The Commerce News
December 1, 1999
Like Good Deal For City
It's a little early to
tell, but the city of Commerce may be getting a wonderful Christmas
present from a Gainesville developer.
Broughton Cochran of Cochran Properties has the recommendation
of the Commerce Planning Commission to support his request to
have approximately 125 acres between old U.S. 441 and the U.S.
441 bypass rezoned M-2 for an industrial park.
The city should be pleased on two fronts. First, city officials
have for months been seeking a site for an industrial park that
is inside the city limits. Cochran's property is. The development
of the land could provide some much-needed industrial growth
on the city's tax digest.
Second, the property was previously proposed for a mobile home
park that might have contained 500 or more units. City Hall would
have fought that development (the planning commission had recommended
denial of the rezoning request, but the owner and his lawyer
made veiled threats of taking the city to court). That fight,
if the city grants Cochran's request, will not be necessary.
No doubt there will be some difficulties. For example, it is
likely that the six-inch water lines in the area are insufficient
to meet industrial needs. Rectifying that will require negotiations
between the developer and the city. There will also need to be
discussions about sewerage needs and an understanding between
the developer and the city about what kinds of industries are
welcome and which are not.
Hopefully, the city council and Cochran can work together to
iron out any obstacles to the creation of an industrial park.
If they can, Cochran wins, the city wins and its taxpayers win.
The city needs a greater industrial tax base to help offset the
cost to residential taxpayers of a growing school system and
to provide more income in its utility funds. The community needs
more good jobs and, like Commerce, Jackson County can use the
industrial tax base.
We'll see what develops, but Broughton Cochran's proposal for
an industrial park sure looks good.
Commerce: A Good Buy
Once again, the city
of Commerce, from a property tax standpoint, is the least costly
place to live in Jackson County.
At the risk of sounding like an adjunct of a city chamber of
Commerce, we think that's just one of the good things, financially,
about living in this city.
Commerce's tax rate averages a mill or more below most other
tax districts in Jackson County. But in addition to having the
lowest (ok, let's say the "least high") taxes, it has
the least costly utility prices as well. Commerce's electric
rates are the lowest in the county and in the area. Ditto its
natural gas rates, and its water and sewage treatment rates are
no higher than average.
Its city government has the best management in the county, so
the city is able to not just maintain the status quo, but to
make improvements. The downtown improvements, new sidewalks,
cemetery improvements, more road resurfacing, a full-time recreation
department, a huge civic center and a performing arts center
are all part of the package residents get while paying less in
property taxes and less in utility bills than any other place
in the county. Our library is tops in the county, our animal
control program is well-established, we have our own police and
fire departments and maintain an independent school system. And
Commerce has reserve funds to meet future needs.
No one likes to pay taxes or utility bills, but at least Commerce
residents have the satisfaction of knowing their rates are lower
than anyone else in the area. Citizens of Commerce get more for
their money. Commerce is a good buy.
The Commerce News
December 1, 1999
Glad To Skip
Christmas shopping ain't what it used
The Beardsley family, for the first time, skipped its annual
day-after-Thanksgiving shopping trip to Clearwater (FL) Mall,
an exercise designed not for the filling of Christmas lists,
but to see if we're still up to the stress of the Christmas Crush.
I'm just not up to it any more.
It's heredity. My father was not one who suffered crowds and
lines. At least not silently. Nor did he enjoy the challenge
of beating 100 other motorists searching for the only vacant
parking place in a 10,000-car mall parking lot.
My father also thought Thanksgiving was too early to begin decorating
for Christmas. The very concept of "Christmas stores"
that open year round would have caused him to light a Winston
to calm his nerves.
My father's holiday sentiments were handed down along with the
genes that control hay fever, I think. Thus, my annual Florida
mall experience was undertaken out of a desire for family harmony,
as opposed to one for shopping.
Driving in my home county any time of the year is an exercise
in patience and defensive driving, but during the Christmas season
it is almost madness. Most of the madness is perpetuated in the
parking lot, where it is common for families to conduct their
entire shopping experience without ever finding a parking space.
One designated driver merely circles the parking areas until
he (seldom) comes upon a vacant parking spot (they only occur
when a car is stolen) or finds his family having completed their
Those are the lucky ones. The unlucky motorists are those who
actually manage to find a parking place and are forced to accompany
their family into the mall. It is incredibly difficult to get
into the Christmas spirit Nov. 26, when it is 85 degrees and
most of the shoppers are wearing shorts. Nonetheless, Santa can
be found, dressed as though he were at the North Pole, probably
some recently transplanted Buffalo resident who is already starting
to see the ice and snow of his former residence as less troublesome
than the line of children he entertains on the next shift.
The first thing I want upon entering the mall is a cup of coffee.
I'd join the line of other middle-aged drivers still shaking
from the parking experience, and after 45 minutes exchange $2
for a cup of something that may have once been coffee but which
has evolved into toxic waste.
The coffee would be the highlight of the day.
To the background music of "The Chipmunks' Greatest Christmas
Hits," we separately walked the length and breadth of the
mall, the women actually shopping and the men trying to figure
out how to accomplish our own gift buying by mail, over the Internet
or at a convenience store. Navigating the halls is like participating
in a human demolition derby, trying to avoid being run over,
or running over someone, trying to survive until the checkered
flag goes up.
But the hour finally came when we were allowed to leave, the
women happy with their purchases, we men thankful that there
were only 29 shopping days left.
I can't say I missed it.