Store owner said blocked alley will destroy business

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee City council heard from an upset business owner about an alley issue, and took action on some new economic incentives at their regular meeting Tuesday night.

Niki Salmon, of Rustic Style Furniture and Cabins, appeared before the council about the new Taco Bell restaurant on Northeast Park Street.

Rustic Style at 505 N.E. Park St. is next door to the new Taco Bell.

Ms. Salmon said Taco Bell has blocked the city alleyway which runs behind her store.

She said without the use of the alley, her business cannot receive deliveries.

“They have taken this property from the people,” she alleged. She said it is the city’s responsibility protect the alley, streets and parks.

“They should have never closed that alley because it will put me out of business,” Ms. Salmon said.

She alleged the city made a mistake on the site plan, Taco Bell is taking advantage, and her business is the victim.

Ms. Salmon said she has no confidence in the City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca and alleged that he had deceived her.

City Attorney John Cook told the council that litigation has been threatened in the case and the city should not make comments on the situation or respond in any way publicly.

Mayor Jim Kirk said he felt the city should take the attorney’s advice.

Councilman Dowling Watford and Gary Ritter said they should discuss the issue.

Councilman Ritter said he was concerned that the council had not discussed this sooner as he noted the problems began in May 2015.

Councilman Watford said he didn’t want the issue to fester.

An attorney for Ms. Salmon made a large public records request from the city last week, Mr. Cook said.

“Prior to any litigation, it is important to talk and see if there is middle ground,” the attorney cautioned.

Councilman Mike O’Connor said he wanted the issue expedited and solved.

Mayor Kirk said the council needs to be educated on the issue and see if the issues can be resolved short of litigation.

In other business Tuesday, the council approved an ordinance to rezone three parcels that measures 0.434 acres from residential multi family to industrial for Okeechobee Asphalt & Ready Mixed Concrete. The property will be for the storage of fill material.

The council also approved an ordinance to allow employees with the Okeechobee Utility Authority to withdraw from participation in the city retirement system. A final public hearing date is set for Sept.20 at 6 p.m. An inter-local agreement was approved that will give 60 percent of the funds in the funds to the OUA and 40 percent to the city.

The OUA will receive 80 percent of these funds on Oct. 1 and the remainder next April after audited financial reports are available on the performance of the fund in fiscal year 2015.

The council also approved a temporary closing of streets that surround Flagler Park, namely S.W. Second, S.W. Third, and S.W. Fourth Avenue between N.W. Park Street and S.W. Park Street on Sept. 17. The Warrior Center will hold a Veterans Appreciation Day in the Park on Sept. 17.

The council approved foreclosure actions on an abandoned home at 1002 S.W. 6th Ave. Code fines have exceeded $7,290 and city officials have been unable to contact the property owner.

The council approved a proclamation to mark Sept. 10 as Suicide Awareness Day. Representatives of Suncoast Mental Health accepted the proclamation.

Spokesperson Amy Ross said everyone in the community has been touched by depression or knows someone who has. Statistics show suicides out number deaths in motor vehicle accidents in the United States.

Bobby Keefe, board member for Suncoast Memtal Health said 22 veterans commit suicide daily in this country.

New Horizons accepted a proclamation to declare September as National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.

CEO John Romano said they have worked in Okeechobee for over 40 years.

In the past four years there has been 320 suicides in the Treasure Coast region.

The council approved an agreement with the state of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity that provides new tax incentives that can be offered to prospective businesses and industry. The region includes DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, and Okeechobee County and the cities of Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay. It continues to designate this region as an area of regional economic concern. It also gives these communities an edge when they apply for government grants. Councilman Gary Ritter will represent the city at agency meetings.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment