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Commission OKs highway patrol track

A high-speed test track to be used for training by the Florida Highway Patrol was approved by the Gadsden County Board of Commissioners by the required 4-1 super-majority vote at the commission meeting last Tuesday in Quincy.

The track will be at the Florida Public Safety Institute campus of Tallahassee Community College, east of Quincy.

The issue of the test track originally came before the commission at its May 1 meeting, but there was considerable opposition to it.

Adjacent land owners Paul Hoppes and Harvey Suber (and their Bradley Road Partnership) told commissioners at the May 1 meeting they intended to build low-cost housing on their land, which Hoppes said would come as close as 57 feet to the proposed test track.

Hoppes said the building of the test track made his company’s development of desperately-needed low-cost housing for the county “incompatible” with being so close to the test track.

The Florida Highway Patrol and the Bradley Road Partnership had come to some compromises before the May 1 commission meeting, but not enough to reach a final agreement.

Following a series of additional meetings, the two parties were still unable to reach a compromise, which left the decision in commissioners’ hands.

At the June 5 meeting, the board members themselves discussed the merits of the proposal based on the public hearing testimony from May 1. The board did not allow any further testimony or clarification from either of the affected parties at the June 5 meeting.

With Commissioners Eric Hinson, Chair Brenda Holt and Vice Chair Anthony Viegbesie firmly in support of the track due to its expected positive economic impact and Commissioner Gene Morgan staunchly opposed to building it in its proposed location, Commissioner Sherrie Taylor became the key commissioner in the deliberations.

Taylor said from the outset she was for the development of the track, but she added she wanted to make sure the adjacent landowners were protected from the environmental impacts of this track.

Eventually Taylor proposed a motion to approve the building of the test track with a series of conditions.

Taylor’s motion passed 4-1, with Morgan casting the lone dissenting vote.

For more information, call the office of the Gadsden County interim county administrator at (850) 875-8650.

By Randall Lieberman