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Quick Care Med
Comes To Chiefland
An urgent care facility opened Tuesday (Jan. 21) in Chiefland, heralding a new level of medical service for the city and surrounding area. Quick Care Med can help patients with everything from a common cold to broken bones, Marketing Specialist Jeaunae Pearson said. (She is seen above in front of the Chiefland location.) As long as the problem is not life-threatening, this urgent care facility can help the person, she said. Quick Care Med is not taking away from primary care physicians at places like Palms Medical Group, which has locations in Williston, Chiefland and elsewhere, Pearson said. Quick Care Med, which opened its Chiefland site as the 11th in its group, is there to augment those services. For instance, if a person could not see his or her primary care physician at Palms Medical Group, he or she might drop in to Quick Care Med. Think of how to choose where to go for medical help, she said. Consider it like a traffic light. Green is the primary care physician and is like home base. Yellow is urgent care. Red is when a person goes to an emergency room. It’s like the phrase from Lost In Space, she said, ‘Danger. Danger, Will Robinson.’ In addition to the new location in Chiefland, 2205 N. Young Blvd. (U.S. Highway 19), just west of Walmart, there are Quick Care Med centers at Williston, Newberry, Crystal River, Dunnellon, Inverness and three in Ocala. The hours at the Chiefland location are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also, it is open most holidays, Pearson said.
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 21, 2020 at 11:09 p.m.
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starts in Levy County
Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones prepares to conduct her first Voter University session on Wednesday (Jan. 15).
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 16, 2020 at 9:09 a.m.
BRONSON – Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones conducted two sessions of the first-ever Voter University in Levy County on Wednesday (Jan. 15) morning, afternoon and evening.
Nine of the first 12 people attending the first-ever Voter University are seen on Wednesday morning (Jan. 15) just before the start of the session. There was another Voter University session in the evening on Wednesday to accommodate people who work during the day.
These classes, which were held at the Levy County Supervisor of Elections facility in Bronson, were free and open to the public.
Supervisor of Elections Jones is the 2019-2020 president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections. Her presidency in the association is for a one-year term that ends in the second week of May.
During her one-year term as FSASE president, Jones said she learned a lot by working with the other 66 supervisors of elections in Florida. She is happy that all 67 counties have supervisors of elections who joined the association.
As president of the FSASE, there is only one term for one year possible per supervisor. Even though she is precluded by bylaws from holding that esteemed office again, Jones said she would not want that responsibility again for another year if that was an option.
This is a worthy duty, she intimated, however the responsibilities of the president of the association are demanding.
As the current leader and then as a member in the association in the future after May, Jones said she is happy to work together with the other supervisors, attend training and helping one another improve in their profession.
Jones’ passion for free and fair elections in Florida is self-evident by her continuous efforts to inform and educate the people about their right to vote. She is a cheerleader for American freedom and for the members of the American military service who sacrifice each day to help keep all Americans free at home and abroad.
As for her duties as the supervisor of elections in Levy County, she has conducted several Candidate University sessions over the years. That action, like the Voter University, is beyond the normal call of duty. Jones sets the bar high for service to the people as the county’s supervisor of elections in Levy County.
This venture on Wednesday promises to spring off to potential future sessions to help people before the primary election and (hopefully) before the general election on Nov. 3, Jones indicated in her introduction to the session on Wednesday.
The Presidential Preference Primary is March 17. The primary for local candidates is on Aug. 18.
At the very first-ever Voter University in Levy County, Supervisor of Elections Jones introduced herself, shared some of her qualifications and history, and she provided listeners with a wealth of information.
As she opened the program, Jones let listeners know she was presenting the information for them. She welcomed questions from anyone who want to ask. At the first session, she thanked the group of about a dozen people for attending.
Jones has completed national certification to earn the distinction of being a Certified Elections Registration Administrator. She is also a Certified Florida Elections Professional.
With 25 years of experience in the Supervisor of Elections Office, where she started when she was 21 years old, Jones has seen the progress in the process and machinery over the past two and a half decades.
Jones was first elected as Levy County Supervisor of Elections in 2012 and was reelected in 2016.
During the first session Wednesday, she introduced Levy County Assistant Supervisor of Elections Jordan Lindsey as the person who is responsible for the PowerPoint presentation of the day. Jones said she considers Lindsey to be vital to the office, as she serves as Jones’ top office staff member.
Crystal Lara was introduced as the newest staff member, who began her job as information specialist in October of 2018. Lara speaks Spanish fluently and she helps people who need that assistance verbally.
As those three members of this hard-working team were conducting Voter University, Carole Weins answered calls and helped people in the front office.
Before the start of the first class, Levy County Supervisor of Elections Jones said she needs Spanish-speaking poll workers at the voting locations in Cedar Key, Gulf Hammock and Inglis. These workers need not live in those voting districts and Jones said she will pay a Spanish-speaker for travel if needed.
Providing improved bilingual facilities for voters in Florida is mandatory now.
Jones began with speaking about the act of registering to vote.
Before anyone can vote in Florida, she said, the person must register. A person can register in person or online. There is an application form that must be completed.
People can register at the office in Bronson. Also, for the individuals who are obtaining or renewing their Florida driver license or ID card, they can update their registration to vote there. Jones and her staff also show up at public events to allow people to register there.
Online voter registration connects through the driver license office, which is the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, located in the Levy County Tax Collector’s Office. Jones said the FSASE successfully lobbied to help make online voter registration a reality.
In regard to the Presidential Preference Primary schedule for March 17 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Jones reminded listeners that the only people who can vote in that primary are Democrats and Republicans. All other parties, and non-party voters, are ineligible to vote in that primary.
As for the primary on Aug. 18, people will see either a ballot as a Republican or as a Democrat or other.
The only non-partisan offices are for School Board or to be elected as a judge, Jones said. Those non-partisan candidates are listed on all ballots in the primary.
There can be an occasion where the primary will be the point where the election is decided.
For instance, if two or more candidate ran for Sheriff, or for any other constitutional office in the county, and they were all either Republicans or Democrats, then those candidates’ names would appear on both sets of ballots.
And the election would be decided during the primary election.
If there were two Republicans and one Democrat running for an office, then the Republican primary would decide who moves on for the General Election on Nov. 3 to face the Democrat.
Among the first aspects of voting that Jones covered in the first half-hour of the first session on the first day was certain convicted felons now being allowed to vote.
Felons in prison or still serving parole sentences are not eligible to vote until they complete the terms of their active sentence.
Any person convicted of a felony that was not murder or sexual in nature has his or her right to vote restored, after they have completed their sentence, according to Florida law today.
There is some court action to reduce that Florida Constitutional right, which the majority of voters approved to make it into law.
Jones said it is important for those convicted felons who are eligible to vote, to know that they are not automatically re-added to the voter rolls. They must re-register to vote, she said. Likewise, they must register in time for certain elections. For instance, the deadline for anyone to register or change parties for the Presidential Preference Primary is Feb. 18 for the March 17 primary election.
Another important aspect about the recent amendment to the Florida Constitution, she said, is that convicted felons cannot seek office even if they can vote – until and unless they go through the old-fashioned clemency process.
This first Voter University happened with sessions from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 15. Jones made two sessions so that people who work during the day could attend the second one, if their boss would not let them off to attend the first during the day.
Anyone with any questions about voting in Levy County, will want to visit the very helpful website at https://www.votelevy.com/.
Another method to find answers is to call the Levy County Supervisor of Elections office at 352-486-5163 on Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Another way to seek information is to visit a site where there is a form to submit questions. It can be reached by clicking HERE.
Former attorney charged
with two counts of grand theft
Gregory Vance Beauchamp
Mug Shot By LCSO
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 16, 2020 at 12:09 a.m.
BRONSON – A former attorney from Chiefland was booked into the Levy County Jail at 11:35 a.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 15) and he was released about three hours later at 1:58 p.m. on $2,000 in bonds.
Weeks Bail Bonds is the underwriter on those bonds, according to records.
Gregory Vance Beauchamp, 71, of Chiefland is charged with two counts of grand theft, where each count is for an amount between $20,000 and $100,000, according to records.
Beauchamp spent some time in the Levy County Jail in 2019 on a non-criminal civil charge, according to records.
From Feb. 25 through March 29, 2019, as noted in the previously published story in HardisonInk.com which can be seen by clicking HERE, Beauchamp was in the Levy County Jail as the result of former Circuit Court Judge Stanley H. "Stan" Griffis III incarcerating Beauchamp for indirect contempt of court, according to records.
Judge Griffis resigned on April 30, 2019 from the bench. Since then Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed a new circuit court judge to fill that vacancy in the Eighth Judicial Circuit, according to records.
Click HERE to see the story published in HardisonInk.com from September of 2019, where Beauchamp was disbarred by the Florida Bar Association.
Bridge replacement and
road realignment project
to begin Jan. 25 in Levy County
Map Provided by FDOT
By Troy Roberts, Communications Specialist
District Two, Northeast Florida
Florida Department of Transportation
Published Jan. 15, 2020 at 8:09 p.m.
BRONSON – The Florida Department of Transportation is scheduled to begin a project later this month in Levy County that will realign and move the intersection of U.S. Alt. 27 (State Road 500) and Levy County Road 339, as well as replace a bridge on CR 339 over the Waccasassa River.
Work is expected to begin on the $3.9 million project on Jan. 25, and construction is expected to be completed Fall 2020. Anderson Columbia Co. Inc. of Lake City, has been hired by FDOT to complete the work.
As part of the project, the bridge on CR 339 over the Waccasassa River will be replaced. Additionally, a bridge farther south on CR 339 over the Little Waccasassa River will be demolished and not replaced. Instead, crews will move the U.S. Alt. 27 and CR 339 intersection slightly west and construct a new connector road. This will eliminate motorists approaching the intersection on a curve and improve safety in this area.
During construction, a detour will be in place using CR 339A and County Road 320. The detour is approximately 3.6 miles.
Signage will be posted to alert drivers of the work and direct them toward the detour.
Todd Gray chooses
against seeking reelection
By Jeff M. Hardison
© Jan. 10, 2020 at 9:09 a.m.
GILCHRIST COUNTY – The first people Gilchrist County Commissioner Todd Gray told officially that he was not going to seek reelection in the 2020 election were his fellow Rotarians on Monday (Jan. 6).
The county commissioner for district 3 of Gilchrist County sent a letter via email the next day to HardisonInk.com, and it was held until after Thursday (Jan. 9) as a professional courtesy after Gray requested that. The emailed letter is published below, with minor editing such as one space between sentences, rather than the two spaces after a sentence, which some English teachers taught as proper style for academic works.
Thank you, Gilchrist County citizens for allowing me to serve you as the District 3 county commissioner for the past seven-plus years.
As I look to finish the final year of my second term with the best effort possible, I thought it was only proper to announce my intention to not seek reelection in November of 2020. Serving the residents of this county has been an honor and a privilege, as well as a very humbling experience.
While I could attempt to list accomplishments, it would only be fair to share any credit received with my fellow commissioners.
We may not have always agreed on all of the issues but the debate has been honest and sincere. I truly believe that the Gilchrist County Commission is doing the best we can to make financially sound decisions for the taxpayers based upon the information we have available.
So many times, I have been called, stopped on the street, cornered in church, or attacked on Facebook for a decision that was made by the commission, or a position that I took individually.
While our local paper does an excellent job reporting the business of the board, there is only so much that can be conveyed in print. Many times, there is much more to the discussion in the public meeting that allows us to make an informed decision.
I understand it is difficult for many to make these meetings, but this is where you can be a part of the process, before decisions are made.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank our hardworking county employees that seldom get recognized for their efforts.
They carry out the tough task of delivering the services the residents expect and many times take the brunt of the criticism. I believe the vast majority of our citizens appreciate the hard work and dedication of our employees and I want to encourage them in their dedication to their job with Gilchrist County.
Whether you are considering a run for a local office, or a resident that wants to see more out of your government, I encourage you to get involved in the process (attend the County Commission meetings, provide your opinion, volunteer for an advisory board, etc.). Let’s continue to keep Gilchrist County a place we can all be proud to call home!
Todd Gray, Chairman
Gilchrist County Commissioner, District 3
Popeye's Chicken plans
to build in Williston
Joseph Schuemann of BluRock Commercial Real Estate LLC speaks to the City Council as Heather Coons, managing partner, listens. Schuemann had wanted Publix, Wendy’s and other vendors to build in Williston, but the research by those franchises showed the market is not strong enough in Williston for those interests to justify building there.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 8, 2020 at 9:39 p.m.
WILLISTON – Popeye’s Chicken plans to build on the land currently housing the old, dilapidated buildings that were once Williston High School.
(from left) Williston City Council President Nancy Wininger, City Councilman Charles Goodman and City Councilman Elihu Ross listen during the meeting.
(from left) Williston City Council Vice President Marguerite Robinson, City Councilman Justin Head and Mayor Jerry Robinson listen during the meeting.
(from left) City Manager Scott Lippmann, City Attorney Frederick L. Koberlein Jr. and City Clerk Latricia Wright perform their duties during the meeting Monday night.
This is thanks to a 4-1 vote of approval on Tuesday night (Jan. 7) for a future land use and a zoning revision for some of the property, so that it could be developed.
Williston City Council members voted 4-1 on those issues with City Councilman Elihu Ross voting in the minority against allowing the revision or rezoning that was sought by the property owner.
When asked why he voted “No,” Ross said he did not want to say why he voted that way.
City Council President Nancy Wininger and City Councilman Charles Goodman both said during the discussion Monday night that they went into the meeting leaning toward a vote of “No” rather than a “Yes” vote. City Planner Jackie Gorman said she had recommended a “No” vote from what she saw as the will of participants in the revision of the growth management plan for Williston.
After property owner Joseph Schuemann of BluRock Commercial Real Estate LLC and Heather Coons, managing partner of BluRock Commercial Real Estate LLC, spoke to the City Council, everyone but Ross saw the positive value to Williston of allowing the property to be zoned commercial, changing part of that land from mixed use public/residential to commercial.
Councilman Goodman asked if Schuemann would remove the buildings before starting development, which currently will include a Popeye’s Chicken. Schuemann said he will demolish and clear the buildings, where he has already paid $300,000 to have asbestos removed.
Goodman said he was concerned that the developer would place the Popeye’s Chicken franchise there and leave the old high school buildings.
A Tasty Freeze ice cream outlet that also had been planned to be in that location is now out of the picture. Due to a 1950s Williston zoning ordinance that prohibits structures that look like dinosaurs, ice cream cones and the like, Tasty Freeze is out of the running to be placed there.
Schuemann said he is not going to battle with the city government on that issue, although Tasty Freeze would have been a nice addition to Williston, where people could have met and enjoyed tasty ice cream. Since the structure for this franchise resembles an ice cream cone, it is not able to be built in Williston due to the city ordinances.
The varying elevations on that old WHS property, as well as a high lime stone content in the ground below the structures, Schuemann said, reduce the footprint of what can be built there. Currently Popeye’s Chicken is in. A small grocery store may be built there too. That leaves other acreage, he said, for other commercial development.
A house in the lowlands of the property he bought will be removed, he said, so that a retention area for runoff water can go there. He said local folk say there is a sinkhole there; so, this is a natural place for water to flow.
Publix was one possible tenant, but it chose to not build in Williston, Schuemann said. Wendy’s and Burger King are other vendors that do not see Williston as a market currently that can sustain their business.
Williston is not The Villages, Schuemann said.
Meanwhile Monday night, a pocket neighborhood of 40-plus residential structures was given the green light for its mixed-use rezoning near Winn-Dixie. This creates high-intensity residential facilities with limited vehicular traffic as that subdivision comes to fruition in a series of phases.
In the area of other matters where the Williston City Council had unanimous votes, they agreed to move forward with putting new stripes on Main Street, south of Noble Avenue (U.S. Alt. 27) to Seventh Avenue for as much as $3,000. This will only be if that price includes lines on the sides of the street too.
As for Levy County lining Main Street on its property going south of Seventh Avenue, there is no confirmation if the county will do that. During discussion, it was mentioned that it would be the most efficient method for the county to join the city, but it may not. If that is the case, the new striping would end at the point where the city’s ownership ends.
City Manager Lippmann said he would speak with Levy County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks to see if the county wants to line the street like the city is doing. Chairman Brooks heralded his first meeting in the position as chairman earlier that same Tuesday.
The line repainting by the city, though, hinges on $3,000 as a maximum price. Williston Utilities Director C.J. Zimoski was on vacation Tuesday night, and he is the man who has the answers on restriping Main Street.
In regard to the Federal Aviation Administration allowing the city to charge less than the accepted nominal rate for lease of Williston Municipal Airport property, for non-profit groups like the Levy County Fair Association, Williston City Manager Scott Lippmann said he has had any word from the FAA on the question.
As it stands, federal law requires airports to charge non-profits the same as companies or other interests that make a profit.
On another money matter, the Williston Chamber of Commerce told the City Council that the room it uses rent-free in City Hall need lettering to mark it.
Williston Chamber of Commerce President Marc Pompeo let the city know the Chamber found signage that would cost $475. Pompeo asked if the city will help fund that.
City Councilman Charles Goodman said that before the Chamber paints on City Hall, it needs to have authority from the City Council. Goodman also said he thinks that sign cost is too expensive.
Pompeo was not present at the meeting. Carolyn Ten Broeck, the only paid Williston Chamber of Commerce employee, was in the audience. When asked about this matter, Ten Broeck said she was clueless about the sign or the request of the city.
City Manager Lippmann said he would speak with the Chamber president about the signage that the business organization want to put on City Hall, where it uses a room rent-free. Ten Broeck also works for a weekly newspaper in Williston, which has no office in Williston.
On yet another business matter, the Williston City Council learned from City Manager Lippmann that the city’s procedure of seeking secondary deposits for utility service to commercial interests is not uncommon.
Likewise, the city manager found that the city policy in this regard has been uniformly applied to companies with structures in the city, since the inception of the policy. The owner of Sirius Pizza had said he was not happy about what he saw as an overburden in regard of this secondary security deposit.
While Bobby Brown, the former owner of King Munchie's Pizza, has said he will shut down Sirius Pizza and move it to Bronson or Trenton if the City of Williston persists in demanding more money for its utility deposit, that could be bluster.
If Brown was at the meeting Tuesday night, he made no comment.
Mayor Jerry Robinson confirmed with City Manager Lippmann that the added deposit could be paid over a period of months.
On Monday, Councilman Goodman asked if commercial accounts earn interest. When that same question was asked at the most recent meeting prior to Tuesday night’s meeting by HardisonInk.com, City Manager Lippmann said “No.”
Therefore, regardless how long a business remains in Williston, the city keeps the money put down as a commercial deposit, until the business closes.
As was obvious weeks ago, when the question was first posed, but was restated by Goodman, the city is keeping a large sum of money that it could invest to make interest and could pay interest to the depositors.
Lippmann said he would report back on this issue.
FDOT starts work
on drainage in Trenton;
Completion set for summer
By Troy Roberts, Communications Specialist
District Two, Northeast Florida
Florida Department of Transportation
Published Jan. 8, 2020 at 10:39 a.m.
TRENTON – The Florida Department of Transportation is beginning a project this week in Gilchrist County that is expected to improve drainage near the intersection of Wade Street (State Road 26) and Main Street (U.S. Highway 129) in Trenton.
Work will take place mostly on Main Street, Northwest 1st Avenue, and Northeast First Street, where crews will be installing new pipes and inlets along the roadways. This is expected to improve drainage during heavy rain events.
FDOT has hired Maer Homes, LLC, to complete the approximately $680,000 project. Work is expected to be completed this summer.
Motorists can expect mostly daytime work on Northwest 1st Avenue and Northeast 1st Street with limited lane closures, though some shoulder and sidewalk closures are to be expected. Access to businesses will be maintained throughout the duration of the project.
There are some nighttime lane closures expected on Wade Street during the project, and a detour is expected to be utilized periodically during a later phase of the project.
Two advisory board members
experience first meeting
with some degree of intensity;
may be coming to Williston
This artist’s concept captures some of the essence of a future proposed ‘pocket neighborhood’ that would include 47 houses on 6.17 acres near to Winn-Dixie in Williston. This is the current version of what would come to be in a series of phases of construction, given that the developers are approved through the various governmental restrictions on development in Williston and in Florida.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 1, 2020 at 11:09 a.m.
WILLISTON -- The two newest members of the Williston Planning and Zoning Board experienced an interesting meeting Monday night (Dec. 30), when one of them abstained from voting due to a self-reported conflict of interest, and both of them voted in the minority in a 3-2 split decision.
Williston Planning and Zoning Chair Debra Jones and Vice Chair Albert Fuller Sr.
(from left) Williston City Planner Jackie Gorman, Planning and Zoning members Penny Boyer and Robert Schmidt
Planning and Zoning Member John Becker and Planning Assistant JoAnne Nelson (Nelson was serving as recording clerk for the meeting.)
New members Penny Boyer and John Becker sat at the dais with Chair Debra Jones, Vice Chair Albert Fuller Sr. and Robert Schmidt. Planning and Zoning Board Member Sharon Hardaway Washington was absent and there is still a vacant seat on this advisory board.
This advisory board to the Williston City Council approved the minutes of the June 25 meeting at the Dec. 30 meeting, having lacked a quorum of members to conduct a meeting between June and December, according to Chair Jones' statement during the meeting Monday night.
City Planner Jackie Gorman, who also holds the title of community development and grants manager, was present, as was Planning Assistant JoAnne Nelson, serving as recording clerk for the meeting.
The next regularly scheduled meeting for this advisory group is Jan. 28, starting at 6 p.m. in Williston City Hall.
Meanwhile, the 4-0 vote and the 3-2 vote advising the Williston City Council of the recommendations from the Williston Planning and Zoning Board is scheduled to be part of the regular Williston City Council meeting slated for Jan. 7, starting at 6 p.m., in the City Council Meeting Chamber of City Hall.
That is where and when five voting members of the municipal government – President Nancy Wininger, Vice President Marguerite Robinson and City Council members Charles Goodman, Justin Head and Elihu Ross are scheduled to vote to accept the advisory board’s recommendation, or to reject the recommendation of those four or five people on the matters considered Monday night.
Both issues Monday night involved two possible developments of real estate, and both issues each included two votes – one each for two changes in land use, and for zoning revisions.
This artist’s conception of a view of the Baytowne Group of structures shows the small houses clustered together with landscaping and walkways around the residences. This form of neighborhood does not yet exist in Williston. It puts people in a very densely populated space for living. The light bars seen in this photo are reflections of the overhead lights on the overhead screen where these graphics were shown during the meeting.
Johnny Sims was speaking as an agent for Camellia Plantation Inc. as he spoke about the development to be named Laurel Pointe.
There was a 4-0 vote of approval for both of Sims’ requests, with Boyer abstaining. Boyer is married to one of the two key parties who were mentioned as being involved with the project on Monday night, and hence she felt a conflict of interest required her to abstain from voting.
Boyer completed the form required by Florida law to abstain. Members of boards, councils, commissions and the like must vote on matters, except where they declare a conflict of interest.
The Planning and Zoning Board agreed with City Planner Gorman’s recommendation to approve a request to amend the future land use map for 8.81 acres (more or less) to change the use of that land from commercial to mixed-use.
That revision for mixed-use was followed by a correlated zoning change of the same ilk.
In effect, this allows for Ken Boyer and Robert Bullock to develop 47 homes in a “pocket neighborhood” around two edges of the Winn-Dixie Plaza. Those 47 small homes will be on 6.17 acres of the project, and there will be retail on another 2.64 acres of the project as its stands currently.
Final plans for the development are set for future consideration and possible approval, just as the City Council may accept the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommended approval of these revisions.
Listeners on Monday night could easily detect Gorman’s endorsement for what would be a new form of environment for Williston, where residents would walk to shop rather than driving cars from store to store. The development would have landscaping and other aspects under the authority of the future homeowners’ association, given that it comes to fruition.
This broad view shows a bigger view of the area where the former Williston High School buildings now sit as they continue to deteriorate and part of it is zoned for mixed-use rather than commercial. Red is commercial. Brown is mixed-use. Yellow is residential. Blue is public/quasi-public. The light bars seen in this photo are reflections of the overhead lights on the overhead screen where these graphics were shown during the meeting.
The graphic on the top shows the current zoning. Red is commercial and brown is mixed-use. The graphic below shows what the developer seeks in rezoning so that the former WHS property can become commercial real estate that produces more ad valorem property tax revenue, jobs as well as a potential Popeye’s Chicken and Tastee Freeze outlets. City Planner Jackie Gorman wants the city to keep its current zoning of mixed-use on that land, but the landowner said he cannot currently see a method to develop the property with that mandate remaining for zoning there. The land was bought about a year ago, and the old school is looking more and more like a blighted, abandoned set of slum-like structures instead of something that is under development. The smaller red rectangle sought for commercial zoning is from a house that was bought, but that property is currently planned by the developer to become a water retention pond.
On the second set of two recommendations to the City Council, there was much more debate as the parties interested in developing the former Williston High School property requested future land use map and zoning changes.
City Planner Gorman, who has been in her position for a year, was not part of the revision of the comprehensive growth management revisions that completed in 2018, after a couple of years of consultants, public hearings and the like.
Gorman said she is recommending denial of the request to switch 12.69 acres from mixed-use to commercial for land use and zoning, because the current comprehensive growth management plan and current zoning for the former high school property show the people of Williston wanted mixed-use rather than commercial.
Joseph Schuemann of BluRock Commercial Real Estate LLC, the buyer of the property (left), and Rashid A. Khalib, president of Intram Investments Inc., try to convince the Williston Planning and Zoning Board to agree with their future land use plan and zoning. They saw a 3-2 vote in favor of the Planning and Zoning Board recommending that the Williston City Council accept the developers’ and landowners’ requests so that they may develop the old WHS property rather than let it sit or sell it to some other investor to attempt to use that property.
Joseph Schuemann of BluRock Commercial Real Estate LLC, the buyer of the property, and Rashid A. Khalib, president of Intram Investments Inc., spent a relatively long amount of time defending their choice to seek the zoning change.
While they need not have shared details, Schuemann and Khalib explained that Publix does not want to build on that property currently. Wendy’s does not want to build there now, and there are several other major retail companies that do not want to build on the old WHS site either.
Nevertheless, Schuemann explained Popeye’s Chicken and a corporate ice cream retailer are interested in building there. The third anchor for the site could be a retail grocer other than Publix, he said.
Gorman held fast with her desire for keeping that land adjacent to U.S. Alt. 27 (Noble Avenue) as mixed-use rather than commercial, although directly across the street, the property is zoned commercial. Also, the WHS Stadium property, and other property that is farther away from that federal highway is still zoned for mixed-use.
Khalib explained that the method they see for developing the property as a successful venture is to have the property next to the highway designated for commercial use. Requiring 30 percent of the 12-acres to be something other than commercial, for instance residential, is not going to succeed, he said.
While the rezoning to commercial for that former high school property is not going to adversely affect Williston, having some restaurants and possibly a grocery store will help improve the quality of life for the residents and visitor of the city, Khalib said.
Schuemann said he and other investors bought the property when they thought Publix would be an anchor store. The plan then was to have the grocery store and there would be a shopping center connected to it.
When Schuemann spoke to City Manager Scott Lippmann about the need to change from mixed-use to commercial zoning to do this, he said the city manager “rolled out the red carpet” and said the city would do what was needed for Publix to build there.
It was about at that time, according to information shared during the meeting, when City Planner Gorman accepted her post.
Publix then, Schuemann said, decide the market was not strong enough and the “pawn shop on the corner” was another detractor from building there. “It’s an eyesore, and it’s condemned, and something needs to be done about it.”
After that, though, with the Publix proposal falling through. Wendy’s and other possible tenants did not want to place a store there, either, he said, because those companies market research indicated it would not be the best return on investment.
Another detractor from development that Schuemann mentioned is the abandoned hospital.
As Andrew Carswell, an engineer from Mills Engineering said, Schuemann added, the site constraint of being only 12 acres prevents mixed-use zoning from being a possible development environment for success.
“As it stands now,” Schuemann said, “we need it to be commercial (zoning) for it to succeed.”
Schuemann put the issue in focus.
“What’s going to happen, is, we’re going to lose the tenants (already waiting),” Schuemann said. “I’ve been working on the site. We’ve owned it for a year. So, the more we delay this, and if I have to go back in and do a future land use for mixed-use – when there is no demand (for that by consumers) – it’s not going to happen. It’s going to kill the project.”
Schuemann repeatedly had to tell Gorman that “There is no demand.” He reminded her that his job is to find tenants. He cannot find them for that spot if it includes the restrictions of mixed-use rather than commercial.
Starbucks and other tenants were approached. Schuemann found “There is no demand” in Williston for them.
Even local owners of retail businesses do not want to expand to that site, he said. “The demand isn’t there yet,” Schuemann said.
“Your studies are great,” Schuemann told Gorman when she said studies show Williston is a good market. “But they are not convincing the tenants.”
Gorman said the city paid for a marketing plan that she believes “speaks for itself.”
“There’s a vacant hospital around the corner,” Schuemann said when Gorman spoke about a researcher creating an economic development plan for the city that calls for something other than standard commercial development next to the highway.
Schuemann said McDonald’s and Hardee’s success are why he was interested in the high school property. He wanted to bring a Wendy’s there, he said.
“I talked to the Wendy’s franchise in Gainesville,” Schuemann said. “No dice. I talked to the corporate (Wendy’s group). No interest. I talked to another (Wendy’s) franchisee. No interest.”
Publix said it is not yet ready to build at that site in Williston, however if it comes, it does not want the Peso’s Pawn Shop there in the condition it is in now, Schuemann said.
When Schuemann told Gorman that the city can use code enforcement to require a cleanup of the site, she said the city has been speaking with that owner.
Schuemann said he understands people who dream of the “nice mixed-use where we don’t want the generic,” however right across U.S. Alt 27 from this site is a new Auto Zone store.
When Popeye’s Chicken is built, or if Tastee Freeze is built there, too, whatever is built, Schuemann said, he is willing to make it have a small-town feel. He will be happy to do that to help it blend into the community.
Cookie King, a Realtor, said “the highest and best use for the site is commercial.” King is the Realtor who sold the property to BluRock Commercial Real Estate LLC. King said she knows Williston is not Tioga Town Centre.
“We’re not there yet,” King said. “But we’ve got to kickstart some economic wheels to get going here; so, people say ‘Woo! What’s going on in Williston?’ You know, ‘I want to go there.’”
King said the whole 36-acre site of Joyce Bullock Elementary School is still zoned mixed-use. That will be back from the highway in an area better suited for that form of development. She said JBES and the WHS stadium will both be for sale in the future, and that is where the future land use map and zoning can be applied for development of mixed-use.
Planning and Zoning Board Vice Chairman said he was torn by the request, which city staff recommended to deny.
If the city rejects the request to make the area zoned for commercial use, it could become “unmarketable” and unable to be developed.
“We still have to consider this being a small town,” Fuller said. “We still have to consider what this will look like.”
Fuller reminded his colleagues on the board that while he would love to know exactly what is going there, that is not information the board can demand of the developer. The single issues are whether to make the property mapped for future development as commercial property, rather than its current mixed-use mapping, and the same holds true for the zoning.
“We need to see something there,” Fuller said. “We don’t need to see those old buildings that are decaying any longer.”
Gorman repeatedly said staff’s decision was based on facts in three studies and the city’s adopted master plan for future economic development.
Fuller said mistakes were made in the land-use planning. Chair Jones said there was some part of the city involved with creating the comprehensive growth management plan revisions, but she would like to hear from a bigger cross-section of the whole city’s population.
King said that when the economic aspect of the plan was created, the former high school was seen as being zoned commercial.
Jones said that as chair of the Planning and Zoning Board, she does not know how that property ever became designated for mixed-use rather than commercial.
Schuemann said he wants to work with the city to develop a nice project. He saw the Publix as being that. When Schuemann bought the property, he said, he believed Publix would be an anchor. After that did not come to be, he created a revised plan.
Whether Publix came as an anchor or not, all of that property would have to be rezoned for commercial use, he said.
People shop at Winn-Dixie, Auto Zone and other stores in the area. That is where the demand is, Schuemann said.
Zoning Board Schmidt said he cannot see residential as being part of the mixed-use plan right next to U.S. Alt 27 through Williston.
Jones told Gorman and other listeners that this plan for mixed use right there is 20 years in the future, perhaps. She recognizes that the city planner wants to think Williston is in high demand for development, but she said as one study shows at least 39 percent of the Williston population goes to Gainesville or Ocala to shop.
People don’t drive to Butler Plaza to live there, she said.
After more discussion, Vice Chairman Fuller said the time has come to make a decision.
Schuemann said more delays by the red tape of zoning can lead to all tenants backing out, and then there will be zero development.
As noted, on a motion by Fuller, seconded by Schmidt, the Williston Planning and Zoning Board recommended that the City Council approve the future land-use map and zoning for a change from mixed-use residential to commercial for the property that was formerly Williston High School and which was purchased by BluRock Commercial Real Estate LLC.
And the vote was Fuller, Jones and Schmidt in favor of the City Council granting the developers’ requests, with Boyer and Becker voting to recommend that the City Council deny the developers’ requests.
The City Council can either accept or reject the recommendations made by this advisory board comprised of volunteers in regard to the various future land use maps and zoning changes requested.
Picture Perfect Poinsettia
In June 1825, President John Quincy Adams appointed Joel Roberts Poinsett as the first American minister to the newly independent Republic of Mexico. In 1836, the Scottish botanist Robert Graham labeled it the 'Poinsettia,' although it is known by its scientific name as Euphorbia pulcherrima. While Poinsett brought the plant into more awareness in the United States, it had been established in Mexico as a Christmastime plant long before he exported it. This particular pictured Poinsettia is in Jemlands, an unrecorded subdivision of Levy County. The little droplets of dew reflecting sunlight are reminiscent of ice crystals, but ice crystals have not appeared in Jemlands yet this winter.
Photo By Sharon Hardison © Dec. 23, 2019 at 4:09 p.m.
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Newest Jingle Singers
(from left) Assistant Levy County Supervisor of Elections Jordan Lindsey, Customer Relations Specialist Carole Weins, Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones and Information Specialist Crystal Lara prepare to perform the HardisonInk.com Jingle on Jan. 15, 2020.
Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 15, 2020 at 3:09 p.m.
121st Set Of Jingle Singers
(from left) Assistant Levy County Supervisor of Elections Jordan Lindsey, Customer Relations Specialist Carole Weins, Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones and Information Specialist Crystal Lara perform the HardisonInk.com Jingle at the Levy County Supervisor of Elections Office on Jan. 15, 2020. Jones and her staff are ready, willing and able to help people register to vote in Levy County, as well as to perform all of the other duties related to this precious right of the American people -- voting. Lara is the most recently added member to this team, and she speaks English and Spanish fluently. (This jingle sounds exactly the same in English and Spanish.) If you want to sing the jingle, just let Jeff M. Hardison know or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. He asks people to sing (or perform) it, too, and some of them agree to sing it or to perform the jingle. (Thanks people!)
Published Jan. 15, 2020, at 3:09 p.m.
© Video by Jeff M. Hardison, All Rights Reserved