A SPECIAL JOINT MEETING BETWEEN THE BOARD OF COUNTY
COMMISSIONERS AND THE CITY OF FRUITLAND PARK
AUGUST 5, 2004
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners held a special joint meeting with the City of Fruitland Park City Commission, on Thursday, August 5, 2004, at 6:00 p.m., in the City Commission Chambers, City Hall, Fruitland Park, Florida. Commissioners present from the Board were: Debbie Stivender, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell; Catherine C. Hanson; and Robert A. Pool. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; William “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director; Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Lake County Department of Public Works; Wendy Breeden, Lake County Library Services Director; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk. Commissioners present from the City were: Robert Harden; John L. Gunter, Jr.; Sharon A. Kelly; and Christopher Bell. Others present from the City were: William R. “Ron” White, Mayor; Linda S. Rodrick, City Manager; Mark Isom, Chief of Police; Scott Gerken, City Attorney; and Bea Meeks, City Clerk.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE
Commr. Christopher Bell gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
Mayor Ron White opened the meeting stating that it had been approximately 15 years since the Board of County Commissioners met with the Fruitland Park City Commission and discussed issues of concern, at which time he welcomed those present.
MPO (METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATION) ISSUES
Commr. Sharon Kelly discussed the fact that the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) Board recently voted to allow an alternate vote from one of the non-voting cities and questioned when they could expect to see some results from it.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that staff is preparing the amendment to the agreement and is hopeful that they will have it available for the MPO meeting that is scheduled for this month, noting that the MPO would like to have it implemented by January, 2005.
Commr. Kelly stated that some improvements are planned for the intersection of U.S. 27/441 and Griffin Road and a number of businesses will be taken out to allow the creation of a retention pond. She questioned whether the City of Leesburg had a problem with part of their tax base being removed, due to said project.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Lake County Public Works Department, stated that that project fell under the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and was something that they have worked out with the City of Leesburg, in coordinating efforts. He stated that it is somewhat of a reality, in order to make traffic function better, however, noted that FDOT tries to minimize the number of businesses that will be forced to close or relocate.
Commr. Kelly informed the Board that, when the County gets ready to do the CR 466A project, the City of Fruitland Park would like to have the retention ponds located back from the highway, rather than up front on the highway.
Commr. Cadwell assured Commr. Kelly that her request would be passed along to the appropriate parties.
Commr. Kelly questioned when the issues of street lighting and landscaping would be addressed for the CR 466A project and was informed that they would be addressed during the design process.
JOINT PLANNING AGREEMENTS
BOUNDARIES OF JPA AREA WITH RELATION TO UTILITY SERVICE DISTRICT
CHAPTER 180 SERVICE AREA
Ms. Linda Rodrick, Fruitland Park City Manager, brought up for discussion the proposed agreement that the City received from Ms. Amye King, Chief Planner, Long Range Planning, Lake County Growth Management Department, regarding the Joint Planning Agreement Area boundaries, in relation to the Chapter 180 Service Area, noting that the City has some concerns about it, therefore, has taken the position that they will wait to see how some of the other agreements are operating, once the County has signed them. She stated that, due to that fact, she has not pursued the issue at this time.
Commr. Bell interjected that the City is investigating a sewer system and questioned whether the County would be open to possibly buying capacity from them, if a development wants to come in and hook up to the City’s sewer system, as development happens along the edges of the JPA.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the County has been relying on the cities to provide it, noting that the day for the County to be in the utility business is gone. He stated, however, that he feels the County may have to do something about the Sorrento and Mt. Plymouth areas. With regard to the JPA issue, he questioned whether it was the City’s intention to have those areas that are not in the City yet, but are in the JPA, to have joint LDRs, like the County is trying to do with the City of Clermont and was informed that the City would like to go in that direction, but would like to see the blueprints first.
