The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, October 31, 1989, at 5:05 p.m., in the Board of County Commissioner's Meeting Room, Lake County Courthouse, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: C. W. "Chick" Gregg, Chairman; Thomas J. Windram; Richard Swartz; Michael J. Bakich; and Don Bailey. Others present were: Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney; Al Thelen, County Manager; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Gregg, Chairman, led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance.
PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT/ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES/ORDINANCES
Mr. John Swanson, Director of Planning and Development, gave opening remarks, stating that the proposed Wekiva Amendment is to the development regulations, as required by the Wekiva River Protection Act, to implement the policies proposed in the Amendment and the Comprehensive Plan. The Amendment to the Development Regulations amends sections of the Zoning Code with the same language found in the policies of the Plan Amendment. He stated that three (3) new definitions had been added for agriculture, cilvaculture, and the Board of County Commissioners, as well as the fact that several definitions had been changed, for clarity, being: easements, Lake County, bought, right-of-way, site plan approval, and uplands. No substantial changes have been made to the Amendment, other than those incorporated by the Board of County Commissioners in past meetings. Typographical errors contained in the submission this date will be corrected for the final public hearing on November 14, 1989. He stated that there are two (2) additional ordinances being prepared, amending sections of the Lake County Code, which relate to the Tree Ordinance and the Flood Plain Ordinance, to also be presented at the November 14th Board Meeting. He then referred to a letter which the County had received from Mr. Paul Bradshaw, Director of the Division of Planning Resource
Management, Department of Community Affairs, State of Florida, in which Mr. Bradshaw outlined Wekiva amendments which the State would like to see included in the proposal.
Commr. Gregg informed those present how this meeting would proceed, stating that the Board would first discuss the proposed ordinance, open the meeting for public comments, and then would close with a Board review of changes which will be made this date. He stated that at the last workshop meeting, concerning said issue, the Board went through the point system, as is proposed, and then went through existing zonings, closing with a discussion regarding clustering in the existing zonings.
Commr. Bakich questioned, for clarification purposes, when Commr. Gregg and staff recently went to Tallahassee, whether the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) was in agreement with the plan that was submitted, to which Commr. Gregg replied that, what was indicated in the letter, was not what was agreed on in Tallahassee, which is typical.
Ms. Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney, informed the Board that, inadvertently, language which addresses a minimum size of 12,500 square feet (which was added to all zoning districts), was left out of the AR and RMPR zoning districts, in the Amendment to the Land Development Regulations, noting that said language would be added to the new draft, which will go before the Board at the final hearing on November 14, 1989, as well as the correction of some typographical errors which were found.
Commr. Swartz referred to Page 46, of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment (Ordinance No. 1989-3), under Policy III, regarding the Mining Act, noting that it clearly states that mining activities shall be prohibited within the Wekiva River Protection Area, and goes on to say that expansion of existing mining activities within said area, as well as the excavation of borrow pits, shall be subject to approval of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners, of which said language is included in the Regulations, on Page 15, with regard to expansion of the existing mining activities (stated word for word) and the excavation of borrow pits (which the language is the same), however, it does not include the first sentence, which states that mining activities shall be prohibited within the protection area. He stated that he felt it was important to include said language in the Regulations, due to the fact that in Paragraph 60.160 L. l., in the current Regulations, it deals with the requirements for getting a CUP to do these various types of mining activities. He also stated that staff needs to insert, in Paragraph 60.160 L. 2., starting with the expansion of existing mines, a sentence just before it, which states that it is subject to approval of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners. He stated that he had discussed it with Ms. Lustgarten and she felt that said wording should be added to the Regulations, for clarification, in order to make sure there is no question about it.
Commr. Swartz also referred to Page 33, of the Comprehensive Plan, where the Board had made a change at the last workshop, after much discussion about the possibility of having some type of commercial use in the vicinity of the proposed interchange. He stated that where the sentence states, "limited commercial uses will be considered in the vicinity of the interchange of the proposed northwest beltway until completion of same", that the language should be changed to "no commercial uses will be considered", etc.
Mr. Mike Szunyog, Director of Planning, informed the Board that staff would incorporate said language into the Amendment, as requested, as well as the sentence relating to the requirement for a land use plan amendment.
