New ag-industrial plant, Dollar General coming to Glades County

MOORE HAVEN — A new agricultural manufacturer is coming to Glades County, as well as another Dollar General store. One rezoning petition and two proposed comprehensive plan future land-use map amendments were considered by Glades County commissioners Tuesday morning, Feb. 12.

First up was Peeples & Storey LLC’s petition for rezoning of part of its property, about a mile northwest of the State Road 78/U.S. 27 intersection, west of Moore Haven. Community Development Director Susan BuChans explained: “It’s for a 30-acre site that is located on a 147-acre parcel. The request is so that it can allow a fertilizer mixing facility on that 30-acre site.”

A private road connects it with U.S. 27, which is about 2.5 miles south of the plant site. She pointed out that Glades County’s comprehensive plan allows a simple rezoning for the introduction of an agricultural or “target industry” in areas designated agricultural/open use, so the plan did not need to be amended. A change from open use agriculture to heavy industrial zoning was sought.

Although it’s not served by centralized water/sewer lines, the applicant will design and install an on-site stormwater retention system, get an environmental resource permit from the South Florida Water Management District and build any needed utilities.

Ms. BuChans also wanted to point out about the development: “This … site has frontage on the railroad, about 1,500 feet linear frontage, so that would help with the delivery of this product that they’re making, and besides that, it’s an economic driver for the county as well.”

She also said, in answer to a question from Board Chairman Tim Stanley, that the private road would have to be upgraded to county standards but would remain part of Peeples & Storey LLC’s property unless dedicated to the public, so maintenance will be that firm’s responsibility.

Engineer Tommy Perry of Johnson-Prewitt & Associates appeared on behalf of the applicant. He said: “The site was chosen for strategic reasons. They had a fairly small window of areas to work in to choose a site. We feel like it’s what the county wants: It’s small industry, it’s an agri-business, it’s light manufacturing, it’s good jobs. We think it’ll be a benefit. There’s no intent for the access road to be maintained by the county.”

County Manager Martin Murphy asked whether he had any estimate of the job creation numbers. Mr. Perry said he didn’t have specifics with him, but Commissioner John Ahern said he’d seen a figure of 15 or 17, plus “truck drivers and other related jobs.”

“The 15, that’s the direct number of jobs,” said Mr. Perry.

There was no public input, and the ordinance was approved on a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Weston Pryor abstaining due to personal connections to the petitioners.

Next were Sandra Johnson and Tim Lewis, who were seeking a change to the comp-plan future land use map designation for 1.79 acres from residential to commercial general. It’s for a strip along SR 78 that is 0.8 mile east of Lakeport Storage and Marina, and their plans reportedly are to put a new Dollar General store on the site.

“The purpose of this is, in particular, to provide consistency between the land use and the zoning designation,” Ms. BuChans explained. They had the correct zoning but not future land use under the comprehensive plan. She said the area is becoming a “little commercial node that’s developing.” It’s across the road from Countryside Cafe.

Sam Medina of Sloan Engineering Group appeared on behalf of the applicant to answer questions if there were any.

“We did submit site construction plans for the development in anticipation of a favorable recommendation. We’re anticipating starting construction … probably in June, is what the target is,” he said.

In answer to questions from commissioners, Ms. BuChans and County Attorney Richard Pringle clarified that there had been no neighbors’ objections and that the Planning and Zoning Board had indeed approved the application.

Commissioner Donald Strenth, who lives in the Lakeport area, wanted to know if the Dollar General store would sell groceries like the new store in Moore Haven or if it would be smaller, such as the one in Buckhead Ridge. Mr. Medina answered that it would have groceries but is smaller than that store at a similar size to the Buckhead one, 9,100 square feet.

The other comp-plan map amendment was for land near Airglades Airport.

Lake Okeechobee News reporter/editor Chris Felker can be reached at cfelker@newszap.com.

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