The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, March 13, 2001, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioner's Training Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Catherine C. Hanson, Chairman; Robert A. Pool, Vice Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Jennifer Hill; and Debbie Stivender Others present were: Sue Whittle, County Manager; Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Alvin Jackson, Deputy County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Administrative Supervisor, Board of County Commissioner's Office; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
There were no changes to the agenda.
UPDATE FROM FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
Mr. Tad Stone, Senior Director of Emergency Services, presented the Board with several pieces of information and stated that Drought Summary No. 04, from The Florida State Emergency Response Team, will bring them up to date on what is going on in the area and all around Lake County. He explained that the County will be getting some rain, but the County will continue to see the drought index climb over the next few days. He referred to the sheet of information from the Florida Division of Forestry, which reflects the KBDI, and stated that, unfortunately, when looking at Lake County, it is running in the 600 to 700 range, and the drought index in Leesburg is 660, with 800 being the highest. They have sent mutual aid response to neighboring counties, and for the past week, fire activity has been down. Mr. Stone stated that Lake County is already worse than it was in 1998, in terms of the drought condition. He noted that they have not lost any structures in this fire season.
Commr. Hanson stated that she had noticed that there were three areas that had received Fire Suppression Grants and questioned whether Lake County is eligible.
Mr. Stone explained that the State distributes grant monies by Division of Forestry Districts, and Lake County is in the Withlacoochee District, which covers Lake, Sumter, Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus Counties. He feels that Lake County is eligible for those grants, and as of yesterday, the County has petitioned the State for those grant monies and has asked the State to take into consideration those drought condition areas, from the Leesburg area south, which are exactly like the conditions in the Lakeland and Orlando Districts, and the fact that Lake County was considered as part of that complex and used some of their resources, when the fires occurred in Polk County. Mr. Stone stated that yesterday the County received a check for $139,000 for last year's fires, to help cover some of their expenses. He stated that unfortunately many of the expenses that the County incurred in some of the other jurisdictions were prior to the Fire Suppression Grant that was given to the District. He further stated that they are notifying those cooperating agencies, and the out of County fire departments that came to help them that were not included in that grant, and the County is going to try and work out something in their payment schedule, because they filed under FEMA.
In regards to the ban that the County currently has for fire displays, Mr. Stone explained that Mission Inn requested a permit and showed the County what they were doing, and the County did authorize their display. The County has also authorized a couple of outdoors events, but it is by permit only, and they have to have some method of suppression available to them.
COUNTY MANAGER'S CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request for approval and execution of Proclamation 2001-47 proclaiming March 25 through March 31, 2001 as Juvenile Justice Week in Lake County.
WORK SESSION - WATER AND WASTEWATER UTILITY WORKSHOP
UTILITY PRIMER (UTILITY STANDARDS - LDR DRAFT)
BY HARTMAN & ASSOCIATES, INC.
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, introduced Mr. Gerry Hartman, Mr. Chuck Drake, and Mr. George Flint, from Hartman & Associates, Inc., who would be making a presentation to the Board.
Mr. Hartman addressed the Board and stated that water and wastewater utility issues are more than ever interlinked with environmental issues, and the quality of the overall County. He stated that Lake County has an excellent Comprehensive Plan, which does not say that the County is going to be in the utility business, or not in the utility business, but it provides for flexibility of utility services. He stated that, in 1990, Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan (PBS&J) did a countywide Water and Wastewater Master Plan (WWMP). In 1993, in South Lake County, the County assumed a private/public partnership (Mandells), and in that situation, the 1993 Master Plan addressed a possible integration of a public/private partnership, as well as a Master Plan for the area. Mr. Hartman explained that, in the manual practice for planning services, in low growth areas, a Master Plan would be done once every ten years, and it has been about 11 years since a Master Plan was done for Lake County. In high growth areas, one would be done every five years. He stated that updates to the overall utility planning are probably timely, due to the many issues that he will discuss for long term. He stated that the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), with the County's staff, has gotten a grant, and Hartman & Associates, Inc. were selected to assist in the Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento Water and Wastewater Master Plan (WWMP). He stated that their firm also serves Astor-Astor Park. He stated that, for Phase 1, they got $5.5 million in grant money, with Lake County being an instrumental part of that, and it shows what the County can do to help a community. He stated that they also got $2 million in loans. The Phase 2 program has already been earmarked with $6.5 million in grants, and for the St. Johns River Basin, it provides for pollution abatement and treatment to keep pollution out of the St. Johns River. He stated that the County should be complimented for their activities and support of that program.
Mr. Hartman stated that the County inspects 90 package plants countywide, and their general condition is fair to good. Their age is ten years or more, and the observed investment, in the past decade, is either level to the asset depreciation rate, or declining. He stated that, as an overview, for all of the infrastructure, it appears that adequate investment and funding have not been brought in to keep those up to the modern day standards, even though they do meet the Save Drinking Water Act and the Pollution Abatement Standards. Mr. Hartman stated that, in the County's Comprehensive Plan, Objective 1-6, Page I-28, Policy 1-6.1, it talks about septic tanks and septic tank inspections. He explained that the County has the ability, through it Comprehensive Plan, to implement a water quality aspect, and there would have to be a funding mechanism, which they call a septic tank inspection fee. He stated that it would be an annual fee of $25 to $50, which is a modest fee for the year, for pollution abatement, and it gives the County a little bit of money for water quality testing. Mr. Hartman stated that another aspect that has worked very well is called a septic tank abandonment fee, which is a one time, up front fee for pollution abatement.
Mr. Harman reviewed a graph showing the 1995 Private Utility Service Areas of the County and stated that, if there is a certificated service area, it is exclusive, and it is honored. He noted that the County has quite a few municipal systems, and urban rights have been given to private companies in the County.
Mr. Hartman informed the Board that Hartman & Associates, Inc. has prepared Utility Standards for Lake County. He explained that other counties, such as Orange, Seminole, Marion, Osceola, and Volusia, all have utility standards, and Lake County should implement these standards for quality of infrastructure. He further explained that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) looks at the water quality, not the materials of construction. Mr. Hartman stated that the coordination of water and wastewater utilities is stressed in the Comprehensive Plan, and it is addressed in the Lake County Water and Sewer Utilities Manual. He stated that the level of fire protection and water systems are huge issues that are not covered by the FDEP standards, or in the Utility Standards. He further explained that Utility Standards are necessary to maintain rights-of-way. Mr. Hartman briefly addressed the issues pertaining to Utility Requirements, as follows: Comprehensive Plan; Local, State & Federal Laws; and Investor Owned Utilities - Florida Public Service Commission.
Mr. Hartman discussed the Utility Trends, with the first trend being governmental ownership, and stated that, in terms of privatization, for every one privatization project, there are over 150 municipalization projects in ownership. The trend is not into private ownership, but it is more into private contract operations, and the trend is towards municipalization, to public ownership. He stated that, secondly, contract operation (not ownership) is a trend, and effective contract operations occur with investor owned utilities, as well as other utility systems. He stated that contract operations should be extended and opened up to entities, such as cities and investor owned utilities, because they are already here. Most of the time counties do not allow cities to bid on contract operations. Mr. Hartman stated that the third trend would be alternative delivery systems, which is design build, design build operate, and design build op-own, operate and transfer. He stated that they are not the best thing for every single situation. The conventional systems are still good for certain situations, and it depends on how much control the County wants to have in a delivery system versus the speed, versus the cost and quality. The fourth trend was IOUs - Non-Regulated Services, which is very effective. He stated that there are very few cities and very few governmental entities that are doing non-regulated businesses, but the vast majority in the trend is for investor owned utilities to do non-regulated services. Those would include contract operations, billing services, management, repair and replacement, and other such services. He addressed the fifth utility trend, non-for-profits (FGUA, Others), and stated that the regional resources of authorities are significant. They are very capable of developing capital, providing management, and contracting for services. Mr. Hartman noted that one that has had a tremendous amount of publicity is Florida Government Utility Authority. He stated that you can create your own authority within a County, or you can work with other counties to create authorities. He stated that they had the pleasure of working with the SJRWMD who funded $1.5 million towards the Okachobee Utility Authority to protect Lake Okachobee, and they have maintained the same rates and charges for the last six years, with reduced rates and charges in the County areas. He noted that utility authorities are used many times, because there is no surcharge.
Mr. Hartman noted the following Future Issues that the Board would be facing:
-work with the Cities
-provide for smart growth
-Land Development Regulations
-Resolutions & Ordinances
Commr. Pool stated that he agrees with home rule and that the County should have the opportunity to make these decisions, but from the environmental perspective, this may be something that should be considered legislatively as a statewide issue. He agrees that the County should have some say, but he was wondering if this should be something that they should be focusing on and directing to the legislature, to adopt some minimum level of service and standards throughout the entire State, not just Lake County.
Mr. Hartman stated that there has been some moves in that direction, but when considering the size of government, it would be difficult for the legislative body to handle all of the exceptions and unfairness that may occur throughout the State of Florida.
Commr. Pool questioned whether there were more municipal wastewater treatment plants and package plants statewide than septic tanks, or more septic tanks than people on central sewer.
Mr. Hartman stated that there are more septic tanks than plants, but there are many more people served by central water and wastewater systems than individual septic tanks. He explained that the 100 foot setback zone of effluence was created with an average depth for a watertable of six feet, and with an average zone of aeration of three feet above the depth of the watertable. He noted that the dilution factor, in 100 feet, is far more than 25 to 1.
Commr. Cadwell stated that there were two issues that needed to be discussed and those were what is out there now and how it is operating, and what is going to happen in the future. He stated that, if the Board is looking at the joint planning areas, and the smart growth, there is no way that the joint planning areas and the smart growth are going to happen without redistributing some of those densities. If that is what the Board is going to do, then that is going to change the future utility customers in the areas where, when the Board did the studies in 1990 through 1993, they anticipated having those large amounts of people.
Commr. Hanson stated that smart growth can be done with the Comprehensive Plan as it is today. She stated that it means the Board will not do land use amendments, or very few of them, for large developments. She was not sure what was going to happen with the amendment process to the Comprehensive Plan at the State level, but she sees that, with smart growth, the Board will be able to continue with its Comprehensive Plan focusing the growth in and around the cities in the urban and rural expansion areas. She stated that the basis of the Comprehensive Plan has been utilities, and with the provision of utilities, you get a higher density. She does not necessarily see this continuing out to the County boundaries, which could happen in 30 or 50 years, but this is something that she does not want to see happen. Commr. Hanson stated that the Board was moving through with the joint planning areas, but Mr. Hartman has offered some other things that the Board should consider. In the past, the Board has not been anxious to get involved in utilities, and she does not know that this is changing.
Commr. Stivender stated that the Comprehensive Plan says that the growth is going to happen around the cities. They have the utility districts in their areas designated as urban, and they are infilling and bringing in those septic tanks, once they get out to a certain point. Commr. Stivender stated that she feels this is the way the Board is going to address this issue, and on the outside, the parts that are in the County are going to be addressed by private companies, if they are not in the joint planning area with the County. She stated that she does not want to get in the utility business.
Commr. Pool addressed the issue of the abandonments of package plants and questioned what happens when someone decides they do not want to do it any longer, and how it becomes the responsibility of the County.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, explained that, if someone files bankruptcy, there is no entity left and ultimately the responsibility comes back on the County.
Commr. Pool stated that he likes the fact that there are minimum standards, so that, if the County takes the package plant back over, they will be of a certain quality, and hopefully the life expectancy will be much greater than if left to their own desires.
Mr. Hartman explained that, through this process, the County can provide directives just as they are discussing today. He further explained that they can have a planning document that addresses many of these issues and that facilitates things like Astor-Astor Park, to have good growth with utilities, but right now, if the County does not plan and do the JPAs, and it does not assist in the grant funding opportunities, they will be putting the whole burden on them.
Commr. Hanson stated it has been very difficult for the County to understand how it fits into the Astor situation, and it has been difficult for staff to understand how far the County will go in helping a private not-for-profit service.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, after reviewing the nine future issues brought forth by the consultants, he felt that the Board could see the ones that can be addressed right of way, and others that the Board will need to talk about further. He stated that the a sub-committee meeting, which was the result of the JPA Forum, has been set up for next Monday morning. He stated that, if those joint planning areas do really happen, it will make the utility picture a little clearer. Commr. Cadwell stated that the quality of the infrastructure is addressed in the regulations.
Ms. Farrell explained that would like to have the Board's permission to advertise the the proposed ordinance amending the Lake County Comprehensive Plan, at the appropriate time..
Commr. Cadwell noted that there have been discussions about the Orlando Reuse, and the Board has been updated on the St. Johns River Water Management District's 2020 Plan, and the Board may need to look at and see how that falls into the direction that the Board is moving. In terms of septic tanks, he stated that this will be a policy decision, whether the Board wants to do more than they are doing now. Commr. Cadwell questioned whether there was any way to establish any potential impacts right now, with any of the package plants.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the only one he remembers is in Astor where Southern States came in and, when it got close to abandonment, they took it over. The history here has been that the County has been able to get private utilities to assume operation of a facility, when it got into financial difficulties.
