Below are the news briefs from the Tallahassee City Commission meeting that took place on February 22, 2023.
The city commission approved an agenda item that allows the city to pay $19,104 in traffic concurrency mitigation fees to support the conversion of a former motel into a certified affordable housing development. Specifically, a former Motel 6 on North Monroe Street will be converted into studio apartments. The location map can be viewed here and the site plans can be viewed here.
Commissioner Curtis Richardson offered his support for this project to work on affordable housing, an issue that he said is arguably one of, if not the, top issue facing the community. He also said that he is in favor of “equitable” distribution of plans like this saying that he is glad to see this taking place on North Monroe and not exclusively the southside.
The only commissioner to vote against it was Commissioner Jeremy Matlow, not because he did not support affordable housing projects, but just felt that $200 per unit was a “reasonable concurrency fee to ask.”
The commission considered and approved an item that would direct city staff to work with the Big Bend Homeless Coalition (BBHC) to develop a purchase and sale agreement for a Capital Circle NW property. The BBHC would either “purchase or lease the land,” according to their letter of intent, with the intention of developing multi-family affordable housing units specifically for homeless veterans.
Commissioner Jeremy Matlow, said his concern was the fact that the city was selling off public land without a “competitive process.” His view is that, if the city is going to sell off land, a competitive bidding process should be the standard in order to prevent rumors of preferential treatment which is “likely not true,” according to Matlow. Commissioner Jack Porter agreed with Matlow’s sentiment. Porter ended up voting in favor of the project while Matlow voted against. Matlow was the only commissioner who voted “no.”
The commission passed an agenda item that approved the sale of 0.26 acres on W. Tennessee Street to Peerless QOZF, LLC (Peerless) as part of a multi-parcel assembly for a mixed-use development. The initial concept includes 300 dwelling units and 15,000 square feet of ground floor commercial/retail. It is expected to lead to 400+ construction jobs and a minimum of 20 permanent jobs, and an anticipated $600,000 of additional property tax revenue each year and $400,000 is earmarked for the Greater Frenchtown Southside CRA District.
Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter voted against the project with much of their reasoning seeming to stem from their concerns over the previous land sale agenda items.
The city heard an update on the status of the Tallahassee International Airport securing JetBlue Airways offering non-stop, daily jet service to Fort Lauderdale International Airport. It was announced the service will begin in January 2024 stating at $99 per ticket.
Towards the end of the meeting when commissioners share their ideas, Commissioner Matlow said that he is ready to move forward with a noise ordinance which has been months in the making. Numerous business owners and residents have come and testified before the commission dating back to October 2022 and the city began research into other municipalities and how they handle noise ordinances.
The city attorney said they are hoping to have a draft of the noise ordinance by the time the city commission meets next.
Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox said that she did not want to rush into the noise ordinance resolution because she did not want to disregard many of the citizens’ voices they haven’t heard yet.
City Manager Reese Goad reminded the commission that one of the complexities of the noise ordinance discussion is “outdoor amplified music” which he said is a very complicated matter. The rest of the commission showed hesitation to taking on a noise ordinance resolution at the next meeting.
At the very end of the meeting, Commissioner Matlow addressed a point of contention that came up during the meeting between he and Mayor John Dailey. Earlier in the meeting, Dailey reiterated that he gets his briefings on the issues that they will be discussing before their meetings, and Matlow stated that he has a strained relationship with City Manager Reese Goad and he does not believe Goad is giving Matlow and his team full information going into meetings.
“In fact, briefings have lead to false accusations made against me where he had to get outside counsel and investigators to show they were false. Respectfully, if I like to get my information by email, and have my answers in writing, that’s how I’m going to get it,” Matlow said.
The full meeting can be viewed here.
As usual, Matlow and Porter the only commissioners doing real work and not rubber stamping public giveaways.
On the matter of the “Noise Ordinances” agenda……… have you talked with the First Court Of Appeal yet? If you remember, a Law about Loud Car Stereo’s was enacted, where if a LEO can hear your Car Stereo from 25 or 50 Feet away, they can give you a Ticket. The First Court Of Appeal later shot that down. SO, before you go any farther, you might want to talk with them to see if YOUR Agenda can also be shot down.
Another reason to do a nationwide search for a new city manager. The city is suffering in the economy, crime, environmental issues, aesthetic issues, political corruption, special interests, a budget deficit yet a $25 million giveaway to special interests…Matlow is right.