A SPECIAL JOINT MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
AND THE MOUNT DORA CITY COUNCIL
AUGUST 28, 2006
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session with the Mount Dora City Council on Monday, August 28, 2006, at 6:30 p.m., at Mount Dora City Hall, 510 North Baker Street, Mount Dora, Florida. Commissioners present: Catherine C. Hanson, Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Jennifer Hill; Robert A. Pool and Debbie Stivender. Others present for Lake County: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Cynthia W. “Cindy” Hall, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; and Judy McAuley, Deputy Clerk.
The Mount Dora City Council was represented by Mayor James Yatsuk, Vice Mayor James Homich, Council Members Melissa DeMarco, Stewart Holley, Robert Maraio, Judy Smathers, and Michael Tedder. Others present for the City of Mount Dora: Michael Quinn, City Manager; Gary Cooney, City Attorney; and Cindy Sommer, Recording Secretary.
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor James Yatsuk called the meeting to order at 6:36 p.m.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE
Mr. Gary Cooney, Mount Dora City Attorney, gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
PURPOSE OF MEETING
Mayor Yatsuk stated that the purpose of the meeting is to share ideas between the Mount Dora City Council and the County Commission.
LAND USE ITEMS
Employment Center and Access to Wekiva Parkway
Regarding the Wekiva Parkway, Mayor Yatsuk explained that the City has been working with FDOT to make sure unintentional traffic does not come into the City. He stated that the employment center will benefit Mount Dora, the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento urban node, Eustis and northwest Orange County. He asked for ideas and cooperation and stressed the need for access into the area.
Mr. Mark Reggentin, Mount Dora Planning and Zoning Director, explained that the City has been working with the City of Eustis and the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento planning committee to develop a long-range plan in the Joint Planning Area (JPA) in the areas that cross over into the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento area to provide a future for residential growth and job creation. That has been done through the establishment of the employment center which is being implemented through the comprehensive plan. The City does not want to develop this as a commercial center but wants higher-end, corporate office relocations along with light industrial and commercial warehouse-type activity that will help create jobs outside of the retail/service sector. The Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento committee saw the potential that this center can work together with their Main Street development. The committee’s initial concerns were that Mount Dora would annex Sorrento. Mr. Reggentin noted that the JPA agreement agrees not to annex past the JPA boundary.
Mr. Reggentin stated that, as the expressway comes through, there will be a great opportunity for development. Explosive residential growth can happen or higher intensity commercial development can be planned for the area. If developed as employment center uses, the land needs to be reserved through the land use map and pressures to convert that land to residential uses need to be resisted.
Mayor Yatsuk explained that the employment center idea was born about four years ago. Having the JPA in place provides the opportunity to plan this while working with the County. Mr. Reggentin stated that they would like to focus manufacturing and warehouse-type uses along the SR 46 corridor where industrial land use designations exist.
Commissioner Cadwell remarked that he would not like the County or the City to start taking little bites out of the area unless there are some definite boundaries set. Mayor Yatsuk confirmed that they have the vision but not the plan. He reiterated that the City and the County can work together on the plan.
Commissioner Hanson stated that she has been meeting with Mr. Keith Schue (Ocala/Wekiva Conservation Project Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy and a member of the State Road 40 Collaborative Task Force) and with Dr. Charles Mojock, President of the Lake-Sumter Community College, on the same concept. She stated that it would be a great place for a branch of the community college. She agreed that there should be a master plan for a commerce park. Council Member Maraio added that, with Burnham Institute for Medical Research coming to Orlando, it is a golden, long-term opportunity for us. His stated that his first priority has always been research or a high-end office park.
Mr. Reggentin remarked that we are at a similar crossroad as was the Lake Mary/Sanford area fifteen years ago. He stated that, if high-end employers are to be attracted, incentive packages will be necessary and a revenue source will be needed for that. One opportunity for a revenue stream is the potential to set up a Community Redevelopment Area (CRA). He stated that staff would like to get a feel from the two boards on that idea. Mr. Reggentin confirmed that he has made two presentations to the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento planning committee. He has talked to some of the major property owners in the area who are beginning to approach the City and the County on residential development. He stated that those landowners feel comfortable letting things develop and not pushing the residential end of it. He has not seen any negative push back over the last two or three years.
Regarding how to reserve land, Mr. Reggentin stated that ideas will have to be taken as they come. He stated that there are about 900 acres in the area around SR 46 for development opportunities. He stated that the area is in unincorporated Lake County and the City would anticipate annexation of their JPA over time. Commissioner Cadwell reiterated that some real boundaries are needed. Mr. Reggentin stated that people have been seeking annexation into the City but the City ties annexation to utility extensions and does not want to overextend to try to grab something. The City is working with the County in trying to provide utilities to the southwest corner of the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento urban compact node. He stated that the City is not actively seeking annexation even though there is a lot of activity in this part of the County. Commissioner Hanson remarked that one landowner owns a significant amount of property in that area and that will be helpful.
In response to Commissioner Hanson’s inquiry about working with FDOT to include trails along SR 46, Mr. Reggentin stated that they discuss trails every time they talk. Mayor Yatsuk stated that the County is partnering with the City to get the CSX rail line which would be a great conversion to a trail. An at-grade road at the rail is being considered but that would hamper connectivity for the trail system.
Regarding CRA financing, Council Member Homich expressed concern with being able to get the increment in the taxes ahead of time in order to pay for incentives. Mr. Reggentin stated that the CRA needs to be set up while the property values are relatively low. Things will begin to develop and the increment starts growing slowly over the first three to five years. As property values catch up and new development occurs, it will grow exponentially. Mayor Yatsuk stated that there are a lot of varying timetables. No one wants to commit to a timetable as to when that will happen.
Commissioner Cadwell stated that the City is asking for a true employment center rather than a retail center.
Regarding a proposal to the Local Planning Agency (LPA), Mr. Reggentin confirmed that they would request changing the land use to office/commerce. Obviously, residential uses will occur in the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento area and in the City of Mount Dora so mixed use would not need to be provided in the employment center area because it is being provided outside of that area. Regarding meetings with the LPA, he further explained that some draft Land Development Regulations (LDRs) have been written on how to handle the employment center. Most of the language from the JPA and draft LDRs has been incorporated into the comprehensive plan and boundaries have been established. The LPA, at today’s meeting, discussed limiting floor area ratios. Mr. Reggentin advised that the City’s position is that, if a corporate user needs a seven-story office complex out there, the City does not need to be restricted by regulations to do that. True employment centers need as few restrictions as possible as far as the intensity goes.
Council Member Homich opined that it is the City’s interest that any reference to high density or residential should be moved from that land-use category.
Mayor Yatsuk added that this is a very unique land use category. The piece under discussion, two small pieces on U.S. Highway 441 and a small piece in Clermont would be under this land use designation.
In response to an inquiry by Commissioner Pool, Mr. Reggentin confirmed that he has had several conversations with the landowner of the largest tract in that area. Mr. Reggentin stated that the landowner is not under a timeline and that he likes raising his cows on the property.
Mr. Michael Quinn, Mount Dora City Manager, referred to the August 23, 2006, memorandum from Ms. Dottie Keedy, Lake County Director of Economic Growth and Redevelopment, which is included in the agenda packet. The memo addresses the fact that the CRA is a major issue and mentioned other incentives such as impact fees. The City and the County may want to work together in creating those kinds of packages. Commissioner Cadwell suggested that the Board plans to discuss economic development after the comprehensive plan is finished relative to creating jobs and raising the quality of jobs through incentive packages.
Support for Cultural Facilities - Tourism Development Tax
Mr. Quinn referred to his June 21, 2006, letter to the Tourist Development Council (TDC) which is included in the agenda packet. He stated that the City of Mount Dora supports the penny increase to the room tax to five cents which was proposed by the Performing Arts Center of Lake-Sumter (PALS), especially if dedicated toward cultural and art-type facilities. He stressed that the City feels it should be applied to all eligible projects, whether in Mount Dora, Eustis, Clermont or elsewhere in the County, if it is to be a countywide increase. Mayor Yatsuk mentioned that the Mount Dora Community Building, a small 500-seat hall, is undergoing extensive renovation. Funds have been dedicated through the City’s CRA and the City has applied for numerous grants. Mayor Yatsuk asked to share in the tourist revenue. Mr. Quinn explained that the City’s Community Building project is just over $3 million and a couple hundred thousand dollars from another resource would help considerably. This project can impact a fair amount of economic development in downtown Mount Dora, including shops and restaurants, through coordination of other events.
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, stated that the County’s financial advisor advised that, if the extra penny is levied and bonded, it should be bonded on a fifteen-year, not more than twenty-year, basis. The twenty-year bond issue would bring in about $6.3 million and the fifteen-year bond would bring in about $5.3 million. Commissioner Stivender advised that the Tourist Development Council (TDC) will consider that issue at their September 20, 2006, meeting. Ms. Hall confirmed that PALS requested $9 million to help build their new performing arts center at the Lake-Sumter Community College’s Leesburg campus. Commissioner Cadwell informed the Council that the Board of County Commissioners told PALS to reach out to the local cultural community to be sure everyone is on the same page before the Board begins dividing funds. Commissioner Stivender stated that TDC asked PALS and some of the municipalities for feasibility studies to see what dollars would be generated. Mayor Yatsuk pointed out that their Community Building, a more intimate-type of hall, would not be in competition with events held at the new PALS facility. Commissioner Cadwell stated that the Board is not considering any operational monies and that this would be capital money. Mayor Yatsuk stated that the City is looking for assistance with capital funding and the Community Building is anticipated to be self-supporting. The City sees this project as an investment in the well-being of Mount Dora as well as recognition and an investment in the arts.
Coordination of City/County Park and Trail Facilities
Mayor Yatsuk stated that the City of Mount Dora has a master parks plan in place. With the increase in population in the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento urban node and other areas of the County, the City is discussing how they can share and provide facilities for the needs of all of our citizens.
Mr. Bob Stevens, Mount Dora Parks and Recreation Director, stated that the City’s master plan parallels the County’s master plan. Both have made trails a high priority. The City has been in close contact with the County and the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (LSMPO). The LSMPO would like to commit to purchasing lands with assistance from the County’s land acquisition program. The City understands the responsibility to develop and maintain the corridor that runs through the City. Mr. Stevens stated that the commitment from CSX is not there on the entire system. He stated that the City would like to work with the County in grant writing for some mutual acquisitions.
Council Member Smathers, a member of BPAC, stated that BPAC asked the cities of Tavares, Eustis, Mount Dora and Umatilla to get together to create a master plan for a loop for the trail and eventually hook up to Orange County and Seminole County. Regarding a source of dedicated funding, Mayor Yatsuk explained that there is some state funding, generally regional in nature.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Lake County Public Works Director, suggested that the City or the County probably should push the consultants who are working on the Wekiva Parkway PD&E study to show a corridor for the trail in the PD&E study. He stated that the consultants have been reluctant to do that. He stated that the County is conducting a $125,000 PD&E study, $60,000 of which is funded by the State, for a countywide trail master plan which will tie to West Orange County. He discussed the Sorrento area parks which include the proposed East Lake Community Park, the Sorrento Park, Mt. Plymouth Park and Scott Park. The Board has a potential funding source of one-tenth of a mil for road maintenance and linear park development.
Further discussion occurred regarding how many people will use the parks, land acquisition dollars for purchasing rails and using large power lines as trails.
Commissioner Hanson asked Mr. Stivender to take a leadership role in having Mount Dora and Lake County working together on the design concept of the master plan. Mr. Stivender noted that there will be several public meetings throughout the County.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that the Mount Dora area was included in the CSX studies. The County made an offer to buy CSX property from Clermont to the county line but it looks like CSX only owns three or four pieces of that property instead of three or four miles. After that one is done, other sections will be negotiated. Most of the Wildwood piece has been purchased by the City of Leesburg. BPAC and PLAAC are also looking at pieces in Fruitland Park/Lady Lake and in Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento as well as Mount Dora.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the property for the East Lake Community Park is under contract and closing is scheduled for late November 2006. Mr. Quinn stated that about 65% of the participation in Mount Dora’s recreation program comes from the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento area of unincorporated Lake County so it is very important for the City and the County to coordinate that usage and programming. Commissioner Cadwell opined that about $7 or $8 million has been distributed back to the cities over the last few years because the County understands the cities are providing those services. Commissioner Hanson added that some of these dollars are coming from pari-mutuel wagering dollars.
Status Update - Lake Gertrude/Lake John Drainage Project
Mayor Yatsuk stated that the Lake Gertrude/Lake John Drainage Project has been a great collaborative effort between Lake County, the City of Mount Dora, Lake County Water Authority, and the State Legislature. A study several years ago identified the Lake Gertrude Basin and all the sub-basins and gave recommendations on how to fix some of the problems that would occur in Lake Gertrude. Lake Gertrude has an outfall into Lake Dora.
Mr. Gary Hammond, Mount Dora Public Services Director, stated that they are about 45%-50% of design. An update meeting will be held later to share the design with the County and ask for the County’s input. The project is jointly funded by the City of Mount Dora, Lake County, a State of Florida grant, and a Lake County Water Authority grant. Mayor Yatsuk pointed out that this is a regional project because Lake Dora is part of the Upper Ocklawaha. Council Member DeMarco stated that the City is serious about water quality issues and has committed to raising its stormwater rates in order to fix some of the problems before they get to the Lake John/Lake Gertrude situation. Mr. Quinn noted that this is a $2.6 million project and the City is about $700,000 short at this time. Commissioner Stivender asked Mr. Stivender to follow through and make sure the County is getting TMDL monetary credits because Lake County is doing so much more than some of the other counties in cleaning up the lakes. Council Member Homich reiterated that Mount Dora is being aggressive with stormwater issues and Council Member DeMarco added that the City is educating the public regarding the proper use of fertilizers.
TROPICAL STORM UPDATE
Mr. Jerry Smith, Lake County Emergency Management Director, stated that he will monitor tomorrow’s 5:00 a.m. update by the National Hurricane Center on Tropical Storm Ernesto. The storm’s track has shifted to the east throughout today and is predicted to make landfall in the Miami-Dade County area. At this time, it looks as if Lake County will not be impacted by the storm.
FACILITY ITEMS (CONTINUED)
Status Update - Old 441 PD&E Project
Mr. Stivender stated that the Board of County Commissioners will consider the Old 441 PD&E Project at their meeting September 5, 2006. The City of Mount Dora is managing that process and the majority of the project is in Mount Dora. Some sections of the road are three lanes. Some questions are how should it look and how much traffic capacity can efficiently flow through it. He thinks the study will take about 12 months and the results of the study will be incorporated into a capital improvement plan. A trail is included as part of the study and the railroad right of way is adjacent to a large part of the study area. Mr. Stivender stated that public meetings will be part of the process. Council Member Homich stated that the City has been looking for several years at a trail along the lakefront between the road and the railroad. He opined that is a critical element that the residents will want included in the plan. Mr. Stivender pointed out that there are a lot of stormwater issues associated with this project.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:53 p.m.
CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK