A SPECIAL JOINT MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
AND THE CITY OF LEESBURG COMMISSION
MARCH 29, 2004
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners held a special joint meeting with the City of Leesburg Commission on Monday, March 29, 2004, at 5:30 p.m., at the Leesburg Community Building, Leesburg, Florida. Commissioners present were: Debbie Stivender, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell; Catherine C. Hanson; and Robert A. Pool. Present from the City of Leesburg were: David Knowles, Mayor; Commissioners John Christian, Bob Lovell, Ben Perry and Lewis Puckett; Robert Johnson, Deputy City Manager; Fred Morrison, City Attorney; and Betty Richardson, City Clerk. Others present were: William “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 Judy Whaley, Deputy Clerk.
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor David Knowles, City of Leesburg, called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE
Leesburg Commr. John Christian gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Lake County Commr. Debbie Stivender thanked the City of Leesburg for hosting tonight’s meeting. She stated that the three following discussion items are on the agenda: the Joint Planning Agreement with Lake County, a proposal on solid waste collection from Lake County, and the Sunnyside Planning Study.
JOINT PLANNING AGREEMENT (JPA)
Mr. Robert Johnson, Deputy City Manager, City of Leesburg, gave a brief PowerPoint presentation (a printed copy is included in the backup material) on the Joint Planning Agreement to explain the major points in the Agreement. The presentation included the following:
• Improve coordination and communication.
• Utility planning.
• Improve utility development.
• Improve growth management.
• Improve annexation planning.
• Define procedures for transfer of County roads.
Notification Area ( Map)
• Represents 20 year growth/impact area - identifying areas that may potentially impact the City.
• Requires County and City to notify each other related to major developments.
JPA Area Map
Three areas that could be affected by development in the next five years. Does not mean annexation.
• City limits (orange area on the map).
• An area that could be annexed or provided service by the City of Leesburg or the City of Tavares (bright yellow area on the map).
• An additional area that is subject to JPA terms where the City could potentially see developers requesting annexation. The City wants to ensure an orderly development of utilities if needed and ensure that the Land Development Codes that will apply in this area will be consistent with the City. The Agreement calls for the potential development of an overlay development code. The City is agreeing that it will not entertain a developer coming to the City requesting utilities and annexation without a determination by the County that development is appropriate in the County. That would be the City’s voluntary way to define a City boundary for centralized development and services (light brown area on the map).
JPA Area Planning
• Development to occur consistent with City Codes.
• Represents annexation (potential)/utility service area. Requires the County enforce the City’s utility codes as it relates to the size water or sewer lines of a development in the County.
• Provides for the orderly development of utilities.
• Creates a process for either government to express concerns about a specific development.
• Places limits on wells and septic tanks. We do not want developers playing off the two governmental entities, threatening to put in wells to force the City to acquiesce on development standards. High density development should have municipal type services, low density development should have wells and septic tanks.
What the JPA Area is Not!
• Not an agreement to annex any parcel of land. This Agreement does not state anywhere that the City is annexing anybody. If annexation does occur, the Agreement specifies transfer of County roads and how utilities will be handled. This is a planning document, not an annexation agreement.
• Not a guarantee that no well or septic tank will be constructed.
• Not a guarantee that the County will or will not approve development in the notification area contrary to the City’s desire. Either jurisdiction has the right to object but each jurisdiction has retained its own authority to make decisions on development.
• Improves long range planning.
• Commitment to planned utility development.
• A framework for communication between the County and the City.
Mr. Johnson pointed out that a paragraph was added on Page 8 of the draft Agreement at the request of Mr. Chuck Johnson, legal counsel for Hawthorne at Leesburg (Hawthorne). The Hawthorne community had objected to the Agreement with the belief that this document represented the green light for annexation of Hawthorne. City and County staff met with representatives of Hawthorne and provided some legal interpretation as to the State law relating to how residential property is annexed. He stated that, unless there is a vote of the people, it cannot occur and nothing in this Agreement promotes the annexation of Hawthorne or any other existing development.
In response to an inquiry by Lake County Commr. Welton Cadwell regarding discussion about joint Land Development Regulations (LDRs) similar to those in the Clermont JPA, Mr. Johnson confirmed that, once this Agreement is approved, County staff and City staff would move forward to revise the County’s Land Development Code such that an overlay would occur within the JPA area. Mr. Johnson opined that, while those details may not have been finalized, it would be the City’s intent to pick up whichever rule was the more stringent.
Commr. Cadwell asked if there is concern that pending State legislation, if passed, would limit the ability to fall under the new annexation rules if the JPA is entered into prior to the end of that legislative process in April.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, replied that the proposed bill contains a provision that indicates that it does not affect any agreement which is already in existence nor does it prohibit the parties to such an agreement amending it to take advantage of the new law. However, both parties would have to agree to amend it.
Commr. Cadwell opined that the legislation, in its current form, is probably the closest legislation between the Cities and the County that comes to being fair. He stated that he thinks it protects the County residents and he would prefer not to enter into an agreement prematurely, if, at the end of April, the legislative session will be over and if that law makes it clear and gives everybody involved, City and County residents, an idea that they will not lose their voice. He suggested that he would rather wait until the session is over.
Commr. Stivender stated that this meeting is for discussion of the JPA and a decision will not be made today.
Mr. Fred Morrison, Leesburg City Attorney, stated that negotiations cannot be done, and an Agreement cannot be drafted, on the basis of what the parties think the legislature might do. If that is a concern, it might be better to wait for a decision until the legislative session is over.
CITIZEN QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD - JPA
Mr. Robert Dodge, resident, Hawthorne at Leesburg, asked who has to agree to an annexation.
Mr. Morrison explained that, under current State law, there would have to be a referendum to annex Hawthorne and more than 50% of the registered electors within Hawthorne would have to consent to annexation.
Commr. Cadwell explained that, under the new legislation, if passed, Hawthorne cannot be annexed unless Hawthorne and the County agree. That legislation should give everyone more self assurance that their rights will be preserved.
Ms. Carrie Williams, Woodland Park Subdivision, gave the history of her subdivision which was built in 1960. She stated that all kinds of spot zonings, including a concrete plant and warehouses, have been allowed to come in around the subdivision which consists of approximately 54 houses. She remarked that the County should take care of its business and the City should take care of its business.
Mr. Dan Gorden, General Manager, Hawthorne at Leesburg, recognized the large group of Hawthorne residents in attendance. He stated that he has some great fears about what the State law might do and that there may be a change which would allow automatic annexation of internal enclaves without the vote of anybody. He expressed that it might be prudent to wait until the legislative session has concluded. He stated that he wants to make sure the law is kept the way it is now and that a vote of more than 50% of Hawthorne residents would be required before annexation could occur. Mr. Gorden stated that, if at all possible, Hawthorne wants the right to vote kept in any agreement.
Mr. Chuck Johnson, attorney for Hawthorne at Leesburg, stated that Hawthorne wants to be left alone and that Hawthorne residents believe they have the right to vote on any annexation issue.
Commr. Stivender stated that she believes a decision on the Agreement could wait until May. That will give everyone more time to come up with the correct verbiage for the Agreement.
Mr. David Cauthen, Director, The Greater Sunnyside Area Property Owners Association, Inc., stated that a major concern of the Sunnyside homeowners is the issue of roads. He opined that the Agreement needs to be tightened up substantially as to who will be responsible for the roads. Annexation is occurring and no one wants to accept responsibility for the roads. He stated that the draft Agreement gives both the City and the County the opportunity to cover their eyes and say the other entity is responsible.
Mr. Robert Johnson referred to Page 8, Section 6.a., of the draft Agreement regarding Terms of Annexation Related to Transfer of Infrastructure. He commented that perhaps Mr. Cauthen is concerned with the current status of roads in the Sunnyside area, not whether there is a good method of transferring those infrastructures and who is responsible for maintaining those. He explained that the document clearly indicates, at the point the annexation in an area exceeds more than 50%, there is a method of transferring the roads such that it is very clear that the County is no longer in the road maintenance business within the City.
Mr. Cauthen stated that the recent addition of several hundred new homes on Sleepy Hollow Road will impact Sunnyside Drive and all the way through Sunnyside. He opined that the Agreement does not handle that situation at all.
Mr. John Farah, who is in the process of purchasing 150 acres in the Okahumpka area, asked if City utilities will ever be available for his property which is approximately ten to fifteen feet outside of the City’s utility service area.
Mr. Robert Johnson explained that, if the County approves a development for construction, the County can dictate what type of utilities it wants to have service the area. If the City is willing to provide service and the County wants municipal-type service, the City will provide utilities. County staff, through their review process, would make the determination as to what utilities are required for the site.
Ms. Lee Manusa, a resident of Hawthorne at Leesburg, gave an explanation of her community, a cooperative which has its articles of incorporation issued under a not-for-profit corporation statute. She stated that, if all internal enclaves are annexed to the surrounding municipality as stated in SB 452 (Senate Bill 452, Relating to Local Governments/Annexation by Senator Lee Constantine, District 22), cooperative ownership would disappear. She asked for support in maintaining Hawthorne’s collective voice. She asked that the Commissioners not support SB 452.
Mayor Knowles stated that there is a consensus among the Leesburg City Commissioners that they are not in the process of annexing Hawthorne. Because future State laws are unknown, he concurred with Commr. Cadwell’s suggestion to wait and see what develops.
PROPOSAL ON SOLID WASTE (UNIVERSAL COLLECTION)
FROM LAKE COUNTY
Mr. Robert Johnson, Deputy City Manager, City of Leesburg, explained that City staff requested that the proposal on solid waste (Universal Collection) be added to the agenda. The staff is analyzing its solid waste operations and intends, at an April City Commission meeting, to make a presentation on various options that are available to the city, including a proposal from the County.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, gave a brief PowerPoint presentation (a printed copy is included in the backup material) on Lake County’s Solid Waste (Universal Collection) Proposal. The presentation included the following:
Universal Collection for Solid Waste
• Provides residential solid waste collection services to unincorporated Lake County residents by means of a Municipal Services Benefit Unit (MSBU).
What is an MSBU?
• A defined geographical area of unincorporated Lake County where all residential units are required to be part of the MSBU and the County collects a non ad valorem assessment. Somewhat similar to MSBU’s for Fire Services and Road Paving.
Lake County Solid Waste MSBU
• Two garbage/yard waste and one recycling pickup per week.
• Annual fee of $180.50 per residential unit is collected through the annual tax bill.
• Contractual agreements with three franchise haulers throughout the County. Should the City of Leesburg wish to participate in the MSBU, Waste Management would be the franchise hauler for the City.
What is Leesburg Doing Now?
• Collecting own municipal waste utilizing City personnel.
• Providing one garbage, one recycling and one yard waste collection per week.
• Paying a tipping fee for disposal.
• Providing customer service.
• Preparing invoices monthly.
• Collecting current and delinquent accounts.
• Maintaining equipment.
How Would MSBU Consolidation Work?
• County expands existing MSBU to include City of Leesburg through interlocal agreement.
• Franchised hauler, Waste Management, would provide residential service.
• Residential customers would pay once a year on the tax bill.
• Commercial collection would be handled under a direct agreement between the franchise hauler and rates would be regulated by the County.
What are the Benefits to Leesburg?
• County cost is less expensive than the City’s current rate.
• More frequent collection with twice per week collection.
• Ease of comingling waste while preserving commitment to recycling.
• Maintain current collection bins so that investment would not be lost.
• Menu of services for commercial customers.
Issues to Resolve
• Dates of transition of service versus dates of transition of billing. The challenge is a complex process of adding City residents as part of the assessment rolls. If the City chooses this option, service could begin October 1, 2004, allowing the City to continue billing customers the first year. City residents could be billed through the tax bills for 2005.
• Commercial rate differences.
• Universal collection for seasonal residents. County’s seasonal residents are charged for a full year.
• Classification of rental properties. Commercial versus Residential. Leesburg’s residential units are 42% rentals. Under the MSBU, the property owner is billed for residential units, not the tenant, so sufficient time should be given to landlords to amend their lease agreements.
In response to an inquiry by Leesburg Commr. Lewis Puckett regarding buying back the City’s equipment, Mr. Neron explained that is negotiable. In talking with Waste Management, either option might be possible.
Commr. Debbie Stivender reiterated that City staff contacted County staff.
Mr. Johnson explained that the City originally contacted the County regarding the current interlocal agreement for solid waste disposal. Tonight’s discussion concerns pick up. The disposal is another issue that needs to be addressed. Mr. Johnson stated that the City is charging about $2.00 more and City staff feels it is their obligation, when other opportunities are seen, to present them to the City Commission. He reiterated that City staff’s intention in April is to give the City Commission the facts relating to current operations and to present several options that are available. Tonight’s presentation is being made in an effort to give the City Commissioners an opportunity to ask questions of County staff.
Leesburg Commr. John Christian, in referring to Page 7 of the presentation, remarked that any savings would have to be great to justify interrupting City employees. He stated that he has current issues with the County’s Code Enforcement regarding sidewalks that have been needed for eight years. He stated that he does not need to hear a presentation unless it will save a lot of money.
Leesburg Commr. Ben Perry opined that any option available should be aired out. If equal or better service can be provided at a lesser cost, those options should be heard in April. He stated that the City Commission looks after the public’s money, giving the best service at the least cost.
Mayor David Knowles, City of Leesburg, remarked that he looks forward to hearing all the options in April.
CITIZEN QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD - SOLID WASTE
Mr. Joe Codispoti, owner of A-OK TV in Leesburg, stated that he lives in the County and expressed his concern regarding the commercial aspect. He stated that he needs more definitive answers for commercial collections. He stated that, with the City, he can have commercial pickup once or twice a week, and it is his prerogative.
Mayor Knowles stated that the first meeting in April will be for the purpose of fact finding and he invited Mr. Codispoti to attend the meeting.
Ms. Carrie Williams, a City of Leesburg resident, stated that she calls the City if her garbage is not picked up. She asked if the County will do the same and she asked what will happen with the City’s employees.
Mayor Knowles reiterated that a number of options will be discussed at the City Commission’s first meeting in April.
SUNNYSIDE PLANNING STUDY
Mr. Robert Johnson, Deputy City Manager, City of Leesburg, explained that the City Commission, in November 2003, approved a six-month City moratorium on any annexation that would result in increased density in the Sunnyside area. He emphasized that it was not a moratorium on development but was only on density increases. An ad hoc study committee has been formed and members are identified on a memo dated March 29, 2004 (a copy of the memo is included in the backup material). He stated that two committee meetings have been held, with participation by County staff, and a recommendation for substantive changes for planning and developing Sunnyside will be presented to both the City and the County for consideration and implementation.
Lake County Commr. Jennifer Hill stated that there are road concerns which need to be addressed as well as stormwater issues.
CITIZEN QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD - SUNNYSIDE
Mr. B. Murray Tucker, Jr, President, The Greater Sunnyside Area Property Owners Association, Inc., and a member of the ad hoc committee, stated that meaningful meetings have been held. He remarked that City staff has done an outstanding job in providing information. He stated that the process is moving forward.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 6:28 p.m.
DEBBIE STIVENDER, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK