A SPECIAL JOINT MEETING BETWEEN THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
AND THE CITY OF MOUNT DORA
FEBRUARY 21, 2003
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners held a special joint meeting with the City of Mount Dora on Friday, February 21, 2003, at 9:00 a.m., in the Training Room, Second Floor, Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Debbie Stivender, Vice Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson; Jennifer Hill; and Robert A. Pool. Present from the City of Mount Dora were: Gary Cooney, City Attorney; Bernice Brinson, City Manager; James Yatsuk, Mayor; and City Council members: James Snell, George Romano, Ryan Donovan; A. J. Bogart, James Homich, and Robert Maraio. Others present were: William A. “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Cadwell opened the meeting and stated that he appreciated everyone coming together today, and he was glad that the cities are moving forward with joint planning areas (JPAs). At this time, he turned the meeting over to Mayor Jim Yatsuk, City of Mount Dora.
Mr. Yatsuk stated that he is looking forward to working with the County, and he feels that this is going to provide for a good future and be a very positive step for all of them.
At this time, everyone meeting at the table today introduced themselves for the record.
Mr. Mark Reggentin, Planning Director, City of Mount Dora, stated that, for the last couple of months, the City of Mount Dora has been doing some research at staff level, and they had two workshops with the City Council to discuss where they are going in the future particularly with their utilities and JPA.
History of Mount Dora JPA
Mr. Reggentin explained that Mount Dora’s history with a JPA started in 1987, when the City of Mount Dora and the County had a JPA agreement, which was basically an information sharing and coordination situation where they worked together to plan growth adjacent to the City of Mount Dora. In 1999, the original JPA was revoked by the County. In 1991, they started negotiating another JPA agreement, and they are still discussing it today. In 1991, the City of Mount Dora adopted their Chapter 180 Utility District (180 district) and, by doing this, they tried to take control of what was formally the JPA, from a development standpoint. By adopting a 180 district, they required all new development to hook into their sewer system. It was a policy of the City of Mount Dora to reserve their water system for either residents of the City, or people that were willing to become residents. As development occurred, they were required to hook into the City of Mount Dora’s sewer system and, if they were contiguous, they were required to annex into the City of Mount Dora to get water service. If they were not contiguous, they would enter into a utility service agreement, and an annexation agreement. The annexation agreement required them to meet certain standards including landscaping, signage, and parking and, when they annexed into the City of Mount Dora, they would be annexed as nonconforming properties and could upgrade after annexation.
Mr. Reggentin stated that, in 1996, the City of Mount Dora successfully negotiated a JPA and utility agreement with Orange County, for 1,100 acres just south of the County line. In 1999, the League of Cities tried to revive the JPA discussions. They are here today to talk about the draft JPA, and the stipulations that go along with it and, hopefully, they will be able to leave today, after giving everyone a clear understanding of where the City of Mount Dora wants to be.
Directions for the Future
Mr. Reggentin stated that the first thing they want to do is to negotiate a JPA and utility service area boundary that is acceptable to both the City of Mount Dora and the County. Within that boundary, they need to determine appropriate land uses within the JPA; devise enforcement mechanisms; establish utility service standards; and address annexation rules with the JPA. He briefly discussed the following philosophy that was derived from the last two City Council workshops:
City Growth Philosophy
• Economic Development
► Job Creation
► Stable Tax Base
• Efficient Delivery of all Services
• Creating Community
► Providing for Bicycle and Pedestrian Movement
► Interconnecting Roadway Networks and Neighborhoods
► Ensuring Adequate Recreation and Open Space
Mr. Reggentin stated that, based on the parcel layout in the area they will discuss, there is a significant potential for a series of small to medium size subdivisions to be developed and, unless they do something about it, they will be developed as a series of cul-de-sac subdivisions. He explained that, by not providing some sort of inter-connectivity from the roadway system, they will not be promoting a sense of community and will be putting stress on infrastructure.
Mr. Reggentin noted that the presentation has been broken into two areas of discussion, the western service area, and the eastern service area. He explained the current land use map and stated that the City of Mount Dora, along with the City of Eustis, and the City of Tavares, have basically come together to establish their utility service area. He explained that the proposed district boundary line represents not only their proposed JPA boundary, but also their proposed utility service boundary, and their potential city limits. Mr. Reggentin stated that the City of Mount Dora does not want to grow outside of this area, in an attempt to keep certain areas rural, and they are not proposing any density changes. He discussed the wetland area within the eastern service area and stated that, from the City of Mount Dora’s perspective, wetlands are basically untouchable. He reviewed the flood plains in the eastern service area noting that there is some potential development there, but they do not allow the calculation of that area to go towards total density of property. Mr. Reggentin explained that there are not a lot of extremely large development parcels in this area, ten to 30 acres, but there is some land of common ownership there, and they did take into consideration the existing development pattern. Mr. Reggentin explained their proposed land use pattern in the JPA and noted that maps are included in the handout material. He explained that the primary changes take place along the SR 46 corridor, and the pattern is based on a number of factors including the appropriateness of the location along SR 46 and existing lot pattern, and some existing uses. He explained that this pattern is not inconsistent with the land use designations, but the concern they had with the employment center designation and, to some extent, the suburban designation, is that it allowed a mix of uses ranging from single family residential up to industrial uses and, if developed with these mixed uses, they are asking for incompatibility in this area. From their standpoint, they felt that going to a higher use and promoting development at a higher use in this area would eliminate the incompatibilities, and it would provide them with the economic base the City of Mount Dora could use in the future.
Commr. Hanson clarified that the eastern boundary comes to the western boundary of the urban node, from Mount Plymouth/Sorrento, but it does not go as far as CR 437.
Mr. Reggentin stated that, as one of their primary issues for discussion and, after defining the differences between light and heavy industry, the City Council decided that they would be promoting clean, light industry within the City of Mount Dora, and within the JPA, when it is adopted. He noted that right now the County allows both heavy and light industry, and they did take into consideration the idea of a research park, or something that would tie into one of the universities.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, before they leave the boundary question, the Board has said all along that, as they go through this planning process, the cities are going to have to get with other cities and work out their concerns, or there will be a process where that will happen, but the Board does not want to be the referee. Commr. Cadwell stated that Mr. Lewis Stone is here representing the City of Eustis, as well as Mr. Alton Roane, Director of Development Services.
Mr. Stone stated that the City of Eustis has a 1987 agreement with the County that has not been revoked, and it has a planning area, which certainly includes some of the area being shown on the map. Additionally, the City of Eustis has a 180 district, and it was almost ready and more than willing to serve the property that was recently annexed into the City of Mount Dora. Mr. Stone stated that the property was not contiguous with the City of Eustis at the time, and it has since been annexed into the City of Mount Dora. Now that area, in their 180 district, has contracted for those exact same services from the City of Mount Dora. Mr. Stone stated that he feels it is important that, as this process goes forward, cities like Eustis and Mount Dora that border each other and have overlapping provisions of services, need to get together, and they need to be invited to the table before the Board makes the decision about where the planning area should be. He heard during the presentation that the property outside of the 180 district, and the potential municipal boundaries as described, should be considered as rural, but that property is in the development area of the City of Eustis and described by a map attached to the planning agreement that they currently have with the County. Mr. Stone stated that they do not agree with what is being proposed today by the City of Mount Dora, particularly that all of the property that is not within their planning area should be considered rural. They also have a concern about their 180 district continually being violated, unless they come to the table to amend it. Mr. Stone stated that the City of Eustis would prefer that the Board not approve any maps for either of the cities today, or for any of the cities for that matter.
Mr. Reggentin stated that the City of Mount Dora has been working with the City of Eustis over the last couple of months, and they will continue to work with them, as they move forward with these issues, and as they attempt to define the boundary lines.
Commr. Hanson felt that there was some need in this coordination to also include the Mount Plymouth/Sorrento urban node, even though it is not a municipality. She stated that, even though there is no representative for this area, there is a group that has done a small area study, which is ongoing, and Mr. Tim Bailey, who chairs that group, is here today. She stated that they need some coordination in this area particularly when the recommendation means backing up to the urban node.
Mr. Reggentin explained that the City of Mount Dora wanted to get a proposal on the table, so that they had somewhere to start the discussions, and they will continue to work with the City of Tavares, the City of Eustis, the Board of County Commissioners, as well as the Mount Plymouth/Sorrento area.
Commr. Cadwell explained that the Board discussed with the City of Clermont, at their joint meeting, the idea of having some land development regulations (LDRs) specific to the JPA and, as they do that here, they have to remember there will be two other cities that are going to be joining them, and they will have different entities with different LDRs.
Mr. Tim Bailey, Chairman of the Mount Plymouth/Sorrento group, stated that he appreciates Commr. Cadwell commenting that the government agencies need to work closely together but, unfortunately, this territory is not controlled by a government agency. Mr. Bailey stated that he expects that their study group will come to the Board in the near future and request consideration about their area becoming a similar type of entity. He would like to ask the Board to consider allowing some representation on this committee and that they look forward to working with the other municipalities, and the County, in the future.
Commr. Cadwell felt that they could leave this meeting today with an understanding, since this is a joint meeting between the Board and the City of Mount Dora, that, for them to have a true JPA, the cities are going to have to reach out to all of the entities that abut them and work through that process even before the Board gets involved.
Mr. Gary Cooney, City Attorney, stated that he and Ms. Brinson, City Manager, met with Mr. Stone and Mr. Mike Stearman, City Manager, Eustis, to go over these issues including the encroachment into each of their 180 districts. They feel that the joint planning line can be established and, if they can control growth in this manner, these 180 districts will probably go away. Then the lines that are drawn in agreement with the County and the cities will actually control the location of their growth and utilities.
Commr. Cadwell asked that, in those discussions and, since the County will be a party at some point in this process, they keep Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, apprised of the legal portion of it.
Mr. Stone stated that it is true that the representatives of the City of Eustis, and the City of Mount Dora, have gotten together, but they have not agreed on any boundaries, yet the City of Mount Dora is before the Board today hoping to pass an agreement that would have boundaries that have not been agreed upon by the City of Eustis. He felt that any furtherance of this process will require participation of all affected jurisdictions.
Mr. Donovan, City Councilman, Mount Dora, explained that this is only the first step, and an informational session, to start going forward with discussions, and decisions are not ultimately being made today. He stated that the City of Mount Dora certainly does not want to leave anybody out of the process.
Ms. Bernice Brinson, City Manager, Mount Dora, stated that she and Mr. Cooney have met with Mr. Stearman and Mr. Lewis, and they do have a copy of the JPA agreement from the City of Tavares. They do not have too many problems with the boundaries with the City of Tavares, but she will get with Ms. Dottie Keedy, City Administrator, Tavares, and discuss the issues with her, and they will also get back with Mr. Stone and Mr. Stearman and provide them with a boundary map.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, as they go through the process, they need to keep in mind the question of how to have orderly growth, and to try not to make this a utility question but make it a growth question. He clarified that the Board is not going to be blind to the cities’ investments in their utilities.
Mr. Reggentin continued his presentation by addressing the Mount Dora/Lake County JPA agreement and stated that it will include LDRs, an enforcement procedure for agreed upon standards, annexations, and miscellaneous provisions. At this time, he turned the presentation over to Mr. Cooney, City Attorney, Mount Dora.
Mr. Cooney referred to the JPA draft agreement and noted that there was also a discussion outline, which he created from that agreement, and Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Director of Growth Management, had some comments, as shown in italics. As stated earlier, they have all agreed to work with their sister cities, and the folks in the Mount Plymouth/Sorrento area, to figure out the boundary line, so that the Board will be comfortable adopting it. Mr. Cooney stated that the City of Mount Dora would like to know if the Board is amenable to that boundary, as being shown today, in order to begin discussion..
Mr. Cooney referred to Article 3 of the outline and explained that they anticipate this agreement being an ongoing agreement automatically renewed in five years, unless there is some major problem. He felt that they need to put the regulations side by side because, in their review of the County’s regulations, they found that there may be some things that the County does that they like better, and they may end up with a combination of city/county regulations.
