A special MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
August 30, 2011
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special workshop session on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Jennifer Hill, Chairman; Leslie Campione, Vice Chairman; Sean Parks; Jimmy Conner; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Darren Gray, County Manager; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; and Courtney Vincent, Deputy Clerk.
No changes or deletions were noted.
Commr. Hill announced that this meeting was the Redistricting Workshop. She mentioned that five maps showing possible configurations for district boundaries had been displayed for public consideration and comment during the entire month of August and the Board had reviewed all of the submitted comments on the maps.
The Chairman opened the Pubic Hearing.
Mr. Bob Merriam, a resident of Arlington Ridge in South Leesburg, addressed the Board in support of District Map Option 2. He related that he had lived there for four years and served on the Community Development District as Vice Chairman of the Board. He opined that Commr. Conner was the greatest commissioner they have had because of his involvement with the community, his quick response to citizen concerns, and the support he has given to the Arlington Ridge community. He commented that it was refreshing to have a commissioner who was willing to return emails, phone calls, and letters. He clarified that while they had no specific concerns about any of the commissioners individually, they had learned to depend on Commr. Conner. He asked the Board to vote for Option 2, which would keep Arlington Ridge within Commission District 3.
Mr. Jake Farley, Mayor of Astatula, addressed the Board in support of District Map Option 2. He opined that a map with district boundaries that were close to the current position was the best option and he recommended the Board approve Option 2.
Mr. Kerry Wrobel, a resident of Yalaha, addressed the Board in support of District Map Option 2. He stated that he would like to have Commr. Conner remain as his area’s commissioner.
Mr. Dan Gorden, representing the residents of Hawthorne in the City of Leesburg, addressed the Board in support of District Map Option 2. He stated Hawthorne was in Commr. Conner’s district and that he had done a great job for Hawthorne. He noted they had a community television system and Commr. Conner frequently gave County updates on that system. He mentioned he had personally known Commr. Conner for many years, and he wanted to see him continue as Hawthorne’s commissioner.
Mr. Joe Rudderow, a resident of The Plantation retirement community in Leesburg, addressed the Board in support of District Map Option 2. He commented that many people had worked hard to get a county commission that was open-minded and enthused about economic development in the County. He remarked that they did not want to see a map adopted that would unseat a commissioner or put one commissioner against another. He mentioned that South Lake County had grown tremendously and lightening the load by creating more than one commission district in South Lake was important. He opined that the Option 2 map accomplished that and kept together the “Charter 27” communities currently located in Commission District 3. He asked the Board to support Option 2.
Ms. Jean Rudderow, a resident of The Plantation retirement community in Leesburg, addressed the Board in support of District Map Option 2. She urged the Board to approve Option 2, which would keep “Charter 27” intact.
Mr. William T. Anderson, speaking on behalf of the residents of The Legacy of Leesburg retirement community, addressed the Board in support of District Map Option 2. He submitted a petition to the Chairman which contained over 100 signatures reflecting their wish to remain within District 3 and for the Option 2 map to be selected. He remarked that Option 2 kept The Legacy, along with the other active retirement communities located in Central Lake County within District 3 where they wished to remain. He argued that breaking up those retirement communities along the US 27 corridor would dilute their political impact on issues that were important to them. He commented that all of the other map options appeared to maintain their basic population demographics while District 3 was split apart. He stated that they wanted a fiscally conservative leader who would ensure the County budget was reduced and accurately reflected the economic times. He mentioned the residents of the Legacy were disappointed with what appeared to be behind the scenes manipulation of the redistricting process for political gain. He requested the Board approve Option 2.
Mr. Doug Duerr, a resident of Lake County, addressed the Board in support of District Map Option 2. He discussed a recent article by Ms. Lauren Ritchie, a writer for the Orlando Sentinel, entitled, “Snarky Behavior has Taken Over Behind the Scenes in Lake County's Redistricting Effort.” He commented that the article made the argument that citizens should not care about redistricting because the commissioners were elected on a countywide basis, and he opined that Ms. Ritchie missed the point that district lines ensured geographic awareness among the commission members. He explained that the commissioners were familiar with the geography of their district, so when a particular location or landmark was discussed, the commissioner in that district could actually picture the place in question and know the details of that area. He related that each of the commissioners was responsible for big decisions, but the citizens benefited from having commissioners with a vision of the effect on a local area by those decisions. He asked the commissioners to select a redistricting plan that least changed the areas that they currently represented, and requested they select Option 2.
Ms. Dianna Mullins, a resident of Lake County, addressed the Board in support of District Map Option 2. She commented that straight, neat lines defining districts did not equate to symmetry or imply that no gerrymandering had taken place. She expressed that she wanted the district lines to be drawn so as to ensure her representative lived and socialized in the geographic area where she lived and shopped. She requested the Board select a plan that least changed the status quo in order to preserve the knowledge base and ensure the neighborhood’s uniqueness played a roll in the County’s decision process. She opined that Option 2 ensured that four/fifths of the County’s residents continued to be represented by a commissioner who was already knowledgeable about their geographic neighborhoods. She requested the Board to select Option 2.
Mr. Jim Krakowski, a resident of Clermont, addressed the Board regarding the redistricting process. He distributed a copy of a PowerPoint presentation and mentioned that he had spent time attending most of the School Board meetings. He commented that at the end of those meetings he usually generated a handout with his observations and comments and distributed it with the objective of being constructive in his criticism and to give more input as to what the population really wanted. He reported that he had attended the redistricting meeting for the School Board and they had developed guidelines for staff to develop mapping options. He explained the staff then took those guidelines, developed options which were posted on their website along with the analysis of those options and the guideline for creating those options, and then there was a good discussion at subsequent meetings and the School Board selected their Option 7. He then commented that when he went to the County’s website to view the redistricting maps he had been presented with five options that had been created by the commissioners individually with no mention of guidelines for their creation and no analysis of their effectiveness. He remarked that it appeared as if the maps were created to the benefit of the commissioners. He then suggested the County develop a similar process to the School Board, stressing that the County needed to inform the people they represented as to why they created the maps as they did.
Mr. Fred Costello, a resident of Clermont, addressed the Board regarding the redistricting process. He thanked Commr. Conner for posting the guidelines for redistricting on his website. He mentioned that Commr. Conner had posted quotes from Ms. Ritchie’s article on his website as well. He then read a list he had created of reasons for redistricting that had not yet provided by the commissioners, including why the County or any county had multiple districts in the first place, why and how lines should be drawn to enable commissioners to better serve the people who vote for and employ them, why equality of geographical representation was essential, and the need for equality of representation of the five cities of South Lake County. He stressed that the citizens of the County did care about redistricting. He also expressed appreciation on behalf of the people of Clermont and the members of the South Lake 912 Tea Party to Commr. Parks; Mr. Darren Gray, County Manager; and Mr. Steve Koontz, Budget Director; for providing an excellent overview on the proposed fiscal 2012 budget and plans for economic development.
Ms. Barbara Weese, a resident of Hawthorne in the City of Leesburg, addressed the Board. She commented that since Commr. Conner had started giving updates on Hawthorne’s closed circuit television service, he had served a great purpose because many of Hawthorne’s residents came from states where county government is not as powerful as it is in Florida and when they came to Florida it was very confusing to understand the roll of county government. She stated the residents of Hawthorne would like to have Commr. Conner remain as their representative. She also commented that the other commissioners should also strive to help the residents better understand the roll of county government.
Mr. Daniel Henderson, resident of Hawthorne in the City of Leesburg and the President of the Hawthorne Board of Directors, addressed the Board. He stated the residents of Hawthorne were quite pleased to have Commr. Conner as their representative because they found him to be responsive to the residents. He stated they hoped the Board would consider keeping him as the commissioner for Hawthorne.
Mr. Vance Jochim, a resident of Tavares who writes a blog on fiscal issues, addressed the Board in support of District Map Option 2. He noted he lived in Commr. Conner’s district and it was his understanding that the Option 2 map would minimize the changes in existing relationships with local communities. He mentioned that there had been a number of representatives from those communities at the meeting today and he encouraged them to come to the regular BCC meetings as well to continue making their presence known. He requested the Board approve Option 2.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board, the Chairman closed the Public Hearing and reserved comment to the Board.
Commr. Hill stated that the selected map would come back before the Board for final approval along with a resolution that would provide an exact legal description of the district boundaries.
Commr. Campione opined that it was almost impossible not to disrupt the most southern part of the County compared to the current district map because the South Lake region was currently a single district. She remarked that Option 2 had the District 1 boundary going from Silver Lake in Leesburg all the way down to the Four Corners area, which was a glaring flaw for that option.
Commr. Parks noted that Districts 2 and 3 would have to change the most because of the amount of growth they had experienced.
Commr. Campione opined that having such a large area for District 1 might make it more difficult for that commissioner to serve and be familiar with all parts of that district.
Commr. Cadwell commented that District 1 shared similar characteristics with District 5 in that the population centers were closer together and there were large open spaces in between them.
Commr. Conner remarked that it was hard to have compact districts in the County. He clarified that District 3 was not overpopulated by much, noting that it currently had 62,735 people. He specified that it meant they only had to move 2,735 people, compared to District 2 which had a current population of 83,484 people and was 23,000 people over. He opined that it was not necessary to make radical changes to District 3 because it only required a minor population adjustment. He noted that no map would be without problems, but it was up to the Board to decide on the map that was best for the public. He thanked the citizens who came to the meeting and spoke to keep him as their district commissioner and remarked that, if a different district was being negatively affected, he was confident the residents of that district would be present to speak in support of their commissioner. He stressed that the most important thing the Board could do was to select the map that best preserved the established relationships.
Commr. Parks expressed that the Board needed to explain their reasoning for the district maps they submitted because the process for redistricting was important despite the commissioners being elected at large. He remarked that his two guiding principles were to try to create an alignment with the highest probability of having two South Lake commissioners and to keep the cities as intact as possible. He stated that he supported District Map Option 3 because it created two districts for South Lake and it kept most of the retirement communities along US 27 in one district. He commented that Option 3 did split Leesburg and Eustis as well as slightly splitting Minneola, and suggested it might be possible to adjust the district boundaries to correct that. He mentioned that Option 2 only split one city and it kept most of the retirement communities together along US 27 but had three districts for South Lake. He mentioned Option 5 did not split any cities but it also had three districts for South Lake and that Option 1 split too many cities even though it had two districts for South Lake.
Commr. Cadwell stated he supported District Map Option 2, opining it was best for continuity. He remarked that Option 5 was his second choice and Option 4 was his third choice.
Commr. Campione commented that the Board had received a memo from the County Attorney at the beginning of the redistricting process explaining the legal requirements and parameters that needed to be followed with regard to revising the district boundaries. She expressed that it would have been beneficial to have that information posted on the County’s website as well as to list the rationale behind each map that was submitted for consideration. She specified that one of the Board’s driving criteria in redistricting was to try and keep cities and communities intact. She added that while the Board also strived to only minimally disrupt the current boundaries, when a district had 83,000 residents, change was inevitable. She mentioned the commissioners needed to have the ability to effectively service their district, which was one of the reasons she was hesitant about Option 2 and the burden on the District 1 commissioner. She opined that Option 3 had the potential to be edited to combine with it the best attributes of Option 2. She added that there was a benefit for the districts to have diversity instead of exclusive commonality.
Commr. Hill commented on Option 3, which had been her submission. She stated she began with a blank map, inserted the roads and the bodies of water, and then overlay the map with the cities. She explained that the purpose had been to keep residential needs and existing neighborhoods as well as the future growth populations intact and working, to keep together the transportation networks, and to separate the enterprise zones among the five districts because they were currently all located within the boundaries for District 1. She remarked it was important for all of the commissioners to be involved in the new enterprise zones. She expressed that she had wanted to keep the districts as compact and concise as possible. She added that she would like to edit the Option 3 map so as not to split the Minneola Hills development.
Commr. Conner opined there would be concerns with any map selected. He stated there were no citizens present from the Town of Howey-In-The-Hills, but he had received an email from Ms. Brenda Brasher, Howey-In-The-Hills Town Clerk, to inform the Board that the Howey-In-The-Hills Town Council had discussed all of the redistricting options at the Town Council meeting and their consensus was that Howey-In-The-Hills should be included in Option 2 of the proposed redistricting maps. He expressed his concern for the Option 3 map because of the change in district for Howey-In-The-Hills as well as how the 27 retirement communities would be affected. He emphasized that Option 2 caused less than 65,000 citizens to change districts but Option 3 caused more than double that amount to change districts.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced that there would be a fifteen-minute recess at 10:10 a.m.
Redistricting discussion, Continuted
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried by a vote of 3-2, the Board approved Districting Map Option 2.
Commr. Hill and Commr. Parks voted, “no.”
Commr. Campione stated that Option 2 needed some minor editing because she was concerned over the distance between the Silver Lake area and the Four Corners for District 1.
Commr. Conner noted that the issues Commr. Campione raised in regards to District 1 were also applicable to District 5. He opined that Option 2 was the least gerrymandered map of all the options because it moved the fewest number of people into new districts.
Commr. Campione mentioned that she was proposing a merger between Option 2 and Option 3 that would include having the 27 retirement communities in District 3 and eliminating some of the distance between ends of District 1.
The Board discussed different propositions for altering the Option 2 map before the Chairman suggested the Board recess to allow staff to attempt some of the suggestions to see if they were feasible.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced that there would be a short recess at 10:47 a.m.
Redistricting discussion, Continuted
Commr. Hill stated the commissioners had each worked with Ms. Sue Carroll, Project Manager for Lake County GIS Services, in an attempt to edit the Option 2 map. She remarked that they had not been able to make any of the suggested alterations work, so the Board would either have to stay with Option 2 or decide to use Option 3 instead.
Commr. Cadwell opined that Option 2 was a good choice for the citizens of the County.
Commr. Campione suggested the Board take a week to continue working on altering the Option 2 or Option 3 map to take care of some of the issues raised.
Commr. Conner asked Mr. Minkoff if any changes could be made when the selected map was brought back for final approval.
Mr. Minkoff replied that changes were allowed until final action was taken.
Commr. Campione commented that she would appreciate another week to continue working on the maps.
Commr. Conner suggested the Board proceed with the Option 2 map since they had already approved it, and if Commr. Campione had a better map created from Option 2 she could bring it forward at the next Board meeting on September 6, 2011.
Commr. Cadwell specified that the Board would not agree to advertise and set a resolution date and that the Board would continue to discuss the redistricting map options at the next meeting.
REPORTS – COMMISSIONER HILL – CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT 1
Joint meeting with school board
Commr. Hill stated that, at the conclusion of the morning session, the Board would be recessing the meeting until 3:00 p.m. where the Board would reconvene at Lake Minneola High School for a Joint Meeting with the Lake County School Board.
Lake county delegation meeting
Commr. Hill reported that a Lake County Delegation Meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, September 28, 2011 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Lake-Sumter Community College.
CR 473 warehouse project
Commr. Hill reported receiving correspondence on the CR 473 warehouse project, noting that staff was working through some of those issues and would bring them back as an agenda item once some of the issues are resolved.
reports – commissioner campione – vice chairman and district 4
Community Redevelopment Agency meeting
Commr. Campione reported attending the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) meeting on Monday, August 29, 2011 at Sorrento Elementary School, noting that about 100 residents were in attendance as well as some County staff.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was recessed at 11:44 a.m. to reconvene at 3:00 p.m. at Lake Minneola High School for a Joint Meeting with the Lake County School Board.
JenNifer hill, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK