April 27 , 2007 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Springhills update: new offer-sheet
Alachua County Forever signs
Springhills meeting has moved
County Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway
County Meeting Reminder
Survivor’s Art Exhibit 2007
Building Safety Week, May 6-13
Homes needed for kittens
Foster Grandparent Rock-A-Thon 2007
County Burn Ban still in effect
What’s on Alachua County Talks?
Urban Village Subcommittee Meeting
Commission Meeting Highlights
Let’s All Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards

 

Springhills update: new offer-sheet

The following attachments detail the latest communications between Alachua County and the PREIT Services LLC. Development Department concerning the Springhills development.

The Springhills Public Hearing is still scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 5 p.m. at the Santa Fe Community College Gymnasium (Building V).

Go to www.alachuacounty.us for directions and to view previous Springhills press releases and documents.

Click on the attachments below to view:

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Alachua County Forever signs

A group of Alachua County Forever Volunteers installed two Preservation Area signs at the Phifer Flatwoods Preserve yesterday. Phifer is the eighth property protected by the County through the Alachua County Forever Land Conservation Program. It was purchased by Alachua Conservation Trust last year with private funding and held until the County could work the property through the Alachua County Forever process. Its 645 acres, located between the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Rail Trail and SR20, making it critical for species protection, habitat connectivity and viewshed preservation. Lauren Day, Alachua Conservation Trust’s Executive Director, stated, “Phifer Flatwoods is special in that it inspired the community to rally around it to protect it. This project is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to protect Alachua County’s special places.”

Thirteen volunteers spent Sunday afternoon installing the two signs, one at the intersection of the Rail-Trail and CR325, and the other along SR20. The signs inform the public of the protected nature of the property, provides a contact number for inquiries, and demonstrates the tangible success of the Alachua County Forever Program. Additional signs are planned for other sites in the coming weeks.

Alachua County Forever was created by the voters in 2000. It is funded through a 0.25 mill property tax and is capped at a total of $29 million. To date the County has used $18 million of these local dollars to leverage $36 million of State and private funds to protect over 11,000 acres of property.

For more information about becoming an Alachua County Forever Volunteer, contact Ramesh Buch at (352) 264-6800. Visit www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/epd/land/ for more information on Alachua County Forever.

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Springhills meeting has moved

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing to consider the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan Amendments and a revised Development Order for the Springhills Development of Regional Impact has changed locations. The meeting will no longer take place in the Santa Fe Community College E Building Lecture Hall. The meeting will now take place in the Santa Fe Gymnasium, Building V, 3000 NW 83rd St., Gainesville. The meeting will still be held May 1, 2007 at 5:00 p.m.; doors open at 4 p.m. For more information, please contact the Alachua County Growth Management Department at (352) 374-5249. Click here for a map.

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County Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department will be holding the 13th Annual Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway on Saturday, May 19, 2007. The event will distribute 2,200 gallons of 75% post consumer recycled latex paint to community organizations, civic groups, and people with special needs, and low income residents, free of charge.

The Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway event will take place beginning at 8 a.m. at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center, located at the Leveda Brown Environmental Park and Transfer Station, 5125 NE 63rd Avenue, 2 miles north of 39th Avenue, off Waldo Road. The recycled paint will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis and will be available in 5 gallon pails with five colors to choose from: off white, beige, gray, terra cotta and turquoise. There is a 10 gallon limit per resident.

A total of over 40,000 gallons of recycled paint has been provided to Alachua County residents since the inception of the program in 1994 said Kurt Seaburg, Hazardous Waste Coordinator for the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department. The program began as a means of assisting homeowners and businesses to beautify their property while recycling a product that still has value, stated Seaburg. The cost to recycle the paint is only slightly more than the cost to dispose of the unwanted paint by a solidification process.

The latex paint is collected throughout the year by the Hazardous Waste Program and shipped to a paint manufacturer where it is blended and repackaged into a 75% post consumer paint and is suitable for either interior or exterior usage.

Residents not able to attend the event, may pick up non-recycled free paint of varying quality and quantity, dropped off by residents who no longer need it, year-round at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Centers Recycle/Reuse Area.

Business hours: Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.

Further information about the Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway can be obtained by calling The Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center at (352) 334-0440.

