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Senior housing approved

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City Council roundup

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

A 77-unit senior housing development planned for construction at the intersection of Southwest 4th Avenue and Southwest 10th Street won the Chiefland City Commission’s blessing and a commitment to waive $20,000 in building permit fees.

The action came in a city commission meeting that also saw a renewal of its relationship with Michael Michaelis as the city’s insurance agent and a notice by the Florida Police Benevolent Association that it wants to reopen wage negotiations.

Jason Larson, vice president of Creative Choice Homes Inc. of Palm Beach Gardens, said his company is hoping to win $7 million in economic stimulus money to help with the construction of the one- and two-bedroom units of affordable housing for seniors whose income is less than 60 percent of the county’s median income. He said according to 2000 U.S. Census figures that would be an income of about $19,000 a year.

He said the state application process for the stimulus money requires a commitment to the proposed Pine Ridge Manor Senior Apartments project from the city. “They want you to have some skin in it,” he said. He said the commitment also helps the company in the application for awarding stimulus money.

Larson said while construction fees have dropped from their previous highs, they have not dropped as much as expected and basic construction costs for each unit will be $75,000. He said the total project would cost $8 million.

The project will be built on land owned by the Usher family, Larson said, and will have a lower density than would be allowed. He said the lower density was the result of a request by the family for buffer areas around the project.

Larson said the firm would be applying for the building permit in 2010 and the certificate of occupancy in 2011.

In other business, the city renewed its agreement to have Michael Michaelis of Don Martin Insurance of Fanning Springs serve as its insurance agent.

The action came after Acting City Manager Mary Ellzey brought up a proposal to put out a request for qualifications for a “single source” agent to handle all of the city’s insurance business.

Michaelis informed the commission that he had been appointed the city’s agent seven years ago and had done a good job securing low premiums. “You can’t get a better rate,” he said of the city’s health coverage.

Ellzey, who said City Manager Grady Hartzog put the item together before he went on personal leave, said the thinking was to put the business out for bid to streamline insurance operations and head off any possible complaints from other possible insurance business people.

Michaelis told the commission that while it chose to renew its health coverage at a 23.5 percent increase, “you can save up to 50 percent but you’re going to have to give up something.”