Commr. Hanson pointed out that, as discussed with the City of Clermont, stricter may not be better, in terms of regulations. She stated that Mr. Cooney explained that densities may be a comprehensive plan issue where their issues would include landscaping, signage, and architecture and, in those particular areas, she feels that stricter is always better.
Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Director of Growth Management, stated that yesterday he and staff met with Mr. Wayne Saunders, City Manager, Clermont, and their staff, and they started that process, and they realize that there are some regulations that they need to go through line by line, in order to determine what would be best.
Mr. Cooney stated that the City of Mount Dora felt that it would be simpler if it did all of the review and permitting. He noted that Mr. Welstead came to the Council meeting and candidly reported that he did not believe that this would be a likely resolution and recommended that the County maintain its development review process and provide for notification and review by Mount Dora planners prior to adoption.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the County just cannot abandon their authority and their responsibility in that area, because there will be residents that do not think this is a good idea, and they need to make sure that they still represent those folks. He stated that they need some kind of procedure for a city to go through if it disagrees with the Board’s final decision, other than Circuit Court.
Mr. Cooney addressed the issue of variances and stated that, if a city lets a variance go through the process and, if the city has an objection to a variance that cannot be cleared by the time it gets to the Board of Adjustment, it is through that Board that the appeal will come automatically to the County Commission instead of going to Circuit Court.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he had this discussion with Mr. Cooney, and he agreed with the variance process, as proposed, and he was not hear any objections from the Board today.
Mr. Maraio stated that he would like to see specific language in the agreement where both parties would have to agree on any change in land use under the Comprehensive Plan.
Mr. Neron stated that he has heard that there are conflicting JPAs that exist today, and he would like to do a map of the County with all of the existing JPAs, because there may be a JPA boundary where the city really cannot provide the service in the unincorporated area, or vice versa. He stated that they need to do some really hard work on this issue, because water/sewer is the life line that is going to direct where this growth is going to go. He noted that right now some of the south areas are using a JPA to stake out territory for other purposes that may not be realistic, and they really need to concentrate on this area.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board of County Commissioners of Lake County have overwhelmingly year after year said that they are not getting into the utility business. He did not feel that anyone could come forward today and show him an area where it makes sense for them to do this. Commr. Cadwell stated that Astor was the only place that it could have been done, but they have their own group now, and the County is assisting them.
Mr. Neron stated that he does not necessarily see the County getting into the utility business, but they need to be working very closely with the cities in planning for utility services. He clarified that they need to be at the table when they establish the planning areas, because they is going to be the key for shaping the growth and development. He stated that the 180 district is the heart of the JPA agreement, and it is going to shape a lot of other issues.
Commr. Hanson stated that Mount Plymouth/Sorrento and Astor were the two areas that the County had said that, if they were going to get involved in utilities, it would have been in one of those areas, because the densities were there. Commr. Hanson stated that the County did order the Hartman study, but they have not gotten the results of it, but she feels that some of what they are talking about today has probably already been addressed in that study on utilities. She clarified that she was not suggesting that the County provide the utilities for Mount Plymouth/Sorrento, but it would have been an opportunity, and it may be too late now.
Mr. Cooney continued the discussion of the proposed draft agreement and sated that, when determining the JPA, the City of Mount Dora also looked at how the land use affects the City, and whether they have the ability to efficiently serve utilities in the area. They feel that the boundary line, as shown today, is the boundary where they can be most efficient.
Mr. Cooney stated that Article 3 talks about requiring City utilities in an area to be adopted in accordance with the availability schedule, which has been adopted in-house by the City of Mount Dora (copy attached to the draft agreement). All of the cities had private utilities in the past, and they do not believe there are any certificated areas in the area, as drawn. He stated that they would be surprised if any are shown in the Hartman study. The JPA agreement says that they need to have some remedy if a connection is made and not required, and they need to discuss those remedies. Mr. Cooney explained that the City of Mount Dora currently requires someone to sign a covenant to annex for water, and they want to continue to do that in this area.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he hopes the legislature is going to make stricter annexation rules, which will make this less of a point. He noted that the County is trying to meet with the State League of Cities, and the Florida League of Cities, to work through that process together but, so far, the issue is not in the forefront for discussion.