Commr. Pool stated that he has heard of opportunities to make enhancements, or improve septic systems. He felt that the County should be looking into these types of enhancements in the future, if they think that septic is a detriment to the County, and to the environment, and to perhaps implement them over a period of time using retrofit, or perhaps as they permit new ones, they can strengthen the ordinance to make sure they are of a higher quality.
Mr. Hartman stated that a master plan, or a game plan, could consist of things that the Board wants to do, and this is how they are going to help others, or how they are going to participate in an entity, if the entity is formed. He stated that the environmental issues, and the regional solid waste issues, should also be in the Utility Master Plan, and these are the types of issues that need not involve the construction and being in the utility business, but how the County will participate overall. He noted that there is a statewide bonding pool for cities, which is very effective.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the proposed ordinance creates standards for people who are going to be building water plants, sewer plants, water mains, sewer mains, in the County, and he questioned whether it was intended to apply to municipalities, or building on those lines in the unincorporated county.
Mr. Hartman stated that he felt it was under the County's jurisdiction, but within a city, he did not believe it could apply.
Mr. Minkoff stated that, if a city extended its lines into the County, they would have to comply with all of these rules, which he wanted to point out as an issue.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether, under those regulations, the County anticipates areas that are going to be in conflict with the cities, or whether they are not going to want to do it in the unincorporated areas they are extending.
Mr. Alan Hewitt stated that staff did not feel they had looked at anything that would be in conflict, but he did not know what the cities have with respect to their standards.
Mr. Hartman explained that typically the city wants the developers to build the infrastructure and dedicate it to the city, and usually the city standards are higher than typical county standards. He explained that each city will have their own specific desires that are greater than these standards, but these standards bring the County up to the minimum uniform quality.
Commr. Stivender stated that, since the County is in the middle of the process with the joint planning area, she wondered whether it would be appropriate for Mr. Minkoff to send a copy of the proposed ordinance to the city attorneys, and to the private utilities.
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, explained that staff will send a copy of the proposed ordinance out for review prior to actually advertising it.
Mr. Minkoff noted that the document was not in ordinance form yet, so this will be done, and it will be brought back to the Board on a regular agenda for advertising.
Mr. Hartman questioned whether the Board, from all of the comments made today, wanted to consider pursuing a small game plan, to look at how to integrate some of these issues together, and to come back to the Board.
Commr. Cadwell noted that the County Manager will get with staff and see what direction the Board needs to go from this point of discussion.
Commr. Cadwell discussed the notice the Board received about a meeting to be held at Citrus Ridge on Thursday, March 15, 2001, and stated that he was under the impression that this was a meeting that was called by the counties, but it is not. He stated that several years ago, Lake County had requested those counties get together and meet as Commissions, but they were never able to do that. He would rather see this Board set up a true meeting with the counties themselves, to discuss those issues.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, explained that the Board Office, when they are aware that more than one of the Commissioners is going to a meeting, where they will be a part of the discussion, advertises the meeting and provides Board Support, but the noted meeting was called by a citizens' group.
Commr. Hanson explained that she will find out who will be attending the meeting. She stated that she did feel that Commr. Cadwell made a good suggestion, to get with the Chairpersons of the other counties and together set a date for a joint meeting.
RESOLUTIONS/LAWS & LEGISLATION
Commr. Pool questioned whether the Board would want to consider a resolution supporting President Bush's tax relief position, to present to the two U.S. Senators.
Commr. Hanson stated that her concern would be the impact to the County, because they do not know what the revenues are going to mean to this County.
Commr. Pool explained that this tax relief was for the citizens, not for the County, and he was only saying that this Board may want to take the position of asking the two State Senators to give it their every consideration.
No action was taken by the Board.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
JOINT MEETING - LAKE COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
AND THE LAKE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
It was noted that the following individuals were present representing the Lake County School Board: Ms. Pam Saylor, Superintendent of Schools; Mr. Jim Polk, Assistant Superintendent; Ms. Pat Bailey, Secretary to the Superintendent; Mr. Scott Strong, School Board Member; Mr. Jimmy Conner, School Board Member; Mr. Gerald Smith, School Board Member; and Mr. Don Turpin, Assistant Superintendent.
Commr. Hanson stated that there were two issues, and possibly a third issue, that the Board would like to discuss with those present. She stated that one issue was school location planning; another issue is school concurrency, particularly a proposal that has been made by the State; and another issue would be joint use of the schools.
Ms. Sharon Farrell, Senior Director of Growth Management, explained that, in the backup material, there was a draft ordinance, which has been sent to the School Board for their representatives to review. Ms. Farrell stated that County staff has been working with their staff for about a year, with some changes being made internally. She explained that this ordinance brings the County's Comprehensive Plan into compliance with some 1998 legislation, and it also provides some language in the Comprehensive Plan for location. She stated that, in 1995, Chapter 163, Florida Statutes, was amended to permit local governments the option to extend concurrency requirements to the public schools. As it was adopted, the Lake County Comprehensive Plan does not include an Education Element, nor are public schools included in the Concurrency Element. She stated that, in 1998, the Florida Legislature made another change, with that language being a part of the draft ordinance, to include collocation and location of schools. The changes included the following: "The future land use element shall include criteria which encourage the location of schools proximate to urban residential areas to the extent possible and shall require that the local government seek to collocate public facilities, such as parks, libraries, and community centers, with schools to the extent possible." Ms. Farrell stated that there has been some dialogue in the past year and a half, with some of the School Board members and staff, as to some joint facilities and collocation projects. In 1999, County staff began drafting language to amend the Comprehensive Plan. She stated that some of the issues, as noted in the backup, are tied more to concurrency, and she asked that those present take the draft back with them, and to get back with the County, in the very near future, to either adopt the language, or make some changes. Ms. Farrell stated that, as a local government, they do not have any authority over the public schools. They do have authority over development approval, with the joint goal being to address the overcrowding, yet facilitate other goals of the Comprehensive Plan, and Intergovernmental Coordination. She noted that school siting, from a planning perspective, is probably one of the toughest intergovernmental coordination elements to draft and to facilitate, because of the dollars, and because of it being such a high profile and difficult issue.
Commr. Hill stated that the next set of papers before them today addresses School Concurrency, and she wanted everyone to understand that this is not what the County has put together, but it is Governor Bush's proposal that is being submitted by a State Task Force, which was chaired by Mr. Steve Seibert, and it is going to go into his Growth Management Plan for the 2001 Legislature. She stated that she and Commr. Stivender attended a conference called Growth Management, where they received a book, the 12th Annual Growth Management Short Course 2001, by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. She referred to Page 4, which addressed Growth Management Requirements for School Planning, and noted that it addresses Future Land Uses; s. 163.3177(6)(a), FS, which states that it is the intent of the legislature that public facilities and services needed to support development shall be available through current impacts of development. Commr. Hill stated that she was of the understanding that they were only addressing new development, which is one of the issues on the table today. She stated that they are to seek to co-locate public facilities, such as parks, libraries and community centers, with schools, to the extent possible.
Commr. Stivender stated that, when it came down to the particulars of the plan, there were issues that needed particulars, such as how many students are already here versus how many from the new growth. She explained that there was also an interlocal agreement, which puts it all together, so that they have concurrency service areas, and both entities were involved in deciding what those were through all of the calculations.
Commr. Hill stated that it was stressed at the meeting that they need to sit down and have a five year plan that they can both agree on, and that may be a short term look at it, but if the County could have a facilities assessment, for at least the first five years, they can plan the County's growth according to where they feel it should be.
Mr. Smith stated that the School Board is in the process of hiring an architect to do their facilities plan for all schools, as well as projections for new schools. He stated that the County has a Future Land Use Map, but they probably need the School Board's future site map, to match up with the County's Future Land Use Map. The site map will also give the school district, and the schools located in that district. Mr. Smith stated that this information can readily be given to the Board, and then it can be compared to the five year capital plan, to make future projections.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board does not want to over react and go back to where the County was ten years ago, when it was extracting property from new development, because it really did not make a lot of sense to say the County had acreage, because there were times when the School Board ended up with property they could not use. He stated that they need to find a realistic way to put in schools, and in places where there is a need, to make sure that the need is addressed before the development occurs.
Mr. Conner asked County staff is they had the map that shows the locations of the student population, because he felt that, when they look at the map, it is enlightening to see that it is not unusual to see students to be bunched in a very small area. He explained that the School Board has worked on placing schools in close proximity to where the students live, and they had a great deal of cooperation from the Board of County Commissioners, and the City of Clermont, in accomplishing that with the high school that they currently have under contract in South Lake County. Mr. Conner stated that, if they could make sure that the County is provided with that map, then they will see where the students are now, and that would be a major factor in where the future schools will be.
Commr. Hanson asked that the School Board send one of the maps, that was discussed by Mr. Conner, to the County's Planning staff.
Mr. Polk informed the Board that the School Board is in the process of updating that map, and probably within two months, they will have a more recent one, which will be more useful to the County.
Mr. Smith stated that, in regards to site selection, the goal is accepting sites that will reduce the transportation, and one of the objectives is to reduce the overall transportation, distance, and time for students to travel. He explained that Lake County may be faced with what Orange County is being faced with every year, and that is rezoning a big number of schools.
Ms. Saylor explained that the School Board is experiencing that right now in the south end of the County, with the opening of the new high school, because they have to re-district for the new high school, as well as the middle schools, and the ninth grade center.
Commr. Hanson stated that Mr. Smith and Mr. Conner have both touched on an issue that she believes the Board of County Commissioners will agree with and that is the need for the schools to be sited in the community. She further stated that the transportation issue is strongly related to smart growth.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, even outside of the transportation issue, having the school located in a community helps build the community, and that will be something that will be included in the joint use area discussions.
Mr. Conner stated that he has been saying for many years that he thought that having a school in close proximity to a development enhanced the values of the development, and in turn, that developer should be willing to assist in either reducing the price of the property, or working into some kind of a joint agreement, to provide an incentive for them to locate a school in the general area. He explained that a developer who has a school close to the neighborhood, especially an elementary school, is going find that it will be a much more desirable location than one that is three or four miles down the road. Mr. Conner stated that the School Board bought property in Lost Lake for about $9,000 an acre, but at the time, he felt that, if they had utilized all of the resources available to them, they could have done even better with the negotiation of a price. He feels that developers will be eager to work with them, if they know they were getting a school in close proximity to their development, and he feels these are issues that they need to consider.
Commr. Hanson stated that, some years back, there was a School Board representative that would evaluate each development as it came through the County, and the representative would sign off on it, as to whether or not they needed a school as part of that development. She explained that, as Commr. Cadwell had mentioned earlier, sometimes they wound up with land, that a few years later, when it was time to put in a school, the School Board felt that it was not an appropriate location. Then the County moved into impact fees to help offset those costs, instead of land donation. Commr. Hanson stated that the County can still do land donation, but they need it at the time of the development, and they need the School Board, along with the County planners, to say that they need this land, and they need them to donate it, or sell it at a reduced price, or to make the determination that they do not need it.
Commr. Stivender explained that these issues come up at the staff level, when they do development review, and it is important to have someone from the School Board at these meetings to go through the planning stage.
Mr. Strong stated that he would like to see the same amount of consideration given to the school process, and to the education of children, as the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) gets for stormwater runoff. He explained that much of the infrastructure is already in place, and they need to factor Recommendation 67 in the loop, which states the following: "Local government shall insure the availability of adequate public school facilities when considering the approval of plans, amendments, and rezonings that increase residential density. The local school board must communicate to local government that it has exhausted all reasonable options to provide adequate school facilities before a local government may reject, or delay approval of plans, amendments or rezonings which increases the residential density and/or intensity." He stated that the School Board's biggest problem is not the location of the school, but it is paying for it.
Ms. Farrell explained that, for years, when the County got a development application, or an application for rezoning, copies were sent to the School Board, and it has been an on-again, off-again communication system, with comments being made sometimes, or a representative attends the development review meeting. Ms. Farrell noted that Mr. Turpin is currently on staff's e-mail address list for all development reviews. She further noted that it takes approximately 30 days to get through the process.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether, if the County adopted a concurrency for schools, as it has for transportation, and if someone wanted to build a large development, and there is not capacity for schools at that point, they could then put the money up front for the school, or for the addition to the school that is already there.
Ms. Farrell stated that the actual language to adopt concurrency for schools is fairly complex, and you have to be able to offer mitigation and such, as you do right now, for concurrency, and getting there would be very difficult, but it would be an option. She stated that, for right now, they could at least make sure they get a sign off, or comments from the School Board, as they do from other agencies.
Commr. Hanson questioned how impact fees play in with concurrency, and whether they are completely separate, or whether impact fees can be credited against concurrency.
Mr. Minkoff explained that concurrency fees are credited against impact fees, which he explained by using transportation as an example. In regards to the impact fee study, he stated that the contract is being negotiated with the firm that will be doing the school impact fee study, and they should have something done this summer.
Ms. Saylor requested a copy of the book that Commr. Stivender had in her possession and stated that she had received something from the District School Superintendents, which referred to the Growth Study Commission, and she believes they just submitted their report to the legislature, so in fact, this is not in place right now, but she certainly feels that they can anticipate it moving in that direction. She stated that some of the suggestions and recommendations that they will be making will change considerably the way that, for example, sites are selected, and the way that they address other areas of concern, according to the regulations that are provided to them through the Department of Education. She stated that, as a result of the meeting today, she would like to see them have an opportunity to talk about the ways that they can work better on this process. Ms. Saylor asked Mr. Don Turpin to speak to this issue, because he was very involved in this type of a successful process in Marion County, and some of his suggestions might serve them well. She stated that she would like them to walk away today at least thinking about these things and perhaps identity some people to put in place from both organizations, because she feels that there is an intention here to work together.
Mr. Turpin stated that he agreed that it would be difficult to say exactly when and where a school will be placed, because of the growth trends. He stated that, through the Department of Education, they must consider the fact that they cannot receive funding to build a school, until the need is there, and they are actually pass that point, and they cannot receive money, or build a school on a projected need. He stated that it was his opinion that a school is not a School Board project, but it is a community project, and he believes the best way to choose a school site is to have all the players involved on the team around the table. Mr. Turpin explained that he would have the following people on the team: a School Board member; the local planning department, whether it be the county or city, or sometimes both; the engineering department of the city and/or the county; the Chairman of the Board of Realtors; the school principals, elementary, middle, and high school; the Department of Transportation (DOT); local fire protection people; curriculum people; the Sheriff's Department or the police department; a representative from the emergency management area; MIS people; a representative from the facilities department; and representatives from the zoning and building departments. Mr. Turpin stated that he has found that, if all of these people get together, he has yet to have a school site go to planning and zoning, to a county commission, to a city council, or anywhere else that it did not pass on a consent agenda, and he has yet to have a single person from the public object to a school site. He stated that this is his recommendation on how they should locate school sites.
Commr. Stivender referred to Page 127, in the book from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and noted that one of their suggestions was to put together a technical advisory group consisting of planners, demographic people, and business person, so Mr. Turpin is on the right track.
Commr. Hanson stated that a problem for all of them is the delay between the time of approval for a development, and when the developer actually pulls permits. She noted that most of the development that is occurring in South Lake County was approved ten years ago. Commr. Hanson stated that Ms. Farrell put together a sheet of information, per her request, of all the projects that have been approved back to the year 1900. She stated that the County now needs to go back and clean up that list and get something that is more viable today for the School Board.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether, in bringing the School Board to the table now in regard to project review, it would it be by invitation, or does that have to be part of the ordinance. He noted that the School Board has expressed that they want to be a part of the process, as any other department of the County, but with that process comes responsibility, and a time frame to sign off on a project.
Ms. Farrell stated that the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) provide for schools to be considered as part of a rezoning. The three issues, as mentioned earlier by Commr. Stivender, were the existing, the vested, and the new, and the new development, through the public hearing process, allows staff to get comments that will be considered as part of that approval process. She stated that it would be a good start, if staff could actually receive formal comments from the School Board on those projects.
Mr. Conner stated that it has been said that a very high percentage of the growth is in one single area of the County, and the subject that he brought up previously, but has not had any material success on, is whether there is a way to have a special revenue district in one area of the County, and for that money to be dedicated to stay within that particular district.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the County has the ability to do that for County purposes,but the County is not authorized to levy ad valorem taxes to build schools.
Commr. Hanson stated that the County could do this through its impact fees. She stated that the actual revenue from impact fees, during the last six years, has been almost $14 million, which includes interest.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the County Commission does not have the authority to spend its money for schools, and he did not believe that the School Board has the authority to create special districts. He further explained that impact fees are generally going to be uniform, because they reflect construction costs, and unless the construction costs are different in different parts of the County, the cost of a student station should be the same, and the School Board would get more impact fees, if there is more growth in a particular area. He noted that currently there are three school impact fee districts.
Mr. Strong stated that, about a year ago, he and Ms. Saylor received word from the State that the School Board could not put a district within the County for schools.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board has always been there with impact fees for the schools, from the very beginning, and they will support them in the future.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether the School Board is wanting to encourage the Board to look at this ordinance, from the County level, and from the criteria and the concurrency aspects of it.
Mr. Strong explained that the School Board has not had an opportunity to review the ordinance, but it appears to be on the right track, and the discussion that they were having today is on the right track.
Mr. Conner stated that conceptually the Board is on the right track, and he appreciates what they are doing, because they do need to play a more involved role in the entire growth issue, and conceptually, the Board does have the School Board's support.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would like to address some joint uses, and noted that they could partner in funding. He explained that the Board tried to do an after school program, and it was jointly funded, but there was a problem getting the principals that were needed for the program, and he questioned whether a program like this could be done, or has security gotten to the point where there is just not a good way to do it anymore.
Ms. Saylor explained that these types of programs can be done, and in the past, there have been some concerns, on the part of their attorneys, as to some liability issues, but she did think that those were things that could be addressed. She stated that, in terms of the after school program, she did think that it was originally put out to principals to try and get it started, and they had probably more input into it, but she did think that, if there were things that they felt were in order and appropriate for the community, they would be a board and a district level decision. She certainly thinks that the School Board supports it, and it is something that the community wants and deserves, and they need to address it.
Mr. Polk stated that there have been several of these types of programs that have been successful. There has been a lot of gain from these programs, and there are a lot of schools that have after school programs that did not five years ago. He stated that money has become available, and the County Commission funded the one in Umatilla and several others, and they have worked. He stated that several of the schools that had County grants have gone out and gotten other grants to make it possible, so he feels there is a real change of attitude, and the needs are different than ten years ago. He further stated that the Sheriff's Department, and the County Commission, and parents have encouraged this program.
Mr. Conner stated that he feels the School Board needs to make their facilities available to the maximum amount that they possibly can. He stated that he shares the Board's frustration, and to be good partners, there is give and take, but it seems that everywhere he turns in the County, the County Commission, through their recreation grants, are doing something good for kids, and they need to reciprocate. He feels that the County's recreation program is fantastic, and it is well received and very much needed, and the way that it has been implemented has been very positive, but they need to be good partners.
Mr. Smith stated that he has served on the Parks and Recreation Committee with the County Commission, and they have discussed the additional six to eight acres north of the school site south of Hook Street. He stated that they are working with the developer to possibly do a joint venture for park type facilities, and they are talking about a co-use venture with the training facility across Highway 50. He stated that the School Board currently has a piece of land under contract to buy, and he questioned when they should bring this to the Board's attention.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he, along with Ms. Farrell and Mr. Jim Stivender, Senior Director of Public Works, and Mr. Jerry Cox and another representative from the School Board, looked at trying to do a joint use project in South Lake County, at one point, and one of the places they went to look at was Lake Nona, where not only was the City of Orlando involved and the County, but also the YMCA. He explained that the YMCA and the school are in the same building, and the building is used 16 to 18 hours a day. He stated that the County Commission was very interested in doing a project like that where the elementary school has the gym during the daytime and access to the YMCA, and the YMCA has access to the cafeteria and other facilities, and the school shares their offices.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the problems regarding construction and security were handled pretty easily with this project, and it was not a very complicated process, and he felt that this would be a place to look at first. It was noted that he did go by himself to look at the facility.
Commr. Hanson stated that a smaller committee should probably be created from this group, and she suggested that Mr. Smith select three people to be on the committee, and the Board will select three people from its staff, to move forward with the goal to have that group of people look at site selection. She stated that they will be looking at other issues, so she feels they will need a committee.
Ms. Whittle stated that she could put together a staff level team made up of some County staff and some School Board staff, to look at the issues, and then come back with some parameters and some ideas on how this process would work.
Mr. Conner stated that the issue brought forth by Mr. Minkoff and Commr. Cadwell is the direction that he would like to see them go, because that means that such a facility will be available to kids on a more opportunity basis, either through the school, or the YMCA.
Ms. Whittle explained that the team, that was working on parks and recreation issues last year, has some history, and she feels that they can quickly pull together some of those members. The joint use is probably the easiest issue to address and where they can get some immediate results.
Mr. Smith felt that the School Board would need more information, and its facility study, before they meet again, so he would suggest 45 to 60 days.
It was noted that the proposed ordinance pertaining to the amendment to the Future Land Use Element, to provide for school siting and location criteria, will have to be advertised, and public hearings will have to be held before it can be approved, and the School Board can move forward and present their comments about the ordinance to County staff.
Mr. Minkoff noted that the transportation and school impact fee studies should be done by the end of the summer.
Ms. Saylor extended her appreciation to the Board for the opportunity they created today and stated that the School Board members welcomed this opportunity, as well as look forward to an ongoing relationship.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 2:05 p.m.
CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK