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LETTERS

Letters: County needs code enforcement officer

Staff Writer
The Apalach Times
The Apalach Times

The Franklin County commissioners have a serious problem. This is a problem that represents negligence and reckless disregard for the best interests of the citizens. There is a situation that has existed for quite some time in Lanark Village, a small and peaceful community in the eastern part of the county which enjoys historical significance dating back to the days of Camp Gordon Johnson during World War II.

I am a long-term resident and property owner in this area. There is a residential lot on Enabob Street. Situated on this lot is a camper currently occupied by an individual who is supposedly running a junk recycling operation. The camper on this lot is a clear violation of permitted structures on residential zoned lots. The operation of junk recycling on this lot is also a clear violation of permitted use on this lot.

This lot currently occupied with camper living quarters has been defined by Franklin County as a "health nuisance" as stated in a Nov. 7, 2019 email from planning and zoning to Florida Department of Health. This email also states that this residence on Enabob "is not connected to any sewerage source.” \

The email goes on to state "The county is also working on this matter for other purposes.” I wonder that the "other purposes" are. The occupant of this lot has told the state health department that he uses the restroom at the Lanark Village Boat Club just across Highway 98. I do not think so. The occupant of this lot also told state health officials that he removes his garbage daily. This is not the case if you happen to see the photos, in the possession of the county, of food containers and other garbage littering the property.

The real problem is that Franklin County does not employ a code enforcement officer and has not for some time. Apparently, county commissioners refuse to hire such a code enforcement officer, citing budget constraints. I believe that such enforcement efforts are being assigned to outside legal counsel. The county has an overall budget of about $58 million, with budget line items for commission executive salaries, planning and zoning salaries and outside legal counsel fees totaling about $350,000.

You would think the commissioners would fill this important position which would have a direct beneficial impact on the quality of life and well-being of the citizens of the county, not to mention the improvement of both property assessed values and property tax revenues to the county. The cost of a code enforcement employee would be self-sustaining over time. In discussing this situation with state health department officials, they advise they need a county code enforcement official to cooperate with them to be effective.

The situation on Enabob Street is so egregious, apathetic, deplorable, smelly and nasty that you could just imagine that if any of the county commissioners or planning and zoning staff lived across the street, this situation would have been resolved immediately several years ago. This situation is years old, not months.

The commissioner representing Lanark Village made a number of campaign promises to several of the local residents "to fix" this situation. So far, no action and no results. So much for false "campaign promises.”

There is a very simple solution to this particular problem and others like it in the county: Code Enforcement Officer. Just follow the code and the law. No public meetings or hearings or commission votes are required. The commissioner for Lanark Village seems to be more interested in talking about parking at St. George Island than fixing a health and welfare issue for his constituents. This commissioner also has a misguided idea of having a "roundtable" to discuss the dysfunction of the Enabob neighborhood and other neighborhoods like Enabob.

Obviously, the health and welfare of the neighbors immediately adjacent to this lot on Enabob have deteriorated to dangerous levels. The neighbors' property values have significantly decreased.

This is a bad situation. This is a failure of the county to ensure the quality of life and well-being of the citizens of Lanark Village and Franklin County. The county commissioners have failed in their duty to serve the best interests of the county.

Mike McLoad