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County Meeting Reminder

Springhills Public Hearing

Urban Village Subcommittee Meeting

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Survivor’s Art Exhibit 2007

The Survivors’ Art Exhibit 2007 runs April 30 - May 11, 2007 at “the gallery” of the J. Wayne Reitz Union at the University of Florida. An opening reception will be held Friday, May 4, 2007, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. and refreshments will be served. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the general public.

The Survivors’ Art Exhibit 2007 is sponsored by the Sexual Battery Committee of the Gainesville Commission on the Status of Women, in conjunction with Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center, the UF Counseling Center and the UF Arts and Crafts Center, and is held in conjunction with its 26th Annual Conference, “Embracing Diverse Voices: Confronting the Cultures of Silence,” to be held Tuesday, May 8, 2007, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4000 NW 53rd Ave, Gainesville.

The Survivors’ Art Exhibit is in its eleventh year. It underscores the survivor’s journey, from initial victimization to resolution. Through a variety of media--painting, drawing, watercolor, photography, poetry and sculpture--survivors create personal stories of domestic violence, family violence, sexual abuse, sexual assault, child abuse, spiritual abuse and other forms of interpersonal violence.

Both female and male artists in the community and on the UF campus who are survivors of interpersonal violence, and who have used art in their healing process, will share their work. Over 365 artists have participated in the show over the past eleven years.

For more information, please call the art committee for the Gainesville Commission On The Status of Women, Inc., at (352) 336-8414.

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Building Safety Week, May 6-13

During the week of May 6 -13 2007, the Alachua County Building Department, will be part of the worldwide celebration of Building Safety Week. Building Safety Week raises public awareness of building safety by promoting the use, enforcement and understanding of building safety and fire prevention codes to protect lives and property. “Building Smarter …for Disasters and Every Day Life” is the theme of Building Safety Week 2007. Building code enforcement is the job of professionals who work at local county building departments, fire departments, city building department or at the state or federal level.

Building Safety Week, first observed in 1980, is sponsored by the International Code Council Foundation, an organization dedicated to changing the devastating effects of natural disasters and other building tragedies worldwide by promoting ideas, methods and technologies that encourage the construction of durable, sustainable buildings and homes.

Alachua County is an active member of the International Code Council, a membership organization dedicated to building safety and fire prevention.

For thousands of years, building codes and regulations have protected the public. The earliest known code of law—the Code of Hammurabi, written more than 4,000 years ago, assessed severe penalties, including death, if a building was not constructed safely. Today, thousands of jurisdictions, including Alachua County, adopt and enforce the International Codes® developed by the International Code Council® to guide the safe construction of buildings. The State of Florida used the International Codes as the basis of the Florida Building Code which is enforced in every jurisdiction in the state.

Building code regulations in Alachua County ensure that homes, schools, workplaces and other buildings are as safe as possible. Codes address all aspects of construction including structural integrity, electrical, mechanical, plumbing systems and property maintenance.

Safe buildings don’t happen by chance. Building Safety Week recognizes the important professionals who make sure the buildings in our community are safe. Public safety is the number one concern of building and fire inspectors, plan reviewers and others who work in code enforcement.

Building and code officials are also here to help the public understand building safety issues. In this age of do-it-yourselfers, it becomes extremely important for homeowners to work with code enforcement professionals to make sure their residence fully complies with building safety codes. The importance of regulating and enforcing building codes is, unfortunately, often overlooked until a catastrophic tragedy occurs. By reviewing building plans, issuing building permits and inspecting buildings during and after construction, Alachua County Code Enforcement in the Department of Growth Management, helps to ensure that buildings in the community are safe places in which to live, work, play and learn.

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Homes needed for kittens

Kitten season is here. Feral cats breed in cycles. The largest cycle occurs in early April. This increased breeding causes an influx of kittens born in the Alachua County area with no immediate homes to care for them. Foster families and permanent homes are in desperate and immediate need.

The Maddies Pet Rescue of Alachua County partner agencies rescue these kittens, removing them from the streets and environments in which many of them will not survive. Most of these rescued kittens will be at an age where they will need to be bottle fed and nurtured.

Maddies Pet Rescue of Alachua County is a non-profit organization consisting of six area animal rescue groups Alachua County Animal Services, Alachua County Humane Society, Gainesville Pet Rescue, Inc., Hailes Angel Pet Rescue, Helping Hands Pet Rescue and Puppy Hill Farm Pet Rescue. This local organization finds permanent homes for about 300 animals each month.

The partner agencies are in search for foster parents who are willing to help care for these very young kittens. Experience is not required, as the partner agencies have highly trained staff who will teach the correct way to nurse these young kittens and prepare them for adoption. Being a foster parent is an extremely rewarding experience for singles as well as families.

For more information about becoming a foster parent or to sign up, contact Chase Wiley at the Alachua County Humane Society, (352) 373-5855, ext. 15 or visit www.maddiespetrescueofalachua.org

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Foster Grandparent Rock-A-Thon 2007

The public is invited to join the Alachua County Foster Grandparent Program for its eleventh annual Rock-A-Thon. Join us on the front porch of the Cracker Barrel restaurant on Friday, May 11th 2007. The Cracker Barrel is located at 4001 SW 43rd Street which is just West of I-75 on Archer Road.

The goal is to keep the rocking chairs rocking from 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and to raise money for the Foster Grandparent Program. Foster Grandparents volunteer every day, working one-on-one with children who have special needs in elementary schools, day-care centers, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and other locations.

Visit with our Foster Grandparents and celebrity rockers including:

Donations may be made on behalf of the rockers. All proceeds will go to the Foster Grandparent Program.

This event is co-sponsored by the Board of County Commissioners, WKTK and WSKY, Cox Communications, The Village, and Shands Senior Advantage.

For more information, please call the Foster Grandparent Program at (352) 264- 6757.

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County Burn Ban still in effect

The signs of a North Florida spring are everywhere. Longer, warmer days. Trees and shrubs shaking off the winter to become green again. And an increased risk of brush fires.

In March, Chief Will Gray May, Jr., Alachua County Fire Rescue Director of Emergency Services, recommended to the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners that a local state of emergency be declared and a countywide burn ban be implemented until conditions improve and the wildfire threat in our area decreases.

On Monday, March 26, less than 24 hours after a fast moving brush fire near Melrose destroyed numerous buildings and vehicles and forced residents to evacuate their homes, the County Board approved May’s recommendation and a mandatory countywide burn ban took effect.

The ban, which prohibits all outdoor burning activities except those expressly permitted by the Florida Division of Forestry for large scale land clearing purposes, applies to all County residents. Outdoor burning of any type while the ban remains in effect is punishable with both fines and jail time.

In addition to outdoor burning, the ban also prohibits the use of any type of fireworks, sparklers or flares except for public displays requiring a commercial permit. While the use of fireworks might not seem to be an issue in April, the University of Florida men’s basketball team’s recent national championship win prompted many County residents to celebrate with sparklers and other fireworks. Under current conditions, any kind of fireworks could ignite a brush fire in seconds.

Although the burn ban is indefinitely halting some County residents’ plans to burn or use fireworks, Jeff Bielling, Alachua County Fire Rescue Wildfire Mitigation Officer, is reluctant to predict when the ban might be lifted.

“Unfortunately, our wildfire threat is greater than normal this year,” Bielling said. “Our conditions are so dry right now that I don’t anticipate the improvement necessary to lift the ban occurring any time in the near future. It isn’t a good idea to try to predict these things. It’s better by far for everyone to understand just how extreme the County’s wildfire threat is right now and to heed the ban rather than spend time predicting when it might be lifted.”

Bielling said that spring is traditionally a drier season for the Alachua County area but that the season has been unusual this year.

“This spring has been atypically dry,” Bielling said, adding that the area endured extended periods of time without any significant precipitation.

Additionally, Ludie Ehlers, a Wildfire Mitigation Specialist from the Florida Division of Forestry, said the entire County began 2007 with a 20 inch rain deficit.

“We started 2007 with dry conditions due to a lack of rainfall at the end of 2006, and in the past three months, our situation has only deteriorated,” Ehlers said.

These unusually dry conditions recently combined with other factors to create a volatile situation with yet more potential for wildland fire.

“As one windy front after another moves through our area, it is not uncommon for us to have warmer days with gusty winds and low relative humidity this time of year,” Bielling said.

