A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
comprehensive plan workshop
NOVEMBER 5, 2009
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 6:00 p.m., at the Cassia Community Center, Cassia, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Jimmy Conner; Elaine Renick; and Linda Stewart. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, Interim County Manager; Erin Hartigan, Assistant County Attorney; and Brenda Law, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Cadwell explained that this was the second of three meetings that give an opportunity for the Board to hear public comment and that all comments would be reviewed and researched by staff and presented to the Board at the November 17, 2009 workshop. He stated that the final public hearings would be held on January 19, 2010 before the Comprehensive Plan is transmitted to the Department of Community Affairs. He mentioned that there is a three minute time limit for each speaker.
Ms. Amye King, Director of Growth Management introduced staff as follows: Ms. Pratima Strong, Senior GIS Analyst; Ms. Anita Greiner, Chief Planner; and Mr. Brian Sheahan, Director of Planning and Community Design.
Mr. John Brautcheck, Lake County resident, stated that he owns property adjoining Britt Road and opined that the Lake County Comp Plan is an unduly restricted police action by a governmental entity resulting in taking without just compensation. He commented that inverse condemnation has been upheld in the courts since it was recognized and defined by the Toby Brigham Law firm, and controlling agencies must compensate unduly restricted property owners that can no longer continue to viably economically operate and have had their property rights and values taken from them. He noted that his real property has finally attained a value beyond worthless after 50 years, and the actions or inactions of Lake County has cost him approximately $500,000.00, which is based on written sales agreements and not the current economic situation. He reported that his property has undue land use restrictions placed by the joint planning agreement between Lake County and the City of Mount Dora. He asked how his property which is located outside the city limits of Mount Dora, can be restricted and controlled by the City of Mount Dora. He opined that all of the property owners that have lost values like he has should join together to file a class action lawsuit against the County for monetary enumeration and the lost of land values or land use taken without just compensation.
Mr. Bob Curry, Lake County resident and planning volunteer, who has assisted with the proposed Comp Plan, stated that this document will not solve the problem with marauding industries and suggested that the County adopt language to protect public interest from those industries. He volunteered to work with anyone that would like to work on this issue.
Ms. Leslie Campione, attorney representing Hartwood Properties, LLC, distributed the Local Planning Agency (LPA) map depicting the location of the property south of the city limits of Clermont and adjoining Hartwood Marsh Road, currently zoned R6 and designated Urban Expansion, and has been re-designated as regional office. She reported that the re-designation of this property would cause it to become non-conforming, and the property owner is requesting that the property remain designated as Urban Expansion.
Ms. Campione, attorney for Dr. Robert and Andrea Purdon, stated that her clients own over 20-acres in the Lake Yale area which is currently designated as Urban Expansion and Suburban. She reported that the proposed Future Land Use Map divides their property in half and designates it as Rural and Rural Transitional, and requested that all of the property be zoned Rural Transitional.
Ms. Catherine Hanson, former County Commissioner, expressed concern that the property rights of the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento residents would be protected as intended by the creation of the Wekiva Protection Area.
Ms. Helen McCormick, a Mount Plymouth resident, commented that she diligently researched and deliberately moved to the Mount Plymouth area because it was part of the Wekiva Protection Area. She noted that there is an increase in crime rate and other issues associated with concentrated developments like Deland, Deltona and Clermont. She opined that the preserve areas are a haven for people as much as animals and stated that those people enjoy the wildlife, peace and serenity while protecting our resources.
Mr. Bill Calhoun, Lady Lake Planning and Zoning Board member and Lake Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) citizen member, expressed his concern regarding the proposed changes in the Green Swamp and asked the Board to consider the effects of development in the ecological reserve.
Ms. Peggy Belflower, LPA member, commented that it was her understanding that changes were made to the Green Swamp by a consensus of the Board but would not be final until January 19, 2010.
Commr. Renick clarified that the Board heard public comment on changes in the Green Swamp but that no action was taken by the Board. She explained that Mr. Ray presented information to the Board at a previous meeting regarding the densities on his property and that she later spoke with a woman who worked on the original Comp Plan and recalled that the density should be one unit per ten acres. She commented that staff is going to research this matter and present it to the Board at the November 17, 2009 workshop. She reported that Mr. Phil Laurien, Executive Director of East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, is going to submit a letter to the Board recommending that the County not increase the densities in one of the state’s seven jewels. She opined that if the Board takes away any property rights, that it will undermine the entire Comp Plan process.
Mr. Anthony Griggs, Sorrento resident, expressed his concern about the development in Mount Plymouth-Sorrento near the proposed realignment of CR 437 due to the area’s flooding.
Ms. Kathie Beselica, Sorrento resident, opined that the County should not take away the rights from the property owners. She commented that she would like to see a compromise in the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area that allows for commercial development along the SR 46 corridor but that the densities are not changed to allow for 5.5 dwelling units per acre. She asked the Board to consider the 100 year flood line when approving development for the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area.
Mr. Brad Verkaik, Sorrento resident, asked the Board to consider the wishes of the residents of the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area when reviewing requests to change the densities for that area. He commented that he understood that development is going to happen but asked that it be controlled.
Mr. John Pospisil opined that reducing the lot size and requiring fifty percent open space is not the correct way to maintain the rural character and aesthetic values in the environmentally sensitive areas. He commented that the various requirements are going to have a negative impact on the value of the properties. He reported that approximately seventy-five percent of the land in the protection areas is owned by the government. He commented that he did not believe that selling five-acre tracts in the protection areas would create an environmental disaster. He asked the Board to direct staff and the LPA to work on discovering other strategies to preserve the lifestyle and character of the rural areas.
Ms. Mary Batty opined that her rights as a property owner have been taken away due to the Wekiva Protection Act. She stated that her property is located on the west side of Heathrow Country Estates, and her requests to divide her property into two 20-acre parcels, which should be allowed in the Wekiva receiving area, have been denied by the County. She expressed her concern with the requirement to set aside 50 percent of the land for open areas.
Ms. Susan Brooks, Sorrento resident, commented that the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento community would like to see development that will support the smaller businesses and asked the Board to keep that in consideration while reviewing the proposed plan as it will affect the County for the next twenty years.
Mr. David Harbeck, Sorrento resident, asked the Board to consider that thirty years ago there used to be a pond on the Jones property where there are now plans to build homes. He opined that he would like the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area to maintain its character and lifestyle.
Commr. Stewart explained that the Mount Plymouth Sorrento Planning Advisory Committee (MPSPAC) was created by former Commissioner Catherine Hanson, and it was comprised of people who lived and worked in that area. She stated that they were responsible for developing the plan for future development and were the ones that included the Jones property in the Main Street District with the zoning of 5.5 units per acre. She disclosed that Dr. Jones is her son’s father-in-law.
Commr. Conner noted that Commr. Stewart tried to declare a legal conflict on this issue, but was required by law to participate when this issue is brought before the Board for a vote.
Ms. Catherine Hanson clarified that the 5.5 units per acre zoning was established since 1989 and was part of the Comp Plan for the Wekiva.
Ms. Judy Weis, Sorrento resident and former MPSPAC member, stated that her property is located in between the proposed Sorrento Village and the Jones property. She reported that it was her understanding that the MPSPAC did not vote to allow 5.5 units per acre and instead decided to allow higher density by the highway of up to 2.5 units per acre. She noted that the data from surveys received by the residents of the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area indicate that the community wants to maintain the rural character and to support environmental and ecological tourism as they are the gateway to the Wekiva.
Mr. Keith Schue, LPA member, reported that the LPA carefully reviewed information provided by various sources and made the best recommendation based on the provided information and determined what was appropriate for that area. He stated that the LPA created a customized category of two units per acre for the Jones property in an attempt to recognize suburban densities and provide significant open space, noting that this recommendation is consistent with the objectives of the Wekiva and provides a substantial buffer to protect the integrity of the neighboring properties.
Ms. Jeanne Etter, a Mount Plymouth resident and former MPSPAC secretary, commented that she does not want property rights taken away based on a misunderstanding. She reported that the change was made at an LPA meeting on September 18, 2008, and that the MPSPAC had met on September 10, 2008 at which time there were discussions regarding the zoning for the Main Street District. She stated that the maps provided by the County at that time showed that the Jones property was granted the density for 5.5 units per acre.
Mr. Steve Mellich, Mellich-Blenden Engineering, Inc., representing the owners of the Jones parcel in Sorrento, stated that the plans that have been referenced tonight were created based on a request by County staff during a rezoning request for the worst case scenario for this property. He commented that he previously provided the Board with the transcript of the September 18, 2008 LPA meeting which outlines the actions and discussions by the LPA when the density for this property was changed from 5.5 units per acre to 2 units per acre. He opined that it was the intent of the MPSPAC to remove the Jones property from the Market Square District to eliminate any possible commercial implications. He stated that the realignment of CR 437 and the clarification of density shifts by former Commr. Hanson, justifies the density rights of 5.5 units per acre for the Jones property.
Ms. Leslie Garvis, Sorrento resident and former MPSPAC member, stated that she was present during the discussion on the Jones property, and it was her intention and the intent of others on the committee to shift the boundary of the Market Square District to allow more space for the passive park and not to increase density. She commented that the community wants to maintain the rural character and does not want the density increased to 5.5 units per acre. She opined that it is a privilege and not a right to have the land use and/or density changed from what it was at the time of purchase.
Commr. Renick explained that this public forum is the only opportunity for the Commissioner’s to discuss ideas and hold discussion on various topics and that no motions or votes will take place until January 2010.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 7:10 p.m.
welton g. cadwell, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK