FEBRUARY 23, 2006

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, February 23, 2006, at 6:30 p.m., in the Library Community Room, Eustis, Florida.

            ROLL CALL

            Mayor Jonnie C. Hale stated that Jim Myers, Senior Director, Finance/City Clerk, would proceed with the roll call.  It was noted that the following were present from the City of Eustis: City Commissioners – Mayor Jonnie C. Hale; Vice Mayor Gwendolyn M. Manning; Commissioner James T. Rotella; Commissioner Frank E. Royce; and Commissioner Evelyn H. Smith.  The following Lake County Commissioners were present:  Catherine C. Hanson, Chairman; Welton Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Jennifer Hill; Robert A. Pool; and Debbie Stivender.  Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Cindy Hall, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager; Carol Stricklin, Director of Growth Management; Amye King, Deputy Director of Growth Management; Mike Stearman, City Manager; Alton Roane, Senior Director, Development Services; Lewis Stone, City Attorney; Judy Roberts, Deputy City Clerk; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.

            Ms. Hale noted that everyone has received a packet of agenda items.  She explained that some of the City’s big concerns are developments that are coming into Eustis.  They are receiving the City’s services, water and sewer; however, they are building under the guidelines of Lake County.  So it eliminates their open space, active recreation, and different issues that are important to them as a City, and it affects their future planned goals.  They are hoping to work through these items of concern while developing their joint planning area (JPA).

            Cindy Hall, County Manager, stated that she did not know if she could speak to actual areas, but staff did prepare a proposed revision to the JPA agreement and thought they might try and incorporate into that agreement many of the concerns that the City has communicated to them.  Staff sent the draft, which has been presented to everyone, to consider as a starting point.

            Amye King, Deputy Director of Growth Management, explained that she put together a JPA agreement for them to look at tonight; it is fairly lengthy; and it was just distributed yesterday.  Staff felt that they had addressed most of the issues that were listed as concerns by the Mayor including cooperation between the City and the County and ensuring that applications for developments would be distributed to the City in a timely manner for proper review.  They also addressed other items including inter-governmental coordination with Public Safety and Emergency Services.

            Alton Roane, Senior Director, Development Services, stated that the City thinks that the agreement represents an excellent beginning point, even though they still need to address a few more details as to the specifics.  There are a few things that the City would like to see added to the agreement.  Mr. Roane stated that they want to make sure that the County has the most current edition of their JPA and review procedures that they will be following and know the extent to which they are actually going to be applied.  Mr. Roane stated that so far they do not have anything really objectionable.

            Mike Stearman, City Manager, stated that he feels that the proposed agreement is a good starting point, and it will involve what the Board has faced with other cities, in terms of standards and compatibility of projects.  Mr. Stearman pointed out the projects shown on the map that have been submitted to the County’s Planning Department for review noting that most of them have not yet requested water and sewer from the City and that this was a point of confusion for a number of years.  Even though the City was providing letters saying that these services were available, they had not yet received applications for them; the County was approving the projects without the City having agreed to provide the services, but this has been addressed and resolved with the help of Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager.  So the areas shown on the map are projects that have applied for services, but the City has not yet committed water and sewer.  He explained that these are examples of projects that are located on the City limit lines; some of them could be annexed into the City in a year or two from now, as opposed to being developed in the County.  They are concerned because they are getting developments faster than they can get the changes in the JPA and standards that would satisfy both of them.

            Commr. Pool asked whether the City Commission agrees that they would still like the County to at least have them come to them to make those requests because, after all, they are the provider of water and sewer, rather than going in the direction of well and septic; Ms. Hale explained that the City is under the sewer district, so they really have to give them sewer.

            Commr. Cadwell wanted to know, out of all of those projects in the last several years, what was actually happening historically, and the time frame that these projects are annexing into the City.

            Mr. Roane explained that right now, because the City is having a discussion about their open space, they are going to the County to get their land use change or zoning change and getting their preliminary plat approval.  When the City responds to the County’s Planning Department telling them that they do not have a contract to provide water and sewer, some of them are coming back to the City, and they are requiring them to go to the City Commission for approval.  He noted that they were doing this at the staff level until these issues started arising.  He explained that right now they are doing what they were doing in South Lake County; the developers are trying to avoid their rules by going to the County first.

            Commr. Cadwell explained that, in Clermont, they basically established a joint set of Land Development Regulations (LDRs), and he asked if that is the extent of what the City of Eustis wants them to look at.

            Ms. Hale noted that the City would like to look at the same type of regulations.  She pointed out that, in their packet, there is smaller map just like the one being shown, and it gives them the number of lots that they want to put into those subdivisions, and it shows which ones the City has already said yes to; but there are quite a lot that they have not given approval to yet.  She stated that Ms. King and her department have worked very well with them on some projects but, if it is zoned for five houses per acre, they come to the County and say they want five houses per acre, they have low land, and they will do clustering, a concept that is coming in the future.  The City would like to see the County do some of the things that they do in the City.  She explained that, right now, if the land use is there, they get everything done through planning, and then it comes to the County on a consent agenda, because the Board really does not have any input to make a difference with their land use.  She noted that the City hopes to annex some of these, and some of them they are required to annex.  The main thing is that they are developing to the County’s LDRs and rules.  When they come to the City, such as the Charlie Johnson project that has three sides of the City of Eustis, they develop using the guidelines of Lake County, and they came to them because the City put off giving them water and sewer, and then they agreed to do some active recreation and give a little bit of open space.  Ms. Hale stated that, when people see these projects coming that are surrounded by Eustis, they think it is something that the City has approved.  One project may come in without all of the regulations; another may be required to meet all of the regulations yet they are right next to them.  It would help both parties if they could work on this issue.

            Commr. Hanson stated that, as they move through the agreement, many of these issues may have to come back for them to address.

            Commr. Pool asked whether the City meets before an annexation, and Mr. Stearman explained that, when they come to the City and ask for a service, they require them to sign an annexation agreement, and then it goes to the City Commission, which is their main Land Planning Agency (LPA); they do not have zoning; they have land use.  The problem they are having is that they are getting their approvals in the County and then coming to the City, and then they are in a position where the County has approved a development that cannot go in on individual well and septic tanks now because the County has basically platted it, and there was no agreement to provide them services.  So the next step is to move forward with the JPA. 

            Lewis Stone, Attorney for the City of Eustis, stated that they could have essentially identical design standards for those planning areas, whether they went to the City or the County, because they would still have to meet the design criteria.  They have a concern about how quickly they can do that because they do have some projects in the pipeline and, as to those things in the pipeline, the County has based those on the old agreement that provides the City an opportunity for comment, but just knowing that they are moving forward with the idea of having consistent design standards should eliminate a lot of that concern.  The problem that the City has is that, when the projects have received approvals through the County, the City could make a decision not to provide services to them but, if they do not provide them, somebody else will at that point because they have already gotten their development approvals; that has been the frustration and why the City has taken some of those projects.  He thinks that, if they can incorporate that idea into the agreement, as suggested by Commr. Cadwell, it would help to resolve this problem.

            Commr. Cadwell stated that, when the Clermont Council and the Board directed their staffs to pick the most stringent rule, whether it be a County rule, or a City rule, that rule was to be the rule incorporated into the JPA.  There were a few areas that they could not come to an agreement on but they had those items come back before the two boards.  The mindset that they had with the City of Clermont was that whatever was the most stringent was going to be what they were going to do.  They still have a responsibility to those County residents that may be in the City in the next ten years, so they tried to look at a realistic period of time.  In the Comprehensive Plan process that they are going through now, he thinks they are recognizing that this growth is going to be in the cities.  From their end, they want to do whatever they can to make it compatible with the City as they go forward with the process.  Maybe they can begin with an interlocal agreement, as suggested by Mr. Stone, before they resolve everything to at least cover these trouble issues.

            Mr. Rotella stated that communication is a good issue between commission and commission rather than just staff to staff, so that they are in agreement before any kind of commitment is given to a developer, and that they are familiar with the City’s LDRs; they do not get any final development order or any site plan approval until they come through the City and go through a commission hearing.

            It was noted that right now the City’s open space requirement is 25% for suburban residential or straight land use.  Mr. Royce pointed out that there is a sheet in the backup material that talks about the City’s recreation space that they require noting that the recreation is in addition to the open space. 

            Mr. Stone pointed out that these projects are not fully platted when they come to the City; they do not plat them until the infrastructure is in but they have their development approvals and their preliminary plans.

            Mr. Minkoff stated that, if the developer comes in and says Eustis utilities, they will not get platted until Eustis provides the utilities.  They will never get a final approval when central utilities are required.  Even in Mount Plymouth, when the phases come in for Sorrento Hills, they will check with the City for each phase before they allow a plat to be recorded to make certain that they have agreed and that they have the utilities that are there.

            Mr. Stearman stated that the City is starting to require the homes that are adjacent to them, the ones that they know within the next year or two are going to be in the City, to put up front the equivalent of their impact fees for recreation and fire and other things, because those impacts are going to be almost immediate.  He noted that the City has police, fire, library, recreation, water and sewer impact fees.

            Discussion occurred regarding topics that they want to decide on tonight, with it being noted that impact fees is going to one thing that the City would like to discuss with the Board and perhaps sharing the fees, or developing some way to replace them, and they can also use some criteria on the timing issue.  Another issue is enforceability of the agreement, with Mr. Stearman noting that there have already been two bad experiences, and they are certainly going to be looking at that; and they need to look at other JPAs, and other outside water and sewer providers noting that the 180 District does cover sewer.

            Mr. Minkoff explained that, in the past when they had cities disagreeing on the boundaries of the agreement, they either asked the cities to resolve them, which they did in South Lake, or they put the area in both of the cities JPA and called it a three-party; Leesburg and Tavares did that.  The Board has never really said Clermont should go here and Minneola there, if they could not agree amongst themselves where to go.

            Discussion occurred regarding the process that has been taken by the cities to resolve issues, with Mr. Stone noting that the City of Eustis entered into an interlocal agreement with Mount Dora, and everyone feels it has enforceability and they have not had a problem since that was done.  One of the things that he feels should be discussed further would be that this basically mandates the City to provide the service in the area, and they need to figure out whether or not they want to enter into an agreement that mandates them to provide service.

            Mr. Rotella asked whether they are going to differentiate contiguous from non-contiguous areas that are in the JPA, in terms of annexation.

            Mr. Stearman explained that, in terms of enclaves, the City did all of them that were ten acres or less; they still have a lot that are larger than ten acres, but they have not addressed those in State law yet.

            Jim Stivender, Director of Public Works, showed them a map identifying all the enclaves.

            Mr. Welstead stated that there are two additional elements on the standards that he would like to bring forward from their experience with Clermont.  In terms of the reference made to the best or most stringent, one of the things that they found difficult at the staff level, for instance, was landscaping, and he feels that these types of items can be worked out at a staff level and would be beneficial to all.  The other element was the applicability of these joint LDRs within the City of Eustis.  There is the question, in those circumstances where the County’s regulations are stricter, about whether they should be applied within the City of Eustis.  If that is the intent of the area outside of Eustis, then perhaps that should be the intent inside the City as well, but Commr. Cadwell pointed out that the sign ordinance would be a good example when considering this process.  Commr. Hanson pointed out that roads would be another issue, when the City annexes property.

            There was discussion about the County’s Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), with Commr. Hanson noting that she would like to get a little bit more in writing in terms of the regulations and requirements for PUDs so that the public has a better understanding of the process.

            Mr. Royce pointed out that, in regards to the area that falls within the Wekiva Protection Area, the City is having a workshop on February 28, 2006 to discuss some changes to the report that they had to address from the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) on their Comprehensive Plan and the Wekiva.

            Mr. Rotella explained that the City has different open space requirements based on land use categories.  It was noted that the City did do an open space chart, but it has not been completed yet.

            Mr. Minkoff noted that Mr. Roane has been attending the County’s LPA meetings where they are discussing open space, so he is sure that he is bringing the City Commission that information.


            Discussion occurred regarding the Lake County Fairgrounds, with Ms. Hale noting that the City has a piece of land that will be a better access for the fair than what the County has now, as shown in the backup material.  The property is located on CR 44A and SR 19, with some of it being wet; 58 acres total; 48 acres are developable and are located in the jurisdictional lines; and two to three acres of wetlands could be filled.

            Commr. Cadwell stated that he knows that the County does not need to put $6 million into the existing site, but they are going to have to come up with another answer.

            Mr. Stivender explained that staff has checked their soil and flood maps noting that there are not any great soils, but the existing site does not have any great soils either, and the City’s property has the same type of clay as they have at the existing site.  They will have to excavate those clays out of the site, so that they will not have cracks in the buildings and foundations.  There are challenges with this site, from a soil standpoint, just like the existing site.

            Commr. Cadwell stated that he would like to see them at least spend a little money to do some research on it to see if it makes any sense at all.  It was noted that water and sewer are available at the City site, and a soil testing would be helpful.  It was noted that the County would agree to investigate it further.

            In terms of road maintenance, Mr. Minkoff pointed out that this is one of the issues that they will work out in the interlocal agreement.

            Mr. Stivender noted that Mr. Roane attended the meeting that staff had a couple of weeks ago about impact fees, and they discussed the issue of providing customer service to the area, particularly in the residential areas that are either enclaves or near the city limits and noting that the City can provide urban type residential services easier than the County can.  They need to work out some kind of agreement so the customer can be served quicker and better and more efficiently.  It was noted that this could be a part of the JPA.

            Commr. Cadwell wanted to know if they should go ahead and have both of those properties appraised or wait until they have the soil testing.

            It was noted that the Board wanted to wait for the soil testing results on the City’s property.


            Fire Chief Roy Tremain stated that Gary Kaiser, Director of Public Safety, and Chief Fred Cobb met this morning in regards to the interlocal agreement that the City has had with Lake County since October 2001.  When they originally signed this agreement, they were running about 300 calls a year; now there are about 3,000 calls a year.  Between them and the other municipalities, they could not cover all of them.  They signed the agreement and it has worked well since that time.  The County has added another station, Station 72, on CR 44, which is an ALS station, and it has worked well as he explained.  About a year ago, they agreed they would move out a little bit further so they need to refine their agreement a little bit, since it has been since 2001.  They have worked well together, they have been able to train together, they have fought fires together and, in terms of enclaves, the City has some immediately to the south of their station and obviously they have a quicker response than Station 27 out on CR 44B.  The City just redid their fire ordinance and brought it more in line with the State requirements.  He noted that their IOS in the City is three.

            Mr. Stearman explained that the City is moving to change their LDRs to address some of the issues relating to emergency access.

            Mr. Kaiser noted that the IOS rating in the County is six to nine, and they are working to get it lower.  They fully expect that number to drop even more in the next 12 to 18 months.  The equipment and improvements that they made towards the end of the rating and evaluation period were not part of this last study.   He stated that he would like to compliment Chief Tremain and the City of Eustis on how closely they work together.  First response and remnants of that have proven to save millions of dollars over a long period of time.  As they look at joint planning, any discussions with the City about their agreement are very important components.  They are talking about a lot of money in infrastructure and building fire stations, and the ability to work together on where they should be located regardless of boundaries is absolutely critical.

            Commr. Cadwell stated that they need to create a timetable, since staff is really in a time crunch with the Comprehensive Plan, but they need to have a realistic time to try and meet again.  He hopes that the staff, in knowing the conversation they have had today, if they find developers trying to get around what may be the end product, that they let them know that the Board is not going to look favorably on that.  He knows that, with land use issues, it is a little hard to say that they are not going to hear them, but certainly they will send a message to those folks that they intend to work this out and that they may want to wait.  He stated that their two staffs may be able to get together and bring something back to the individual boards at the next meeting.

            Commr. Hanson noted that Ms. Hale had asked the Eustis Institute to set up the Traffic Advisory Committee, and she thought it was a very successful meeting with the folks from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) but, yesterday at the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting, Commissioner. Rotella made the motion that the MPO help with the writing of the RFPs to get a request for funding, and to start that process, not only for CR 19 as it goes through the traffic patterns of the City, but also the bigger picture regionally for transportation, and not only just for Eustis, but bringing in Leesburg and Mount Dora and that whole area around Eustis.

            It was noted that both staffs are going to get together, and then get back with the City and the Board in a month to six weeks.

            Ms. Hall stated that she will talk with Ms. King and staff to make sure that this timeframe will work.  Ms. King felt that the agreement could be done within that timeframe, but perhaps the LDRs might take a little longer.


            There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 7:45 p.m.