The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, November 16, 1993, at 5:05 p.m., in the Board of County Commissioner's Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: G. Richard Swartz, Jr., Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson, Vice Chairman; Rhonda H. Gerber; Don Bailey; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Frank T. Gaylord, Interim County Attorney; Peter F. Wahl, County Manager; Ava Kronz, BCC Office Manager; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT/ZONING
The Chairman called the meeting to order and opened the public hearing.
Mr. Greg Beliveau, Land Planning Group, Inc., appeared before the Board stating that he had appeared before the Board at a previous meeting, dealing with the Land Development Regulations (LDRs), and had requested clarification on Lots of Record, due to the fact that he was representing a woman who was involved in a Lot of Record issue. He then gave a brief scenario of the situation he was involved in and stated that he was told there were two options available to him, being (1) that he could request the Board to insert a variance procedure in the Lot of Record Ordinance, to handle cases such as the one that he was representing, or (2) request that the date of the Lot of Record be changed from 1982 to some other date, either the date of July, 1991, when the Comprehensive Plan was originally approved, or to the date of March, 1993. He stated that his client has two acres of land that she pays taxes on, but can do nothing with.
Discussion occurred, at which time Commr. Swartz stated that the matter in question could not be defined as a Lot of Record issue, therefore, questioned why it could not be taken before the Board of Adjustment, to find out whether or not a variance could be granted.
Mr. Greg Stubbs, One-Stop Permitting Center Coordinator and Director of Development Regulations, stated that the issue could be put before the Board of Adjustments, but that staff could not recommend approval of it. He stated that the only thing that could be done would be to change the definition of a Lot of Record.
Commr. Swartz stated that, if the Board were to change the Lot of Record definition, then they would be saying to all those people who went through the Lot of Record procedures correctly, that they spent their money needlessly because, in the end, they would have been able to obtain a Lot of Record after all. He stated that there were two possible recourses for Mr. Beliveau's client, being (1) that sometime in the future his client might be able to subdivide her two acres into two one acre lots, assuming timeliness occurred, or (2) she could go back through the process and the purchaser.
Mr. Rolon Reed, representing himself and the Lake County Conservation Council, appeared before the Board and stated that Section 163.3202 of the Florida Statutes states that the LDRs must be consistent with and implement the adopted Comprehensive Plan and that, according to Section 163.3194 of the Florida Statutes, inconsistent LDRs are illegal.
Mr. Reed stated that the Board has probably been told that they do not have to submit the LDRs directly to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), for approval, the way that they had to submit the 1991 Comprehensive Plan and all the various subsequent amendments, however, what the Board may not have been told is that it is rather simple for any affected person to bring DCA back into the process. He stated that all said person would have to do would be to file a written complaint with the County showing how the LDRs are inconsistent with the latest adopted Comprehensive Plan and 30 days later, unless the County agrees with them, that person is free to petition DCA to review the LDRs for inconsistency.
Mr. Reed stated that, if DCA agrees they are inconsistent, they begin another administrative proceeding before a hearing officer. He stated that he had no doubt DCA would agree that most of the LDRs being considered this date are totally inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan. He stated that there is a brazen and deliberate effort to exempt as many paper plats as possible from the impact of the Comprehensive Plan.
Mr. Reed stated that Policy 1-12A.1 of the amended Comprehensive Plan contains a legally correct definition of statutory and common law vesting and the LDRs before the Board this date go far beyond the accepted limits. He stated that, instead of protecting what has traditionally been recognized as vested rights, he feels that the Board is trying to create vested wrongs. He stated that it is wrong to allow any person who ever submitted a piece of paper to any county office to do whatever he or she wants to do with their land and that it is wrong to pass the inevitable cost of it all onto the taxpayers, when State law mandates that new development pay its own way.
Mr. Reed stated that even handed enforcement of the 1993 Comprehensive Plan will cost some land owners a lot of money, especially those who expected to tax onto the rest of the people in the County the expense of new roads, new schools, more police, and more firemen, which their projects will obviously require the County to incur. He stated that it is very clear that recent growth in Lake County has totally failed to pay its own way. He stated that, in the last ten years, the County's property tax rate has doubled, going from virtually nothing to more than $130 million, and this is what growth management was designed to stop.
Mr. Reed stated that it is wrong to defy State law and foolish to listen to false prophets who tell the Board that they can change the law by changing lawyers. He stated that Lake County is a political subdivision of the State of Florida, yet today it is being run like a "banana" republic.
Ms. Cecelia Bonifay, a local attorney, appeared before the Board stating that, being she had heard the Board threatened once again, felt that she must speak out. She stated that, although the Board was asked initially to look at both consistency and concurrency, the only thing that the Board has been dealing with, for months, is consistency, in terms of vested rights. She stated that they have not addressed anything in the concurrency section, which deals with growth paying its own way. She stated that apparently Mr. Reed had attended different hearings than the ones she attended, or has failed to understand that nothing in the concurrency section has changed.
Ms. Bonifay stated that she felt Mr. Reed had used very strong words in accusing the Board of having an abusive office and being negligent in not following the Growth Management Act. She stated that nothing specific has been received from the Lake County Conservation Council, it is just that they do not like the Comprehensive Plan and anyone who allows development to go forward in any shape, form, or fashion in this county is on their wrong side and must be stopped at all costs. She stated that she felt the Board had held sufficient workshops and had received sufficient public input and that they needed to move forward with the adoption of the proposed LDRs.
There being no further individuals who wished to address the Board, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Mr. Stubbs, One-Stop Permitting Center Coordinator and Director of Development Regulations, referred to the Draft Amendments to the LDRs, dated November 10, 1993, and noted the following changes:
On Page IV-1, in the first sentence of Paragraph 1. b., 250 feet should be changed to 150 feet.
On Page IV-2, in Paragraph 2. a. 2., the word and should be struck, as well as the wording for all other runways.
On Page IV-5, in the first sentence of Paragraph 4. a., the word in should be changed to is.
Commr. Swartz stated that he wanted to determine whether there was language that could be adopted and inserted in the LDRs that would deal with the period of time from the adoption of the new LDRs, in June 1992, until the adoption of the revised LDRs before the Board this date, that would put the road requirement back in. He stated that, over the course of that period of time, any parcels that may have gotten Lot of Record determinations would still have to put in a road, or would be required to aggregate. He noted that the road requirement is in the LDRs before the Board this date.
Upon being questioned as to how many Lot of Record determinations the County has granted since adoption of the new LDRs, in June, 1992, Mr. Tim Hoban, Senior Assistant County Attorney, informed the Board that, after June 1, 1992, the County granted final Lot of Record determinations for 58 applications and that, so far this year, the County has received approximately 91 applications that will be final Lot of Record determinations. He stated that each application will affect between one and twenty-six lots.
Commr. Hanson stated that many of the lots in question have already been sold.
Commr. Swartz interjected that the present language would not affect the lots that have been sold, because it only requires aggregation of those lots that are contiguous and under common ownership.
Commr. Hanson stated that she hoped the Board understood that what they were doing was eliminating the Lot of Record determinations being vested. She stated that the Board was really affecting much more than those lots that had been discussed, because some of those people got Lots of Records five years ago.
Mr. Hoban, Senior Assistant County Attorney, stated that the Lot of Record determinations issued before June 1, 1992 had the road requirement built in, due to the fact that they referenced the old Code sections.
Commr. Hanson stated that the road requirement is in place, but she felt the Board did not understand that one has to aggregate to five acres. She stated that, before the road requirement was for aggregation, one had to aggregate two or three lots together. She stated that she felt the Board was getting ready to open a can of worms and that they were going to affect a lot of little people. She stated that the Board had agreed earlier that they were going to vest the Lots of Record - that once an individual had gotten their final Lot of Record determination, filed a Unity of Record, and done everything that the County said they needed to do, that the County was going to vest them, however, the language before the Board this date negates that.
Commr. Swartz stated that the County has a road policy that has been in place since the early 1980s that staff has adhered to, in order to ensure that the County does not use special assessment funds for a development.
Commr. Hanson stated that the language in question does not exclude those roads that are in existing subdivisions, such as in Mt. Plymouth. She stated that there may be houses on every 100 foot lot, on one side of the road, and, on the other side of the road, one property owner may own 25 lots. She stated that, traditionally, those people have been able to get special assessments. She stated that the Board has already agreed that an individual is going to have to aggregate to five acres, in a rural designation, if the road is not paved, but, the Board is now saying they are going to take those Lots of Record away from those individuals and she did not feel that was fair.
Commr. Swartz stated that the way the language presently reads, if one owns a single lot and can get a septic tank permit, and they owned that lot prior to March 3, 1993, they can pull a building permit, whether or not there is a road in place, whether or not it meets the Comprehensive Plan requirements, and whether or not it meets the zoning district requirement. He stated that he is concerned about the fact that the County has an inconsistent policy that it has used for years, trying to ensure, in the old platted subdivisions, where no improvements were, that the road requirement would go in.
Commr. Swartz stated that that requirement has been there and, if the Board does not change the LDRs, where there are multiple lots that are contiguous, there will be no aggregation requirement and the lots will be sold off. He stated that, if this happens, the County is going to come up against a situation where all those lots will probably be in individual ownership and they will want to use them for special assessments.
Commr. Hanson stated that she is concerned about the costs involved for an individual to go through the process and pay the fees for the filing of a Lot of Unity. She stated that, when the Board did the LDRs, part of the process was to streamline. She stated that she did not have a problem with the road requirement, but she did have a problem with the Board going back on its word, after having assured people that they would be able to get a building permit for their lots, providing they could meet the County's requirements.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt the road requirement should be in the new LDRs and that it should stay in the LDRs from this point forward.
Commr. Hanson stated that, if the Board was going to use the date of March 1993, then she had a problem with it, because from June 1992 until March 1993, there was no road requirement.
Mr. Hoban, Senior Assistant County Attorney, stated that the March 2, 1993 date was chosen because it tied in with all the other dates and tied in with the 1992 tax roll that the County was using to determine it. He stated that it was a very easy date to use, from an administrative standpoint, and that it would require less time, effort, and staff.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether staff felt that, by putting the road requirement in, it would create an administrative nightmare.
Mr. Stubbs, One-Stop Permitting Center Coordinator and Director of Development Regulations, stated that it would be a very big task for staff to undertake, because they would have to deal with irate customers being told that they were going to have to start all over again, because what they originally submitted to staff was null and void, by action of the Board.
A motion was made by Commr. Hanson and seconded by Commr. Bailey that the Board not adopt the proposed changes to the Land Development Regulations, noted in the memorandum dated November 16, 1993, dealing with the road requirement for Lots of Record, as it pertains to those Lots of Record that the County has already approved.
Under discussion, Mr. Stivender, Director of Public Services, stated that the whole idea behind the original special assessment was to pave the roads in old subdivisions, where the property owners who had already built out, or had partially built out, had no other way to do it. He stated that it was not intended for a subdivision where an individual owner owned all the lots. He stated that the key point about this issue is that the County pays 1/3 of the cost of the assessment and the County has said that it does not want to be involved in a situation where an individual who owns 100% of the lots in a development ends up having county tax dollars pay for 1/3 of the road costs. He stated that the key point involving a special assessment is the number of owners in the subdivision. He stated that, if the County is not careful, a person that has aggregated lots and has built on those lots could qualify for a special assessment.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried.
Commrs. Gerber and Swartz voted "No".
A motion was made by Commr. Cadwell and seconded by Commr. Bailey to approve the draft amendments to the proposed Land Development Regulations, dated November 10, 1993.
Under discussion, Commr. Swartz questioned the effective date of said amendments and was informed that it would be December 1, 1993.
Commr. Gerber questioned the issue of "open water bodies" and was informed that same had been put back in the Lot of Record Ordinance, as required by the Comprehensive Plan.
Commr. Swartz stated that he felt the Board vested some zoning, by what was before them this date, which is inconsistent with the requirements of the Comprehensive Plan and the State Growth Management Act and he felt that the Board has, by the actions taken through a number of workshops, delayed implementation of the requirements of the new LDRs, which is also inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan and the State Growth Management Act. He stated that he felt the Board had gone too far and that the LDRs were inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan, therefore, he would not vote in favor of the LDRs before the Board this date.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether Mr. Hoban felt the LDRs before the Board this date were inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
Mr. Hoban stated that he felt they could be defended.
Commr. Swartz questioned whether, by their actions this date, the Board was vesting PUD zoning.
Mr. Hoban stated that, in some cases, the Board was vesting PUD zoning.
Commr. Swartz questioned whether that was the only zoning being vested.
Mr. Hoban stated that it was.
Commr. Hanson stated that, often, the Board has approved much more than just straight zoning.
Commr. Bailey stated that he felt the LDRs have been too restrictive, in the past, and that the Board has devalued private property rights, as people know them in Lake County, however, he felt the Board had done the best job they could do, therefore, he would support them.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board needed to remember that they will find glitches in these LDRs, just as they have in prior LDRs, but they will continue to modify them and, hopefully, improve them.
Commr. Gerber stated that, in wishing to remain consistent, she could not, in good conscience, support the LDRs before the Board this date.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried.
Commrs. Gerber and Swartz voted "No".
Commr. Bailey brought to the attention of the Board the fact that he had received a call from the 5013C Corporation regarding fees involved in the displaying of holiday decorations and recommended that the Board waive said fees for the 5013C Corporation.
A brief discussion occurred regarding the matter, at which time Mr. Pete Wahl, County Manager, informed the Board that he had spoken with Mr. Jack Bragg, Building Official, Building Department, and that Mr. Bragg had indicated that he would not have a problem with the Board waiving said fees, for the holiday period, however, he wanted to make sure that the Board had approved said waiver.
It was noted that, in the past, a representative of the Building Department at the South Lake Annex had not charged the 5013C Corporation said fees, however, said individual was not authorized to do so.
On a motion by Commr. Bailey, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried, the Board approved a request for waiver of fees, during the Christmas season, for permits needed for the construction of holiday displays that are sponsored by the 5013C Corporation.
Commr. Swartz voted "No".
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 6:10 p.m.
CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK