Clewiston City Commission adopts FEMA flood maps

“Even though we’re not in favor of this, we still need to have this done,” said Mayor Phillip Roland at the March 16 City Commission Meeting.

Commissioners had to vote whether or not to adopt amendments to the city’s ordinance regarding resource and floodplain protection. The amendments would adopt the new FEMA flood maps which commissioners say unfairly place the city of Clewiston in a high-risk flood zone, while other areas surrounding the city and the lake are not.

If the city did not adopt the amendments, FEMA would not provide relief in the case of a natural disaster, so despite the commission’s intention to fight the new maps, the commission voted 5-0 to amend the codes.

After the vote, commissioners discussed the possibility of having the city re-evaluated for flood risk. City Engineer Tommy Perry told commissioners that FEMA would be open to changing the city’s designation if the city submitted a letter of map amendment with convincing data.

Perry said if the city opened up area’s of the berm that would hold flood waters in, then the city may be able to change its high-risk designation. Some of the objects acting as berms are railroads and canals, and some of those objects lie on county owned property. Perry said it could take up to nine months to fix the problem, and the flood maps will have already gone into effect by that time.

Commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of a resolution that opposes and urges further amendment of the flood maps.

Commission OKs Hire of Golf Pro

The majority of commissioners voted in favor of hiring Robbie Rush as director of golf at the Clewiston Golf Course, despite some concerns about the director’s potential salary.

Robbie Rush was hired on a contractual basis to be the Golf Professional at the public course two years ago. A certified PGA pro, Rush has been an integral factor in helping to make the golf course more profitable.

He was recommended by the city manager, as well as the Golf Course Advisory Board, to be hired on full-time as the director of golf with a total salary of $89,192 with benefits.

Commissioner Kristine Petersen in particular had concerns about Rush’s potential salary, and said the over $89,0000-per-year figure was “out of line.”

She said the figure was too high considering the city has had discussions about where it would find money to paint and do structure upgrades on government buildings. Commissioner Petersen also said she could not justify paying Rush so much after only two years, in view of other directors’ salaries who have been with the city for longer in more essential city divisions.

Mayor Roland, whose main goal since he was elected more than two years ago was to turn the golf course around, said Rush would be a good hire.

“The income at the golf course has jumped leaps and bounds, and there’s many reasons for that, it’s not just Robbie, but he certainly is part of that. We’re actually making money in the pro shop, which never made money in the last six to seven years. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a good hire,” said Mayor Roland.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the city manager’s request to hire Robbie Rush as director of golf. Commissioner Petersen voted against the motion.

As part of the deal to hire Rush as director of golf, the position of superintendent would be moved to a contractual basis.

Other Business

-Heeding the advice of City Attorney Charles Schoech, commissioners will focus code enforcement efforts on RVs and mobile homes citywide to ensure all are up to code and have proper licensing. There was concern that the commission’s efforts to clean up U.S. 27 suggested it was targeting only specific areas for code violations regarding RVs and mobile homes. To avoid a targeting situation, the commission put to record that code enforcement will be systematic and citywide.

-Commissioners voted in favor of a variance request that would allow a new, nonprofit senior citizen housing development to allot only 1.5 parking spaces per unit, instead of the mandated two parking spaces per unit. Commissioners OKed the variance request on the condition that should the development change from senior citizen housing, the two parking spaces per unit rule would be reinstated.

-Mayor Roland was appointed to the Building Commission Board.

-Commissioners put to paper a rule they agreed upon in December that allows commissioners to vote by phone one time per year under extenuating circumstances.

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