A SPECIAL JOINT MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
AND THE MINNEOLA CITY COUNCIL
APRIL 17, 2006
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session with the Minneola City Council on Monday, April 17, 2006, at 7:00 p.m., at Minneola City Hall Council Chambers, 800 North U.S. Highway 27, Minneola, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were Catherine C. Hanson, Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Jennifer Hill; Robert A. Pool and Debbie Stivender. Others present for Lake County were Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Cindy Hall, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; and Judy McAuley, Deputy Clerk.
The Minneola City Council was represented by Mayor David Yeager, Vice Mayor Ed Earl, Council Members Sue Cordova, Shane Perreault and Joseph Teri, and by City Manager Bruce Behrens and City Attorney Scott Gerken.
CALL TO ORDER / PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Mayor Yeager called the meeting to order, led the Pledge of Allegiance and thanked the Board of County Commissioners (Board) for their attendance.
REVIEW OF MINNEOLA’S VISIONING
Mr. Tim Green, Green Consulting Group, Inc., gave a presentation on Minneola’s visioning and noted that it was presented to the Minneola City Council in February 2006. (A copy is included in the backup material.) He explained that the City had been working property by property, a parcel-based plan, rather than comprehensive planning. Because Lake County is updating its Comprehensive Plan for 2025, County staff asked the City to update its area and show what the City wants in its Joint Planning Area. The presentation included:
Mr. Green pointed out that the plan is just a vision and is an ongoing process. He mentioned how Minneola’s building permits compared with other municipalities in 2004 and 2005.
Commr. Cadwell asked Mr. Green, as a professional planner, if any of this will work without the road network. Mr. Green agreed that the road network is the key. Regarding projects since 1996, the Minneola City Council has been diligent in planning for a bypass so that traffic could get to State Road 50 without going through Minneola to the intersection at U.S. Highway 27. That alignment has changed over time and many of those roads have not been built because the developments have not been built.
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS BY MINNEOLA CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
Council Member Perreault asked what the Board is doing to specifically aid the School Board in making it easier to build schools. Commr. Hanson remarked that concurrency, requiring that schools be in place when the development is platted, should help with some of the funding. The cities are working with the Board on that process. Commr. Cadwell stated that the concurrency law will work if it is written to protect the School System. If watered down in an effort to get all the cities to agree to it, it may not work. He stated that the other option is to say “no.” Council Member Perreault asked that the concurrency law not be watered down.
Council Member Perreault asked what criteria the developers are being held to in order to raise the bar in Lake County, pointing out that the City has asked builders to help with schools, roads, etc. Commr. Hanson stated that the County has traditionally done that to a great extent. Commr. Pool explained that the impact fees have been raised to the highest level which is defensible. He opined that the Board would support additional increases, if defensible. Commr. Hanson remarked that developer contributions toward roads wind up being a trade-off against road impact fees.
Vice Mayor Earl stated that the visioning map is not a forever map and is not cast in stone and that certain Council Members did not agree with the entire plan. He stated that he asked that it be moved out to the Utility District line. He stated that he does not agree with a school being built by the Turnpike.
Commr. Hanson commended the City Council for their vision while noting that a larger employment center would provide a better tax base. She stated that the provision for affordable housing is a tremendous need throughout Lake County. Vice Mayor Earl agreed that he would like to see a larger employment center.
Council Member Teri asked the County to include bike trails, separate strips of land, everywhere roads are added or improved. He advised that the Council is having preliminary discussions about a multi-purpose stadium and the County might be asked to contribute some money in the future. He stated that North Grassy Lake Road is a segment that will be built at some point. Until that time, he asked if it could be improved in order to sustain concrete trucks and dump trucks. He stated that County approval would be necessary for renovations, without altering the width, or resurfacing in order to move forward with Founders Ridge. Commr. Cadwell commented that the only way to fix that road is to tear it out and build an entire road. Commr. Pool advised that there is a proposal to take the road up and rebuild the road to County standards.
Regarding the multi-purpose stadium, Council Member Teri explained that it might be a 4,500 seat stadium with a minor league baseball team as the primary tenant, allowing dates for County and City events, concerts, boxing matches, and craft, art or car shows. It could also be used for football with possible sharing with the City or a high school. Commr. Hanson commented that there are a lot of opportunities throughout the County, such as the proposed performing arts center. Questions regarding a multi-purpose facility include when and where, who the players are and who will help with funding. Commr. Cadwell suggested that the Council talk with other counties, such as Osceola, regarding costs and benefits.
