The Madison County Commission came together for their meeting on Wednesday, September 23 at 6 p.m. After the agenda was adopted, petitions from the public began the meeting. Octavius Tookes asked the board to approve a temporary road closure around St. James Missionary on Monday, October 5 through Saturday, October 10 for New Bethlehem Baptist Association. The closure will last from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on these days. Tookes assured the board that the closure would still allow the free flow of traffic and emergency vehicles while also giving visitors optimal safety while they attend the event. The closure would be the circumference of the church between Georgetown Road and Lee. Tookes also stated that there would be people stationed at the barricades to let vehicles through in case of emergencies. The board approved the road closure. Albert Barfield took to the podium next and informed the board that he was opening a new assisted living facility in his residential home for the elderly and the handicapped. Barfield requested that the board allow the facility to operate under the state policy without his facility being considered commercial. The board made the decision to make a special exception since Barfield would be complying with zoning regulations, as his facility would have six or fewer residents, and the Florida Statute states that in order for a residential home to be considered community residential, there needs to be a capacity of seven to 14. The board approved the exception and decided to waive his fees for the exception.
Barfield and the board agreed to keep this as a work in process as they learn more about the facility. Barfield agreed to pay the fees of publications if the board pays the fees for the special exception. Public Works presented their reports after Barfield was finished. Northest Celosia Drive has a sinkhole that needs to be filled. The project is estimated to cost $460,000 provided the sinkhole doesn't increase when dirt is put in. The board approved this project. The discussion of a boat ramp in Darby Pond that was discussed at the meeting on August 26 was brought up again. The board approved the signage for the pond, which would state that only boats with electric motors would be allowed in the pond after the boat ramp is put together. The discussion was tabled for more discussion. Bill Henderson of Florida Department of Transportation announced that because the legislatve meeting moved forward to January this year instead of March, the planning schedule for FDOT is mixed around. “We have to do everything two months earlier than we usually do,” said Henderson. There will be an open house meeting on Thursday, October 8 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Lake City. He invited the board to attend. Next, Property Appraiser Leigh Barfield came to the board with a special request. Barfield reached out to the board to add a private bathroom for the female employees. The bathroom would be an individual bathroom with a keypad for employees to enter a code in. “We're just trying to make a better place for our employees,” said Barfield.
She suggested making the upstairs mens' bathroom a unisex bathroom. The board tabled this request. Commissioner Rick Davis then discussed with the board a possible change to the regular meeting held on Wednesday, November 18. The meeting was approved to be moved to Thursday, November 12 at 9 a.m. County Attorney Tom Reeves postponed his covenant for the old landfill site and it was tabled for further discussion. For the last item on the agenda, County Coordinator Allen Cherry asked the board to review suggested items for discussion with the legislative delegation and think of things to add to the list between now and October 27. The next county commission meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 14 at 9 a.m.