Commr. Swartz then referred to Page 30, of the Comprehensive Plan, stating that it was his understanding that the Board had agreed, during a discussion at a previous meeting, that M-l (Heavy Industrial) was not going to be allowed in the Wekiva River Protection Area, however, the draft of the Comprehensive Plan only discusses keeping commercial/industrial away from the publicly owned conservation lands. He stated that on Page 31, of said plan, it states that commercial/industrial shall not be permitted adjacent to water bodies, however, the Board had agreed not to allow commercial/industrial in the protection area, therefore, language cd needed to be included that would clarify such, in both the Comprehensive Plan Amendment and the Regulations.
Commr. Swartz stated that he felt it was essential to clarify what is in the Comprehensive Plan and what is in the Regulations, with regard to where the County is going to allow commercial. He stated that DCA has indicated a willingness to discuss and allow some commercial in the urban node, however, he did not think it was very clear in the Regulations, as to just what is being allowed in said area, and felt that it needs to be made clear. He then
referred to Page 42, of the Comprehensive Plan, for clarification, regarding the County's intent to protect wetlands. He questioned whether, to keep from having to come back and amend the Comprehensive Plan again, the language, regarding same, could state "within the limitations contained in Lake County's Wetlands Ordinance", to which Ms. Lustgarten stated that said language had already been changed, noting that the Board would be receiving a revised draft of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment. She stated that all references were taken out, where possible, which pertain to the Lake County Code.
Commr. Swartz stated that he felt the Board needed to discuss commercial, and exactly what is being allowed in the urban node, for clarification purposes, at some point in time.
A brief discussion occurred regarding the letter from DCA, in which they recommended that the County reduce the size of the urban node, as they felt that it stretched too far east into the Wekiva River Protection Area, at which time Commr. Bailey stated that he felt the Board should follow the recommendations made by DCA.
Commr. Bakich commented regarding areas which DCA took out of the urban node, versus areas which the County included, stating that, in his opinion, it was a tradeoff. He also stated that the only change he would feel comfortable with, at this time, would be moving the boundary further to the west. He stated that, otherwise, he was comfortable with the existing boundaries, and would support keeping them as they presently are.
Commr. Windram questioned staff as to whether DCA had ever commented regarding the grandfathering in of existing zonings, to which Mr. Szunyog replied that, to his knowledge, said issue had never been addressed.
Commr. Swartz stated that, in reading the letter from DCA, they very clearly support downzoning, in some areas. He then referred back to the comments which Commr. Bailey had made, concerning the urban node, stating that he was not certain whether it was better to have the area of RR (which was removed), as opposed to the area north of Mt. Plymouth, stating that he would certainly support and encourage removal of the PUD from said urban node, whether or not the County keeps the RR (south of Hwy. 46) and removes the area to the north.
After further discussion, Commr. Gregg noted that it was the consensus of the Board to accept the recommendations made by DCA, thereby, removing the PUD and putting the RR back in, as discussed.
Mr. Swanson commented on the staff's visit to Tallahassee, stating that vesting of current zonings was discussed and it was his understanding that, because Lake County lacked a land use map (it only has a narrative description of a land use map) they were talking about certain areas which would have a density, or no units built whatsoever, within the Act itself. He stated that what staff has done is to take a look at the Wekiva River area, and, based upon existing standards for wetland areas, have come up with a number of wetland areas which are excluded from development because of St. Johns River Water Management District's regulations and other wetland ordinance regulations. He stated that the St. Johns protection area indicates that, within areas of one-half mile of the creek, one cannot construct or build. He believes that this is what the State is mentioning, when they talk about getting to one unit per forty acres, within said areas. He stated that the County does not have a map which clearly identifies said area as a zone, therefore, it would be his recommendation that the County go until they get a definitive answer from the State that the County's present zoning is vested. The Board noted that they did not have a problem with doing so.
Commr. Bakich stated that the County needs to clarify the definitions for existing zonings, or expand it somewhat, therefore, any project or application for development that has been filed, staff needs to have the applications for rezoning, site approval, or preliminary plat approval, noting that they should all be vested and reviewed, based on approval or denial of the County's Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations.
Commr. Gregg questioned whether the County Attorney had reveiwed the language, as it is presently worded, to which she responded that she had, and what it says is that land within the protection area may be developed as currently zoned or platted, or if it meets the lots of record exception requirement, as defined in the Lake County Code (Section or if an application for development or site plan approval has been filed prior to the effective date of said ordinance, it may be developed, based on what has been filed, what is zoned, or what is platted.
It was clarified that, if someone has an application for rezoning, site plan approval, or preliminary plat approval, they would have a vesting ability that the development will be looked at, based on the existing Comprehensive Plan.
Commr. Gregg brought the topic of densities up for discussion, questioning whether anyone had a desire to change from the present point system, considering what had been suggested, to which Commr. Swartz responded that, aside from DCA's recommendations on the zoning that they are suggesting, he thinks the County still has a significant problem with the draft of the plan and ultimate subdivision regulations, in that the Act requires that the County encourage clustering in certain areas, when it promotes protection of environmentally sensitive areas. It also requires that the density, or intensity of development permitted on parcels adjacent to the Wekiva River system, be concentrated on those portions which are farthest away from the surface waters and the wetlands, and that the land not be subdivided in such a way that it would not concentrate that development from the surface waters and wetlands. A problem that the County has in their Plan, and the Regulations, is that, except for a PUD, there is no such encouragement. Unless one goes to a PUD, there is nothing that the County has to encourage them to cluster or to locate away from the resource.
Commr. Bakich questioned Commr. Swartz how one clusters on one to five acres, or, even on one to forty, to which Commr. Gregg injected that he felt the Board had discussed this issue enough, noting that it is a consensus of the Board that they are not in favor of doing it, as it cannot be done and grandfather in existing zoning.
Commr. Swartz stated that he brought said issue up again, as he felt that the Plan is not consistent with the Act.
Commr. Gregg stated he is concerned that, in trying to change the existing zoning, if the County makes too drastic a change, it is leaving itself wide open for a lawsuit for "taking", and feels that what DCA is proposing is just that, that if the County goes to one to forty acres, it would be a "taking" and the County will be sued. He stated that he had questioned Mr. Pelham, DCA, in Tallahassee, if DCA would be willing to pay the County's legal expenses to defend it, if it is sued, and they replied that they would not. He stated that he could not support an issue that he knows the County will be facing legal action on.
Commr. Swartz commented further, stating that he believes that the County has within the Plan, and the Development Regulations, inconsistencies, noting that the County has the definition of low density residential development, which says it is the same definition as rural density used throughout the balance of Lake County, which is less than, or equal to, one dwelling unit per gross acre. He stated that the Plan does not call for what the County has in the rest of the County - it calls for something that will preserve and protect that area. He, therefore, feels that the County's definition of low density residential development is not consistent with the Plan, and this is the problem that the County finds themselves in at present. Where the County compounds the problem is that the County still appears to be using a gross acreage determination for five acre tracts, noting the Wekiva Falls project as an example. He stated that there are many lots in said project that have significant amounts of wetlands on them - that they are using a gross acreage definition. He stated that, in the Plan, and the Regulations, the definition of "usable land area" is the same as "net acre". If one goes to "net acre", it says exactly what the traditional definition of "net" is, which excludes all those things. If one then goes to the Subdivision Regulations, under AR, RA and A, it uses the term "usable land area" - exactly what is defined as "net" , however, the County is not doing it that way.
Discussion continued regarding whether future developments will be developed as "net" or "gross", at which time Commr. Gregg stated that, at the present time, developments have been, and continue to be, developed on a "gross" density basis.
Ms. Lustgarten, County Attorney, informed the Board that the language in the current Amendment to the Comprehensive Plan is based on "net". She also informed the Board that the language in the Amendment, regarding "vested", states that current zoning or platted property is considered "vested", as well as lots of record. She also stated that applications filed, prior to the effective date of the Ordinance, would be processed pursuant to the existing regulations, at this point in time. She also stated that, while zoning, or platted property, would be "vested" as to a particular density, they would be developed pursuant to the new land development regulations. She stated that she wanted to clarify said fact, because there is a distinction between zoning, platting, and lots of record, noting that an application for development approval that has already been filed, as of the effective date, is a different category than zoned property. The regulations that would apply to subsequent development permits would be the new land development regulations.
Commr. Gregg questioned whether the Board is to interpret, based on the present Comprehensive Plan, or whether they are supposed to second guess what is going to come out of the Amendment before them this date, stating that this was the whole reason for adding the "vesting", so that they would not take a project that had started through the process, gone through rezoning, was starting through SAC and other procedures (to subdivide), and then, after the developer gets to step 2, pass a new Ordinance and cause his whole plan to be trashed.
Ms. Lustgarten, County Attorney, stated that anything in the process, as of the effective date, would be processed under the existing regulations at that time.
Commr. Swartz stated that every zoning classification the County has uses the term "usable land acres", however, the only ones that the County is applying it to, appear to be RR, back down to the higher densities, therefore, he cannot find that there is any justification or rationale from the Comprehensive Plan, or the Zoning Regulations, that would warrant it - it's just that somewhere along the line it happened, and continues to be perpetuated, although some developments have to do it and some do not.
Ms. Lustgarten stated that the meeting this date was the first public hearing, which is required by the Florida Statutes, due to the fact that the County is amending their land development regulations, affecting more than 5% of the unincorporated area of the County. She stated that there would be a second public hearing, which is scheduled for November 14, 1989, at which time the Board will also hear the actual Amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, as well as two other ordinances, amending other sections of the Code, to incorporate the Wekiva provisions. At that point, the Amendment will be transmitted to the Department of Community Affairs, for comment, who will determine whether or not it is in compliance with the Act. DCA then has two options - if they find it is in compliance, they can petition to the Cabinet a recommended order finding that it is in compliance, or, if they find that it is not in compliance, they can submit a recommended order, finding it was not in compliance, and notice Lake County as to what their findings were. If the County is found not to be in compliance, it will be given the option of an Administrative Hearing, pursuant to Chapter 120 of the Florida Statutes, which is the Administrative Procedures Act. At that point, the Board would make a decision whether or not to seek the Administrative Hearing. If the Board chooses to do so, the Administrative Hearing would be in Lake County. At that time, the County would have the opportunity of presenting evidence, witnesses, documents, etc. The Administrative Hearing Officer would make a recommendation, based on said hearing. That recommendation is made to the head of the Department of Community Affairs, which is the Secretary. The Secretary considers the recommendation of the Administrative Officer and may or may not follow the recommendation.
At that point, it would then go to the Cabinet, for action, and the Board would have various options to take.
Commr. Windram questioned Ms. Lustgarten as to who would be the hearing officer - the Cabinet, Governor, or who, to which Ms. Lustgarten stated that it would be someone appointed by the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, from the Department of Administrative Hearings, in Tallahassee.
Commr. Windram then clarified the fact that if the Department of Community Affairs did not like the recommendation of the Administrative Hearing Officer, they did not have to adopt what was recommended, therefore, what position would the County be in if they did not like said recommendation, to which Ms. Lustgarten stated that the County would still have to wait for the Secretary to render a final order, based on the Administrative Hearing Officer's findings. She stated that the County would then have the ability to go to the Cabinet, or, perhaps have it reviewed in Circuit Court.
Commr. Bakich commented, stating that, up to a few years ago, when the Task Force was originated, the Amendment was adopted and the local governments were asked to review and amend their Comprehensive Plans, the State was asking the local governments to amend their Comprehensive Plans, based on local government land uses. The State was to then review the local Comprehensive Plans, based on the Amendment, as it was written. He stated that Lake County's own delegation has stated that the Department of Community Affairs has interpreted this and has taken it to the extreme. He stated that, in his opinion, the Board has done a responsible job and feels that the County has a good Amendment. He feels that the State has extended their arm too far in this process, and is concerned that if the State has their way on this issue, then it will, in effect, have its way throughout the entire County, thereby, affecting all land uses within the County. He stated that he has a problem with DCA forcing an opinion on Lake County that they have not forced on Orange and Seminole Counties. He stated that he feels DCA needs to take a hard look at the original intent of this Amendment and see that the Board has done and gone far beyond what they have been requested to do.
Commr. Gregg commented, stating that he has met with representatives of the Department of Community Affairs twice recently, and left their office feeling that the present Amendment was well received by them. He stated they indicated they would like to look at the point system and possibly make some changes in it, which he saw no problem in doing. He stated that he saw no problem in changing the urban node, however, does have a problem with the changes which DCA is recommending. He stated that he agrees with Commr. Bakich, in that Lake County has a right to decide its land issues, too, and also has a problem with holding a public hearing regarding it, if the final decision is going to be made by Mr. Pelham. He sees no sense in going through the process, if the State is going to decide what is best for Lake County, especially, when it is decided by political appointees that may not be in office four years from now.
At this time, the Chairman opened the meeting t o those present in the audience, in order to allow them to give input.
Ms. Cecelia Bonifay, Attorney, representing a number of land owners within the Wekiva Basin, who will be significantly affected by this Amendment, appeared before the Board stating that her clients are among many who invested in Lake County because they felt Lake County was a county with a future - a future worth investing in. She stated that she is very disappointed, having attended one of the meetings with representatives (who are in responsible
positions) of the Department of Community Affairs and hearing comments that were made by them. She stated that she tends to agree with the comments which were made by Commrs. Bakich and Gregg, stating that this is supposed to be a local government process, as it is a local government land development and regulation act, not a State planning directed or State planning mandate. She stated that local government was supposed to make the decisions, because they are the people who are elected by the public to make zoning decisions and enforce said regulations, noting that the Board is the one that sits in meeting after meeting and listens to the general public, as a local government. She stated that the way she reads the comments made by the Department of Community Affairs, the local government has been left out of the process, and that Tallahassee is going to tell Lake County what is best for it, as they feel that the County does not know how to determine its own destiny or how to deal with its land use problems.
Ms. Bonifay stated that this creates a boom for the development community in Orange and Seminole Counties, at which time she referred to the Equal Protection Act, noting Wekiva Falls as an example. She stated that one to twenty, or one to forty, units per acre are unheard of densities, and questioned where else in the State such densities exist, or where else, along any other sensitive environmental area, has the State come in and commanded these kinds of densities - nowhere in the State is one going to find a precedent for this. She stated that she is concerned that the State is interjecting itself and trying to supplant the role of local government.
Another issue Ms. Bonifay addressed was the "vesting" issue, stating that it is important for those people present to read the letter from the Department of Community Affairs, noting that said letter does not say that the State is going to "vest" one, if one has an agricultural zoning, nor does it say that one gets to come in and do something with one's property. In fact, she stated that she does not know how one can infer, deduce, or anything else, when the letter states that the area in question should be downzoned to a density of one residential unit per forty net acres. She stated that the point system cannot be applied to said areas, to allow.densities up to one unit per ten net acres, and those zones that are one to twenty should be downzoned. She noted that the letter does not mention anything about "vesting", "grandfathering", or doing anything with the people who have bought property in the Wekiva Basin, and giving them any compensation for the land which will be taken away from them. She stated that she agrees with the County Attorney's interpretation on the "vesting" language, and concurs with her legal opinion, although it does not benefit the residents of the Wekiva Basin. She stated that she feels the County is going to have a lot more difficulty, concerning zoning, as well as make a lot more work for the attorneys.
Ms. Bonifay stated that she thinks the Board has done an exemplary job in trying to tackle something that is very difficult, noting that this is the first act of its kind that has been passed in the State, and hopes that it will be the last one to be seen for a while. She stated that she hopes the Board will send it to the Department of Community Affairs, and if they choose not to agree with it, that the County will then pursue whatever legal remedies are appropriate.
Mr. Frank Dorsey, representing the Wekiva Basin Land Owners' Association, appeared before the Board stating that he is going to ignore the letter from the Department of Community Affairs and assume that Lake County still has a county government and that they know what they are doing. He commended the Board for attempting to be innovative and flexible, by producing a point system that will allow a higher density unit of development, where the developer gets consideration for a variety of environmental factors in a PUD. He then commented on the possibility of "taking" said lands within the Wekiva Basin. He commented on the fact of one home being allowed in five net acres, stating that, in reading the Plan, it did not appear to be clearly stated. He indicated that the Wekiva Basin Land Owners would like this factor to be specifically stated in the Amendment. He then expressed gratitude to the Board for resisting some of the ridiculous pressure which was placed on them from the State.
Discussion occurred regarding an exemption that the Code has concerning small land owners (those owning less than 10 acres), in that those having a mimimum of 12,500 square feet of high and dry land, can build one unit on said property.
Commr. Swartz stated that he agreed with the statement made above, for property involving 10 acres or less, however, was not sure whether it applied to property consisting of more than 10 acres, to which Mr. Dorsey responded that all references in the Code pertain to 10 acres or less - that it does not mention those property owners having more than 10 acres.
Commr. Gregg requested the County Attorney, Ms. Lustgarten, to look into the matter, as the intent of the Board was to allow those property owners having at least 12,500 square feet of high and dry land, to build one Jnit on said land, no matter how many actual acres they had.
Mr. Ross Buchanan, a resident of Eustis, appeared before the Board thanking them for having a meeting at a time when the general public can attend. He commented on the issue of "eminent domain", and the fact that it is a part of life, and will have to be accepted. He stated that he had never heard of downzoning, and questioned whether it was an issue of property rights or an issue of density on property. He stated that he assumed the Department of Community Affairs wanted downzoning in order to protect the river, wildlife, and plants, as well as to prevent the spread of pollution and urban sprawl, and questioned the Board as to why they did not want the same thing - why they preferred a higher density.
Commr. Bakich stated that the reason the Board is against downzoning in the Wekiva Basin is due to the fact that if an individual purchases five acres of land in said area, he will find that he can do nothing with it - that it would be useless to him.
Commr. Gregg injected that something one must keep in mind is that one has to weigh the scale, in that the environment is entitled to some protection, however, the property owners have some rights, also - rights that are guaranteed through the Constitution of the United States, and to take someone who can presently build one house on every five gross acres, and suddenly tell him that it will now be one house to every forty gross acres, is going to leave the County open to some litigation for the "taking" of their property, as this is gross downzoning. He stated that this is the primary reason for the Board not going along with the recommendations made by the Department of Community Affairs.
Mr. Albert Simpson, a local resident, appeared before the Board stating that he does not feel that any group, or Governor appointed agent, under a possible one-term Governor, has a right to come into Lake County, or any other county, and tell the Board and residents what they can and cannot do. He stated that the Florida Supreme Court recently sent a message to the Governor informing them that the State of Florida can handle their own affairs. He stated that he has all the confidence in the world that the Board can handle
the County's affairs and protect the rights of the people of Lake County.
Mr. Steve Richey, Attorney, representing several property owners in the area in question, appeared before the Board thanking them for participating in the purchase of the BMK and M. K. Citrus properties. He stated that, for years, the County had talked about moving some of said lands out of private ownership into public ownership, and with the Board's help, this was accomplished. He stated that, by the Board doing so, it will help protect the environment in said area.
Mr. Richey stated that, approximately a year ago, the County started on the process before them this date, and the Board adopted some preliminary proposals, being: (1) that the County was going to "vest" rights; (2) that the County was going to allow individuals who had existing zonings to enjoy those rights: and (3) to give those individuals who have an economic investment in the Wekiva Basin their value. He stated that, should the Board be inclined to go back and adopt the "taking" policy of the Department of Community Affairs, he feels the Board would be overwhelmed with individuals protesting it. He stated that, if the Board is going back to a position that is evidenced by the Department of Community Affairs' letter, which basically takes away those rights and puts the County into a one to ten, twenty and forty, that the Board needs to send out notices to the property owners in the Wekiva Basin, informing them of such, because this would be contrary to everything that has
been heard over the last year, and contrary to prior Board Meetings, where said subject was discussed. He stated that it would involve a substantial material change, as well.
Mr. Richey stated that, to go back to one to forty, would be detrimental to the property owners in said area. He stated that certain individuals had purchased property in the Wekiva Basin, with plans to develop it in the future and make a profit, and that there was nothing wrong with doing so. He stated that some individuals purchased 5, some 40, and some as much as 1,000 acres, and suggested that the Board be sensitive to said individuals' economic investment. He stated that the issue regarding converting from net to gross, has been discussed in sort of a cavalier way, but, when one thinks in terms of it affecting property owners' rights to the tune of a 30% reduction in units, this is a 30% reduction in value, in economic investment.
Mr. Richey also stated that the Department of Community Affairs has said that the County can have certain things, however, he did not vote for those individuals involved, from the Department of Community Affairs. He stated that the citizens elected the Commissioners to represent them, and in the history of the Board, they have protected Lake County, and believes they will continue to do so, therefore, suggested that the Board tell Mr. Pelham, with the Department of Community Affairs, that this is the way we think Lake County's future is going to go and it is worth spending our tax money to protect this Board's independence, because the people of Lake County have a substantial investment in that area and we deserve to have a return on said investment. He stated that nobody has calculated, as an example, the loss of ad valorem taxes by cutting back the density to one to forty, in 120 square miles of Lake County. He stated that this is bottom line money that would come into Lake County, that the public is not going to have, to pay for schools, roads, and impact fees for jails and recreation.
Mr. Richey stated that Lake County is apparently looked at by our neighboring counties as the place where one comes for recreation only, however, this is not what Lake County's future holds, and with the guidance of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment, the County can have a substantial economic base to provide taxes and still protect the resources.
Mr. John Benton, Vice President of the Lake County Conservation Council, appeared before the Board stating that he appreciates the fact that the Board decided to restrict the urban node to the area where it is, as he feels it is a prudent measure, however, would encourage the Board to seriously limit the commercial development in the area of the interchange. He also stated that the point system needs to be viewed with a more jaundiced eye in areas of the outstanding Florida waters, as well as in the areas of Black Creek and the Wekiva River.
Mr. Charles Lloyd, a resident of Umatilla, appeared before the Board stating that the Wekiva River Protection Act, as he understands it, says "preserve the rural character of the area", noting that this is the State law. He stated that Lake County, as well as 66 other counties, are political subdivisions of the State, not sovereign entities. Although the State law says "preserve the rural character", the second paragraph of the draft ordinance reads, "The Board of County Commissioners of Lake County is desirous of facilitating the orderly development of land within the unincorporated areas of Lake County, including the protection of land and vital natural resources.", noting that the key word is "development". He stated that, while the County may be interested in that for areas of the County outside the Wekiva River Protection Area, in other areas, the County should be desirous of facilitating the maintenance of the area which the State Legislature has seen fit to describe. Aside from this, he urged the Board not to take a hostile and litigious position, as, if they do, they like another county that tried, may have the Florida Cabinet prescribe what will be the County's ordinance.
Ms. Kathleen Cook, Environmental Chairman of the League of Women Voters of Lake County, appeared before the Board and read a statement from same, regarding the issue of downzoning the density of the Wekiva River Protection Area, noting that they support said effort.
Mr. Phillip Wick, a member of the Board of the Friends of the Wekiva River, appeared before the Board stating that all the controversy over the one dwelling unit per forty acres applies only to the wetlands. He then read a letter (which was submitted for the record) from the President of the Friends of the Wekiva River, regarding the Comprehensive Plan Amendment, which states that they realize what a difficult task it is, considering all the various interest groups which have been providing input to the process, noting that they believe the Board and its staff have made great strides in attempting to strengthen the Amendment and to protect the integrity of the Wekiva River Protection Area.
Mr. Wick stated that they agree with the recommendations made by the Florida Department of Natural Resources and would like to add to their concern regarding the size of the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento urban node, noting that the eastern extension, into the Wekiva River Protection Area, is excessive, and that caution should be part of the action, in the first amendment. He stated that there is ample provision for changes in the Plan, via the Florida Department of Community Affairs' process, with well defined time frames. He stated that his group agrees that the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento urban node should only extend approximately one-half mile east of Mt. Plymouth. He stated that, with the possible purchase of additional tracts in the area, by the State of Florida, in addition to BMK, his group feels that any shift to the east should be delayed until such time as these State purchases are finalized. In the interim, efforts should be made to develop the end holdings, between Mt. Plymouth and Sorrento.
Mr. Wick then read comments regarding other specific items, which he referred to, stating that it was imperative that the Board not make any decisions that would have a potential to damage the integrity of the Wekiva River. He thanked the Board for the opportunity to provide his group's comments, noting that they want to continue to work with the Board and its staff to make the County plan a model of land management and environmental protection.
Ms. Joan Irwin, a resident of the Wekiva River area, appeared before the Board stating that she feels the Board should be backing the Department of Community Affairs, instead of condemning them, and that it was a shame they had to step in and force the Board to protect said area.
Ms. Judy Wick, a member of the Board of the Friends of the Wekiva River, appeared before the Board stating that she realized the Board had a pretty difficult task ahead of them, as it is their job to consider the input from two separate interest groups, with opposing goals, and to determine a Comprehensive Plan that will please both of them. She stated that, after all input has been received, she hopes they will decide on a future with clean water and a protected Wekiva River. She stated that some land owners claim that their right to do what they want with their land is everything, but, the small land owners have rights too, such as, a right to clean fresh water, and peace and quiet (which was sought when they purchased their properties), in an area which cannot sustain as heavy a population as higher and dryer land. She then requested the Board not to make the same mistake that Seminole County made, but, to learn from it.
Mr. Steve Burton, a property owner contiguous to the BMK Ranch in Mt. Plymouth, appeared before the Board commenting on the natural beauty of his property, as well as surrounding properties. He commented on the quality of life one finds in said area, stating that he did not want to see it change. He questioned the property rights of individual land owners, questioning whether it is good for the short term or whether it is going to have a negative result in the long run.
Ms. Mary McKee, a property owner within the Wekiva Basin (Royal Trails), appeared before the Board stating that she hopes to see her property, as well as the surrounding properties, remain as pristine as they presently are. She stated that she was sure the Board would protect the property rights of the landowners.
Ms. Jennifer McMurtray, Department of Natural Resources, appeared before the Board stating that her comments would be pretty limited, due to the fact that her department has been hit with a lot of new information. She stated that the Ordinance contains a lot more information and she noticed that there are some new definitions, as well as noticed that some definitions had been removed. She also noted that she had not had time to review the letter from DCA, as she had just received it. She stated that she feels one of the problems is due to the fact that they are not real clear what the actual building potential is, in the Wekiva Basin, therefore, feels that the discrepancy between what the Board is proposing and what the State is proposing may not be so big after all. She stated that, what it comes down to is how much density there will be and where it will be put, noting that both the County and the State agree that they want to put development away from the resource and concentrate it in the urban node. She stated that she feels the State is going on the assumption that the County is going to keep the same number of units that is allowed under current density, and the way that they have gotten said number is from what the County has sent them. The State has accepted that number, and what their letter and recommendations is designed to do, is to focus most of said development in the urban node, and less of it in the other areas. She stated that the County and the State may be arguing over something that they are actually in complete agreement on, and just do not realize it.
Ms. McMurtray stated, however, that she cannot evaluate the situation unless she knows where the Board is and where the Department of Community Affairs is, and feels that the two staffs are going to have to get together. She stated that she would like to see maps and noted that if she and her department can be of any help, they will do what they can.
Further discussion occurred regarding the issue, at which time Commr. Bailey stated that somehow the Board needs to get to a point where there is not an adversary relationship between them and the Department of Community Affairs.
Commr. Bakich commented regarding a frustration he has, in that Lake County is not being treated the same as other counties, and Commr. Gregg commented regarding the fact that the letter from the Department of Community Affairs did not coincide with what was discussed at the meeting with them in Tallahassee.
Mr. Lloyd suggested, from the audience, that the Board submit a Memorandum of Understanding and have it signed by the Department of Community Affairs, to which Commr. Gregg replied that this would not work.
Mr. Swanson, Director of Planning and Development, reappeared before the Board stating that the next hearing (being the final hearing) is scheduled for November 14, 1989, and stated that staff does not have enough hours in the day to continually make revisions to plans which have already been set forth, noting that is is a burden to all involved, and recommended that the Board proceed with the Amendment which is before them this date.
Commr. Bailey suggested perhaps getting the County's local delegation to work with the Board in trying to resolve the adversarial relationship between the Board and DCA, regarding the Wekiva Basin.
Commr. Swartz stated that, in some of DCA's reviews of other rural counties' regular Comprehensive Plans, where they say they want to see urban sprawl stopped, and rural densities and rural character maintained, they are, in fact, talking one unit to twenty and one unit to forty acres in those rural areas, therefore, what they are saying to Lake County is not as unique as it might have been portrayed. He stated that the letter from DCA says that they have concerns about urban sprawl and overdevelopment in the environmentally sensitive lands of the Wekiva Basin, and if the County will get out of said areas, with their higher densities -move those densities, which they have agreed to, back into less environmentally sensitive areas, this Board will reach a ground which DCA will approve..There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 7:20 p.m., on a motion by Commr. Bakich, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried unanimously.
C. W. "CHICK" GREGG, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK