News Cast for March 19th:

A barn used for weddings, an animal sanctuary, and the Walmart Super Center lost appeals about their tax assessments before the Okeechobee County Value Adjustment Board at separate hearings.

The Walmart building was assessed at $21.65 million and the land at $15 million this year.

The Area 51 sanctuary failed in another effort to be designated a non-profit operation for tax purposes. They have gone to court in prior years.

Ever After Farms Stockyard Barn wanted an agriculture exemption. They use the barn to hold weddings.

Property appraiser Micky Bandi defended the values and the decisions. He noted sometimes the value of a location can change and impact your assessments.

“The plaza where Popeye’s restaurant is located was a wonderful location 40 years ago. That was before the auto dealers moved south and we got a Publix and development slowly moved south. It was great when it was built but as time evolves things move and traffic moves. If Glades County develops like they are talking about that development will continue to move south.”

Bandi said Area 51 is a good organization but there are no legal exemptions available for them.

“We have a gentleman here that has a genuine love for animals. He is doing great things. He is not asking for a dime from the public. He is spending his own hard earned money to do it. My hat is off to him. I have no problem with what he’s doing but it doesn’t fit in a tax exemption in Florida statutes.”

A Washington DC man was sentenced to 3 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for trying to bring cocaine, LSD and other drugs into the Okeechobee Music Festival last March 5.

31-year-old Wayne Pinnock pled no contest to three criminal charges. He scored 98 months in prison since he had prior convictions for drug sales, robbery and traffic charges.

Guards at the festival claim they found 84 grams of cocaine, a small amount of LSD and nearly 20 grams of various pills. They also found two nitrogen tanks, items of drug paraphernalia and over $1,700 in suspected drug cash in the vehicle.

The Village of Indiantown Planning Zoning and Appeals Board approved the annexation of 116 acres between Citrus Blvd and Kanner Highway on the St. Lucie Canal.

It gives the village another 2 miles of waterfront.

The developer wants to put in marine related businesses. They also want to work with the new Indiantown High School to teach marine industry careers.

Planning Board member Renita Pressler voted against the project. She said the village might not be ready for this.

“Is the village able to handle this kind of waste disposal? A ship yard is not a clean industry. You have a lot of pressure washing going on. The hulls or bottoms of the ships are pressured washed, you have waste water. How is the village equipped to handle that?”

Indiantown Marina Owner and Planning Board member Scott Watson said it would be a great benefit by adding two miles of waterfront to the village.

“We can build boat yards, yacht manufacturers, and service and support businesses along with the school. This is an opportunity I have never seen in my lifetime. Indiantown could very well become the marine center of Florida in the future because we have the land available.”

The board also approved a rezoning to allow Sedron Technologies to build a facility at the waste water treatment plant for handling sludge and septage from South Florida plants. The goal is to produce cement and fertilizer and clean up water in the basin.

Staff is also reviewing plans to two residential projects that plan to bring in 157 new single-family homes and 57 residential units as well as plans for a new Dollar Tree.