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Good Bye to Red Light Cameras

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Posted: Sunday, December 31, 2017 12:59 pm | Updated: 2:06 pm, Sun Dec 31, 2017.

   A six member City Council moved swiftly through a crowded agenda at its last meeting of 2017 on Wednesday December 20.

   The City’s contract with American Traffic Solutions for a three year extension of the red light camera program failed on a three-to-three vote.  Before the vote, Mayor Jeff Porter asked if there was a deferral motion to wait for a seven member Council but the motion died for lack of a second.

American Traffic’s representative, Orlando Torres of Tampa, shared data about Homestead’s 2009 system. 

   He said the program resulted in a 75 per cent reduction in police citations and raised significant monies for local trauma centers from an additional ten dollar fee as well as another three dollars for paralysis centers.   

   Torres asserted the cameras changed driver behavior.  An attending Homestead police officer said she and the police chief supported red light cameras. 

   Councilman Stephen Shelley said he had no problem with the company’s management but that he never supported the cameras.  Both Mayor Porter and Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough echoed his remarks.  The Mayor said he could not support the program because moving right hand turns were a problem that was not resolved.   

   Councilman Jon Burgess and Councilwoman Jenifer Bailey spoke in favor of the program.    

   Councilwoman Bailey suggested a warning for moving right hand turns before issuing a ticket might solve the problem.

Voting in favor of red light cameras were Councilman Larry Roth, Bailey and Burges.  Voting opposed were Mayor Porter, Shelley and Fairclough. 

   City Manager George Gretsas said after the vote, “Based on direction of Council we will not be renewing the contract.”

Council cleared the way for the $32.997 million Homestead Station

project with an amendment to the development agreement with Axiom DR Construction to conform deadlines to new timelines due to

hurricane delays. 

   A public right -of-way behind the construction site was vacated and a letter of financing with City National Bank was approved by Council. 

The public facility ground lease was changed to give the Homestead Station

developer an additional 271 parking spaces

provided at their cost, to conform to the project’s site plan.  A tri-party agreement with the City and Axiom plus Showbiz cinemas further clarified

parking terms and ownership of the spaces.  Showbiz is the pay the City $130,000 annually for its 188 guaranteed City-owned spaces. 

New Market Tax Credits from Capital One plus a twenty-four month bridge loan were authorized to provide financing for the new Cybrary construction.

   Council approved all six resolutions for Homestead Station construction unanimously.

   Three resolutions were approved to permit on 140 foot communications tower near the Baywinds development at theoretical 142nd Avenue and the C103 canal.   

   Homestead’s comprehensive plan was amended to include a new category termed “technology mixed use” permitting cellphone towers, and a resolution specifically allowing this project. 

   The developer’s counsel noted the Air Base signed off on the height of the tower but Council spoke about the lack of public comments on the project.  Ultimately, Councilman Stephen Shelley voted against the project but agreed to the new technology category.  

   Council approved other changes to Homestead’s zoning rules during this meeting.  On first reading was an amendment to open space rules for planned developments, deleting a provision that counts water areas toward the mandatory recreational land set-aside.  

   Sexually oriented business locations are restricted under the Code and Council amended the one thousand foot distance requirement to include libraries, an obvious protection for the new Cybrary. 

   Also on first reading was a Code amendment to restrict residential building density to a net basis under zoning rules to be useful in future planning.         

   A budget amendment passed to take $5 million from disaster relief funds under the City’s general fund and the electric utility to balance storm clean-up costs.  FEMA hurricane reimbursements are expected to replace this City money. 

   Two housekeeping measures passed – one reconciling 2017 funds with the new budget to include ongoing capital projects the City plans for $53.445 million. The other change provided the required five year capital projects update. 

   Council also approved a site plan on a 2.46 acre parcel in the Park of Commerce for a warehouse facility with twenty-two truck bays and forty-two parking spaces.

   CenterState Bank’s request to delete a five year restriction on three properties on 17th Street was approved with a more restrictive zoning category of B-1A, limiting usage to clerical office space as a reflection of the residential neighborhood’s desire for quiet usage of the properties. 

   After brief discussion, Council offered direction on expenditure of $200,000 in state monies for a Sickle Cell Awareness campaign.  Recognizing the limited time left to spend the money by the June 30 fiscal deadline, Homestead Hospital’s proposed program was favorably received although smaller sums could be spent through local providers. 

   In its final action, Council endorsed a resolution co-designating parts of Krome Avenue after the late Robert M. Levy who was the City’s state lobbyist. 

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