Bielling explained that the warmer temperatures and low relative humidity work together to further dry out already parched vegetation and soils. With these conditions a stray spark can fully ignite in seconds. Gusty winds then fan the resulting fire, helping it grow and spread rapidly.

Moreover, a number of frosts and freezes over the winter months have only exacerbated the situation said Chief May.

“These freezes left us with an abundance of easily ignitable fuel,” May said. “Grasses, pine needles and leaves that died because of this year’s killing frosts are still on the ground where they can be readily ignited.”

These fine, easily ignitable fuels will also spread wildfire rapidly under dry, gusty conditions May said.

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What’s on Alachua County Talks?

Tune into Alachua County Talks on Community 12 Your Local Government Channel.

Alachua County Fire/Rescue Chief Will May talks about fire assessment fees.

Alachua County Health Department Director Tom Belcuore, M.S., discusses Mosquito Control and Bite Prevention.

To view show times click here: http://www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/comm/schedule.aspx

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Urban Village Subcommittee Meeting

The Urban Village Subcommittee of the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MTPO) will hold a meeting on Wednesday, May 2, 2007 at 6:30 p.m. in the Doyle Conner Building at 1911 SW 34th Street, Gainesville, FL. The Subcommittee will review a report evaluating several land use options for the Urban Village Study Area. This is a combined effort of Alachua County, the City of Gainesville, the University of Florida, and the MTPO.

All interested persons are invited to participate. Additional information is available at the MTPO web site: www.ncfrpc.org/mtpo/index.html or from the Alachua County Growth Management Department at (352) 374-5249.

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Commission Meeting Highlights

Presentations, Proclamations and Recognitions

The Board proclaimed April 24, 2007 “Altrusa Day.”
The Board proclaimed April 2007 “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”
The Board Proclaimed April 25, 2007 “Suicide Prevention Day.”
The Board Proclaimed April 23-29 “Cover the Uninsured Week.”
The Board recognized the Fire Prevention Escape Plan Winners and program sponsors.

Community Services Group

The Board Approved the Purchase and Sale Agreement with Rayonier Forest Resources, L.P. for 72 acres, more or less, east of and adjacent to the Leveda Brown Environmental Park. Amount: $72,360.00 Earnest Money Deposit

 

County Manager Reports

The Board approved the amended RTS Route 75 Agreement, to adjust headways, with the City of Gainesville.

 

Commission Comments

Byerly - The Board authorized the Chair to send a letter urging legislators to defeat any fertilizer preemption amendments.

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Let’s All Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards

The Alachua County Commission is committed to citizen involvement on its 33 advisory boards and is soliciting applications for the following vacancies:

Board of Adjustment : One citizen-at-large

CHOICES Health Services Advisory Board : One Health Policy Professional, one Hospital Employee, one Certified Public Accountant

Citizens Disability Advisory Committee : Two citizens-at-large

Community Agency Partnership Program: One citizen-at-large

Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee : Three citizens-at-large, one alternate

Cultural and Environmental Funding Advisory Board : One Heritage organization member, one Alachua County resident alternate

Economic Development Advisory Board : One representative of UF

Energy Conservation Strategies Commission: One representative of UF; one former elected official from the City of Gainesville; one former elected official of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners; six possessing demonstrated expertise and/or advanced training in the areas of demandside management, LEED or Green Building Code standards, renewable energy technologies or a related field; and one alternate.

Environmental Protection Advisory Board : One alternate

Fair Housing Human Rights Board : One lending institution representative, one alternate

Health Care Board : One Alachua County Dental Association representative, one citizen who is a Low Income Health Care Consumer, two citizen representatives of Community Advocacy Groups

Historical Commission : Three citizens-at-large

Local Planning Agency and Planning Commission: One citizen-at-large, one Building Industry Related citizen

Poverty Reduction Advisory Board : Two citizens-at-large with a disability, one citizen 55 or older, one low income citizen, one representative of faith-based organization

Regional Transit System Advisory Board : One senior citizen

Tourist Development Council : One alternate citizen-at-large

Veterans Service Advisory Board : One citizen-at-large, one citizen-at-large (alternate), one VFW Representative

Victims Services and Rape Crisis Center Advisory Council : Two citizens-at-large, one alternate

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Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

Community Update is produced by the County Manager's Communications Office.