A SPECIAL JOINT MEETING BETWEEN THE BOARD OF COUNTY
COMMISSIONERS AND THE LOCAL PLANNING AGENCY
NOVEMBER 30, 2004
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners held a special joint meeting with the Local Planning Agency on Tuesday, November 30, 2004, at 9:00 a.m., in Room 233 of the Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson; Welton G. Cadwell; and Robert A. Pool. Chairman Debbie Stivender was not present, due to illness. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; William “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director; Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; Gary Kaiser, Public Safety Director; Jeff Cooper, Support Services Director, Program Analysis and Contract Management; Ms. Amye King, Chief Planner, Planning and Development Services, Growth Management; Mr. Jeff Richardson, Planning Manager, Planning and Development Services, Growth Management; Terri Diesbourg, Director, Customer Services/Zoning; Mr. Fred Schneider, Engineering Director, Public Works; Ms. Kitty Cooper, Geographic Information Services (G.I.S.) Director; Mr. Francis Franco, Senior G.I.S. Analyst; Mr. Alfredo Massa, Jr., Senior Planner, Planning and Development Services, Growth Management; Ms. Amelyn Regis, Senior Planner, Planning and Development Services, Growth Management; Mr. Greg Mihalic, Director of Economic Development and Tourism; Ms. Donna Bohrer, Office Associate III, Growth Management; Karen Mitchell, Public Hearing Coordinator, Growth Management; Mr. Terry Adsit, Lake County School Board; Ms. Terry Godts, Citizen Activist; Ms. Nancy Fullerton, Chairman, Alliance to Protect Water Resources; Mr. Scott Blankenship, Lake County Zoning Board; Mr. Steve Richey, Attorney; Ms. Kathy Allison, Akerman, Senterfitt and Eidson; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Members from the Local Planning Agency that were present were: Ms. Barbara Newman (At-Large), Chairman; Mr. Michael Carey (District 3); Mr. Richard Dunkel (District 4); Ms. Nadine Foley (District 5); Mr. Sean Parks (At-Large); and Mr. Keith Schue (At-Large).
CALL TO ORDER
The Vice Chairman, Commr. Hill, welcomed those present and noted that it was nice to be meeting with the Local Planning Agency (LPA) to discuss issues of concern.
LAKE COUNTY COMPREHENSIVE PLAN PROGRAM 2005-2025
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that the Local Planning Agency (LPA) has started working on a rewrite of the County’s Comprehensive Plan, which is going to be a very multi-faceted and multi-disciplined project involving highly technical subject issues, a variety of community interests, and a complex public participation process, to ensure that the interest of all groups, communities, and agencies have a seat at the table and are able to express their opinions, without any one entity controlling the process. He stated that they are in the infancy steps of what is estimated to be a 16 to 18 month process, at which time he noted that the contents and the process are very important, but collaboration will be the key. He stated that staff felt there were several issues that would be good for the LPA and the Board to discuss, thus, the purpose of this meeting.
Ms. Amye King, Chief Planner, Planning and Development Services, Growth Management, stated that the document before the Board this date is what staff wrote in July of this year and distributed in early August. She stated that it outlines the time line that will be used and how staff will be going about collecting data and analyzing it and it contains preliminary population projections and the County’s existing Future Land Use Map, as well. She stated that, when staff distributed the document, in August, they expected to hold this joint meeting soon after; however, because it has been a couple of months since they completed the document, they have found that it is just a little out of date. She stated that they would like to update the document, distribute it to the libraries and other public places in the County, and put it on the County’s website, to be used as a means of getting the population projections, the existing land use, and a few other trends and analysis to the people of Lake County.
Commr. Cadwell interjected that he would hate for someone to think that this document is the County’s Comprehensive Plan, therefore, suggested that it be titled differently, at which time Mr. Welstead noted that staff would look into the matter and come up with something.
Commr. Hanson questioned how staff planned to incorporate the changes, to keep the document updated.
Ms. King stated that staff talked about the fact that, should they make it available on the Internet, they should keep the document the same, in order to have a standard to go by, but should provide hotlinks, so that, when one clicks on the site, they can go to any updates. She stated that the changes will be incorporated as they go along, but the permanent document will always be there, so that it does not appear that the County is always changing it and that there is nothing standard that they are going by. She stated that this would be just one of the many options available. She stated that she did not feel staff could physically update the hard copy monthly, but felt they could possibly update it quarterly, or bi-yearly, however, noted that she feels there is a way to keep it constantly updated on the Internet, for those that have access to the Internet.
Ms. Barbara Newman, Chairman of the LPA, stated that she felt it should be noted that it is a work in progress and due to change many times before the final document is completed, so that people will know it is not the final document.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether the need for the County to increase its light industry was in the document and was informed that information contained in the document is the way that it currently is in the County.
PRESENTATION OF EXISTING LAND USE SERIES
Ms. Kitty Cooper, Geographic Information Services (G.I.S.) Director, gave a brief presentation regarding existing land uses, at which time she displayed and reviewed various aerials, with overlays, and charts from the Property Appraiser’s Office regarding property search results, as examples of how her staff conducts their research. She stated that they have been working on the Future Land Use Map for a couple of months and have determined that they need to do an Atlas and that they need to do it by township, because there are a tremendous amount of five acre sites that would not show up in any kind of a parcel situation at the map’s current scale, even if they blew it up. She stated that her staff has been working with the Growth Management staff, in determining categories of environmental lands, which would include parks and properties owned by the municipalities, the St. Johns River Water Management District, Lake County, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Water Authority, etc. She stated that it has been finalized and staff just needs to create the Atlas for it, after which one will be able to see every parcel that belongs to a government agency. She noted that her staff will be researching some properties that they were recently made aware of that were not contained in the Property Appraiser’s database.
Mr. Keith Schue, a member of the LPA, stated that another thing that would be very useful to them, as well as to the Board of County Commissioners, as they look at planning, is to know what lands are encumbered with a conservation easement of some sort, because they are lands that are not subject to the same development pressures.
Ms. Cooper interjected that the Property Appraiser’s Office does not keep a record of conservation lands, so staff has spoken with Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, about figuring out a way to deal with that. She stated that they could start keeping track of them from this point on and then go back and research the past. She stated that they have been working on an existing land use update process for almost a year, at which time she gave a general overview of what they have done, as follows:
• Modify the Florida Land Use, Cover & Classifications Systems (FLUCCS) with some Lake County classes, i.e. Ranchettes, Residences with Groves
• Overlay parcels upon 2004 aerials
• Union with 1998 wetlands coverage, which includes lakes, assign wetlands code
• Identify Lucode contained in the Property Appraiser’s database (Property Record Card)
• Using the customized Lake County Future Land Use Classification, assign a 4 digit code to the parcel from the Lake County FLUCCS
• Select random sections and field check for accuracy
• Do a match with the Tax Collector’s occupational license database and Lake County’s master address database, to verify the type of business
Ms. Cooper stated that, since everything in the County is based on parcels, staff decided to use the parcel layer as their basis for updating land use, which she noted does not mean ownership, it means how the property is being used at a specific point in time. She stated that the reason staff did it is so that it can be aggregated to the first level, or expanded to the fourth. She stated that this gives the County a standardized classification system that can be used in the future; therefore, from this point forward, it will be updated and staff will not have to do the whole thing again. She stated that it is based upon parcels, which is the countywide land unit standard, and is going to be able to be easily maintained, noting that every time the aerials are updated staff will be able to use some new software that the County acquired, at which time she gave a brief demonstration of what staff can do with said software.
Mr. Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director, stated that, as staff goes through the process, they will do field checks and, if something is not what it should be, they will fix it in the database.
Ms. Cooper was commended for a very impressive presentation.
Mr. Neron, County Manager, stated that what staff presented was a result of the investment that the Board of County Commissioners made two Summers ago.
Mr. Welstead, Deputy County Manager, stated that the process presented this date involves more than just the Comprehensive Plan, noting that, in the event of an emergency, it will enable the County to identify a particular area that has suffered extensive damage and estimate the value of the properties involved.
Ms. King, Chief Planner, stated that, in rewriting the Comprehensive Plan, staff needs to have a better understanding of the County and what they are looking at, so they decided to do the same thing that was done by staff when the first Comprehensive Plan was written, which is divide the County up into smaller areas that are demographically and geographically unique to each other. She stated that they put together several different versions of what planning zones could be in the County; however, when they presented it to the LPA, they were asked if they had received any input from the cities. She stated that, since they had received very little input from the cities, they held a meeting, where all the cities were invited to attend, and had 26 participants at the table, including four city managers, an LPA member, and land use attorneys Steve Richey and Cecelia Bonifay, who talked about the history of the first Comprehensive Plan. She stated that staff was very fortunate to be able to get everybody’s input.
Ms. King stated that the Board had before them ten different areas, identified by black lines on the aerials on display, and, within those ten areas were subareas, which are the proposed Joint Planning Areas (JPAs) that were identified a couple of years ago, however, noted that they were not set in stone. She stated that most of the JPAs have not been adopted and are subject to change, which is why staff drew the darker black lines for study areas. She further elaborated on the matter, noting that staff did what they did, because they wanted to study the geographically and demographically unique areas, as well as the fact that, when they do the road shows, they want to be able to pull people from a certain geographic area, where they feel they will have similar concerns, be it traffic, housing, environmental issues, etc. She stated that staff chose the number 10, because it was something they felt they could juggle, but they also wanted to have all the JPAs identified, so that the cities would know they had a seat at the table. She stated that they are asking all the cities that are in any particular study area to participate in the public participation process, when staff does the road shows, as well as those LPA members that have a study area located in their district. She stated that staff feels very confident that the study areas are well represented by the planners and everybody that participated in the process of drawing them up. She noted that they do not follow parcel lines or census geography, they follow the JPAs and, in a lot of cases, water lines, such as lakes, etc. She stated that staff would have preferred having census geography, but, in this case, it did not work out that way. She stated that the cities understood that staff would rather have used census geography, but felt confident that, if they used the JPA boundaries, the cities would have a seat at the table during the discussions.
Mr. Schue suggested that, as the County goes into the planning effort, staff identify the outlines of the areas and superimpose them on the Future Land Use Map, so that, when one looks at the areas, they can see what the Future Land Use Map currently has. He further suggested that they include the public lands layer on it, noting that it would be their worksheet, which would show the planning areas, the Future Land Use Map, the public lands, and the municipal boundaries, which will give them a very good worksheet to operate off of.
BUREAU OF ECONOMIC AND BUSINESS RESEARCH PROJECTIONS 2005-2025
Mr. Alfredo Massa, Jr., Senior Planner, Planning and Development Services, Growth Management, stated that the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR), founded in 1929, an applied research center at the University of Florida, whose primary mission is to collect data and conduct research on economic, demographic, and business trends in Florida, is used throughout Florida for all population projections and, although staff agrees that they have done a lot of good work, they do not necessarily agree with all of their methodologies. BEBR’s state level projections were made using cohort-component methodology, in which births, deaths, and migration were projected separately for each age-sex cohort in the population; however, county level projections cannot use the cohort-component method, because some have small populations and, more importantly, county growth patterns are too volatile. In doing their county projections, BEBR used an average of four extrapolation techniques, as follows:
1. Linear: the population will change by the same number of people in each future year as the average annual change of the base period. (Used base periods of 5, 10 and 15 years)
2. Exponential: the population will change at the same percentage rate as the average annual change of the base period. (Used 10 year base period)
3. Share of Growth: the County’s share of the State population growth will be the same in the future as in the base period. (Used base periods of 5, 10 and 15 years)
4. Shift Share: the County’s share of the State population growth will be the same percentage in the future as in the base period. (Used 10 yr. base period)
None of these techniques, however, take into account actual present day independent variables that will affect population growth.
BEBR has two primary methods for municipal population calculations, as follows:
1. Will take count of households from 2000 census and divide by their count of electrical customers for that year. This number is then multiplied by the current year electrical customer base and then multiplied again by the average household size. BEBR also considers “special multipliers”, such as building permits, number of single family homes, and number of multi-family homes.
2. Method 2 is based on Building Permits: Take base year 2000 count of housing units + count of permits x occupancy rate x household size, using a special multiplier for housing rate and housing types.
Overall, Method No. 1 is the predominant one used. Rather than accept the BEBR low, medium, or high estimates through 2030, the County Demographic Team has developed alternative methodologies and validation methods to project demographics for the unincorporated and incorporated areas of Lake County.
Mr. Massa stated that the methods used by BEBR are logical, but they do not take into consideration actual things that are going on, at which time he noted that staff’s primary methodology of choice is final Certificates of Occupancy (CO) that are issued in the County. He stated that they took the new homes that were built and the population estimates from the Census Bureau of the growth that occurred since the last census of 2000 and divided it by the final COs that were issued, as a measure of what an average household was, which is predicted to be about 3.176, considerably bigger than what the BEBR numbers are, which is generally 2.34 or 2.43. He stated that, along with the final CO method, staff also chose to incorporate some of the BEBR estimates, taking into consideration the electrical hookups. He stated that they looked at the solid waste tonnage, as well, in validating their findings, since everybody living in a home has to have their garbage picked up.
Mr. Massa displayed and reviewed several charts predicting population growth for the County from 2005 to 2030, at which time he stated that staff feels there will be a downward trend in population growth after the year 2010. He stated that, although there has been considerable growth in the County over the past four to five years, one cannot guarantee that it will continue, because one cannot predict the County’s economic outlook for the future. He stated that staff took their estimates and divided them in half, noting that they feel there is a good probability that construction will diminish by half, which brought the figures down to slightly above an average between the medium and the high. He stated that they feel the average figure of 2,800 new homes per year will continue for a ten year period, but then will be cut in half.
It was noted that said figures pertained to both the County and the cities and that, in comparing their figures with those of the Lake County School System, staff looked at the curves, in that they obtained the data and put one on top of the other, so that they could see what the curves were.
COUNTY STAFF PROJECTIONS
Mr. Jeff Cooper, Support Services Director, Program Analysis and Contract Management, discussed how staff came up with their projections, at which time he noted that there is more growth in the schools than there is in the County. He stated that Lake County is today where Lee County was ten years ago, so staff is going to start looking at the Lee County school population and see where it is going and where Lake County is going, as well, and, if they can see some correlation between the two, it may help staff confirm the population growth. He stated that they will continue to gather said data on a monthly basis, but will have to decide how often to update the figures, whether to do it on a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis. He stated that the most important factor to consider is validation of the numbers, thus, the reason they looked at solid waste, final Certificates of Occupancy, etc. He stated that, just considering the increase based on final Certificates of Occupancy, it is 3.176, which tells them that there are a lot of younger people coming into the County than before.
Commr. Pool questioned whether there is a projected build-out date for the County and was informed that there is not.
Mr. Richard Dunkel, a member of the LPA, stated that he heard the State was considering doing away with the gas tax, as well as some other taxes, which he found to be unbelievable, noting that the State is a magnet for low cost living, with no snow; therefore, it will continue to attract retirees, which means that there will be more 55+ communities, whose impact fees will be lower. He stated that he feels the numbers should be higher, noting that staff should go out at least 15 to 20 years, before predicting a decline in the numbers.
Mr. Cooper stated that they have a lot more to do, at which time he noted that staff was under the gun to try to get the numbers in place rather quickly for the consultants involved with the libraries, the space study, and the traffic study, due to the hurricanes. He stated that they wanted to apply some common sense rules, with regard to the number of homes, but, at the present time, the numbers indicated were all they had to go on.
Mr. Neron stated that most of the elements of the Comprehensive Plan have a population driven factor to them; therefore, the County wanted to get a set of numbers that they could make common throughout, for the development of the various elements of the Comprehensive Plan. He stated that they could spend hours on the methodologies, but, at some point, they have to choose something and go with it, with their best judgment, which is where the County is at the present time.
Ms. King interjected that one of the greatest tools about having the existing land use done is that the County will know where the vacant lands and the developable lands are, based on the extracting of wetlands, etc. She stated that, once staff has the population projections figured out, they will be able to apply those people to the land and figure out what the buildout is going to be.
Mr. Schue stated that a lot of work had been done by staff but, obviously, assumptions were made in the process. He stated that, as they get further out in time, it becomes harder to make exact projections, but, in the end, it is the role of the County, with the assistance of the LPA, to set a course for what kind of growth the County wants to attract and where it is going to be. He stated that they can get caught up in the numbers, but it is up to everybody involved to come up with an idea of what kind of buildout they want.
Commr. Hanson stated that she absolutely agrees with the buildout date, noting that it is where the County has to be. She stated that they have to find out what it is and go backward, which is why it is so critical.
Ms. Nadine Foley, a member of the LPA, stated that she feels, along with looking at a buildout date, they also need to be defining what they want the County to be like at that point in time and now is the time to make that decision.
Mr. Cooper stated that staff has not yet talked to the cities, which is something they want to do, to obtain input on how they feel they are going to grow. He stated that another issue is that 58% of the households are in the unincorporated areas of the County and there have been a huge amount of annexations going on, where vacant land has been annexed, yet no construction has occurred on the land. He stated that they want to talk to the cities about the matter, get their input, and try to get them to buy into the County’s methodology and validation.
