Design contract OK’d for Airglades cargo complex

CLEWISTON — Hendry County commissioners are accelerating the methodical process of developing Airglades Airport into a privately owned, international facility with an associated Perishable Air Cargo Complex (PACC). They approved a nearly $1 million contract Oct. 9, negotiated by staff with Crawford, Murphy & Tilly (CMT) of LaBelle for preliminary engineering and design studies that are expected to take six to eight months.

At the same time, they acknowledged that Airglades International Airport LLC’s plan has reached the point where staff now must prioritize preparations for the development, in order to process the Hendry Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code amendments and the rezoning that will be needed.

“I just wanted to update the board on this and see if you had any questions regarding this effort,” said Planning and Community Development Director Margaret Emblidge.

Commissioner Darrel Harris asked about the timeline, saying, “We’re in the ninth year right now.” She answered, “This is planned to be complete within six-to-eight months, possibly nine months.”

“So, another year,” he said. Commissioner Michael Swindle noted, “This won’t hold up the process that we get the approvals in place.” County Administrator Charles Chapman confirmed that, explaining, “This process has to go concurrently, and I believe there is a portion of the privatization application that does require that we provide evidence that we are going through this process at a minimum.”

The contract has a not-to-exceed cost of $959,907, financed at 100 percent by the Florida Department of Transportation, and covers design of a long list of major airport improvements, including a new, 10,000-foot runway, taxiways, parking aprons, lighting and signage; navigation equipment and instrument flight procedure development; maintenance and cargo buildings, hangars and a fire-rescue facility; an air traffic control tower; and stormwater drainage and detention ponds. There are six sub-consultants and subcontractors for architect/engineering, geotechnical, drainage, environmental, mapping and surveying services. The contract allows six months for the aerial mapping and survey control and for geotechnical investigation, with 365 days allowed for nine other tasks including all of the master plans for the AIA property and about 226 acres to be acquired south of the airport property that will accommodate the new runway and the PACC.

Code enforcement discussion delayed

On another matter, County Attorney Mark Lapp had prepared a report requesting authorization to begin foreclosure litigation against INA Group LLC, and any other parties revealed through a title search, over a code enforcement case involving 2 1/2-year-old mowing violations at a lot in the 700 block of Arkansas Avenue in Harlem (a Clewiston neighborhood), which in June was upgraded to a demolition order.

He also had prepared, along with Director Emblidge, a four-page, comprehensive overview of Hendry County’s code enforcement process, as the county commissioners had requested at their last meeting. Mr. Lapp said, “I think we’re going to be continuing the discussion of (these) to a future meeting?” After Commissioner Harris asked whether he needed a motion to table the items, he said he didn’t think it was necessary.

Commissioner Turner interrupted, stating a motion “to actually bring it back, time certain, October the 23rd, next meeting in LaBelle.” Commissioner Emma Byrd seconded, and it passed unanimously without discussion.

Those two commissioners have been pressing for action to combat blight in residential areas all year, and the board had a long discussion on the subject at its last meeting, Sept. 25. County Board Chairman Mitchell Wills has said previously that public comment will be heard when commissioners take up the topic again.

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