



Public Hearing-(Legislative)-Consideration of Adoption of Ordinance 2021-006 (CPA 2021-02) to adopt Chapter 11, Property Rights Element to the Gadsden County Comprehensive Plan

  Dixon introduced the item.

  Mr. Stiell came before the Board. Read the Analysis.    


  Holt motion to approve, NeSmith seconded.


  Hinson- pros and cons with this? Justin- con, if this isn’t adopted, any amendments to the comprehensive plan cannot be adopted unless this is approved.  Hinson- why is Property Rights Element important? Justin- these rights are already understood, federally and state recognized, now they have to be recognized by the local government. Hinson- how does this circumvent a builder from taking property from another citizen? Justin- not aware of any situation where someone could take the property from you but this would give you a basis for being able to file a lawsuit if so. This is to protect the property owner.


 Motion passes 5-0/





ALS 360 Stryker Agreement

  Dixon introduced the item.


  Holt approve, Green second.


Passes 5-0 



Approval for the Chairman to Sign Grant Forms, and Approval of a Work Authorization with The Integrity Group (Integrity) to Provide CDBGT Grant Consulting Services

  Dixon introduces. 


Holt/V approval


  NeSmith- length of initial contract? Clayton- 2019.


  Hinson- where is the $5k from? Dixon- any monies over $750k are subject to audit.


Passes 5-0  



Approval of the Security Force Southeast, LLC Contract

  Dixon introduced item


Green/Holt, 5-0



Emergency Operations Center UPS Maintenance Agreement





  NeSmith- annual cost? Long-term contract? Dixon- annual, we have machinery and they’re the only people that can fix it.


  passes 5-0



Approval of the Non-Profit/Human Services Funding Agreements and Inter-Local Agreements for Human Services for FY2021/2022



Hinson/Green 5-0


  V- Working with senior center? Dixon, yes for the first time. 



Approval to Implement the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Broadband Toolkit, Approval of the County Administrator as the County’s Designee/Team Leader for Implementing the DEO Broadband Toolkit and Approval of the Local Technology Planning Team Membership



Holt/NeSmith 5-0



Commission Appointment/Re-Appointment to the Inmate Commissary and Welfare Funds Committee



NeSmith nomination by Holt, seconded by Green. 5-0



Appointments/Re-appointments to the Small County Coalition Board of Directors



NeSmith suggests Dr. V, Holt, and Dixon. Seconded by Green.













  11/29, ARP workshop and 6:00pm special meeting about ARP and budget amendment. 











Report and Discussion of Public Issues



Commissioner Eric Hinson, District 1

  Thanks V and Green?



Commissioner Kimblin NeSmith, District 3

  tables his comments due to time.



Commissioner Ronterious Green, District 5

  Thanks BOCC for being VP. Was able to visit a constituent who are unable to be assisted due to deed issue. Would like to discuss with SHIP director. Congratulates Brendan Heels (sp?) as new senior services director. Senior Citizen building needs a piano, one is being donated.



Commissioner Anthony “Dr. V” Viegbesie, District 2

  proclamation honoring Alan Jones?




  FDOT projects for Gadsden County.


  Holt- get to check on transit system with city of Tallahassee busses? V- yes but Mr. Mitchell says he already has agreement with Star Metro.   


  Holt- reduce liability insurance. Requesting larger busses. 



Commissioner Brenda Holt, District 4

  Thinks the board will work out well. Happy V became chairman. Annexations of roads are a big problem and it’ll be expensive for the county if “we don’t get some teeth in this”.  Have no documentation on some of these things, the County has some sections that they’ll be responsible for.


Receipt and File





  V adjourned meeting at 8:19PM. 






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