Mr. Massa pointed out various charts that indicate population projections for 2010 through 2030, based on the following two hypotheses, which he reviewed:
• For the period of 2005-2010, and due to the present backlog of permitted PUDs, proposed developments, and on-going construction, staff predicts growth to be similar to current trends. Therefore, they used an average of two four year periods that were noted in a table (contained in the Board’s backup material) for each municipality.
• For the period 2015-2030, and given the normal fluctuations in market trends and economic uncertainty past a 10-year horizon, staff throttled back the County’s growth percentages to 50% of current trends (growth rate in use for 2010 was divided by 2). Said multiplier was then used to calculate population growth through 2030 for each municipality.
Mr. Cooper stated that staff challenges BEBR’s numbers, but they do not have a lot of leeway regarding them, because BEBR is used by the State of Florida for revenue projections and such, however, noted that, for internal planning purposes, they can use the County’s own numbers. He stated that they want to use solid waste, Fishkind & Associates, and continue to monitor the actual census. He stated that something staff has to deal with at the present time is taking the population growth and breaking it down to the Traffic Analysis Zone (TAZ) level, which they can then put back into census blocks and census tracts figure out some methodology for the planning zones, since they do not follow any census tracts, census blocks, or TAZs. He stated that they also have to incorporate the schools and come up with some numbers for the Economic Development and Tourism Office, with regard to age group distributions, economic development, etc.
Mr. Schue discussed the issue of special generators, noting that, when staff talks about projecting so far out, there is going to be a series of special generators that come along that either happen to the County, that it reacts to, or that the County is planning for and possibly promoting, in some cases. He stated that he feels it is the LPA’s job to make the trend, not just react to it, and that he feels the special generators are things that they will be creating.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 10:20 a.m., the Vice Chairman announced that the Board would recess for 10 minutes.
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PLAN
Ms. King informed the Board that staff has a very rigorous schedule and they have a lot of people to talk to, so they have come up with a plan for public participation during the next six months, which she reviewed. She stated that they would like to hold another joint meeting between the Board of County Commissioners and the LPA the second week of May, 2005, and then, in June of 2005, they would like to incorporate all the suggestions that they will have received from the public, the LPA, and the Board of County Commissioners and begin writing the Goals, Objectives, and Policies the last three weeks of June, at which time they would like to begin the second phase of public input.
Mr. Schue stated that he sat on the State committee that looked at the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) process and is making recommendations to the Legislature about perhaps updating it. He stated that one of the issues that was talked about at length was public participation and how there is a need to have the public involved early on in the planning phase, because once it goes for approval, public input is not meaningful at that point. He stated that, to have that public participation up front is critical, which he feels is what the County is trying to do, however, wondered whether staff could do ten road shows, rather than the five that are planned, because there are ten areas involved.
Ms. King stated that staff is concerned that, if they do that, they are not going to get the participation they are hoping for. She noted that this would not be their only form of public participation, in that they are planning to have surveys - one for the entire County and then, hopefully, ones that address the planning zones specifically.
Mr. Dunkel discussed the issue of staff getting the cooperation from the cities and was informed by Ms. King that, sooner than later, staff wants to talk to the City Managers and planners regarding the matter. She stated that they want to get them involved early on in the process, because they feel it is essential to the process. She stated that they want the cities to tell them what they would like to see happen outside their corporate limits, however, noted that they are only doing it as a tool, because, when it comes down to it and staff looks at the County comprehensively, it may not be feasible. She stated that staff would like to know what their population projections would be, if they had their druthers, and how they would like to grow and they need the cities to start working on that as soon as possible, while they are working on everything else. She stated that staff is bringing them in very early on in the process. She stated that staff does not want to prioritize any part of the County over another part, so they are going to study the entire county at once, because they feel that is the only way to address the County comprehensively and still give all the cities and the JPAs the autonomy that they want.
Ms. Amelyn Regis, Senior Planner, Planning and Development Services, Growth Management, informed the Board that, in addition to all the mandatory elements that the County will have to do for the Comprehensive Plan, there are various optional elements that they will have to address, as well, should the Board so choose. She stated that staff included three examples in the Board’s backup material, for their perusal, however, noted that they are not set in stone. She stated that the Economic Element is one of the only optional elements that is currently in the Comprehensive Plan. She stated that, if it is something the County chooses not to do, staff can always include different components of the Economic Element throughout the Comprehensive Plan and the mandatory elements.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board has always touted that they made it a law in Lake County, so he feels it needs to be there, but feels they may need to look at what it is saying and redefine the direction of what they are trying to do.
Mr. Michael Carey, a member of the LPA, questioned whether staff had focused much on community design or aesthetics and was informed by Ms. Regis that it is something that staff has been discussing, informally, but no committee has been put together, to date, to address it.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would like for the LPA to look at school concurrency, noting that there are some limitations, with regard to the Statutes and how it can be done. He stated that he feels the County has a fairly simple Transportation Concurrency Plan and suggested having something that would mirror it, or at least have the LPA look at it first.
Mr. Schue questioned whether there was a consensus that the County needs a School Element in the Comprehensive Plan, noting that he feels it does.
Commr. Hanson interjected that, to develop it, the County needs the School Board working very closely with the Board of County Commissioners and staff.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he feels it is important, noting that it is the final tool that the County needs to show its commitment that they are going to tie growth directly to the schools and go from there, although he admitted that it is not as easy as it sounds, noting that (1) it is a complicated issue, and (2) it is going to take some political will to tell people that there is not enough capacity to build a school.
Mr. Schue questioned whether Commr. Cadwell was suggesting that the County have a comprehensive plan element for schools and was informed that he was and that it should include some aspect of concurrency.
Commr. Pool stated that the County would want to make sure that it uses a broad brush in identifying student stations, noting that it should not say that public schools are the only student stations.
Ms. Becky Elswick, a member of the LPA, stated that Commr. Pool’s point was well taken, however, noted that one has to understand that, with public education, parents have a choice. She stated that a developer can provide a charter school, a church school, a private school, etc., but a parent still has the option of putting their child in a local public school, instead of the school that has been provided for their community. She stated that the County cannot require them to put their child in that school.
Commr. Pool interjected that the County has to be careful that it does not deny the opportunity for people to provide alternative education sources and he wants the County to make sure that it uses a broad brush, in that, when it identifies a student station, it does not necessarily mean that it has to be a public school.
Commr. Hill questioned whether, procedurally, the entire list of elements needed to be discussed this date, whether there was a list of elements that should be included, or whether they should be developed over a particular time frame and done individually. She stated that, before discussing an element for schools, she would like to have the School Board present, because she feels when two entities are tied together, both of them should be included in the discussion.
Mr. Carey stated that he would like to see a School Element sometime down the road, however, feels that it is premature at this time. He stated that there are so many issues that the School District has to deal with and would caution anyone that is going to enter into that kind of a close relationship to spend a great deal of time studying what that relationship is going to be. He stated that the County would not want to ever confuse in the minds of the voters what the government’s responsibility of the County is and what the educational responsibility of the School Board is, noting that the County would want to keep those things very separate from one another.
Mr. Schue stated that he feels a School Element is appropriate and would hope that everyone leaves this meeting with a consensus that the County needs to have one, however, noted that there has to be a lot more discussion about the matter. He agreed that there needs to be a joint meeting with the School Board, the BCC, and the LPA, to talk about it and other issues.
Mr. Dunkel interjected that he feels the sooner the Board comes to some kind of an agreement the better. He stated that, if they state they do not want to talk about it at this time, they will be getting off to a bad start.
Mr. Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director, stated that the County has to have a means to fund whatever is adopted, be it public safety, schools, etc., however, noted that, from staff’s perspective, they would like to proceed with it anyway, because they do not want to inadvertently eliminate an option, without having thought through it.
Mr. Sean Parks, a member of the LPA, stated that, going back to the Economic Element, he feels it should state something that would specifically target industry, although it is not known what that is going to be at this time. He then questioned what kind of employment base the County is going to develop, noting that he feels it needs to get that specific in the element.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the IDA is starting those conversations at this time, as far as changing their focus. He stated that Mr. Greg Mihalic, Economic Development and Tourism Director, would be available to tell the LPA what the IDA is looking at and, if they need the IDA to meet with the LPA at some point, he feels they will be glad to do that.
Mr. Schue stated that he felt a meeting between the IDA and the LPA would be appropriate, noting that he feels the only way to tackle the issues is to get everybody in the room. He stated that, when looking at the map of the County, he sees some real opportunities, in that there is a pretty substantial corridor running through the center of the County, being the Florida Turnpike, that could be an economic engine, if the County wanted it to be. He stated that his greatest concern is that the corridor ends up building out as residential, noting that, if it does, the County will have missed a golden opportunity. He stated that he has wondered whether it would make sense to have some type of exploratory committee look at what it would take to bring that type of economic development into the County, noting that he sees the County losing economically, relative to other counties around it, unless it takes a proactive approach.
Commr. Hill stated that staff has a clear focus about each one of the elements and can bring them back, to be discussed individually.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Cultural Affairs Council put together a strategic plan a few years ago, with regard to the Arts and Cultural Element, with the idea of it becoming a part of the Comprehensive Plan. She stated that she feels it is extremely important, therefore, would continue to support it and would like for staff to come back to the Board with a recommendation.
Ms. King stated that staff has looked at the Arts and Cultural Element, because they thought it was equally as important to the economic development of the County to have cultural policies in the Comprehensive Plan, and have talked to Mr. Mihalic, Economic Development and Tourism Director, about possibly incorporating culturally based policies into the Economic Development Element.
Commr. Hanson stated that she feels there needs of be more of a focus on it, even though it relates very closely to Economic Development and Tourism, and that it needs to say that it is very important for the County to develop and enhance what it already has.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he agreed with Commr. Hanson, however, noted that he feels the Board has to weigh it against other funding type needs and they need to make sure how they word it, so that they are not committing themselves, because the County is so far behind in basic type things.
Ms. Foley questioned whether the County would be incorporating the Parks and Recreation Master Plan into one or more of the elements, at which time she questioned the status of the plan and whether or not the consultants were still working on it.
Mr. Neron stated that staff has discussed the matter at the staff level and, if the County has a jump on any one of the elements, it would probably be the Recreation and Open Space Element. He stated that they will then have to make it economically feasible, as to what the County can afford to do and at what point. He stated that they are going to have to sit down and get to the financial feasibility of all the elements, which is where the real discussion will ensue, as they try to balance all the various wishes, wants, and needs. He stated that the Board will then have to make the hard decisions on funding them and how they will be prioritized.
Commr. Hanson interjected that the Comprehensive Plan is full of things that the County committed to do back in 1990, which, due to political will or the fact that the County did not have the money to do it, has not been done, so it is not anything new.
TREATMENT OF COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENTS DURING UPDATE
Mr. Welstead stated that staff will be mending the Comprehensive Plan that currently exists during the first cycle and, when they get to the second cycle, proposals are going to be made to amend an old document, when they will already be in the process of creating a new one, and, if those elements make sense, they could be incorporated into the new document. He stated that staff would like some direction from the Board on how they would like for them to handle the matter.
Commr. Cadwell questioned what the County can do, legally, with regard to the elements.
Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that there is no legal requirement for the County to process any Comprehensive Plan Amendments.
Ms. Newman questioned whether she had correctly understood staff to say that the County would be going ahead with the first cycle and that the second cycle will be postponed until 2006.
Ms. King stated that staff fully intends to have all the required elements in the Comprehensive Plan and the public participation process completed by the end of 2005, however, noted that, with regard to the adoption process, the Department of Community Affairs’ review, etc., it is out of the County’s hands, so it may fall into 2006.
Ms. Newman stated that she was not sure that it was the LPA’s intent to only have one cycle in 2005.
Ms. Foley stated that she felt a second cycle next year might be a lot of work, only for it to come back from DCA directing the County to wait for its new Comprehensive Plan. She stated that, if it is legal to wait, that is what the County should do.
Commr. Hanson stated that she did not have a problem with waiting, because she has been pretty consistent with voting against all of them anyway.
Ms. King informed the Board that the LPA has not met since the County received the ORC (Objections, Recommendations and Comments) Report from DCA, so there has not been any direction or requests since receiving it.
Mr. Welstead stated that he would bring an agenda item back next week, for the Board to make a determination regarding it.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether staff was looking at better defining what he calls villages, those areas like Astor and Mt. Plymouth, where the locational criteria does not work. He noted that the Board has been approving them anyway, even though the rule says they do not fit.
Ms. King stated that they are, noting that they have asked a lot of people what has been confusing or unclear to them about the current plan and map, and a few of the things that were mentioned were commercial locational criteria, timeliness, lots of record, etc. She stated that something they heard over and over again was that the public did not understand the map, so they would like to bring forth some ideas about some of the category names. She stated that the location of the areas will come when staff has all the data put together.
Mr. Welstead stated that staff has discussed taking the current Future Land Use Map and converting the lines into parcels, which he feels they should be able to do without changing anybody’s entitlement. He stated that things like Urban, Urban Expansion, Suburban, etc. do not really tell anybody anything; however, he feels that, if the County were to go to something like medium density residential and high density residential, someone may not know exactly what that is in their mind, but will have a feel about what the categories might be.
Mr. Schue stated that, if the State of Florida is going to focus on how to protect its resources, long term, it cannot be hit and miss, with wetland protection ordinances and things like that, in little bits and pieces, it has got to recognize what the key ecological areas are that it wants to hold onto, long term. He stated that Lake County is blessed with having two of those areas, being the Wekiva/Ocala corridor and the Green Swamp, and it has got to recognize that and put the brakes on, ensuring that those areas are protected, long term. He stated that other parts of the County are going to be subject to growth, because it is coming, and the County needs to recognize those areas where it wants to guide the growth. He stated that he feels the Turnpike can be an engine for the County, if they plan for it correctly. He stated that they need to be mindful of the fact that outside the Green Swamp and the Wekiva/Ocala areas there is a mosaic of lakes and wetlands, which makes it more challenging, but he feels it can be accomplished, recognizing the fact that some of those areas will be developing more into the center part of the State.
Commr. Pool interjected that one has to remember, while the Turnpike runs through Lake County, there have to be exit and entrance points to make it worthwhile. He stated that all the land that runs along the Turnpike means nothing, if there is no way to get off of it or on it, and the last time he checked it cost $24 million to construct a complete interchange off of the Turnpike.
Mr. Schue stated that he was suggesting that the County take a proactive approach to the issue.
Mr. Parks stated that he feels the County needs to get the Water Authority involved with some of the water resource issues and wanted to get the Board’s thoughts on having a Lake County Water Authority staff member attend those meetings where water resource issues will be discussed.
Ms. Newman, Chairman of the LPA, thanked the Board for having this meeting, noting that the LPA has discussed many times the fact that they would like to meet with the Board and have an exchange of ideas. She stated that she felt the meeting was a very positive one.
Commr. Hill stated that the Board would take a short recess and would then reconvene, for the purpose of allowing the County Attorney to give them an update on the Covanta issue.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 11:40 a.m., the Vice Chairman announced that the Board would recess for five minutes.
Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, informed the Board that the County was getting close to the end of its litigation with Covanta and that there were some decisions being made that he wanted to make the Board aware of. He stated that, on December 1, 2004, the bankruptcy judge is to consider the confirmation plan and, when he does, the whole issue will be done. He stated that the refinancing is set for December 13, 2004, and, unfortunately, the interest rates are up a little, but, overall, the financial picture is improved over what Mr. Cooper presented to the Board. He stated that the only issue the County has left to address is the Wachovia issue, which involves a $341,000 legal fee that their attorneys are requesting. He stated that the County agreed that Covanta would pay $100,000 of that fee and the County would be responsible for the rest; however, Wachovia has been good to the County and has agreed to reduce the fee to $200,000, with the County paying $100,000 and Covanta paying $100,000. He stated that they were going to eat the rest of the fee and it turns out that they were, but they wanted their lawyers to eat some of the fee, as well, which their lawyers have not yet agreed to. He stated that they are about $45,000 apart on the issue. He stated that the County had to make a commitment to stay with Wachovia for four years, which the Clerk, James C. Watkins, was willing to do. He stated that the County’s options would be to fight Wachovia’s lawyers in court, in New York, which he noted staff is evaluating, or to accept the deal, if they cannot get more than that, but, before making a decision, he wanted to bring the matter to the Board’s attention, for direction. He stated that it looked likely that, on December 1, 2004, it would be done and the only thing that would be left would be the refinancing, which is to occur on December 13, 2004, at which point he will turn the matter over to Mr. Neron, the County Manager, and Mr. Cooper, Support Services Director, Program Analysis and Contract Management, and the lawyers will no longer be involved.
Mr. Cooper interjected that the interest rate increased by one-quarter point, making the current rate 4.24 %.
Mr. Minkoff noted that Covanta representatives would like to meet with the Board on December 15, 2004, to, hopefully, establish a new relationship with the County.
BOY SCOUT LUNCHEON
Commr. Pool stated that he would be chairing a Boy Scout Luncheon and requested permission to use the Board’s logo on some letters that he would be mailing out, noting that he would be paying for the stationery. He stated that he wanted to make sure that the Board did not have a problem with him using said logo, noting that a disclaimer would be inserted on the bottom of each letter stating that it is not paid for or funded by taxpayer money.
It was the consensus of the Board that Commr. Pool use the Board’s logo.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 11:50 a.m.
DEBBIE STIVENDER, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK