SEBRING — County commissioners didn’t have many questions for Leah Sauls Tuesday before confirming her hire as the new community programs manager.
She didn’t have questions of them, either. Sauls will move into the slot vacated by Chris Benson, who is the county’s new Business Services division director.
Benson fills the slot vacated by Tasha Morgan, who applied for and was hired as the new assistant county administrator under County Administrator Randy Vosburg.
Sauls’ starting salary and benefits package is $85,327.91.
Vosburg said Sauls has an associates degree from South Florida State College and a bachelor’s in political science from Florida State University. She graduated Leadership Highlands last month, and has served as Panther Youth program coordinator at SFSC.
Board Chair Greg Harris joked that it seemed county administration was getting “lopsided with Seminoles” from Florida State.
Vosburg chuckled and said they could adjust that in their interview process.
“And knowing who you’ll be working for, you still want this position?” Commissioner Don Elwell asked.
Sauls nodded. Commissioners laughed and said she could return to her seat.
In other business, the County Commission approved a resolution and budget amendment to appropriate $500,000 from the General Fund balance for purchase of conservation easements in Military Zone I of the Avon Park Air Force Range.
They also approved amendments to Highlands County Land Development Regulations to clarify the accessory structure height regulations and reduce the lot size requirement for cell towers in the agricultural zoning district.
Linda Conrad, Zoning supervisor, told commissioners that the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment voted in a majority to approve this change.
This new provision applies to lots of one acre or less.
In the past, she said, zoning officials have allowed other structures on the property to be taller than the house as long as they had a similar architectural style to the house.
It only addressed private garages, so this clarification now says every accessory structure that’s taller than the house must conform to architecture of the house.
The other amendments said that cell towers in agricultural zones can be on a lot one acre or larger, with 100-foot setbacks.
Previously, the rules required more land and more setback, Conrad said.
She said commercial zoning only requires 5,000 square feet and 80-foot setbacks.
In answer to a question from Commissioner Jack Richie, Conrad said the county does require the landowner to purchase more land for setbacks and fall zones, should a tower topple.
Commissioner Jim Brooks noted that the old Harder Hall golf course, currently the Sebring municipal course, has a cell tower disguised as a pine tree.
County commissioners also vacated easements, in first public hearings, at 1440 Kyra Ave., 4220 Sunrise Drive, 4230 Sunrise Drive and 4240 Sunrise Drive in Sebring, as well as at 743 Mustang Ave. NW in Lake Placid.
Brooks noted that recent meetings have had a few such vacations of easements, requested by homeowners wishing to combine lots and build over the easement.
Brooks asked if this had anything to do with increase in building, and County Engineer Clinton Howerton Jr. said it might. He does not know for certain, he said.
“And we hope we never need the easements, right?” Brooks asked.
Howerton said he still has drainage easements on the sides and backs of the lots. He said he’s only vacating those easements between the lots and is working with landowners to make sure drainage easements are available.
Rick Whidden, speaking for the applicants, said that in Placid Lakes — where one easement is located — developers put easements in between every single lot.