Mayor White stated that he was very pleased with the Interlocal Agreement that exists between the County and the City of Fruitland Park regarding library services and thanked the Board for the cooperation the City receives from the County, however, noted that, although he feels it is a fine library system, he feels they can do a better job with cataloging newly arrived books. He stated that it was his understanding that any new books the City orders has to go to the County to be catalogued into the Lake County Library System, before being sent to the City for dispersal, which sometimes takes weeks or months, and, in one instance, a year. He stated that he was informed that the County has a cataloguer that was serving six libraries, but is now serving thirteen, which he feels is a lot of work for one person. He questioned whether the County could find money in their budget to hire an additional cataloguer, so that books can be catalogued and delivered to member libraries as they are purchased, which would get them into their patrons’ hands more quickly.
Ms. Wendy Breeden, Lake County Library Services Director, addressed the issue, stating that cataloguing is a little more involved than what the volunteer could handle. She agreed that there is a backlog problem, however, noted that the County tries very hard to get the books out as quickly as possible with the resources it has.
Commr. Hill interjected that the hiring of a cataloguer is something the Board needs to address during budget time, noting that they had no idea what type of expertise a cataloguer needed.
Mayor White questioned whether there was anything the City could do to help the County, with regard to library services, and was informed by Ms. Breeden that they needed to hire additional help for their library. She stated that the County holds numerous meetings, to help with the training, communication, etc. of its library staff, however, noted that the staff from the Fruitland Park Library does not attend the meetings on a regular basis, due to health problems. She stated that, when one library in the County is consistently not getting input, communication, and training, while the others are, it impacts the entire library system, therefore, suggested that the City hire additional help for their library.
Mayor White stated that the issue may be addressed in the City’s budget this year.
CITY INTEREST IN PROPERTY ON SOUTH DIXIE (FORMERLY DEEMS
Commr. Hill informed those present that the former Deems’ property on South Dixie Avenue has been an issue with the County for quite a few years, long before she became a member of the Board. She stated that the matter of turning the property over to the City has been discussed with the County Attorney and is probably something the Board needs to support, noting that she feels it makes sense to turn the property over to them.
Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that, because the property was purchased by the County with road impact fees, its use is limited to transportation type uses, unless a transfer is made within the County with recreation monies. He stated that, if the property is going to be used as a trail type park, there would be no problem with transferring it over to the City; however, if it is going to be used for more active recreation, the Board could discuss it and make a transfer of monies, before transferring it over to the City, to repay the road impact fees he alluded to earlier.
Mr. Stivender was questioned whether the property had been cleaned up and replied that it had - that the County had spent approximately $45,000 in doing so and had received a clean bill of health.
TRAFFIC SIGNAL MAINTENANCE
CURRENT AND FUTURE MAINTENANCE COSTS
Mayor White discussed some concerns he has about traffic signalization throughout the City of Fruitland Park, current and future, noting that he does not understand why the City is required to maintain and pay for a flashing signal that is located between two county roads, when other residents of the County profit from the safety of it, as well as the residents of the City, at which time he asked why the cost of maintaining it could not be shared by the County, or better yet, why the County was not paying for it. He stated that another concern he has is the traffic signal located at the intersection of Hwy. 27 and Picciola Road, noting that every time it is repaired the City gets the bill for it and there are more people than just the residents of Fruitland Park that travel those roads. He stated that the State of Florida returned a small portion of the money that the City sends to Tallahassee, to pay for what they deemed to be their share of the operation and maintenance of that signal, and he is now waiting for the County to send the City a check for their portion of the maintenance and operation of it. He further stated that, because of the proposed improvements and upgrade to CR 466A, due to the expansion of the Villages, there will be three or four additional traffic signals hanging on county roads that the City will be responsible for maintaining and operating and he failed to see why that was the sole responsibility of the taxpayers of the City of Fruitland Park. He stated that he feels the intersection located at Thomas Road and Eurick Road is one of the most horridly engineered intersections in the County, noting that, when one approaches the intersection towards the west on Eurick Road and stops at the stop bars that are painted on the road, one cannot see traffic approaching from the south side, which has caused several traffic accidents. He stated that he does not want to wait until there is a fatality to have something done about it and asked that the Board direct their staff to find a solution to the problem, so that the intersection will no longer be a hazard.
Chairman Stivender stated that the County will look into the problem.
The City Commission questioned whether the time line could be moved up a little for the road project involving CR 466A and was informed by Mr. Stivender that, if the County could receive some additional funding from The Villages, the State, or some other avenues, it might be able to do so, but, with the existing funding, the County is limited. He noted, however, that the County is watching the problem very closely.
Commr. Kelly stated that the County is playing catch-up on all its roads, noting that The Villages is supposed to be built out in eight years, rather than the twelve years that was originally anticipated, which will put the County four years behind in its road program. She stated that it is just going to keep getting worse, unless the County can do something to start moving a little faster on some of the issues. She questioned whether there was a way for the County to receive more funding from the State for its road program and was informed that the County does not receive any such funding, at which time she questioned whether it would be a good idea for the MPO Board to invite the state representatives to some of their meetings to discuss the issues.
It was suggested that they wait until the elections are over and the County knows who they are dealing with.
WATER SUPPLY INITIATIVE
Mayor White stated that the City has some concerns about permits and some of the stories that are going around about the County’s water supply.
Commr. Bell stated that he was at the initial meeting that was held regarding the water supply initiative and got an eye opener. He stated that he understood, from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), that their objective is to develop a couple of desalination plants on the St. Johns River, as an alternative water supply, but was not sure what counties said plants would serve. He questioned whether it would cost the taxpayers of Fruitland Park, or the County, to pay for said plants.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he feels the SJRWMD wants everybody in the region to contribute to the total water supply. He stated that the County has got to participate at some level in that process, otherwise, the SJRWMD will continue to come this way, drop wells, and take the water anyway. He stated that it would be feasible to say that the residents of Lake County will be participating in projects that will actually be providing water somewhere else, to keep that water from coming from the County.
Mr. Scott Gerken, City Attorney, City of Fruitland Park, thanked the Board for stepping in, with regard to the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC)/Orange County dispute, noting that he feels one of the problems in Lake County is that, with all the municipalities having water supplies, they have not been working together and, even though the County does not have a water utility, the County Attorney’s Office took it upon themselves to intervene and correct some of the problems that were going on with the OUC and their agreement. He stated that a local government attorney’s meeting was held this date and the SJRWMD agreement was discussed. He stated that the consensus was that no one particularly likes the agreement, as it currently sits, so Mr. Minkoff was charged with making some changes to it, or sending a message to the SJRWMD that the cities and the County can get along and will try to work together more as a group, to do water supply planning for the area. He stated that he feels the SJRWMD has a desire to group them all together and do some studies, however, noted that one message is clear, which is that the SJRWMD has jurisdiction over the water supplies and, unfortunately, the ability to influence what the cities do. He stated that the cities see that and the thought is that they need to be proactive and take it upon themselves to do something, before they are told what to do. He stated that it is a huge issue for the cities and the County.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the group was going to bring back to the cities and he was going to bring back to the County a recommendation that they not only get together, but that they jointly fund some expertise and other consulting, to get involved with what is going on in Orange County, particularly with the OUC and Orange County and with the SJRWMD, so that they have someone at the table that has expertise in that area. He stated that the cities felt no one city or the County could fund that kind of an effort themselves, because of the costs involved, however, felt that, if they all got together, it would probably be a modest cost to each of them. He stated that they would all have access to the information and a good idea about what is going on. He stated that the SJRWMD has indicated that they would fund a lot of the studies, at least initially, and the hope is that, if the cities can appease them enough, they would be willing to continue to go forth with their offer of funding, but the cities and the County would have a little more control over how the funds are spent and what studies are done.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the County is concerned about the issue and will be involved in whatever way the cities want them to be involved - whether they want the County to be the emphasis or a partner.
ANNEXATION OF RIGHT-OF-WAY ADJACENT TO CITY PROPERTY
Mayor White stated that it seems like the City has butted heads with the County regarding some annexations that they want to do, which has gotten bogged down between the two entities. He asked Fruitland Park Police Chief Mark Isom to explain the situation.
Chief Isom stated that the City would like to annex a portion of Picciola Road, where some development is taking place, because his officers have to go from the City to the County and back to the City in patrolling said area and he would like for it all to fall under the City.
It was noted that a similar situation exists on Spring Lake Road.
Mayor White stated that the City has asked the County for their cooperation regarding said annexations and that is where it currently stands.
Attorney Gerken stated that he spoke with Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, about the matter and with Commr. Hill about any objections that she might have, since it was her district. He stated that Mr. Minkoff was very cooperative and that Commr. Hill noted some concerns she has about the matter, but, basically, was supportive of the request. He stated that he understands the County has a fairly standard agreement regarding annexations and that one of the provisions in that agreement is that the cities cannot use the corridor that is being annexed for purposes of annexation, which the City would like to have taken out of the agreement.
Commr. Stivender stated that her only concern about it is that, if the Board approves to do so, the other municipalities will probably want to follow suit.
Attorney Gerken noted that he would be sending the Board a formal letter requesting a favorable response to the City’s request to remove the provision he alluded to from the County’s standard annexation agreement and that he would do some further checking into the situation involving Spring Lake Road.
LAKE COUNTY WASTE-TO-ENERGY FACILITY
Mayor White informed the Board that he has admired their response to the problems the County has been having with the waste-to-energy facility, at which time he requested an update on where the County currently is, in trying to resolve said problem.
It was noted that, due to the fact that the Board is involved with the lawsuit and is waiting on a ruling from the Courts, the County Attorney should be the one to update the City Commission on the matter.
Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that approximately one year ago, the Board worked out a new agreement with Covanta, which they are hopeful to be able to implement. He stated that most of Covanta is out of bankruptcy at the present time, however, noted that Covanta - Lake is still in bankruptcy proceedings. He stated that the County has not been able to implement the new agreement, because there is ongoing litigation between Covanta and Mr. F. Browne Gregg. He stated that the case involving the incinerator was tried in November of 2003, in New York City, and the Board is now waiting for the judge to make a ruling, which they anticipate he will do by the middle of August. He stated that a hearing has been set for August 18, 2004, and the Board is hopeful that by that time they will have a better feel about the matter. He stated that their goal is to try to implement the new agreement, which he noted will significantly reduce the cost of utilizing the facility for the County’s residents.
Mr. Charlie Rector, a resident of Lake County, addressed the two Commissions and discussed a concern he has about impact fees, noting that he feels they should be put on new developments, because developers are taking raw land and turning it into homesites, which impacts roads and schools; however, he does not understand why old timers in the County who have property that has been plotted for years and are waiting for their children or grandchildren to build on them should have to pay impact fees, noting that their children or grandchildren are not going to cause an impact on the County.
RECREATION MASTER PLAN
Commr. Bell questioned where the County was regarding its Parks and Recreation Master Plan and was informed by Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, that it has been presented to the Board and to the Local Planning Agency (LPA); however, the LPA has not considered it formally. He stated that, once they review and approve it, it will come back to the Board for formal adoption.
Commr. Bell stated that an area of interest is for a community park to be located between the City of Fruitland Park and the Town of Lady Lake. He stated that the City is getting ready to put sewer services in that area and, when they do, it is going to create development, therefore, suggested that, if the County is interested in acquiring 50 acres of land for said park, they need to start looking now. He stated that it would be nice if the park could be tied to the City’s future bicycle trail.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board would like to be informed, if said land is available, noting that he feels they are committed to moving forward with the Parks and Recreation Master Plan as quickly as possible.
Commr. Hanson reminded the City Commission about the referendum item that will be on the ballot in November regarding public land acquisition, noting that a certain number of those dollars will come back to the cities for acquisition of public land for trails, passive recreation, and green space, so the Board will need their support.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he has dealt with Mayor White for a long time and that he appreciated the way he conducted business for the City of Fruitland Park, noting that he felt his heart was always in it.
Commr. Hill stated that the Board is looking forward to having a Joint Planning Agreement with the City of Fruitland Park and hopes that a lot of the traffic issues that were brought forward this date will be addressed in that JPA.
The Board of County Commissioners was then taken on a tour of the newly constructed Fruitland Park City Hall.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the two Commissions, the meeting was adjourned at 7:10 p.m.
DEBBIE STIVENDER, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK