JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The affordable housing development is crucial to Jackson County commissioners’ plans for the Endeavor property, or the old Dozier School for Boys.
They’ve been negotiating with Valiant Construction, the only company to submit a proposal for the project.
“They are made up of a number of different entities and they’ve got a memorandum of understanding, an MOU, on the table that’s got a lot of components included in it, included in that MOU, we basically will turn the property over to them in phases,” Chairman of Board of Commissioners Paul Donofro said.
As part of the proposal, the county has some financial commitments.
“We will agree as part of that MOU to pave Pooser Road, the road that fronts that piece of property and extend utilities to the property,” Donofro said. “Also as part of that MOU we will agree to pay have half the cost for a feasibility study, or market study, to determine exactly what the housing mix would be and they would also have us implementing tax increment financing to help pay for the infrastructure cost and a special tax assessment district as well.”
But, it wasn’t the terms of the agreement that caused the controversy.
A Valiant representative, who joined over a Zoom call during Wednesday night’s commission meeting, made some negative comments about and towards Jackson County Attorney Michelle Jordan.
After the remarks were made, attorney Jordan looked at the commissioners and stated “How can y’all sit there and let him talk to me this way?”
Following the confrontation, a local realtor said he knows the county needs more homes, but this company is not the answer.
“For him to say in a meeting to this lady what he just did, what are y’all going to say to him when he says that to you and you’ve already given them the land,” realtor Butch Odom said.
Chairman Donofro blamed the controversy on a miscommunication.
“The little bit of the confrontational language that you saw toward the end of the presentation really came about as a disagreement over some of the specific language and, you know, it was a result of what I would think poor communication between the developer and some of our key staff people,” Donofro said.
Despite the confrontation, commissioners voted to continue negotiating the MOU from Valiant. If the county rejects Valiant’s proposal, they’ll have to request new proposals for the housing project.