JANUARY 30, 2004

            The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Friday, January 30, 2004, at 9:00 a.m., in the Training Room (Room 233), on the second floor of the Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida, for a Board Retreat. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Debbie Stivender, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson; Welton G. Cadwell; and Robert A. Pool. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; William “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; Greg Mihalic, Economic Development and Tourism Director; Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Public Works Director; Melanie Marsh, Assistant County Attorney; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director; Fletcher Smith, Community Services Director; Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager; Blanche Girardin, Environmental Services Director; Bob Stevens, Parks and Recreation Director; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.

The Chairman called the meeting to order.


            Ms. Marilyn Crotty, University of Central Florida, Institute of Government, presided over the Worksession, stating that it was a pleasure to be working with the Lake County Board of County Commissioners again, noting that she had worked with them in the past. She stated that she has been directing the Institute of Government for 22 years and has found that people sometimes get very emotional about their advisory boards, so they sometimes continue on beyond the need for one. She stated that, for advisory boards to truly serve their purpose, there needs to be a rational for keeping them in existence and for giving them the tools to help them be productive, noting that she sometimes sees where citizen advisory committees will be set up and then left on their own, without the assistance they need to make them an effective board. She distributed a list of Advisory Committee Do’s and Don’t’s that she had compiled and asked that the Board look over the list and comment about it.

            A brief discussion occurred regarding said list, at which time it was noted that the Board felt the following criteria was important in creating advisory committees:

                      Selection of Appropriate Members

                      Clear Charge (responsibilities) from BCC

                      Time Frame - as needed - Meeting Frequency and Timing

                      Adequate Staff Support - Balanced

                      Open Communication - Two Way

                      Properly Trained to Function Efficiently

            Ms. Crotty suggested that at least once per year every member of the boards and committees in the County should be invited to attend a Board of County Commissioner’s Meeting, to give the Board a brief summary of what they are doing and what they have accomplished, and to be publicly recognized for the good work that they do for the County.

            The Chairman informed Ms. Crotty that any individual that is leaving a board or committee for whatever reason is presented with a certificate or plaque at the first Board Meeting of each month, in recognition of their service to the County.

            It was noted that the County also holds an Annual Volunteer Program where volunteers are recognized and shown appreciation for their service to the County, as well.

            At this time, the Board reviewed the following list of Active Lake County Boards and Committees, commenting on which ones should be discontinued and which ones should remain:


            Women’s Hall of Fame Selection Committee

            COUNTY MANAGER

            Sales Surtax Oversight Advisory Committee

            OFFICE OF BUDGET

            Impact Fee Evaluation and Review Committee


            Affordable Housing Advisory Committee

            Agricultural Advisory Committee

            Citizens’ Commission for Children

            Comprehensive Health Care Committee

            Elder Affairs Coordinating Council

            Human Services Grant Advisory Committee

            Library Advisory Board

            Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Advisory Board

            Substance Abuse Policy Advisory Board




            Cultural Affairs Council

            Historical Museum Advisory Committee

            Industrial Development Authority

            Tourist Development Council




            County-Wide Solid Waste Study Committee

            Environmental Protection Advisory Board




            Board of Adjustments

            Board of Building Examiners

            Code Enforcement Board

            Planning and Zoning Commission

            Public Land Acquisition Advisory Council





            Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board




            Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee

            Citizen Transportation Advisory Committee

            Parks and Recreation Advisory Board

            PEAR Advisory Committee




            At 10:20 a.m., it was announced that the Board would recess for 10 minutes.




            At this time, discussion occurred regarding those boards and committees that it was felt needed to be addressed, as follows:


            Commr. Hill stated that the Agricultural Advisory Committee’s membership comes almost exclusively from the Farm Bureau, which created a problem with the Sunshine Law, in that they could not get other agencies involved. She stated that it is felt, if they make it a little more specific, they might contribute more. She stated that they feel the committee needs to be pared down to a more reasonable size of seven (7) members, plus the liaison member, and that they would like to have representation on the committee from the following categories:




            Farm Bureau


            Commodity Association


            Commr. Cadwell questioned whether the Commissioners were to take the recommendations from this meeting back to the various boards and committees for their input, or whether they were going to move forward and have the County Attorney’s Office prepare ordinances and hold a public hearing on the matter.

            It was the consensus of the Board that staff bring back ordinances containing the changes being suggested this date, along with any Mission Statements from the Committees, for further discussion and possible approval, at a later date.

            Commr. Cadwell suggested that, if any of the Committees do not have a Mission Statement, it be noted in the Ordinance - that one not be made up by staff.



            A brief discussion occurred regarding whether to add care of the elderly to this Committee; however, it was suggested that they not be added at this time, because this Committee may change as the Board decides what it is going to do.


            It was the consensus of the Board that the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners be appointed each year to serve as liaison to the Substance Abuse Policy Advisory Board, as a non-voting member.


            Commr. Stivender stated that Commr. Hanson originally created this Committee and that it is a very good committee and one that has done some great work in the past; however, she feels that it needs a new mission and some clear direction from the Board. She stated that she feels the Committee needs to work more closely with the cities, who also have such programs as those under the Cultural Affairs Council. She stated that she felt the County needs to assist them in the same way as they do Parks and Recreation with their programs.

            Ms. Nancy Clutts, Vice Chairman, Cultural Affairs Council, addressed the Board stating that she was representing herself, not the Council, at which time she noted that she has observed a turnover in the Council during the last couple of years that she has served on it, for various reasons, which she elaborated on. She stated that she has seen a depletion of funds and questioned whether the Council members were going to have to become a fund raising mechanism for the Arts and have to create events that will bring funds back into the County for disbursement, or whether the Board was going to fund the Council, questioning what mission the Board had in mind for them. She stated that the Board had in front of them a structural proposal, for their perusal, suggesting the possibility of having the Council be liaisons to the cities, to help encourage them to develop cultural plans. She stated that Mr. Greg Mihalic, Director of Economic Development and Tourism, could provide some matching funds to bring a facilitator in to help the cities provide cultural plans, which she noted could extend out to Parks and Recreation, and they could help the Public Works Department with downtown redevelopment, etc. She stated that it goes so much further than just having an art show. She suggested that the Council broaden its horizon and utilize the cities, by empowering them to bring in the Arts organizations, the businesses, and the Chambers of Commerce to act as an umbrella organization, as opposed to a competing one.

            Ms. Dorothy Vedder, Chairman, Cultural Affairs Council, addressed the Board stating that the past year has been a setback for the Council, because it experienced a large turnover, in that 12 of their 15 members were replaced, which has meant a tremendous orientation of new people and an acquaintance with the cultural development plan that was in place. She stated that the Council is progressing, however, noted that she feels their biggest impediment at the present time is the legal issue regarding the Sunshine Law. She stated that they meet only once per month and she feels it would be very helpful if the Chairman of the Council could feel comfortable meeting with the liaison Commissioner to share ideas, in order to help promote an agenda that would help further the progress of the Council. She stated that the constraint is a very uncomfortable one.

            Ms. Crotty questioned whether the Board was interested in reconstituting the Council as a non-statutory body, which would give them some flexibility in determining its size, scope, function, etc., along with those things that were noted needed to be addressed, and was informed that they would.

            Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, questioned whether the Board wanted to reduce the current membership of 15 members, or keep it at the same level, and was informed that the Board felt the membership should be kept at 15, but with a different scope, mission, and focus.

            Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that there was a consensus of the Board not to go back to the committees; however, due to the fact that this was such a change, questioned whether the Board would now like to have this discussion at the committee level.

            It was noted that staff would work with the liaison Commissioner, Commr. Pool, with regard to any changes involving the Cultural Affairs Council.




            Ms. Crotty stated that the Board indicated it would like to combine the County-Wide Solid Waste Study Committee and the Environmental Protection Advisory Board and questioned whether staff would like to comment on it.

            Mr. Neron, County Manager, stated that he and Ms. Blanche Girardin, Environmental Services Director, had discussed the matter and he felt that, with the new direction that the department was taking, where it still does the Solid Waste aspects, while the County is trying to emphasize more the environmental issues, he felt that combining the two committees might be more effective and efficient, at least from staff’s viewpoint, in getting better direction.

            Commr. Hanson interjected that there could be subcommittees within the committees, if needed.

            It was the consensus of the Board for the County-Wide Solid Waste Study Committee to remain as it is, until the County finds out what is going to happen with Covanta.

            Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, informed the Board that, with regard to whether liaison commissioners should be voting or non-voting members, if it is legally possible for them to be non-voting members of the committees they serve on, changes will be made in the Ordinances accordingly.





            Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that Commr. Cadwell had requested staff to look into whether Hearing Officers could be utilized for rezoning cases, in lieu of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He stated that he asked whether it could be broadened to also include the Code Enforcement Board, the Board of Adjustment, and the Board of Examiners, which in some ways have similar type processes, at which time he noted that he had provided the Board with a memorandum containing some background history of how said Boards were created. He stated that there has been a big change in the Planning and Zoning Commission since the Snyder case, in that, in the past, they were a legislative body and made legislative type recommendations to the Board; however, since the Snyder case, because the Board designated the Planning and Zoning Commission as a land planning agency, they make both legislative and quasi-judicial recommendations to the Board - quasi-judicial, when they are looking at a particular rezoning case, and legislative, when they are looking at the County’s Comprehensive Plan, or changes to the Land Development Regulations. He stated that it does not make sense to have two quasi-judicial hearings on the same case, with two different judges, which is what the County’s system has changed to, regarding rezoning cases. He stated that, if one were to look at the system before the Snyder case, they would find that the Planning and Zoning Commission made recommendations to the Board, based on their opinion of a case, and the Board considered it legislatively, but, since the Snyder case, the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing is a quasi-judicial hearing and their decision is the same as a judge’s decision. He stated that the Board then holds a new quasi-judicial hearing three weeks later, but the same witnesses or people that attended the Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting may not attend the Board Meeting, and a lot of times there are different results.

            Mr. Minkoff stated that another thing staff was looking at, prior to Commr. Cadwell’s memorandum, was the issue of Special Masters. He stated that, if someone does not like the results of a rezoning case that is approved by the Board and they challenge it, there are two different avenues that the challenge takes, depending on who it is that challenges it. He stated that, when the property owner or applicant challenges it, their only remedy is to go through certiorari, where it goes before a Circuit Judge and the Judge does not hear any new evidence, but looks strictly at the record, and, if there is evidence to support the Board’s decision, he upholds it, but, if it is an adjacent property owner who challenges it, because they believe it is not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, they get a brand new trial and what the Board approved is essentially thrown out - it is given no weight at all and the Circuit Judge in that case hears all the witnesses and, in essence, conducts a new hearing. He stated that the Judges do not like this system, because they do not believe they should be in the rezoning business, and it is very expensive, because trying a rezoning case in front of a judge is a lot different than trying it in front of the Board, where the rules of evidence apply. He stated that, while an appeal to a case is pending, the property owner can do nothing and sometimes loses their property, so, in recognition of that fact, in 2002, the Legislature created a law that states, if a County will use the Special Master process at the local level to provide the impartial hearing, when the property owner gets challenged later it will not be a new trial but a certiorari trial, the same as regular cases. He stated that, if the County were to use a Special Master to hear cases, it would not cost the County the sometimes thousands of dollars that it currently cost the County to hear some cases.

            Commr. Pool stated that he feels the County has had a very involved and very good Planning and Zoning Commission and that, as the Board discusses the matter, they should have some thoughts on it, as well; therefore, he felt it was important to take it back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for input.

            Mr. Minkoff stated that, originally, he was going to suggest that the Board enact the Special Master process on a voluntary basis and let the property owners choose whether to use a Special Master, or the existing process, for their rezoning cases.

            Commr. Cadwell stated that he suggested looking into the Special Master process, because he heard some other counties were using it and thought this County should look into it.

            Mr. Minkoff stated that staff was not recommending that the County go to a Special Master process, they were only responding to Commr. Cadwell’s request, however, noted that they were recommending that the planning function be separate, because it is like the lawmaker, and the quasi-judicial function is like a Judge’s decision. He stated that the Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) is willing to contract out to local governments, regarding Special Masters, at a fairly reasonable rate and some entities have created a position called “Special Master” in their structure. He stated that there are a lot of different ways to handle it.

            It was noted that the recommendation of the Board was for staff to bring back a plan for utilizing a Special Master for the Code Enforcement Board and to prepare an Ordinance to do away with the Planning and Zoning Commission and set up two separate Boards - a Zoning Board and a Land Planning Agency, using the information contained in the memorandum that was provided to the Board by Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director, as an outline.

            Discussion occurred regarding the makeup of the membership of the Boards, at which time it was determined that the Land Planning Agency would consist of nine (9) members - a member representing each district, a member representing the School Board, and three countywide at-large members; that the Zoning Board would consist of seven (7) members - a member representing each district, a member representing the School Board, and one at-large member and that it will not utilize a Special Master; and that the memberships of the Board of Adjustment and the Public Land Acquisition Advisory Council will remain as they currently are.




            Commr. Stivender stated that there are two separate PEAR (Palatlakaha Environmental Agricultural Reserve) Committees - the one that the County has and the PEAR Association (group of environmental volunteers), at which time she questioned further need for the PEAR Advisory Committee, in that their task was to draw up the PEAR Master Plan, which has been completed. She noted that the PEAR Association will still exist and the Board will continue to consider any input they may have.

            Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director, informed the Board that the PEAR Association has been invited to participate with staff to complete that portion of the Master Plan dealing with the additional acreage.

            It was noted that the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee is going to be subsumed into the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), and that the membership of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will remain as it currently is, with nine voting members and two ex-officio members.


            There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:05 p.m.





                                                                                    DEBBIE STIVENDER, CHAIRMAN