VERNON — The Vernon City Council approved the proposed expansion to the town’s Enterprise Zone on Monday night, paving the way for the revisions to be submitted to the state.
The town of Ebro also approved expansions to their Enterprise Zone on Thursday, so three more miles of potential economic development have been added to Washington County.
An Enterprise Zone is a state-created area for industrial or commercial development that offers incentives to businesses in order to create jobs. Those incentives include jobs creation tax credits, electrical energy tax credits, sales tax refunds for jobs creation and building materials, property tax credits for jobs creation and sales tax refunds for business equipment and machinery.
Last year the state Legislature passed a new law allowing counties to expand their Enterprise Zones, and Washington County will be allowed to expand its areas by three miles, which Washington County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ted Everett divided between Ebro and Vernon.
The bulk of the county’s Enterprise Zone is located in Chipley, but now Ebro and Vernon each have more than an additional mile.
“I think this is great,” said Mike DeRuntz, senior planner for Washington County. “This will provide a lot of opportunity for the future of Vernon.”
The Enterprise Zone changes will also have to be approved by the county Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners since part of the changes include county property.
In other business, the council approved advertising for a new city clerk. Longtime City Clerk Dian Hendrix has resigned, and the city is looking for a replacement. Deputy Clerk Karen Dodd is filling in during the search. Councilman Tray Hawkins said he hoped Dodd would apply for the clerk’s job so the city could hire from within its ranks to fill the position.
The council also reappointed Tim Barnes as the Vernon Fire Chief. Barnes had left the area for a while earlier this year, and Councilman Shawn Sanders was serving as interim fire chief.
The council approved using the Vernon Community Center for the 5th annual free Thanksgiving Dinner, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 28. The dinner will feature the Golden Rose band in concert.
The council also approved resident Steve Coatney temporarily connecting his travel trailer to city water and sewer, until a more permanent solution can be found.
According to county land use ordinances, permanent residence in recreational vehicles is prohibited, DeRuntz told the council.
“I don’t plan on living there any longer than I have too,” Coatney told the council. He currently is living on a family-owned plot of land over which there is a dispute as to which sibling should own, Coatney said, and his trailer is hooked up to water at the location where his brother once had a mobile home.
DeRuntz said it is allowable to live in an RV on a property while a home is being built, but only for a maximum of six months.
“I move we turn his water back on and give Steve six months to find a solution,” Hawkins said. “Lets get this resolved by July.”