A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
AUGUST 4, 2014
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Monday, August 4, 2014 at 6:00 p.m., for the Lakeshore Community Meeting in the Clermont Community Building, 3700 S. Highway 27, Clermont, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Sean Parks, Vice Chairman and Timothy I. Sullivan. Others present were: David Heath, County Manager; Erin Hartigan, Assistant County Attorney; Chris Schmidt, Planning and Community Design Director; Brian Sheahan, Conservation and Compliance Director; Barbara F. Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Parks welcomed everyone to the meeting and explained how the meeting would be conducted.
overview of future land use and zoning process
Mr. Chris Schmidt, Planning and Community Design Director, explained that the last major overhaul of the land uses occurred in 2011, and he displayed a map showing land use designation, intensities, and densities. He related that the intensity is the floor area ratio and square footage of buildings, and densities were how many dwelling units were put on the acreage of land. He noted that the applicants were requesting a text amendment and a future land use change for this particular case, and the amendment as proposed would allow supporting uses of convenience retail, general restaurant, office, personnel services, and similar uses. He displayed the zoning map showing what the current zoning districts were and an aerial showing the property they were discussing at this meeting. He went over the dates for the future public hearings regarding this matter, mentioning that it had gone to the Planning & Zoning Board on April 2, which sent it to the Board of County Commissioners with a recommendation for transmittal. He mentioned that this was a large-scale amendment which will go to the Board of County Commissioners for approval or denial of transmittal on September 23, and then it would be sent if approved by the BCC for evaluation to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), which could come back with recommendations, objections, or comments. He pointed out that the application will then go back again to the Board of County Commissioners for either final adoption approval or denial, so there are two additional public hearings required just for the future land use designation, with another process that will be needed for the rezoning.
presentation of project
Mr. Greg Beliveau with LPG, displayed the Comprehensive Plan Amendment that they filed last November, noting that they simultaneously filed the PUD, since a change in zoning is also required. He illustrated the Comp Plan Amendment they filed a year ago and withdrew after they determined that the plan overreached and was too intense. He pointed out that the Amendment they filed in November was for a less intense project of a 3,200 square-foot farmerís market as Phase I, which would be similar to one that was previously there for over ten years, with pasture over the rest of the property for livestock, as well as open space, and he assured them that there will continue to be open space as part of the PUD. He noted that the PUD is a contract that outlines what you can and cannot do on this property. He also assured everyone that there will be no church built on this property. He related that if Phase I is successful, Phase II will be a 5,000-square foot Country Store, and he assured everyone that it is not going to be a Wahoo or a RaceTrac type of store and that there will not be a giant canopy in the front. He elaborated that the country store will be restricted by Planning and Development to 5,000 square feet, with the maximum development between the two structures restricted to a total of 8,200 square feet, and they also filed with Planning and Development design criteria and architectural standards that those constructions have to meet, which he specified was rural in character with rural development criteria. He also related that he welcomed public input about the design of those structures or the project in general. He stated that they also filed a list of the uses which has been fine-tuned since the previous list to include only those that were specific uses historically for country stores, including hardware, bait and tackle, and feed for horses; and he emphasized that this store is a hybrid and was not a convenience store. He emphasized that they would not be selling gasoline at this store. He added that they would work with Lake County Public Works on requirements for access based on traffic impasse or lack thereof, noting that two traffic studies have been completed that have addressed those issues. He opined that they have put together a complete Comprehensive Application and expressed willingness to discuss with the residents any uses that they deem offensive.
questions and answers
Mr. George Simek, a resident of Crescent Bay Boulevard in Clermont, reiterated that Mr. Beliveau asked who does not want a gas station, and he asked the audience whether they wanted any commercial development at all. He stated that 95% of the audience voted ďnoĒ to commercial development. He commented that the past Farmerís Market at that location was a casual farm stand rather than a major effort to sell bait or anything else. He remarked that he wanted to put that into perspective and believed that that disposition needed to be clarified. He opined that there will not be a lot of people who would shop at the convenience store and that they do not need this type of business in the area.
Ms. Fawn Lantis, a resident of Clermont, pointed out that the residents do not want a grocery store or a gas station at that site, and they had moved there for the rural atmosphere. She specified that she had horses, cows, and sheep on her property, and she opined that the applicant will be building a grocery store rather than a farmerís market there. She noted that there were already markets where farmers sell their own produce nearby, and she opined that if they let the applicant build at that location, they will go a little further and a little further. She encouraged everyone to keep fighting against this project, noting that they had managed to prevent the project before, and she suggested that a community park would be good there.
Mr. William Call, a resident of Hull Road in Clermont, indicated that he had been a resident of Clermont since 1979 and has loved everything about it. He expressed concern about current traffic problems as well as increased traffic in the future. He questioned whether the decision to approve this project was just a formality or whether the Board will listen to the wishes of the residents.
Mrs. Sandra Call, a resident of Clermont, wondered how many projects are approved by the Board after going through this transmittal process.
Mr. Beliveau responded that this project has not yet been approved and still has to go before the BCC.
Mrs. Call asked whether the adjacent property owner who will be providing horses and cows for the pasture at this site is also involved in this project and who actually owns those animals. She also asked about how long the pastureland will stay as pasture.
Mr. Beliveau answered that the area designated will be set aside for pasture for perpetuity.
Mrs. Call asked if the two structures to be built at that site will be competing with each other.
Mr. Beliveau replied that the 3,200-square foot farmerís market will sell produce, and the 5,000-square foot Country Store will be selling things like hardware, feed, and those type of products as well as possibly items for office use.
Mrs. Call commented that it seems like this plan changes on a regular basis. She concluded that the residents do not want this business or the traffic at that site, and they have already taken such a huge loss on their homes. She opined that this project will result in one person making money and the rest of the residents losing at a time when they are finally starting to come out of the hard economic times.
Sherrill McAlister, a resident of Rose Hill Drive in Clermont for 14 years, commented that they chose to live in a remote rural location because they were willing to make the drive into town to get gas and other necessities, and she pointed out that there was a Farmerís Market in downtown Clermont every Sunday and several feed stores in Clermont. She stated that she did not see the need for the use of the land for that project, and they already have the stores they need located in town.
LuJo Karkovice, a resident of Lakeshore Drive in Clermont, stated that she had a tough time getting out of her driveway, which sometimes takes 22 minutes. She indicated that she does not shop at Circle K because of the limited choice and amount of food available and the noncompetitive price of gas, but instead she stops in town on her way home to buy what she needs.
Mr. Alfred Spinner, a resident of Crescent Bay in Clermont, noted that although he has not received a traffic ticket in a long time, it is very difficult for him to get out of their subdivision due to limited visibility of oncoming traffic. He expressed concern about additional traffic adding to the problem and pointed out that they moved to this community because it was rural. He opined that the Green Swamp area should remain free of development.
Ms. Joan Kyle, a resident of Clermont, mentioned that she has lived on the Crescent Lake for 21 years and mentioned that a real country store that existed back then was not allowed by the County to have a bathroom. She commented that a lot of things have changed since then, and she related that they had moved there to live in a rural area. She indicated that she also believed that they should be supporting the businesses that already exist in downtown Clermont. She stated that Lakeshore Drive consists of a chain of lakes and a lake community, and residents should be able to enjoy those lakes and to use their boats. She pointed out that the area already has a Wawa and a RaceTrac that is fairly new, and residents can get all of the things the proposed store will sell at those locations. She asked to let the record show that most of the residents stated that they did not want development in their community, and she suggested that they use this property for green space or to mitigate other uses. She asked whether all of the residentsí letters and the time the residents spend at these meetings voicing their opinions are taken into consideration when making the decision to approve or deny this project.
Commr. Parks assured everyone that their letters and opposition are all compiled and are part of the staff report which are all kept and provided to the Commissioners.
Ms. Anne Saraceno, a resident of Crescent Bay in Clermont, stated that she has lived in that community for 17 years, and this is the third time that there has been a proposed land use change to that specific property, also noting that it is located on a blind corner. She mentioned that it had previously been approved for residential development before the fall of the real estate market, and she opined that the community would be in favor of residential at that location rather than commercial development. She expressed exasperation about repeatedly having to address this issue and reiterated that they do not want commercial development on that corner. She also noted that she has seen no indication that a traffic study had been done in that area. She asked if Commr. Parks has addressed this issue since he has been on the Board.
Commr. Parks responded that he has been serving them as their County Commissioner for almost four years, and this application has come before them a couple of times. He explained that the Commissioners do not have a say in when an application is submitted to the County, since anyone can legally apply for a rezoning at any time. He opined that the opinions of the residents will have an impact on him, and he assured them that he understands their concerns.
Ms. Christina Kortz Clark, a resident of Clermont who lives on Lakeshore Drive, noted that the application for the Lakeshore Drive Rural Support Corridor Future Land Use calls for 10,000 square feet of buildable space for the whole corridor, and she clarified that the applicant was asking for 8,200 square feet, which would leave less than 2,000 square feet of buildable space, pointing out that the applicant is asking for almost all of the space. She also related that the site is currently zoned Green Swamp Rural Conservation in the Comprehensive Plan, which took ten years to complete. She asked whether the applicant knew what the zoning was before he purchased the property.
Ms. Mary Turton and Ms. Diane Taylor, both residents of Clermont, deferred their time to Mr. Rick Ault.
Mr. David Holt, a resident of Clermont, asked the County not to develop the Green Swamp area and noted that there were plenty of already commercially zoned areas near that site. He commented that the applicant has had numerous code enforcement citations.
Mr. Rick Ault, a resident of Clermont, opined that the advertisement of the rezoning was not sufficient and that they were victims of this process. He expressed concern that all of the resources of the Countyís Planning and Community Design Division were spent helping the applicant to get his project approved and noted that the staff report was taken verbatim from the application and the applicantís website. He expressed concern that the process contained bias, was not objective, and reflected a culture of approval of projects. He related that they had circulated petitions around their area, but the County had counted households rather than names of the people who had signed that petition. He mentioned that after 157 people contacted Mr. Brian Sheahan, who was then the Director of the Planning and Community Design Division, to object to the previous application, Mr. Sheahan recommended denial of it. He also commented that the crime study that was done at the time claiming that there was no significant risk of crime by bringing more businesses into their neighborhoods was deficient and did not contain a sufficient sample size. He stated that an incident report from the Circle K that was provided by the Sheriffís Office for the last three years showed that the Sheriff was called to that location 149 times during that time period, for crimes including armed robbery, juvenile disturbances, assaults, and narcotics issues. He commented that he expected better representation than had been shown to residents so far, and he stated that staff had indicated that the corridor only includes three parcels, which contained the lodge, the Circle K, and the new gas station. He displayed a map on the overhead screen and pointed out that anything within the blue lines 500 feet to the east of Lake Shore Drive from boundary to boundary that was not part of the existing PUD would be subject to new commercial use, and he noted that the only existing PUD in that entire corridor is Susanís Landing denoted in the purple area of the map. He indicated that many residents would support the lodge being redeveloped on its own application and would not even object to the Circle K being refurbished to conform to the existing 30-year plan; however, it was the new commercial development that the residents take issue with. He pointed out that all of the individual houses along Lake Shore Drive in the yellow section on the map are for sale and expressed concern that those would be subject to new commercial development and that those parcels could be combined to meet the square footage ratios under the Countyís current ordinance, which did not address that possibility. He related that Ms. Anita Greiner, Senior Planner, told him on June 9 that any structure placed on that property will count against the square footage limit, including the canvasses. He encouraged everyone to fill the County Commission Chamber by attending the public hearing at the BCC Meeting on September 23.
Commr. Parks assured everyone that their staff works hard, although they are not perfect.
Mr. Bob Perry, a resident of Clermont, recapped that the constituents of Lake County voted for the Comprehensive Plan years ago and asked why they do not stick with that plan.
Ms. Michele Bodzioch, a 16-year resident of Susanís Landing in Clermont, commented that the amount of foot traffic, traffic problems, accidents, and crime has increased significantly in their neighborhood since the Circle K has moved nearby. She elaborated that turning left out of Susanís Landing is very dangerous and even makes it difficult for the school children to cross the street to get on the school bus; and she commented that that traffic is getting worse and scarier. She concluded that the residents have not asked for this project and do not need or want it, and she encouraged the residents in attendance to keep voicing their opinions about this application.
Ms. Georgianne Lowney, a resident of Susanís Landing in Clermont, which she pointed out was adjacent to the Daughtery property, commented that she was very concerned about this project. She opined that she does not believe a rural support corridor is appropriate on Lakeshore Drive, and the residents want something that would beautify and enhance their area as well as benefit many rather than just one person.
Mr. Robert Meredith, a resident of Susanís Landing in Clermont, mentioned that most of his concerns had already been voiced at this meeting by other residents who have spoken, and noted that although the County mailed out 48 postcards, there were more than 48 households in attendance, which he believed was indicative of how concerned the whole community was about this project. He reiterated that the community does not want it.
Mr. Charles Francis, a resident of Clermont and Treasurer of the Crescent Bay Subdivision, questioned the validity of the information given by the applicant and the County regarding this project, and he mentioned that the County had refused to put a traffic light up that would have made it easier for residents to get out of his neighborhood.
Mr. Charles Dinello, President of the Crescent Bay Subdivision, mentioned that he moved from Fort Lauderdale to this area 4Ĺ years ago because he could not stand the traffic, commercial building, or crime. He pointed out that he had spoken to Mr. Daughtery many times, but the plans he presented to him kept changing. He expressed a concern that the applicant wanted the gas station to pay for the whole development in order to make $1.2 million, and he opined that the applicantís goal is to get wealthy while devaluing everyone elseís properties.
Ms. Mary Jo Pfeiffer, a resident of Clermont, mentioned that the Planning & Zoning Board did not really like the project they approved at the preliminary hearing that she attended on April 2, but approved it with the belief that someone else will make the final decision.
Mr. Patrick Solomon, a resident of Susanís Landing in Clermont, emphasized that he had moved there because it was rural, and he wanted the zoning to remain the way it was. He pointed out that the area already has commercial property which the residents will support if a business is built on it, but they do not need additional commercial land. He also expressed a concern about additional crime that a gas station-convenience store will bring. He concluded that the profit of one man should not outweigh the concerns of all the other people in the area.
Mr. Travis Campbell, a resident of Lake Crescent Pines in Clermont, stated that he agreed with Mr. Ault and commented that it will be very easy to change what is built on that property once the whole corridor becomes commercial. He stated that there have been discrepancies that have been pointed out in their original plan that would make it easier for them to put other commercial that they do not want in that area which would attract crime to their rural neighborhoods. He requested that they do not let this corridor become commercial.
Mr. Andrew Avins, a resident of Crescent Bay in Clermont, mentioned that he and his wife had moved to the area two months ago from Miami, because he had a feeling a while back while visiting the area that Clermont was where he wanted to live. He talked about the overdevelopment of the Miami area in the last 50 years that has destroyed the beauty of the area, and he requested that they do not let that happen in Clermont, since they had moved there to get away from that.
Mr. Allen Fugler, a resident of Clermont, stated that he was speaking on behalf of 22 of his neighbors who were unanimously opposed to this development, and he expressed concern about a sinkhole or ruptured gasoline tank ruining the environment and putting tens of thousands of gallons of toxicity into the community. He commented that the crime, traffic and pollution that would result from this development are apparent. He opined that the area does not need another gas station, since there were already several in the area such as RaceTrac, BP, and Wawa. He stated that he believed that the vagueness and plasticity of this ordinance and land plan and the refusal to live within the 30-year land use plan mean that they should not go forward with this request. He pointed out that attorneys get paid to find loopholes in ordinances and land use plans, and he asked that they not allow them to exploit any kind of softness in those ordinances. He concluded that he vehemently opposes any type of commercial development there.
Mr. Josh Albright, a high-school student and resident of Clermont, commented that he did not want the troublemakers he sees hanging around the Circle K ending up in his neighborhood. He pointed out that none of the residents want or need this project.
Ms. Lori English, a resident of Susanís Landing in Clermont, commented that she has seen a lot of things change since she moved there in 2000, and related that she was told so that she would accept the gas station that was built that it would be a nice country store and a French restaurant, and she believed that this project was no different. She opined that the applicant is lying to them in order to sandwich their community with another gas station and to profit from it. She added that she has seen drug dealers and needles at the current gas station, and she expressed hope that the traffic study that was done would be addressed by the Commissioners.
Commr. Parks related that staff would answer some technical questions such as the traffic study that was submitted as well as what will happen next procedurally, and then he and Commr. Sullivan will speak.
Ms. Darlene Burger, a resident of Clermont, mentioned that she was not notified of this meeting but found out about it through emails from other residents. She stated that she has been in the area since the 1980ís and has seen the amount of growth that has occurred in the area. She noted that she has recently found a hypodermic needle in her yard as they were mowing one day. She expressed concern about bringing a commercial corridor on a two-lane road into their rural area, although the residents only need to drive about a mile away to get to gas stations and any other store that they could possibly need. She emphasized that the residents do not want the project and want the area to stay the way it is.
Ms. Pam Shields, a resident who lives in Osprey Point in Clermont, pointed out that the location of the proposed project is still an eyesore across from their neighborhood and has already been problematic regarding crime and accidents.
Mr. Schmidt went over the amendment for the corridor, explaining that the corridor consisted of 10,000 square feet or 5,000 per parcel, with the applicant proposing development of 8,200 square feet. He emphasized that the rezoning of that property will require a public hearing if this amendment were approved at the BCC Meeting on September 23 and the final adoption hearing on December 16, as well as more public involvement. He commented that he appreciated this process and was glad they were all there. He clarified that if this application was denied on September 23, it will not go any further. He reiterated that he could not deny an application from being filed, since that would be denying the due process. He explained that besides the postcards that were mailed, they also placed notices in the newspaper and on the website, and he noted there were many that learned about this hearing from word of mouth.
Ms. Lantis stated that she was under the impression that an area would always be protected indefinitely after being designated as Green Swamp and that she does not know how one person could buy a piece of property and have more rights than everyone else who already owned land in the surrounding area.
Mr. Schmidt replied that he does not believe it was about rights and reiterated that any property owner is allowed to make an application for a future land use change or a rezoning, which would be evaluated based on the Comp Plan and other factors.
At this point, some people in the audience were shouting that the Green Swamp was supposed to be protected, was a source of their drinking water, and contained some threatened wildlife and plants. It was also declared that the main issue was an environmental one.
Commr. Sullivan explained that they have policies and procedures that are required by law stating that they have to go through this process. He commended Commr. Parks for allowing a forum like this and explained that this was a quasi-judicial process, which they were trying to explain as simply as they could. He reminded everyone that they live in a free enterprise system.
One person in the audience pointed out that Mr. Daughtery paid a very low price for that piece of land, which was zoned agriculture rather than commercial at the time he bought it.
Mr. Ault noted that Utilities Inc. has a municipal water well in the back of Crescent Bay and expressed concern that the dispensing of fuel from the gas station would affect the quality of water from that well.
Commr. Sullivan responded that the applicant has taken the sale of fuel out of his application. He then thanked everyone for attending the meeting.
Mr. Beliveau explained that there were two traffic analyses, which they refer to as Tier 1 and Tier 2, done by a traffic professional in Orlando, which were reviewed by Public Works staff and are on file with the County for review. He further related that those studies were done in coordination with the Lake Sumter MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization).
Mr. Dewey Harding, a resident of Crescent Bay in Clermont, opined that he believes all three of the parcels should have been handled individually.
A member of the audience asked how this amendment and change in zoning would affect the rest of the Comp Plan, especially regarding the Green Swamp area.
Commr. Parks explained that part of the process after an application is submitted is for the staff to determine if it was glaringly in opposition to the Comp Plan, including whether the zoning is consistent with the future land use, and the elected officials determining how it affects the Comprehensive Planís goals, objectives and policies is of equal or greater importance. He assured everyone that he and Commr. Sullivan were listening to everyone that night.
One person asked if the commercial development in the area triggered a sinkhole that had formed and whether there will be any environmental impacts from that.
Commr. Parks commented that he believes that is a very valid concern, and he added that sinkholes are a problem throughout Florida, particularly in this region. He related that a staff member explained to him that this particular sinkhole was caused by a leaking water line which caused the ground to slowly erode and collapse. He assured everyone that he understands all of their concerns and was glad to be able to communicate with them and listen to their comments at this meeting. He mentioned that there has been a plan in place for part of Lakeshore in their road program to put traffic devices in that location, and he assured everyone that he will work with the other Commissioners to address the speeding issue, add some medians, and put in traffic calming devices. He asked for anyone who had further questions or concerns to email him at email@example.com or call him at 352-343-9850 and mentioned that they could also go on their website for any updates or information. He commented that he hopes to see everyone at the public hearing on September 23. He emphasized the importance of planning for the future in general to avoid these kinds of issues from coming up continually and to avoid sacrificing the quality of life that they enjoy in South Lake.
Commr. Parks mentioned to everyone that the South Lake Water Initiative set up by the County Commission in partnership with five cities and the South Lake Chamber of Commerce has been working for three years to address long-term water resources and water supply issues, and they have Phase I completed which studied alternative water supplies. He related that the state has granted them $300,000 to come up with a preliminary plan for reuse and combining the systems together, which would achieve about a ten to fifteen percent efficiency of water. He reported that Phase II will be to discuss with local businesses real strategies for conservation and education for conserving water in the future, because withdrawals from their wells are affecting their lake levels from 5 to 15 percent, and he noted that Orlando and Orange County withdraw much more water than they do, which also affects their aquifer. He added that Phase III will be a basin-wide study of the upper basin of the Clermont Chain of Lakes, Big and Little Creek, and possibly into Polk County, including identification and documentation of all culverts and historical alterations to the land to determine how much those affect lake levels. He requested that they contact Representative Larry Metz and the Commissioners when the time comes to let them know that it is worth studying and having that documentation.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 8:05 p.m.
sean parks, vice chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK