The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, March 9, 1999, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioner's Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson, Vice Chairman; G. Richard Swartz, Jr.; Rhonda H. Gerber; and Robert A. Pool. Others present were: Sue Whittle, County Manager; Sanford (Sandy) A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Administrative Supervisor, Board of County Commissioner's Office; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
It was noted that there was an Addendum No. 1 and Addendum No. 2 to the Agenda.
ADDENDUM NO. 1
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/CONTRACTS, LEASES AND AGREEMENTS
FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES/SUITS AFFECTING THE COUNTY
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, explained this request, stating that it was a request for approval of the Settlement Agreement of Haun vs. Lake County. He stated that the County's insurance company had agreed to pay $127,500.00 to settle the case. He noted that no county funds would be used in the settlement. He stated that, under the County's policy, the Board had the right to approve or reject the settlement, however, noted that, if they rejected it, the County would assume further costs incurred in defense of the case and, if there was a judgment, the County would assume that cost, as well.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
No one was present in opposition to the request.
There being no one present who wished to address the Board, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Swartz and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved a request from the County Attorney for approval of the Settlement Agreement of Haun vs. Lake County, in the amount of $127,500.00.
ADDENDUM NO. 2
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/SHERIFF'S OFFICE
On a motion by Commr. Pool, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved a request from the County Manager for approval of Sheriff Knupp's request to utilize the refund of Principal Life Insurance, in the amount of $180,238.00, to purchase seven pickup trucks and one wrecker, in the amount of $179,114.00.
The Chairman informed the Board, for informational purposes, that the Sheriff would be coming before them in the near future with some information regarding the Federal Government coming forward with some computers.
PERSONAL APPEARANCES/PUBLIC HEARINGS
WORKSESSION - PROPOSED TURNPIKE INTERCHANGE
GROWTH MANAGEMENT/MUNICIPALITIES/PLANNING/STATE AGENCIES
Mr. Mike Eyes, a resident of Sumterville, addressed the Board stating that he was representing various residents in the Sumterville area, who support the proposed CR 470 Turnpike interchange, because they feel it will help the Sumterville area grow the way it should.
Mr. Joe Fatebena, a resident of the Marion County side of The Villages, addressed the Board, in support of the CR 468 Turnpike interchange, noting that it would help the residents of The Villages be able to better access the Lake Square Mall and surrounding area. He stated that The Villages presently has a population of 19,000 and 5,000 additional homes are anticipated to be added to the Marion County portion of The Villages, within the next two to three years, which means that approximately 10,000 additional people will be traveling Hwy. 27/441 through Leesburg. He asked the Board to approve the CR 468 interchange.
Commr. Hanson questioned what the time frame was for widening Hwy. 441, from the Lake Square Mall to Leesburg.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Public Works, addressed the Board stating that it would probably be at least ten years.
Mr. Howard Luther, a resident of Sumter County, addressed the Board stating that he was against the CR 468 Turnpike interchange. He stated that he had written a letter to Mr. Tony Otte, City Manager, City of Leesburg, indicating his feelings regarding both the CR 468 interchange, as well as the CR 470 interchange, which he noted had been published in the local newspaper. It was noted that some members of the Board had seen said article. He requested the Board to approve the CR 470 interchange.
Mr. Russell Day, a resident of Lady Lake, addressed the Board stating that he was in support of the CR 470 interchange. He stated that, if the Board approved the CR 468 interchange, it would not be fair to Lake or Sumter counties.
Mr. Dan Gordon, Manager, Hawthorne, addressed the Board stating that most of the people in Hawthorne support the CR 470 interchange, because it will relieve some of the congestion in south Leesburg.
Mr. Knute Dobkins, a resident of Lake Panasoffkee, addressed the Board stating that he was in support of the CR 470 interchange, because he was from Key West and it would be a lot easier for him to get on the toll road and head south, when he wants to visit his family.
Mr. David Gray, a resident of Brooksville, addressed the Board and read into the record a statement about the proposed Turnpike interchange, with regard to funding for same and where said funding comes from. He stated that he felt the CR 470 Turnpike interchange project should be allowed to proceed, noting that both Lake County and Sumter County would lose, if neither of them have a Florida Turnpike interchange. He stated that there are obvious benefits to having an interchange at both the CR 468 and CR 470 sites and that he felt sure Lake County would assist Sumter County in applying for the CR 468 interchange, during the next funding period, beginning fiscal year 2004, just as Sumter County helped Lake County obtain the CR 470 interchange. He stated that it is not an issue just between the residents of Lake County and Sumter County, because a significant amount of funds have been spent by the State to partially fund the project's preconstruction. He stated that it is a Florida resident issue.
Mr. Benny Strickland, Chairman, Sumter County Board of County Commissioners, addressed the Board stating that he wanted to thank Lake County and the City of Leesburg for their help, with regard to the CR 470 turnpike interchange, however, wanted the Board to know that regardless of how it goes there will not be any hard feelings from Sumter County.
Ms. Sally Sherman, Assistant City Manager, City of Leesburg, addressed the Board and gave a brief presentation regarding the proposed CR 470 Turnpike interchange and what would happen to the funding, should it not be used for the interchange. She stated that, since the funding was approved for the CR 470 interchange, the County would definitely run a risk of losing that funding, if it was not utilized for that interchange. She stated that the City of Leesburg, as well as the County, has been moving forward aggressively, with regard to the CR 470 interchange. She asked the Board to look at the facts, the history of the interchange, the development needs for both the City of Leesburg and the County and move forward with the CR 470 interchange, and then plan a partnership, not only for CR 470, but for CR 468, as well. She stated that, just as the City of Leesburg and the County have worked together to secure the CR 470 interchange, they can work together to secure another one. She thanked the Board for their support in the matter.
Mr. Tony Otte, City Manager, City of Leesburg, addressed the Board stating that he felt the City of Leesburg and the County could work together and make something happen at CR 468, however, did not want to unnecessarily risk losing the CR 470 interchange.
Commr. Swartz read into the record an excerpt from the Florida Department of Transportation Turnpike District Final Report, dated December, 1995, noting that the most positive thing he could find in the report was a statement that the addition of an interchange at CR 470 would reduce some new traffic and divert some traffic that would otherwise exit the Turnpike at U.S. 27. He stated that an analysis was done for the CR 470 interchange, which suggested that no money be spent on the project, because it could not be justified. He stated that he would not support the CR 470 Turnpike interchange, because he could find no justification for it, and that he found less justification for the CR 468 interchange, because no studies have been done for it. He stated that he would vote against both interchanges.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board has gone on record, for several years, in support of the CR 470 interchange. She stated that she felt the funds for the interchange were an attempt by the Federal Government to give Florida a little bit more of its share of federal dollars that it has, historically, not received. She stated that she felt, if the funds were returned to the Federal Government, they would not go to Lake County and probably not to Florida, but to another state altogether. She stated that she felt a vote for the CR 470 interchange would not be a vote against the CR 468 interchange, but merely a continuing support for the CR 470 interchange. She stated that the County needs one of the interchanges and feels it should be CR 470, which she noted will be a toll interchange. She stated that she would be supporting the CR 470 interchange.
Mr. Bill Oliver, Tindale Oliver and Associates, Inc., Tampa, the County's consultants, addressed the Board stating that his firm was working on a long-range transportation plan for Lake County and that their study was based on the premise that the CR 470 interchange would go in. He stated that, because it appeared in the ISTEA legislation, they viewed it as a committed improvement.
Commr. Gerber stated that her support was going to stay with the City of Leesburg, therefore, she would be supporting the CR 470 interchange.
Commr. Pool stated that he supported both the CR 468 and the CR 470 interchanges and feels that both should be constructed, however, noted that the City of Leesburg has worked very hard, for a number of years, to get the CR 470 interchange and has made a lot of projections, based on said interchange. He stated that, to nip it at the eleventh hour would not be fair to them, nor to all the planning that the Board of County Commissioners of both Lake and Sumter counties has approved. He stated that he felt it was a very viable option and would benefit the citizens of Lake County, therefore, would be supporting the CR 470 interchange.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt both interchanges would benefit Lake County, even though the CR 468 interchange was in Sumter County. He stated that he wanted the Board to be unified in its decision to support what the majority of the Board wants, which is the CR 470 interchange, and, at the same time, try to support Sumter County's plans for the CR 468 interchange, even if it is down the road. He stated that, if the motion for approval of the CR 470 interchange would also include some language that would support Sumter County's efforts on the CR 468 interchange, he would support it.
A motion was made by Commr. Hanson and seconded by Commr. Pool to approve to continue to support the CR 470 Turnpike interchange and the City of Leesburg's efforts and, at the same time, work with Sumter County in any way possible, to help support efforts toward a turnpike interchange at CR 468.
Under discussion, Commr. Swartz questioned whether the motion supported the concept that Sumter County presented, with regard to their proposed CR 468 alignment.
Commr. Hanson stated that she was not holding hard and fast to the CR 468 interchange alignment, noting that there may be another alignment that Sumter County will choose to go after, but that she supported the interchange itself and would want the County to look at whatever connections are necessary for said alignment. She stated that she hoped Lake County would be a partner in putting some of those connections together.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried, by a 4-1 vote.
Commr. Swartz voted "No".
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 10:10 a.m., the Chairman noted that the Board would recess for 10 minutes.
PERSONAL APPEARANCES/PUBLIC HEARINGS
WORKSESSION - TRANSPORTATION
GROWTH MANAGEMENT/ROADS-COUNTY AND STATE/MUNICIPALITIES
Mr. Bill Oliver, Tindale Oliver and Associates, Inc., Tampa, addressed the Board and distributed a handout containing a Preliminary Cost-Feasible Plan that his firm developed for the Lake County 2020 Transportation Plan and Transit Development Plan. He stated that his firm was at a critical stage in their study, noting that they were at the point of reaching the end of their technical work, such as testing highway alternatives, etc., and were seeking endorsement of a cost feasible transportation plan for presentation to the public and, ultimately, endorsement by the Board, for inclusion in the County's Comprehensive Plan, as its Transportation Element. He reviewed the Preliminary Cost-Feasible Plan, as follows:
- Develop Cost-Feasible Plan
- Endorse Cost-Feasible Plan (April 20)
- Documents Available for Public Review (May 4)
- Public Information Meeting (May 18)
- Adjust for Public Input (May 19-June 8)
- BCC Adoption Hearing (June 22)
Cost-Feasible Plan Premises
Summary of County Revenue Allocation (2003-2020)
Total County Revenues $200.4 Million
Summary of System Performance
1995 State County Total
Vehicle - Miles of Travel 313,546 115,033 428,579
Weighted Vol: Cap 0.81 0.50 0.72
% VMT Below Std 26% 13% 22%
Vehicle - Miles of Travel 415,790 150,349 566,139
Weighted Vol: Cap 1.00 0.64 0.90
% VMT Below Std 43% 21% 37%
Cost $53.3 M $24.8 M $ 7.1 M
Vehicle - Miles of Travel 578,028 195,238 773,266
Weighted Vol: Cap 1.21 0.76 1.09
% VMT Below Std 74% 25% 61%
Cost $115.7 M $ 52.2 M $167.9 M
- Add Sidewalks with Road Improvements
- Build Additional Sidewalks
- Add Bike Facilities with Road Improvements
- Build Additional On-Road Bike Facilities
- Build Off-Road Bike Trails
Capital Needs Summary
- Roads $167.9 Million
- Public Transportation (local share) 9.3 Million
- Sidewalks 0.2 Million
- Bike Facilities 0.8 Million
Total: $178.2 Million
Mr. Oliver stated that they expect the County's population to grow from 176,900
to 297,276 by the year 2020, with most of the growth being projected to occur in the Lady Lake area and in the southeastern part of the County. He stated that that is a 68% growth rate, over a 25 year time period, which is about 2.6% per year. He stated that his firm developed a Needs Assessment, which he presented to the Board in January of this year, that included a bridge across Lake Griffin, 196 miles of roadway construction, and linkages to the Orlando area, with a cost of approximately $577 million. He stated that they knew it was beyond the ability of the County and the State to fund that level of roadway improvements; therefore, they sought guidance from the Board, in terms of how they should proceed to develop the Cost-Feasible Plan that is being presented this date. He reviewed two maps, contained in the handout, one indicating a Cost-Feasible Highway Plan and the other indicating a Cost Affordable Highway Plan, at which time he answered questions from the Board regarding same. He stated that the capital funding allocated to roads, public transportation, sidewalks, and bicycle facilities, in this particular Cost-Feasible Plan, for both County and State, amounts to $178.2 million. He questioned where the Board wanted to go from this point and where they wanted his firm to go, to (1) proceed with refining and further documenting the Cost-Feasible Plan before them, preparing it for the adoption process; (2) modify allocation of revenues and level of service standard assumptions and modify the plan; or (3) modify funding allocations by program, putting more emphasis into one area, as opposed to another.
Discussion occurred regarding the matter, at which time Commr. Cadwell clarified the fact that, if the Board did not take action on the second or third option, it would mean that Tindale-Oliver and Associates would move forward with the first option, being to proceed with the plan, presentations, and adoption.
Mr. Oliver distributed a handout that his firm had prepared, with regard to the County's Long Range Transportation Plan, which contained maps indicating a Cost Affordable Network with Existing Performance Standards; a Cost Affordable Network with Modified Performance Standards; a Cost Affordable Network with Existing Performance Standards for Overbuilt and Underbuilt Roads; and a Cost Affordable Network with Modified Performance Standards for Overbuilt and Underbuilt Roads, which he reviewed with the Board and answered questions regarding same.
Commr. Gerber stated that she felt it was shortsided, on the part of the County, not to consider bridges, noting that Lake County is a county with a thousand lakes. She stated that she did not see how the County could not think about bridges.
Commr. Swartz stated that the only real alternative the County has is to change the development patterns that brought the County the horrendous traffic that it currently has. He stated that, if the County continues to develop the patterns that it, historically, has, then it can expect to spend between $200-500 million. He stated that the roads are going to be 50% worse - at best, 35% worse, which is unacceptable to him. He stated that he is opposed to decreasing levels of service, noting that he felt it was a tremendous mistake, when the Board took rural county roads that were operating at LOS B and changed them to LOS C.
Commr. Hanson stated that, if the Board increased the level of service to B, it would have a tremendous impact on the cities and how they deal with their transportation needs and she did not feel the Board could make that type of decision, without the input of the cities.
Commr. Pool concurred, stating that he felt the County should be in a partnership with the cities, so that they can decide if the County does, in fact, need to look at a better plan. He recommended that the Board hold a workshop meeting with the cities, to allow them to receive the same information that the Board was receiving this date, and obtain their input on the matter. He stated that, without that input, it would not be easy for the Board to make a decision regarding it.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the cities have been involved in the process, noting that the projects listed in the packet of information received this date were brought forward by the cities.
Mr. Oliver interjected that the terms of the contract with his firm call for taking the plan being presented this date on through the adoption process; however, noted that, if they end up going into additional meetings, or coordinating with the cities, revisiting the distribution of land uses, trying to concentrate more in the urban areas or cities, they would need to talk to staff about adjustments to their scope of services, or to their fees.
Commr. Hanson stated that, with regard to the third option, which is to modify the funding allocation by program and modify the plan, she would suggest that the Board look at changing, somewhat, their priorities on clay to paved roads and take from those dollars, to move towards converting some of the non-county maintained roads to clay.
Mr. Oliver stated that, from what he was hearing, the Board would like to proceed with Option 1, which would be to proceed with the Cost-Feasible Plan Presentations and Adoption, however, to not increase revenues by assuming an additional gas or sales tax.
Commr. Swartz stated that he felt, by proceeding with Option 1, the Board was saying that they were willing to accept roads that will be 50% worse, during the planning period, whether it be 2010 or 2020. He stated that, by accepting Option 1, the Board was saying that the County has not managed its transportation. He stated that the County is in the middle of the EAR (Evaluation, Appraisal and Report) process and that it is within that process that the Board can adopt changes to the land use map that will change the development patterns that can have more impact on improving the quality of life for people in Lake County and reducing traffic congestion, than spending all the money that the County may have, whether it be from the five cent gas tax, or from an additional one cent allocation of the sales tax. He stated that he would not support the Board going with Option 1, unless they were willing to say that they were going to make serious changes to the land use designation that encourages the development patterns that are creating the problems that the County is currently having with transportation.
Commr. Hanson stated that she felt to just change all the rural roads on the map to LOS B would be arbitrary, without looking at each individual road. She stated that she felt it would not be the right thing for the Board to do.
A motion was made by Commr. Swartz and seconded by Commr. Gerber that the Board accept the Cost-Feasible Plan, as presented in Option 1; that the Board instruct staff to prepare a list of county roads to move back to LOS B, where it is clearly feasible; that the Board commit to additional revenues that are necessary to fund the proposal, to include additional gas tax and possibly an additional one cent sales tax; and that the Board commit to Comprehensive Plan changes, particularly to the land use map, during the EAR process, that will improve development patterns and change the development patterns that have created the transportation crisis that the County currently has.
Under discussion, Commr. Swartz stated that he felt that was a comprehensive approach that would possibly yield a better future for Lake County and that, during that process, the County can work with the cities.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether Commr. Swartz's intent was for the Board to take action on the list of county roads that staff was asked to prepare that would be changed to LOS B.
Commr. Swartz stated that the intent of the motion was for the Board to look at the list of roads being submitted and discuss them. He stated that he was just trying to get on the record, in general terms, the fact that the Board will do the things he alluded to, as a premise of how to deal with the County's road crisis.
Commr. Pool questioned whether Commr. Swartz meant a continuation of the one cent sales tax, rather than an additional one cent sales tax.
Commr. Cadwell interjected that the motion stated to commit to additional revenues.
Commr. Swartz stated that he just suggested it as a funding source.
Commr. Hanson stated that she would not vote for the five cent gas tax until the County has a plan in place to bring some of the rural county roads into the county maintained system, therefore, noted that, if it was going to be spelled out in the motion that the Board would commit to the five cent gas tax, she would not support the motion. She stated that, if the motion was just going to state that the Board would seek increased revenues, for transportation, she would support the motion.
Commr. Cadwell clarified the motion, noting that it was to proceed with the Cost Feasible Plan Presentation and Adoption; to prepare a list of County roads that could be changed to LOS B, for some type of Board action; to commit to additional revenues, under the modified revenue assumptions; and to agree to work through the EAR process and Comprehensive Plan changes, as it results in additional traffic.
Commr. Swartz stated that the wording additional traffic should be changed to changing development patterns.
Commr. Cadwell changed the latter portion of the motion to state that the Board, through the EAR process, would consider the Comprehensive Plan changes in development patterns, as they result to transportation.
Commr. Pool suggested adding the language in cooperation with the cities, to the motion.
It was the consensus of the Board to do so.
Commr. Cadwell reclarified the motion, stating that it was to proceed with the Cost Feasible Plan Presentations and Adoption, presented this date; to have staff prepare a list of county roads that could be raised to LOS B, for consideration by the Board; to commit to additional revenues, for transportation; and to agree, through the EAR process, to look at the land use issues and development patterns and how they relate to transportation, in cooperation with the Cities. He then called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote.
CITIZEN QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD
Ms. Katherine Hildebrandt, a resident of Paisley, addressed the Board and requested their help in repairing the roads in her neighborhood, which are in disrepair, and asked that they become county maintained, in order to ensure the residents' health, safety, and welfare, most of whom are elderly and in ill health. She informed the Board of several incidents that had occurred, where some of her elderly neighbors did not receive the immediate medical care they needed, because of the poor condition of the roads in her neighborhood.
Mr. Roy Hunter, a resident of the Paisley area, representing the future Northeast Lake Chamber of Commerce, addressed the Board stating that Ms. Hildebrandt had called him for help, with regard to the condition of the roads in her neighborhood, and that they would appreciate the Board's support, with regard to said roads, noting that better roads help the Fire Department, the Sheriff's Office, and the Health Department. He thanked Commrs. Hanson, Cadwell, and Pool for being guest speakers at some recent meetings that were held in northeast Lake County and extended an invitation to Commrs. Gerber and Swartz to attend some of the meetings. He requested that they bring the County Manager, Ms. Sue Whittle; the Deputy County Manager, Mr. Alvin Jackson, and the County's department heads, as well.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 12:00 noon, the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for 10 minutes.
PERSONAL APPEARANCES/PUBLIC HEARINGS
WORKSESSION - BILLBOARDS
GROWTH MANAGEMENT/ROADS-COUNTY & STATE/SIGNS
Ms. Aileen Riley, Livingston & Riley, Orlando, addressed the Board and distributed a packet of information, with regard to Billboards. She stated that a workshop meeting was held on February 9, 1999, at which time a video, produced by Scenic America, was shown. She stated that her law firm was disappointed with the video and, as part of their response to it, distributed a packet of material containing an article that appeared in this month's Fortune Magazine called The Great Outdoors; two manuals from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America; and photographs of billboards before and after aesthetic changes were made to them, making them more compatible with their environment. She reviewed what her firm felt were the more important issues about the video, being the fact that they picked the worst case scenario, showing a street that is overly cluttered with signs; the video does not mention anything, with respect to the laws, zoning regulations, or sign ordinance in effect at that locality; and the fact that the video shown has been around for a couple of years and things have changed since then. She stated that the video references the fact that there is one billboard erected every 30 minutes; however, the Advertising Association of America has no idea where they got that figure, noting that it is not supported by industry data. She stated that the billboard industry reflects a 5-8% attrition and the Federal Highway Administration, in its nationwide statistical report on outdoor advertising, has shown a decrease in signs. She stated that 98% of illegal signs erected across the country have been removed.
Ms. Riley stated that the video states that billboards decrease property values, however, noted that there is no evidence offered by opponents to support that statement. She stated that billboards are restricted to commercial and industrial areas. She stated that 90% of the nation's cities allow billboards, many of which have high growth rates and powerful economies, an example being Time Square, in New York City, which has attracted major corporate and professional tenants. She stated that property values and private investments have risen sharply, as well. She stated that there is no evidence to suggest that billboards decrease property values. She stated that billboards are not expensive, as referenced in the video, in fact, they are the most cost effective medium available and the cheapest way to reach mass audiences. She stated that an issue that has been raised by opponents is that of traffic safety, however, noted that there is no evidence to suggest that billboards impede traffic safety, in fact, highway safety experts indicate that the presence of advertising signs in rural areas are of value in reducing a driver's boredom, which many believe is a positive contribution to highway safety. She stated that she hoped the video presented by Scenic America had not influenced the Board's decision in this matter, however, if it had, she hoped the Board, in making any decisions about the future of billboards in Lake County, would take the time to review the material contained in the handout that she distributed.
Mr. Henri Kucher, a local resident, addressed the Board stating that he was from the State of Vermont and was glad that Vermont went against billboards and strictly controls unsightly signage. He stated that businesses in Vermont can only have on-site signs. He read into the record a statement from Mr. Bill Rowe, a resident of south Lake County who has been in the marketing business for years and was unable to attend this meeting, opposing billboards. He displayed several pictures that he had taken of various signs within the County that he found to be distasteful and unnecessary and suggested that the Board come up with some sort of amortization schedule, to reimburse businesses for their signage, and do away with billboards.
Ms. Cecelia Bonifay, Attorney, Akerman Senterfitt and Eidson, addressed the Board stating that she was representing Eller Media and Republic Media. She stated that her clients had some questions, in terms of interpretation. She stated that, although the Board has tried to separate the on-site Sign Ordinance and the Billboard Ordinance, they will actually be one, in fact, noted that the text of the Billboard Ordinance is nothing more than the list of prohibited signs from the County's on-site Sign Ordinance. She stated that all the Billboard Ordinance contains, at the present time, is Section 11.01.03, which is identical to what is in the County's on-site Sign Ordinance, therefore, questioned whether billboards, as prohibited signs, would become illegal at the time of adoption of the Billboard Ordinance.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that the word illegal is not a precise legal term and is capable of a lot of meanings, however, noted that what will occur is that all lawfully existing signs, as of the date of this ordinance, should it be adopted in this form, under the current Land Development Regulations, would become non-conforming.
Ms. Bonifay questioned whether there was any sentiment on the Board to come up with some sort of a middle ground, other than the absolute prohibition of billboards, and, if so, that staff be directed to meet with members of the industry and address some of the modifications contained within the proposed Billboard Ordinance, because they could take many forms, in terms of the way that the County might go, which would still limit signs. She stated that, if there was any sentiment to do an alternative, whether it be in design, capping, or limiting signs in any other manner, then they would ask that the industry be involved. She stated that she felt it was important that those people who will be affected be involved and not have certain members of the community's ideas or opinions be solicited. She stated that the Planning and Zoning Commission asked that certain data be analyzed and she would ask that said data be made a part of this record. She stated that, to date, she did not feel that staff had brought said data forward to the Board. She stated that the Board asked for all backup; however, she had not seen any evidence that any of that information was presented to them. She stated that there was safety data, sight data, and a number of other studies that were presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission and asked that they be incorporated into the on-site Sign Ordinance, which were not. She stated that they were disregarded by staff. She requested that they be made a part of the database that is going to be used in analyzing this ordinance, especially if it is to come under review at a future date. She reiterated the fact that, if there was any sentiment on the Board to move forward with a compromise, that they direct staff to meet with industry representatives and, from a more scientific and less emotional standpoint, look at and analyze what an alternative might be.
Commr. Swartz stated that he did not feel staff had done anything beyond that which they were instructed to do by the Board.
Mr. Jimmy Crawford, Attorney, Richey and Crawford, addressed the Board stating that he was representing Smallwood Sign Company, as well as several users of both off-site and on-site signage in Lake County, therefore, was very concerned about both issues. He stated that Ms. Riley and others presented evidence that local businesses rely heavily on billboards and that the trend for billboards is downward, 8-10% annually. He stated that he had previously presented evidence that, locally, there are less billboards than there were 10 years ago - almost 25% less today than there were in 1991, however, noted that the Board still expresses concern about safeguarding the County from a proliferation of billboards, or off-site signage, and improving the aesthetics of both the off-site and on-site signs that currently exist. He stated that he had sent the Board a letter offering a compromise, being that a cap be placed on the number of off-site signs that exist in the County today, which forms a pool by which those signs can be replaced. He stated that, if they are not replaced within a certain amount of time, that permit goes into the pool and somebody else can have it. He stated that that would be combined with new aesthetic regulations, so that the signs that are replaced better compliment their surroundings, rather than taking away from them. He stated that the details for same should be worked out between the experts, the users, and the County. He stated that, if this was acceptable to the Board, he would like to see them give some direction to staff, to protect the County's interest, as well as the interest of the property owners of the signs and the commercial interests that advertise on them. He stated that the Board had asked them to put together something regarding the issue and they have done so, in the best faith that they can. He stated that they would like to use this issue as a turning point and turn it into better cooperation between all the parties involved and something that everybody can live with, to accomplish their goals.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board was looking at the grandfathering in of signs that are currently in place; however, no new signs would be allowed to be erected at the sites.
Commr. Swartz pointed out the fact that the draft ordinance before the Board this date is consistent with the motion that was made and passed by the Board at their last meeting.
Commr. Hanson stated that Ms. Farrell's interpretation about the issue of repairing signs was that one could repair their signs, however, she did not find in the Ordinance where it addresses said matter. She questioned to what extent billboard signs could be repaired.
Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, interjected that the proposed change, with regard to the repair of signs, was more lenient than what is in the current Code, noting that what Ms. Farrell proposed in the original ordinance made it easier to rebuild than what is in the current Code. He stated that the issue of whether the change of use applies to off-site signs is not one that the Board addressed; therefore, he did not know what staff's intent was, with regard to same. He stated that his staff's intent was that those rules would not apply to off-site signs, however, noted that that was an issue that the Board would need to decide.
Ms. Ruth Russell Gray, a local resident, addressed the Board stating that she was speaking for the environmental community. She stated that she had spent a lot of time in Vermont and found it to be a gorgeous state, because of, among other things, their control over signs. She stated that she did not see why the Board has not had the fortitude to do what they have done in Vermont. She stated that she saw no reason for having billboards, or for making the County's commercial sections "honky-tonks". She stated that, if the industry wants to meet with staff to discuss the issue of modifying the sign situation in Lake County, she felt they should include some members of the environmental community, to obtain their input, because the roadways belong to them, as well as to the sign industry.
Ms. Riley, Attorney, readdressed the Board and discussed the issue of amortization, noting that she wanted to clear up the matter. She stated that most of the roads in the County are federally funded primary roads and signs located along said highways are protected by federal and state law. She stated that there is no doubt that amortization does not equate to just compensation, so billboards located on federally funded primary highways cannot be removed, without the payment of just compensation, no matter how much time is given.
Mr. Pat Smallwood, Smallwood Sign Company, addressed the Board stating that 84% of his income is derived from outdoor advertising. He stated that, in eight years, there has been a 24% reduction in billboards and that, as the roadways are widened, many of the signs in the County that are at the old spacing of 500 feet will have to be reconfigured to 1,000 feet, which the Florida Department of Transportation requires, so there will be a further reduction. He stated that, without the ability to replace them, it will mean the certain extermination of his business, within a ten year time frame.
Mr. George Karst, a Lake County businessman, addressed the Board stating that, since the Board's main concern was one of aesthetics, he felt one thing they should consider, with the way the Ordinance is now written, is that, if businesses are not allowed to replace existing structures, the County will have some very unattractive structures remaining for an indefinite period of time, noting that the ones that are in disrepair will be patched over and over again.
Mr. C. A. Vaughn, a resident of Eustis, addressed the Board stating that he was not in favor of nor against billboards. He stated that he felt it was just another example of invasion of private property and that, whatever resolution the Board came to, they needed to keep that in mind.
Mr. Joe Watson, representing Chancellor Media Outdoor Advertising, addressed the Board stating that his firm was not opposed to working with Lake County, in some very unique ways, to be able to maintain their signage and continue to do business in the County. He stated that he felt the majority of people in Florida are probably here because they have seen billboards advertising the state. He stated that they fuel the County's growth and are a vital part of the economy, whether the Board wants to admit it or not. He stated that his firm employs a lot of people that live in Lake County, therefore, would appreciate the opportunity to work with the Board, to try to come up with a viable plan for everyone concerned.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would like to place on the Agenda, for the April 6, 1999 Board of County Commissioner's Meeting, a request for approval to advertise a public hearing for the Billboard Ordinance.
It was the consensus of the Board to do so.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether the Board had an interest in looking at incentives for the industry to replace billboards that are currently in place and bringing them up to standards, rather than just leaving them as they currently are.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, with what was presented this date, he was not ready to change direction in one way or another. He stated that he wanted to digest all of said information and, if there was anything that a Commissioner wanted to bring forward, they could do so at the April 6, 1999 Board Meeting.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 1:40 p.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess until 5:05 p.m., at which time a Public Hearing would be held to adopt the proposed Sign Ordinance.
PERSONAL APPEARANCES/PUBLIC HEARINGS
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, placed the proposed ordinance on the floor, for its final reading, by title only, as follows:
ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA; AMENDING THE LAKE COUNTY CODE, APPENDIX E, LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS; REPLACING SECTIONS 11.00.00, 11.01.00, 11.01.01, 11.01.02, 11.01.03, 11.01.05, 11.02.00 AND 11.03.00 CHAPTER XI, SIGNS; PROVIDING FOR GENERAL PROVISIONS; PROVIDING FOR PROHIBITED SIGNS; PROVIDING FOR EXEMPT SIGNS; PROVIDING FOR SIGN PERMITTING REQUIREMENTS; PROVIDING SIZE AND SETBACK LIMITATIONS; PROVIDING FOR INCENTIVES TO CONVERT NONCONFORMING USES; PROVIDING FOR ENFORCEMENT; RENUMBERING SECTION 11.01.04, OFF-SITE SIGNS, TO SECTION 11.06.00; REPEALING AND REPLACING SECTION 3.11.04.B (1) REGARDING NONCONFORMING SIGNS; AMENDING SECTIONS 3.12.02B AND 3.12.03B REGARDING BED AND BREAKFAST SIGNS; AMENDING CHAPTER II, LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS ENTITLED DEFINITIONS; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE LAKE COUNTY CODE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Ms. Sharon Farrell, Senior Director, Growth Management, informed the Board that some language was left out of the draft ordinance, being a request to add secondary frontage language to Page 14, Section 11.02.03 A., which she noted would be accomplished by creating a new Paragraph 4 and renumbering the current Paragraph 4 to 5, etc. She stated that Section 11.02.03 would now have 10 paragraphs, rather than 9. She further noted that said language would also be added to Paragraph B, on Page 15 of the Ordinance, with regard to Wall Signs. She stated that staff went through the February 16, 1999 Board Minutes, as well as their notes, and made other changes that were requested by the Board.
Commr. Gerber stated that they failed to change the language contained in the paragraph pertaining to Ground/Monument Signs, on Page 30 of the Ordinance, under Definitions. She stated that, on Line 7, the wording at least was crossed through, however, felt that it was meant to be left in.
It was the consensus to leave said wording in the definition.
Ms. Farrell stated that another item that was brought to staff's attention this date was on Page 27, under Section 11.04.00 - Change in Use, with regard to off-site signage. She clarified the fact that said section would just pertain to on-site signs; therefore, the wording on-site should be added to Line 8, between the words site's and signage.
It was the consensus of the Board to delete the wording the site's, on Line 8, and insert the wording on-site.
Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, interjected that the same change should be made to Line 14, as well.
Commr. Hanson stated that she was concerned that there was not enough of an incentive to bring non-conforming uses into conformance and make them more aesthetically pleasing and allow them some creativity in the design of their signs.
Commr. Swartz stated that businesses would have one year to bring any sign that is non-conforming into compliance, without having to pay permitting fees during that year.
Commr. Hanson stated that she did not agree with just having ground signs, because she feels there are other types of signs that could be made more attractive.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Ms. Cecelia Bonifay, Attorney, Akerman Senterfitt and Eidson, addressed the Board stating that she was representing Eller Media, Republic Media, and various other clients who want to make sure that they have participated in the process, should any appeals or challenges be made in the future. She stated that she was glad clarification was made, with regard to Section 11.01.03 - Prohibited Signs, on Page 4 of the Ordinance, noting that, by adding Off-site Signs, as Item No. 15, it meant that all the rest of the parameters would also apply to off-site signs. She addressed the issue of the language that was changed in Section 11.04.00 and Section 11.05.00, on Page 27 of the Ordinance, stating that it will only apply to on-site signage and not to off-site signage, which will put further limitations on non-conforming uses. She stated that both the off-site and on-site signs would immediately, upon adoption of this Ordinance, become non-conforming uses and be subject to certain limitations. She stated that she agreed with Commr. Hanson, in that, given the investment that individuals have in their signs, there needs to be more incentive, with regard to both off-site and on-site signs, for them to make them conforming. She stated that her clients still voice their objections on the size, as not being sufficient, and on the height, as being too low, and that the issue of converting all pole signs that are no longer acceptable to ground signs is going to produce a lot of problems, as well as the anticipated aesthetic benefits. She stated that a lot of the public thinks there are going to be two separate sign ordinances, when, in fact, there will be only one ordinance dealing with on-site and off-site signage.
Mr. Pat Smallwood, Smallwood Sign Company, addressed the Board and referred to Item No. 3 - Building Division Approval, on Page 6 of the Ordinance. He questioned whether the intent of said paragraph meant that he would have to get a permit to change a lightbulb, or replace a piece of neon that breaks off a sign. He also referred to Section 11.01.07 - Freestanding Signs to be Ground Signs, on said page, stating that the way the language is stated stifles creativity. He further referred to Page 9, Line 33, stating that it states construction signs which do not exceed sixteen square feet are permitted, because such signs do not require a permit, however, noted that government projects have a minimum requirement of 32 square feet for the signs that the contractor puts up, indicating who the project is funded by, in Washington.
Mr. Jimmy Crawford, Attorney, Richey and Crawford, addressed the Board stating that the comments he made on off-site signs also apply to on-site signs. He stated that he feels there are terrible problems with this ordinance, the largest one being the prohibition on pole signs and the requirement of ground signs, in all circumstances, and the strict size limitations. He reviewed a comparison that he had made of several other counties and cities and their sign ordinances against the proposed ordinance, taking into consideration mainly size and height limitations, to try to decide how the proposed ordinance is going to stand up against the ordinances of surrounding cities, based on the general premise that city sign ordinances should be a little stricter than county ordinances, because cities are going to have smaller rights-of-way, slower speed limits, and urban environments, where the County is going to have some urban environment, a lot of suburban, and a good bit of rural.
Mr. Crawford stated that he did not feel a 60 square foot sign would be large enough, on a busy highway, to allow motorists to recognize it, think about it, and react to it, at which time he conducted an experiment with the Board, indicating how signs would look to motorists at various speeds. He reviewed a portion of a letter that he had mailed to the Board, which gave a matrix, based on traffic speeds, starting from 32 square feet, which is less than what is allowed, going up to 200 square feet, for 55 mph speed limits, which he felt would be a lot safer. He stated that the County could still require landscaping and strict height limitations, however, at the same time, preserve everybody's safety, and have a better sign ordinance at the same time.
Ms. Martha Yokawonis, a small business owner in Lake County, addressed the Board stating that she and her husband moved to Lake County from Broward County, because they felt the Broward County Sign Ordinance was too strict. She stated that she felt the County needed to give business owners more time to deal with the Sign Ordinance, because she feels there are a lot of businesses in the County that do not realize how the Ordinance is going to impact them.
Ms. Ruth Russell Gray, a local resident, addressed the Board and displayed several (4) photographs that she had taken of various ground signs throughout the County that she felt were appealing, for the Board's review.
There being no further individuals who wished to address the Board, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Commr. Swartz displayed several pictures (8) that he had taken of a ground sign for a Handy Way Convenience Store in Volusia County, as well as signage on the side of the building, which he felt addressed some of the questions that were being raised, with regard to the proposed ordinance. He stated that said signs were easily visible and noted that the speed limit on the roadway that fronts the store is 55 mph. He stated that he felt the ground sign was close to the 60 square feet that the proposed ordinance will allow. He requested staff to obtain some information regarding the Logo Sign Program, by the April 6, 1999 Board Meeting, as an alternative to providing some directional type signage and informational signage for businesses that are some distance from a major roadway. He stated that he felt that was a program the Board could look at, to perhaps consider.
Commr. Cadwell stated that that was one of his concerns, as well, because there are several areas in the County where businesses may be isolated. He stated that he also felt that was something the Board needed to look at and try to find an answer to.
Commr. Pool questioned how staff was going to notify businesses in the County about the Sign Ordinance.
It was noted that a letter would be mailed to all the businesses in the County, notifying them about the Sign Ordinance and its requirements.
Commr. Hanson stated that she felt the proposed Sign Ordinance was not perfect and that the County would be revisiting it in the future, however, felt that it was a step in the right direction. She stated that she still had some major concerns, however, felt they could be addressed at a later date.
A motion was made by Commr. Hanson and seconded by Commr. Gerber to adopt Ordinance No. 1999-27, the proposed Lake County Sign Ordinance, as amended.
Under discussion, Commr. Gerber stated that she felt the Board should insert a definition for Ground Support System, making it perfectly clear what a ground support system is. She referred to Page 26, Line 37, of the Ordinance, and suggested that the wording support system, at the end of the sentence, be replaced with the word sign. She stated that she felt it would be alright, however, noted that, if the language was left to state an existing support system to a ground support system, there would be questions about it, because it was not clear.
It was noted that said change was to be included in the original motion.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 6:25 p.m.
__________________________________ WELTON G. CADWELL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK