MARCH 14, 2007

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special joint meeting with the Cities of Clermont, Groveland, Minneola and Montverde on Wednesday, March 14, 2007, at 6:30 p.m., in the Community Room, Lake-Sumter Community College, South Lake Campus, Clermont, Florida.  Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Debbie Stivender; Jennifer Hill; Elaine Renick; and Linda Stewart.  Others present were: Sanford A. (Sandy) Minkoff, County Attorney; Cindy Hall, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; County Staff; Representatives from the Cities of Clermont, Groveland, Minneola, and Montverde; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.


Commr. Cadwell informed those present that presentations would be given by the County’s consultants regarding various road projects in the south Lake County area, at which time the consultants and county staff will make themselves available to those present, to answer any questions there might be about the proposed projects.  At this time, he had those individuals on the panel introduce themselves and it was pointed out that maps of the various studies were on display around the room.


Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Public Works Director, addressed the panel stating that there is a request on the Agenda for the April 3, 2007 Board Meeting for approval to award the Johns Lake Road/Hancock Road Intersection Project.  He discussed road projects and developments that currently exist in the south Lake County area, at which time he displayed a map, noting that the roads shown in green are programmed and funded for construction, however, those shown in yellow are programmed and funded and the County has a network plan to address the traffic patterns that exist and are moving forward with either a design project or rights of way acquisition, but there are no construction dollars to deal with them at this time.  He stated that those roads shown in blue are more of a “wish list”, noting that they are not programmed, but are just lines on a map that the County has been talking about.  He reviewed the status of various road projects in the south Lake County area, ongoing and proposed, at which time he noted that some of them will blend together, as development occurs.  He stated that staff is looking at obtaining direction from all the elected officials, noting that it is going to take everyone present to put some type of program together, to make the transportation network work.


Mr. T. J. Fish, Executive Director, Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (LSMPO), addressed the panel and summarized what is currently happening, in terms of funding projects on SR 50 and US 27, at which time he reviewed some graphics contained in the panel’s backup material, noting that some portions of the projects are funded for construction, but some are not.  He stated that, while the County is still trying to get funding for some much needed widening on both of those roads, from four lanes to six lanes, along SR 50 a lot of that six lane capacity is already being used, thus the reason the current four lanes are so congested.  He stated that it is going to be at least a year before that portion of SR 50 that is funded, which is the four lane portion from the Turnpike to Hancock Road, is widened to six lanes and there is no guarantee that the unfunded portion, from Hancock Road to US 27, is going to be widened, until the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) takes action to put money for that construction into their work program.  He noted that the project does not include the interchange itself, which is projected to be in the $60 million range.  He stated that the good news is that it is going to be the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (LSMPO) trip proposal for this year, which is a 50/50 match, and, rather than using taxpayer dollars, they are going to propose to use the developer’s contribution from Plaza Collina as the County’s local match.  He stated that they are optimistic that FDOT will respond and perhaps fund it for sometime between 2011 and 2013.

Mr. Fish stated that, with regard to US 27, FDOT started widening it from four lanes to six lanes in the Minneola area, but that is the only project in the area that is actually funded for construction – everything else that FDOT is putting construction dollars into is from the Polk County line north.  He stated that the portion that is unfunded is from Boggy Marsh Road to the interchange, which involves some major expenses, noting that they are looking at the cost being $22 to $25 million per mile, up from $13 to $15 million per mile just three years ago, so as long as the County has unfunded projects out there, it is very important that it not count on SR 50 being expanded, because the money is not there yet.


Mr. Kent Black, Officer in Charge and Vice President, HNTB Corporation, addressed the panel, stating that he was a consultant for the City of Minneola, and, in terms of the study, they are just about at the point where they are going to start it, noting that they are still getting contracts signed.  He stated that Mr. Stivender had mentioned a number of area wide projects, at which time he noted that, with regard to this particular project, South Hancock Road is currently being designed and, from Lake Louisa Road on US 27, there will be an extension of South Hancock Road that will come up to Hartwood Marsh Road and continue on the alignment of Hancock Road that exist today up to North Hancock Road, which terminates at Old SR 50.  He stated that the Minneola Collector Project Development and Environmental (PD&E) Study project begins in the area of Old SR 50, near where North Hancock Road terminates today and extends north towards the Turnpike.  He noted that the next presentation will be a discussion of the potential new interchange at the Turnpike and the corridor study then extends towards the west, where it terminates at US 27.  He gave a brief overview of the PD&E study process, noting that it is a process that looks at the engineering conceptual needs of the corridor and also at the environmental evaluation of the corridor that they are looking to add the roadway into.  He stated that the backbone of the study is public involvement, at which time he noted that they are looking at an April 1st kickoff for the study and anticipate an approximate 12 month schedule, during which they will be having extensive public involvement and will be working with the large land owners along the corridor, as they develop what the alignment is and try to avoid any environmentally sensitive or residentially sensitive areas.

Mr. Black stated that there is a need for the extended corridor, due to the tremendous growth in the area; the need for additional roadway capacity for the amount of development that has been approved, or is in the process of being approved; a substandard roadway system in the area; the potential of the Turnpike interchange requires that there be some local and regional infrastructure in place, to support that improvement; traffic safety issues that need to be addressed at a number of intersections; connectivity opportunities for the local trail system, expanding it; and coordination with surrounding developers in the area.  He stated that another need for the corridor stems from an increase in the volume of traffic projected for the area, with some key locations being Turkey Farm Road at CR 50; N. Grassy Lake Road, near US 27; and US 27.  He stated that they have projected out to 2020 and see about a 95% increase in the traffic volume for said areas.  He noted that they would be further developing their traffic analysis, as they begin the study.  He discussed some existing corridor characteristics, such as unpaved and paved roadway sections throughout the corridor, and they will be evaluating the viability of the existing corridors and be looking at the appropriate locations to establish the alignment and connections to the proposed development areas.  He stated that there are a lot of subdivisions that have been approved and a number that have been proposed.  He stated that, with regard to public involvement, they will have a live website, where they will be able to communicate findings and information and post documents for people to review; they will have a number of newsletters, particularly in advance of public meetings, of which they anticipate holding four – a kickoff meeting, one to discuss alternatives, one to discuss a preferred alternative, and one where they will take formal input and testimony regarding the recommendations of the study.  He stated that, throughout the public involvement program, they are going to partner with the City of Minneola and hold a number of workshops, where they will work with the City to develop the appropriate solutions for the corridor.  He stated that they anticipate engaging a project advisory group to include the City of Minneola, the County, the City of Clermont, land owners and developers along the corridor, Florida’s Turnpike enterprise, the Lake-Sumter MPO, homeowners associations, and FDOT District 5 representatives.  He stated that they want to develop a consensus along the corridor that meets the needs of the various entities, so they want everybody to be involved in the decision making process.  He stated that some conceptual design issues that they are going to have to look at, in developing their recommendations for the width of the right of way, are what a typical section of the roadway is anticipated to look like, and where it is physically placed along the corridor.  He stated that they will be looking at horizontal and vertical alignment issues; pedestrian features and expanding the County’s trail system; future land development; right of way needs; connectivity to the Florida Turnpike interchange; the northeast corridor; US 27 tie-in; utility coordination; and opportunities to improve aesthetics.



Ms. Karen Campblin, Community Involvement Coordinator/Planner and Project Manager for the Minneola Interchange at Florida’s Turnpike, Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin, addressed the Board and provided a brief overview of the Turnpike Interchange project, at which time she gave a slide presentation, showing the existing regional access, noting that the roadway currently consists of two two-lane rural collector roads in the area, which are disjointed, which prevents easy access to the Turnpike, to go either north on US 27, or to head south towards the Orlando area, on SR 50.  She stated that they are proposing a future regional access with the interchange, which has been identified as a viable solution to the regional transportation deficiency in the area, through Florida’s Turnpike study, as well as a study conducted by Lake County, as part of the LSMPO Long Range Transportation Plan.  She stated that, in addition, there is an effort between all the surrounding municipalities and counties to work with developers, in order to develop a more comprehensive regional network system in this area, while trying to retain the rural and unique characteristics of the area.  She reviewed a graphic, showing a comparison between what is currently in the area and what to expect tomorrow, noting that it illustrates the existing land uses, which is agricultural land uses to the north, low density residential to the south, and retail and commercial lining US 27 and SR 50, however, noted that, in the future, with all the proposed and approved developments in the area, they feel that within the next five to ten years there is going to be approximately 930,000 sq. ft. of commercial/retail being introduced to the area, over 2,000,000 sq. ft. of office, over 1,400,000 sq. ft. of light industrial, and over 13,000 residential units (equal to the size of a new town).  She stated that the purpose of the proposed interchange is to address an existing regional access problem, noting that US 27 and SR 50 are currently over-congested and studies have shown that the interchange will help the traffic problems in the area.  She stated that, without the interchange, US. 27 and SR 50 has been identified to fail, so the interchange would help to delay, if not remove, a need to widen some of the existing roads and maybe even delay the need to create some new alignments.

Mr. Shawn Ferguson, Transportation Planner, Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin, addressed the panel and discussed the Hills of Minneola Development of Regional Impact (DRI) Conceptual Plan, a DRI in the City of Minneola that consists of 1,832 acres spanning the Turnpike, which has been approved for development.  He stated that the interchange, which is centrally located, is mid-way between the existing interchange at SR 50 and US 27.  He stated that the internal road network was designed to provide the maximum access and connectivity to the adjacent areas to the north, west, south, and southeast, consistent with the County’s Tindale Oliver study that was completed a few years prior, as well as with the City’s vision plan.  He stated that the land uses approved include industrial, office, retail, hotel, and movie theatre, with an employment center that is focused at taking advantage of the interchange location.  He stated that there are also residential neighborhoods, sites for schools, parks – including community and neighborhood parks, and a 283 acre upland preserve, which runs along the eastern boundary of the property.  He stated that there are some important ecological connections, as well.  He stated that part of the non-residential uses in that component of the project will be developed as a main street or village center, which will have both non-residential and residential uses.  He briefly discussed a roadway connectivity that runs south to the Hancock Road extension, which is the location of the proposed interchange, and a roadway that runs north and south through the property, as well as the fact that there are important opportunities for east/west connectivity in these locations.  He stated that there are important trail connections that were planned, as part of the project, noting that there is a full trail system that has been provided, with on and off road trails, including two locations where there will be underpasses for trails to go under the Turnpike, and a trail head equestrian rest area will be provided along CR 561A.  He then answered questions from the panel, at which time it was noted that the following developments have already been approved for the area in question:

The Hills of Minneola

3,971 Residential Units

610,000 Sq. Ft. Commercial/Retail

850,000 Sq. Ft. Office

1,400,000 Sq. Ft. Industrial

300 Hotel Rooms



2,259 Single Family Units

175 Multi Family Units

120,000 Sq Ft. Commercial/Retail


Founders Ridge

723 Single Family Units

240 Multi Family Units


Reserve at Minneola

689 Single Family Units


Black West

650 Single Family Units

681 Multi Family Units

200,000 Retail


Verde Ridge

402 Single Family Units


Plaza Collina

200 Multi Family Units

1,200,000 Sq. Ft. Commercial


Bella Collina

698 Single Family Units

200 Multi Family Units




Mr. Dave Mihalic, Transportation Consultant, GMB Engineers and Planners, Inc., addressed the panel and discussed the Sugarloaf Mountain DRI project, which is located in the northern portion of unincorporated Lake County and dates back to 1994.  It is a three phase project, with a total build out date of 2015.  The first phase has been approved for 660 units and approximately 3,500 sq. ft. of commercial.  At total build out, there will be approximately 2,300 residential units and 120,000 sq. ft. of commercial/retail.  He stated that, as they have gone through the process, they have not modified their access points from the original plan, but have maintained consistent access points throughout, which include connections to both CR 455 and Sugarloaf Mountain Road.  He stated that, in the planning horizons, they recognize that it is important and have been coordinating with the County, in terms of the visioning process in the area, and recognize that they need to integrate the Lake County Vision Plan, but also need to consider, as the Hills of Minneola has come in with the interchange, what the implications to the DRI are with that and, as part of the future process, will include that into their analysis and the widening limitations, noting that there are obviously some constraints, particularly with CR 455 and the Scenic Highway.  He stated that, being the development is a DRI, it requires communication and coordination between the County, the State, the Cities that are impacted and adjacent property owners, at which time he noted that there have been numerous meetings with the Hills of Minneola, regarding coordination between the two properties.  He stated that they conducted some preliminary technical analysis and came to the conclusion that there are two probable corridors that they need to do, the first being to see about supporting the connection to the southern Turnpike and the second to provide a reliever road to CR 561, whether it is Sugarloaf Mountain Road, or another east/west roadway connecting to CR 561.  He stated that, since CR 455 is designated as a scenic highway, there are certain guidelines and restrictions that they are required to adhere to, which they have paid close attention to, noting that, rather than just widening the road and providing turn lanes, they have worked with county staff, to try to make it more of an amenable facility for bicycles and pedestrians, while maintaining the overall integrity of what they envision a scenic highway to be.  He stated that their overall proposed recommendations are that they are intent to try to keep a two lane roadway, without going into widening CR 455 and changing the designation, looking at other two lane roadways, or a series of two lane roadways; traffic circles on CR 455; promote and accommodate multi-modal traffic; maintain the CR 455 viewshed; and develop the trail network.


Mr. Wayne Nichols, Town Clerk, Town of Montverde, addressed the panel, on behalf of the Mayor, who was unable to attend this meeting, stating that the Town of Montverde was just starting their PD&E Study and one of the things they were looking at is some alternate methods of moving some of the traffic off of CR 455 from all the new developments and one of the ideas that was passed around is to look at the Woodlands Camp Ground property that is for sale, which would give an east/west almost direct line to meet up with some of the roads, using the existing underpass at Blackstill Lake Road.  He stated that it is only a conceptual plan for the Town at the present time, noting that they are looking to see what everybody else’s input is, to help that out.  He stated that they will be able to have the bike trail connection moved, with their ultimate goal being to have a Montverde loop for the bike trail, which would give them the southern boundary for it, which would be a good start, along with purchasing the Woodlands property, or getting it donated.  He stated that the property has multiple meeting facilities, some rental units, some park facilities, physical fitness equipment, and their own water/wastewater system, among many other positives, however, noted that there are some extensive wetlands on the property, so, if it were to be developed, it would be a disaster.

It was noted that the recommendation was only conceptual – that the Public Lands Acquisition Advisory Committee has not yet been approached about the matter.

Commr. Stivender interjected that she has been in contact with the owners of the camp ground and the asking price for the property is $18 million, otherwise, it goes back to being a camp ground and will not be developed.

Commr. Cadwell suggested that it be taken to the Public Lands Acquisition Advisory Committee first and, if there is some value to it, the Board can look at it from a Public Works standpoint, to see if it makes any sense on the other side.

At this time, a brief question and answer period occurred between the Board and some of the municipalities, with regard to the issues addressed this date.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.



                                                                             WELTON G. CADWELL, CHAIRMAN