Regarding trails, Commr. Hanson stated that the Board is firmly committed, as has been demonstrated in South Lake County and other parts of the County. The Board recognizes that trails are an amenity to the citizens and can create a destination for non-residents.
Council Member Cordova stated that the City has very stringent ordinances related to sloping that do not allow cutting down the tops of hills. She stated that recent developer’s agreements with the City prohibit variances on sloping. She asked that the County adhere to the City’s sloping requirements or similar requirements when working around the City, including road improvements. Regarding endangered species, she stated that she is adamant in not allowing “take” permits. She stated that it is as easy to ask the developer to set aside the land as it is to allow the state to get the money for other property for endangered species. She expressed concern with transitional spaces between cities or the County. She would not like to see a large development come in next door to five and ten-acre tracts. She suggested sharing information on buffering requirements. She added that she is as concerned about trails as she is sloping but trails can be added while we cannot get hills back. Mr. Behrens confirmed that he will give Ms. Hall a copy of the City’s ordinance (regarding sloping).
Regarding wildlife, endangered species and open space, Commr. Hanson hopes that more clustered developments will be allowed. Commr. Cadwell stated that the science needs to be considered in that process because saving three or five acres does not help some species. Commr. Hanson commented that the County last week approved acceptance of a large piece of property in a development south of S.R. 50 for sand skink habitat and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will use it for a scientific research project and for educational purposes.
Regarding active recreation such as ball fields, Mayor Yeager explained that the recreation business is new to the City. He stated that the Minneola Recreation Department, located at City Hall, is a great asset and the recreation facility is always packed with residents. The City had hoped that the Hagan development would be under way by now but nothing has happened and there is a new developer. He confirmed that the City needs to make great strides. Commr. Cadwell requested that communication be kept open on things that can be done together.
Mayor Yeager stated that this is a great moment in time. While the City Council Members have different opinions, they work it out, and they are passionate about the vision. He stated that there are a lot of people in Lake County who have owned their property 50, 60, or 70 years and we cannot run over them just because we have an idea. He stated that, if we take the gentle approach and make everything fit in, we will have done a good thing at the end of the day. Commr. Pool stated that the MPO (Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization) might be a good venue to ensure that they are on board with some of the ideas that are agreed to by the City and by the County. He stated that the roads are key and a connection to the Turnpike should be thought about long-term, five or tens years out, although it might happen sooner.
Mr. Green explained that part of a developer agreement includes a school site and an active recreation facility which includes five baseball fields, a soccer field and a football field. All are to be funded and built by the developer at an estimated construction cost of more than $1 million. Timing is based on the date the wastewater treatment facility will be available. The fields are required to be completed in the first phase of development.
JOINT PLANNING AGREEMENT
Mr. Gerken referred to the draft Joint Planning Agreement (included in the backup material) between the City of Minneola and Lake County. He stated that the City realizes the need and benefit to enter into an agreement and noted that the maps may need to be tweaked. He hopes an agreement will be adopted in a short time. Mr. Minkoff clarified that the draft agreement calls for a unified set of Land Development Regulations (LDRs) in the County and City. Commr. Pool expressed certainty that issues, such as topography, density, trails, green space, and wildlife corridors, can be resolved. Commr. Hanson stated that she likes the idea of the notification areas which keeps the County in the process.
PROPOSED PD&E STUDY FOR MINNEOLA RIDGE AREA
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Director, Lake County Public Works Department, presented the draft Interlocal Agreement between Lake County and the City of Minneola for Project Development and Environmental Study (PD&E). Discussions have taken place over the last three to four years with the County, the City and developers regarding traffic patterns and growth. He stated that three years ago a couple of road projects were put on the City’s impact fee program with the County and some developments have been approved while others are pending. A PD&E study for Minneola would encompass the area from Hancock Road and Old Highway 50 to the Turnpike to U.S. Highway 27. The Minneola Ridge Area-Wide Traffic Study was completed by Tindale-Oliver in May 2005 and was presented to area citizens. Mr. Stivender advised that an interlocal agreement was done with Lady Lake and Fruitland Park, and involves growth in Sumter County, and a Tavares agreement will be heard tomorrow, April 18, and involves the Old Highway 441 (Old 441) corridor. A proposal has been made to Mount Dora relating to Old 441 and an agreement with Montverde is pending relative to C.R. 455. He explained that the proposed agreement between Lake County and the City of Minneola would involve a PD&E study that would be funded through road impact fees in this Benefit District and would be managed by the City, based on their proposed Joint Planning Area. A stipulation would be that certain emphasis would be made on areas outside the development areas because there are certain significant segments of this corridor that are not in a developer’s property. Mr. Stivender advised that a dollar amount has not been assigned to the proposed study.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that the portion of Sullivan Road, west of Grassy Lake Road, should be studied as a cul-de-sac or dead-end because that is not a good place to get out to U.S. Highway 27. Commr. Pool agreed that the cul-de-sac is a great idea and stated that he said that in a motion many months ago. Mr. Stivender stated that the Tindale-Oliver study put Sullivan Road in a lower level with Grassy Lake Road being the principal. Vice Mayor Earl agreed that there needs to be a solution and he does not see that Sullivan Road can be left as it is with the proposed school.
Mr. Stivender explained that an issue is the principal road versus the spine roads. The corridor study would include the principal roadway, Grassy Lake Road, as well as every other road in Minneola, the Hancock Road North Extension and the proposed KB site. He stated that Minneola City Hall is a perfect location to hold the public hearings and that the process might take more than six months. He advised that answers to many questions will come out of the public meetings.
Council Member Cordova, in referring to Item 2, City Obligations, C, of the draft agreement, stated that she believes that a number-of-days stipulation, possibly 30 days, should be included for payment of invoices by the County. She stated that the agreement includes an “out” for County termination but not City termination. Mr. Minkoff pointed out that Item 4, Termination (Page 3), allows either party to terminate the agreement with thirty (30) days’ written notice to the other. Mr. Gerken advised that, as the City Attorney for Fruitland Park, they have had no such problems with the PD&E agreement with the County. He noted that the prompt payment act is referenced and assures that payment will be made on a timely basis. He stated that the language can be tweaked.
Commr. Cadwell confirmed that this agreement will come back before both bodies for approval.
Council Member Teri asked if it makes sense to allow Mr. Lefkowitz (Howard Lefkowitz, Leeds Holdings Southeast, Inc., developer) to do upgrades on segments of North Grassy Lake Road in order to move forward on the project and allow the City to begin collecting money for the wastewater treatment facility. Mr. Stivender stated that his office has received a set of construction plans for the development from the City’s staff. He is aware of the request to refurbish and restructure that narrow piece of roadway. He stated that a maintenance map must be filed, and construction plans must be approved, before any restructuring can go forward. As the Board approves the maintenance map, a title issue will be cleared. Council Member Cordova pointed out that there is no place for that traffic, perhaps between 400-800 trips per day, to go if the road is upgraded and used and closed a second time. The only alternate route is through a neighborhood that houses the elementary school. She stated that she would hope that the County would not come back with a recommendation to allow them to do that. Mr. Behrens suggested that he and Mr. Stivender should meet with Mr. Lefkowitz and the Reserve people and bring a plan that makes sense to the Council and the Board. He opined that they are prepared to come up with a solution on how to move development forward while planning for the PD&E. Council Member Cordova asked for a further explanation of the conflict. She stated that they want to use that roadway without having right of way and without being able to do upgrades. Mr. Stivender reiterated that a maintenance map would have to be filed and accepted by the Board before anything can be done to the road. He stated that the structural integrity of the road is in question and needs to be beefed up by completely rebuilding the road. When the PD&E study is done and right of way is acquired, the natural progression will be to build two more lanes somewhere else and refurbish these lanes into something more appropriate and at grade, based on a design for a four-lane segment. He agreed that would be two closings, one before development of the project and one after development.
Mr. Berens stated, for the record, that they have received notification from DOT (Florida Department of Transportation) that a traffic light has been warranted for North Grassy Lake Road. He asked for a green light tonight from the Council and the Board to move ahead on bringing a proposal back and allowing a meeting with the developers. He stated that the plan will be brought back to both bodies prior to construction.
Mayor Yeager stated again that the road has no integrity and it never did. He stated that it positively needs County standards, if it is the two-lane now, and if right of way is acquired in the future. He stated that there is not one reason a dump truck should be on that road at this time.
Mr. Stivender confirmed that they will do their best to build a good road that will handle the traffic.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK