BOCC to discuss public comment, agritourism

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will discuss updates to public comment procedures and hear a presentation on agritourism on Tuesday during a special meeting starting at 1:30 p.m.

According to the meeting agenda, the BOCC will consider adopting a resolution that “revises the board’s rules of procedure for meetings, including amendments recommended by the County Attorney and staff.”

A presentation by County Attorney Sylvia Torres will focus on what rules of procedure are, address quorum and remote participation, define “open to the public” in terms of hybrid, seating capacity, use of signage and persons with disabilities.

Rules about open public comments and how they differ from current practice is also a topic.

According to Florida statute, public comment on propositions must give residents a “reasonable opportunity to be heard… during decision-making process.”

Torres will also review Quasi-judicial procedure, citizen input and addressing the board, expected decorum.

County Planner Mehdi Benkhatar will present the background and a review of agritourism as requested by the BOCC in a motion on Dec. 14, 2021.

According to Benkhatar’s presentation, Agritourism activity, “means any agricultural related activity consistent with a bona fide farm, livestock operation, or ranch or in a working forest which allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy activities, including farming, ranching, historical, cultural, civic, ceremonial, training and exhibition, or harvest-your-own activities and attractions.”

Florida Statutes 570.85 state about agritourism, “Except as otherwise provided for in this section, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, a local government may not adopt or enforce a local ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy that prohibits, restricts, regulates, or otherwise limits an agritourism activity on land classified as agricultural land under s. 193.461.”

The presentation will also outline special exceptions and additional uses of land in agriculture districts such as bed and breakfasts, rural event centers, RV campgrounds and music concerts.

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