Aztec Commons gets commission’s approval

CLEWISTON — No public input but just a few commissioners’ questions were heard when the Clewiston City Commission conducted a public hearing Monday, May 21, regarding the rezoning of 11 lots at 710 S. W.C. Owen Ave. for multifamily residential housing.

It was the second reading and final approval of an ordinance allowing the property’s new owner, Aztec Commons LLC, to establish 13 residential units. It changes the zoning from mobile home and recreational vehicle park to multifamily residential. Mayor Mali Gardner noted that the Planning and Zoning Board voted to recommend approval at its April 9 meeting.

The staff report said Aztec Commons conforms to the city’s comprehensive plan and future land use map.

Commissioner Julio Rodriguez asked who the owner was, and she responded, “It’s Derek Beck. He bought the parcel … it’s not only this parcel of land, but it’s the brick apartments that are on the corner of Aztec, Comercio and all that area there.” Mr. Rodriguez asked whether he had immediate plans and what they were.

Community Development Director Travis Reese stepped to the podium to answer the questions, confirming that it’s Mr. Beck who applied and that he had purchased the adjacent property across an alley. “He’s been refurbishing those (apartments). There was one mobile home left on this park. He has gotten rid of that. He’s ready to move forward with it. He’s submitted some conceptual plans already. I believe once this rezoning takes place, he’ll be ready to move forward.”

Mr. Reese noted that Mr. Beck is a construction contractor and said he’d originally wanted 20 units there, but the density limit of 14 units per acre with other restrictions will let him fit only 13, adding that his plans call for townhome-like apartments in the two-story building.

Commissioner Kristine Petersen said she’d driven over to see a development Mr. Beck had done in LaBelle and said that “aesthetically, it fits in with the community in LaBelle. The landscaping was very nice, right down to the paint scheme.”

Commissioners approved the ordinance on a 5-0 vote.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved a Florida Department of Transportation SCOP (Small County Outreach Program) Agreement providing financing for design services on the resurfacing of Ventura Avenue from Francisco Street to Deane Duff Avenue.

• OK’d a resolution authorizing the Clewiston Sikes Building Lease Agreement between the city and Jeremy J. and Katrice Greaves, who do business there as the Little Disciples Learning Center. City Manager Al Perry said: “They have been renting the building for many years from us, and they’re actually looking at renewing that for the next five years. But now they’re requesting to rent it for all 12 months of the year, rather than 9½ as previously.” They pay rent of $500 a month. The city previously used the building during June, July and early August for operation of its summer camp but this year has contracted with another agency to operate it.

• Heard a presentation from publisher Susan Giddings about the guide Destination Lake Okeechobee, which premiered in November 2017. She said it is meant to be a tourism and commerce resource for the entire region surrounding the lake, and asked that the commission consider advertising its golf course in the next edition. Mayor Gardner said her timing was good, “as we’re heading into budget time, so this is something we’ll consider then.”

• Appointed Jacklyn Espinoza, a retired teacher, to the Hendry County Library Cooperative Advisory Board as the city’s representative, replacing Tena Harris who resigned in December.

• Heard a report from Finance Director Shari Howell, who said that going by the monthly revenue and expenditures report, “we’re right where we need to be” for this time of year and said she’d be giving the commission a schedule shortly of budget workshops for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

“Starting in June, after every commission meeting we will have a budget workshop, and we are also going to schedule a few of them in between.”

Ms. Howell added: “I provided a sheet that I’ve never provided to you before, of our grants, because we’ve got a lot going on. We have eight, and after tonight we’ve got nine, active grants that we have to keep up with financially.” She said they total nearly $3.3 million.

The Clewiston News is published every Thursday.

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