City planners consider annexing roads with land

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Proposed tree ordinance is also on the table

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

Chiefland has been annexing land from the city, but it has not been annexing the roads and that needs to change, says the city’s top building and zoning official.

Bill Hammond, director of the city’s building, zoning and code enforcement department, told the City Planning Board that it needs to consider bringing in the roads and right of way during annexations.

The topic came up while the board was beginning work on changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which guides growth, and beginning work on a Landscaping and Tree Protection ordinance. Work on both is to be complete by the fall.

“People in the county are paying for roads in the city,” Gene Pollack said. He asked if the city had an agreement with the county on annexing roads. Hammond said no, but City Attorney Norm Fugate has advised the city to annex in the roadways with the land.

Board member Lee Mills said, “We need to pick them up as we annex it.”

The other topic of discussion on the Comprehensive Plan was having “growth pay for itself.” The Infrastructure Element, which covers streets, water and sewer, calls for new development to pay 100 percent of the cost of installing those services. The Capital Improvement Element, however, calls for new developments to be assessed a pro-rated share of the cost.

John Henry Donaldson, an alternate to the board who was just named to a permanent position, asked: “Wouldn’t it be to the city’s advantage to expand to bring business in? Like with the hospital coming in; it’s just a matter of time before other businesses come in.”

Donaldson suggested wording that would examine each project on its individual merit.

Board Member Lee Mills, an engineer, said, “In my experience its better off for the city to bite the bullet and put it in.”

On the tree ordinance, Hammond warned the board that the 46-page draft is “a restrictive code.”

“We have gotten developers who come in and cut every tree on the lot,” Hammond said. “The question is do you want the city to be a nice, green development or do you want a Wal-Mart?”

Mills said, “We had rule4s in place when Wal-Mart came in, but this city didn’t enforce them.”

Donaldson voiced concerns about property owners being told what they could and could not remove on their property and asked how complicated will the permitting process be for removing trees.

The draft ordinance lays out the requirements for removing trees, but looks in its purpose and intent to promote xeriscape (water saving) and Florida Friendly Landscape principals to be used in the city. It also has as its stated aim to establish buffers between land use boundaries and on right of way, and to preserve, enhance and restore shade along streets.

Other intents stated in the proposal call form promoting planting the right item in the right place to prevent clogged sewers, cracked sidewalks and power service interruptions, and to reduce the use of exotic pest and invasive plant species.