Leon Co. Commission Chair proposes plan to lower crime on North Monroe St.

Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 5:10 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Leon County’s Commission Chair wants to take a closer look at the three-mile stretch on North Monroe Street, from I-10 down to John Knox Road.

Commissioner Rick Minor says he’s heard from concerned businesses and residents about crime in the area. County leaders call this area of North Monroe “the front door of Tallahassee.”

Minor plans to bring up his strategy for combating crime, which includes creating a task force, at Wednesday’s commission meeting.

He’s already requested the Leon County Sheriff’s Office to increase its visibility in that area.

“More people come to Tallahassee through the North Monroe interchange than any other point in the county,” Minor says. “We need to make North Monroe something we can be proud of.”

Minor also says the crime statistics in that area are a problem.

“Higher assault and battery, burglary and robbery, drug use, and there was a recent case of an illegal gambling operation at one of the internet cafes there,” Minor says.

The Florida Dental Association has had a building in the area for three years now; the group extensively renovated the building they call home and enjoy their location.

However, employees are seeing some issues; CEO and Executive Director Drew Eason says one recent change is an uptick in trash.

“Shopping carts, garbage, in fact, the woods behind our building over here caught on fire a few months back due to somebody having a campfire,” Eason says. “It’s a wonderful part of town and we love being here, but we feel like it’s starting to turn a corner in the wrong direction.”

Eason also says he’s worried about his staff’s safety since he’s noticed more people loitering.

“Folks hanging out on the property, drinking alcohol, approaching staff as they get into their cars, those kinds of things,” he says. “I couldn’t have been more excited when I saw that Commissioner Minor was looking to address some of the concerns we have.”

Minor says his task force proposal will consider anything on the table. He floated the possibility of a new CRA district in Tallahassee but says nothing is concrete until the group exists and has studied the area.

One item that the task force could look at is adult entertainment stores on North Monroe. There are currently two of them, and while Minor acknowledged they are legitimate businesses, he says he doesn’t want the area to become overpopulated with them.

Commissioners have a status report on adult entertainment stores as part of the consent agenda; there is no action attached to the report, but Minor is hoping to fold it into the task force’s possible directive. According to the status report, all three existing adult entertainment stores are within City of Tallahassee limits. The agenda item says the local government does not have the power to regulate the stores based on content, but can regulate based on “secondary effects.”

Secondary effects could include an increase in crime, declining property value, or community blight. The status report was requested in September of 2019, with the County Attorney updating Commissioners on their regulatory power in December of 2019.

The crime report runs from November of 2018 through October of 2020; it did not show a drastic uptick in crime at any of the three existing adult entertainment stores.

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