The City of Waycross, as part of its ongoing legal conflict with Pierce County, is going to mediation.
At a meeting at City Hall Tuesday, commissioners authorized the engagement of Patrick O’Conner as a mediator. A mediation hearing was ordered by Superior Court Judge Kelly Brooks a week ago.
Brooks will ultimately rule — possibly in September — whether the City of Waycross had its constitutional rights infringed upon by the bill State Rep. Chad Nimmer pushed through the legislature to remove Waycross city limits from Pierce County.
The legislation took effect July 1, 2015. Since then Waycross has had no jurisdiction in the Bonneyman tract of Pierce County, yet Brooks has decreed that the city continue for the present providing water and sewer service to Pierce County citizens who reside and run businesses there.
Waycross City Attorney Rick Currie commented in a work session Monday that judges in civil cases regularly refer litigants to mediation in hopes of settling the case by compromising.
Brooks ordered the city and Pierce County to meet with a mediator (O’Conner) within 30 days, and, according to Currie, a mediation hearing is to take place on Sept. 2.
City commissioners rescheduled the next planning and information session from Monday, Sept. 5, to Tuesday, Sept. 6, because that Monday is the Labor Day holiday.
Also on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 6:30 and 6:45 p.m., public hearings will be held in regard to the proposed zoning exception to allow 909 Richmond Ave. to have its zoning changed from RS-Residential (single-family dwellings) to RS-90 Residential which would allow a dilapidated apartment complex to be renovated and reopened. The current zoning does not allow an apartment building there. The apartment building had been “grandfathered” in until it became vacant and without utility service for more than six months; it then lost its special zoning status.
Mayor John Knox read a proclamation applauding the work of the Waycross chapter of the Colonial Dames who have upgraded Lott Cemetery, set up an index of its historic gravesites, produced a book form of the index and set up a map at the cemetery to help people find graves.
City Manager Raphel Maddox took several minutes to highlight achievements of goals set by the commission for him. He had Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner speak about the department’s efforts toward community policing, like the 8,000 bottles of water officers have given to citizens out in their yards working or children at play.
And Maddox called on City Engineer Jessica Deal to report on a couple of paving projects that have been long-awaited.
She thanked citizens for their patience at the months it is taking to resurface Alice Street — while keeping the roadway open because it is busy and important as a main route to Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross.
She also reported that the resurfacing of Baltimore Avenue that went into high gear in the past few days should be completed by the end of this week.