Mr. Cooney stated that, when the City of Mount Dora was developing this process, they had the utility area stopping at Round Lake Road. Then they discussed having the utility area a little bit smaller than their JPA, and they have a tendency to look at roads. In one of the earlier drafts, the City of Mount Dora moved the JPA boundary to CR 437. When they had their discussions with the City Council, they felt that it would be in the best interest of the City of Mount Dora, and the County, to make those lines match and be between Round Lake Road and CR 437, at the node section.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, if the County goes through the land use map with the City of Mount Dora and says that this is a JPA for both of them, then the City of Mount Dora is basically going to provide utilities to Round Lake Road. If the County wants the rest of it to remain somewhat rural, he questioned why the City of Mount Dora would have their utility district line there.
Mr. Cooney stated that the County has to tell the City of Mount Dora if it wants the rest of area to be rural because, if someone else comes in there and starts providing some services that might make the County more urban, the City of Mount Dora may get something they do not want as far as growth. He stated that their utilities make money for them but, in this particular instance, they use their utilities to control development.
Mr. Yatsuk stated that, in light of the Wekiva springshed discussions, the City of Mount Dora did not want to exceed those densities in the rural area, which they excluded from the map, but, on other maps, they were included. They felt that providing water and sewer would be the best thing to do to preserve that resource (the springshed area).
Mr. Cooney continued with his discussion of the draft agreement noting that it allows the City of Mount Dora to annex County rights-of-way as they go, and they would like the County to agree to this. He noted that the agreement does require that the City of Mount Dora meet Chapter 171, Florida Statutes, and it prohibits the County from objecting. Mr. Cooney stated that Mr. Welstead, in his comments, indicated that this provision should be discussed further and, as written, it does not require the City of Mount Dora to assume maintenance of annexed rights-of-way.
Mr. Neron stated that he would like to proceed through the City/County Managers Association perhaps using the Lake County annexation process for review, so that they are treating everybody the same, because what they have right now is not working. He felt that, as part of the JPA process countywide, they need to address annexation processes and procedures on a comprehensive basis, as well as joint services.
Mr. Cooney referred to Article 4, which sets forth more detailed requirements including an availability schedule, and a requirement for payment of impact and user fees, and stated that, as they go out of this area, as shown, there are a lot of structures, and the water and sewer lines pass by these structures, and they need to have an understanding of how to handle them and, therfore, they need direction from the County.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he was not sure the Board had a strong consensus on this issue, but there needs to be some language in the agreement in regards to assets that are out there and how they swap ownership.
Mr. Cooney stated that Article 5 has the parties amend their comprehensive plan to reflect the agreement, but it does not give the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) veto power over the agreement. He stated that Article 6 provides an initial five year term and renewing automatically in five year increments unless canceled.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, with the City of Clermont, the Board basically threw out the idea of phasing and said that five year increments was not a problem. It was noted that the suggestion at the Clermont meeting was that cancellation of the agreement should require a super-majority of either the Commission, or Council, to effect.
Discussion continued regarding Articles 7, 8 and 9, with it being noted that, in regards to a dispute resolution, it was suggested that they simply say in accordance with Chapter 164, Florida Statutes, with the City of Mount Dora drafting some language for future discussion.
Commr. Hanson stated that the County is looking at clustered development and greater percentages of open space, but they do not have incentives to encourage either, particularly in the area being discussed, because it is part of the springshed, and they probably need to move forward and require that area to help with utilities. She noted that the Board is working through their staff on these issues, and perhaps they can work together on things that help recharge the area, and the springshed.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the City of Mount Dora certainly needs to speed up its dialogue with the City of Eustis and come to some kind of resolution with them. He also hopes that they would include the folks from Mount Plymouth/Sorrento, whether that be through Commr. Hanson’s office, or the group on the small area study, as noted, in developing some kind of forum for them to be at the table.
Mr. Donovan stated that, in conjunction with these conversations, the City Council, at their workshop, talked about the US Highway 441 bypass and how it could impact the JPA agreement and land use in this area. He wanted to see how that was going to fit into where they are going today and what steps they are going to take to address the proposed bypass extension.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, after listening to the comments, the Board is certainly not going to take any action, but they are going to think about what was said today. He stated that, if the Board is going to agree with the comments made by the City of Mount Dora today, then he felt it would send a message to the folks who were opposed to any extension of the road or at least the US Highway 441 portion, that they can control the growth, even if that road comes in. He also felt that it would give the Board a platform to go back to their citizens and say that this is what they planned for that area, and now tell us if the road is acceptable or not.
Commr. Hanson felt that, if the Board agreed today, it would go beyond that and the Wekiva Basin Area Task Force recommended that a small area study, or a sector study, be done in this area, but there was the question of who was going to pay for it. She stated that the County and the City of Mount Dora could begin the sector study, which would include looking at transportation in the area, and they could probably get one of the other entities to help pay for it, whether it be the DCA, or one of the road authorities.
Mr. Maraio was concerned that, if they did not move forward with a study of the area and look at transportation needs, by default, the toll authority will terminate the SR 429 extension exactly where the City of Mount Dora does not want it, at US Highway 441 and Old 441. He believes it is critical that Lake County, and the cities that are impacted by the road extension, to move as quickly as possible and determine their destiny, so that they can give some direction to the toll authority. Mr. Maraio explained that, through their discussions, they determined that putting the extension at US Highway 441 would only exacerbate a problem that already exists on that highway.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, once the JPA is finished, then it will affect the other issue (bypass extension) even more, so they will continue to stay focused on both of them. He stated that Mount Plymouth/Sorrento, Eustis and Tavares need to be informed of the next scheduled meeting. It will be a joint workshop between Mount Dora and the County, but they need to be in attendance.
After much discussion, Mr. Maraio stated that, in looking at its expansion area and its utility area, the City of Mount Dora is in agreement that they will adopt the County’s current land use maps and, if that is acceptable to them, he felt that perhaps it should be acceptable to the other municipalities.
Commr. Hanson was not sure that the City of Mount Dora understands that the suburban area, as listed, has three units to the acre, but it is actually going to be one unit to five acres, and it is going to be very difficult to get those areas at a higher density, because they will not meet timeliness and, if that is the case, she was not sure why they would want to include it in their JPA. She asked the group if they would like to see the Board move forward on the sector study, because they are probably going to be required to do it anyway through legislation.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, for their next meeting, they do need to have an analysis of what is actually on the ground and what can realistically be done with those densities right now, if they adopted the land use just as it looks today, and they need to look at the area outside of that to the north and further to the east.
Ms. Brinson stated that the City of Mount Dora would like to get with City of Eustis and the City of Tavares, and they will contact Commr. Hanson to make sure that those boundaries are correct, and then they can meet with staff.
Mr. Cooney stated that he did not hear any big objections from the Board this morning about the boundary line that was drawn. Assuming that it is an acceptable boundary for the Board, if they can work it out with their sister cities, to make sure that the boundary line is acceptable, or make any necessary adjustments to that boundary line, then he can fine tune the agreement and send another copy to Mr. Welstead and Mr. Minkoff. Then they will schedule another meeting with the Board, to update them on the process.
Mr. Welstead stated that staff will begin the process of looking at the LDRs and making comparisons. He informed the Board that he spoke to Mr. Jason Yarborough, City Manager, Groveland, yesterday afternoon, and he has essentially reached an agreement with the City of Clermont, and the City of Leesburg, on their boundaries, but there are still some disagreements between the City of Groveland and the Town of Mascotte but, hopefully, they are going to the conflict resolution consortium and get someone to work with them.
Discussion occurred regarding when to meet again, with it being noted that staff will work together to get a time frame and let the Board know when they will schedule to meet again.
Mr. Cooney stated that, from the City of Mount Dora, they would like to say how much they appreciate all of the work that Mr. Welstead has done from the County side.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 10:50 a.m.
WELTON G. CADWELL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK