Commissioners discuss road safety, vandalism, signs

Posted 8/23/19

OKEECHOBEE — Safety concerns on State Road 710 were once again a topic of discussion at the Aug. 22 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commissioners.

Commissioner David Hazellief said he has …

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Commissioners discuss road safety, vandalism, signs


OKEECHOBEE — Safety concerns on State Road 710 were once again a topic of discussion at the Aug. 22 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commissioners.

Commissioner David Hazellief said he has received complaints about safety concerns in regard to a State Road 710 property between County Road 15A and County Road 15B.

“We have an auction company that decided they wanted to have an auction.

They cut the fence and put in two corner posts and started advertising for an auction,” he explained.

He said the property did not have a driveway in that area previously, and there are already skid marks. If we get a lot of rain this week, the conditions will be worse, he said.

“If you look at Google Earth, there has never been a driveway there,” he said. “My concern is the safety situation.”

He said the property was previously just a pasture with some cow pens.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” he said.

He said the zoning in the area would allow auctions.

“They are asking for a temporary permit to do that,” he said.

The commissioner said the county should not issue a permit unless there is proper traffic control.

There are other sites in Okeechobee that are available for auctions, he added.

“Temporary use permits must fully comply with all of our codes,” said County Attorney John Cassels.

Restrictions on animals
In other business, Commissioner Hazellief said the county needs to resolve the questions about the number of farm animals allowed on properties under 5 acres.

“We need to ask the planning board to address this and send it back to us,” he said. The commission agreed to put the question on the agenda for the next available planning board meeting.

Signs on the right of way
Commissioner Bryant Culpepper said a Coquina resident complained about business signs placed on the right of way.

County administrator Robbie Chartier said signs are not allowed in the county right of way.

If the signs are on the Coquina right of way, that is up to Coquina, she added,

Commissioner Hazellied said the Florida Department of Transportation removes signs placed in the state right of way. He asked if the county road department can remove signs as well.

“Yes they have the legal right to do that,” said Mrs. Chartier. She said code enforcement officers have also removed small signs.

Commissioner Hazellief said they should encourage the county road department to remove commercial signs they see in the county right of way.

Commissioner Brad Goodbread expressed concerns about the continuing vandalism at the Clif Betts Jr. Lakeside Recreation Area (previously known as Lock 7).

Commissioner Bryant Culpepper said he rode with the road department recently and was amazed at how many places had been vandalized.

“If there is no penalty there will be no resolution. If there is no follow up and prosecuting of these individuals, it will not stop. We’ve got to start prosecuting these individuals, no matter who they are or who their parents are,” said Commissioner Culpepper.

SR 710 extension
The county administrator said Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is trying to resolve the issue with Okeechobee Utility Authority about the proximity of the OUA well fields to the planned construction area for the SR 710 extension. OUA officials have expressed concerns the plans put the road too close to the well fields and construction could damage the well fields.

“From what I understand, the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation requirement for distance from those wells is 75 feet,” Mrs. Chartier said. The city requires a buffer of 200 feet. The county rules would require 150 feet.

She said if FDOT has to change the planned route for the SR 710 extension, it could mean a delay of 10 years.

Roadway data
The commissioners also reviewed a presentation by Culepper and Terpening on the data gathering for the GIS roadway inventory.

According to the presentation, within the county there over 500 miles of roadways including state, county, city and private roads. About 380 miles of roadways are under the jurisdiction of the county. All of the roadways were analyzed for physical conditions ranging from “failed” to “excellent.”

The data base includes information on and images of 12,006 culverts; 13,540 driveways (paved and unpaved); and 3,600 road signs. The database can be accessed from mobile devices in the field. The system can also be used to set priorities for road work.

Property Appraiser Bandi said the GIS map will be a tremendous help for the county offices. He said he would like to be able to overlay the road maps with information from OUA to see where the water and sewer lines are, with FPL to know where the power lines are, etc.