A REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
march 24, 2015
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 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: Jimmy Conner, Chairman; Sean Parks, Vice Chairman; Timothy I. Sullivan; Leslie Campione; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: David Heath, County Manager; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Barbara F. Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION and pledge
Mr. Fred Costello gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. David Heath, County Manager, announced that the public hearing for the Cemex rezoning is scheduled to be heard at 1:30 p.m.
Commr. Conner related that Commr. Sullivan was in route to the meeting and was expected to arrive soon.
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Cadwell, and carried unanimously by those present (before the arrival of Commr. Sullivan) by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved the Minutes of February 24, 2015 (Regular Meeting) as presented.
citizen question and comment period
Mr. Vance Jochim, a writer of a blog about governmental fiscal issues, noted that the audit report contained in the Clerk’s Consent Agenda for the E911 services recommended more consolidation of all the emergency call centers within the county, presenting a graph illustrating that Clermont has saved their taxpayers about $250,000 per year by consolidating their call center with the County, and he opined that the other cities could save the taxpayers a total of about $800,000 if they consolidated their services with the County as well. He commented that he thinks these issues should be discussed at the BCC meetings, and there should be a plan of action to try to get the other cities to reduce the overall cost to taxpayers in Lake County. In addition, he pointed out that the audit also mentioned a need for time logs for allocating expenses to separate out other activities and projects that the 911 operators are doing so that those are not being charged to the 911 fund. He also suggested that the County develop their own computer systems using software tools and data bases developed in-house rather than purchase them.
Mr. Walter Price, a resident of Tavares who lives on Lake Tavares, related that the City of Tavares has an ordinance which prohibits motorized boats in Lake Tavares and expressed concern about a problem caused by the fact that a small portion of Lake Tavares which is located in the County is not covered by a similar ordinance prohibiting the use of motorized boats and as a result has seen some motorboat activity. He mentioned that the City, after hearing the issue before the City Council, decided to send a letter to the Board recommending that the County create a similar ordinance for the County portion of the lake. He elaborated that the lake was 30 acres in size and expressed concerns about pollution from the motor oil and gas and contamination from other kinds of plants. He presented a petition with 32 signatures of residents who live near the lake, including those on the County portion, asking for the County to adopt an ordinance that prohibits motorized boats on Lake Tavares.
Commr. Conner noted that they had received a letter from the City and that he asked the County Manager to move forward with resolving the issue. He asked for a timeline on that.
Mr. Heath responded that they would research that issue and bring it back at a future Board meeting within the next six weeks.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that they refer to language they used for Silver Glen regarding enforcement so that they have an agreement on what agency would enforce that regulation in order to avoid duplication of services.
Commr. Conner commented that they will encourage the County Manager to bring this forward as quickly as possible, and he thanked Mr. Price for bringing that issue forward.
Ms. Fran Rice, a resident of Tavares, stated that she had intended to discuss the issue that Mr. Price brought up, but that all of her concerns had been addressed.
presentation of proclamations
presentation of surveyors and mappers week proclamation
Commr. Campione read Proclamation No. 2015-21 declaring March 15-21, 2015 as Florida Surveyors and Mappers Week aloud, which had already been approved at a previous BCC meeting on March 10 and was effective. She then presented it to the following surveyors:
CLERK OF COURTS’ CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Sullivan and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Clerk of Courts’ Consent Agenda, Items 1 through 5, as follows:
List of Warrants
Request to acknowledge receipt of list of warrants paid prior to this meeting, pursuant to Chapter 136.06 (1) of the Florida Statutes, which shall be incorporated into the Minutes as attached Exhibit A and filed in the Board Support Division of the Clerk’s Office.
Ordinance from Town of Lady Lake
Request to acknowledge receipt of Ordinance from the Town of Lady Lake for the voluntary contraction (de-annexation) of approximately 3.18 acres of real property generally located south of Lake Griffin and east of Dulgar Road, described in attached Exhibit A.
Semi Annual Investment Report
Request to acknowledge receipt of Semi Annual Investment Report dated December 31, 2014 for FY 2015 from the Lake County Clerk of Courts to be submitted to the Board of County Commissioners semiannually in accordance with investment ordinance adopted July 19, 2005.
Inspector General Report BCC-128 of E911 Services
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Inspector General Report BCC-128 Follow-up Review of Audit of E911 Services.
Notice of Public Hearing from City of Eustis
Request to acknowledge receipt of Notice of Public Hearing from the City of Eustis to surrounding property owners of a quasi-judicial public hearing regarding Ordinance No’s. 15-04, 15-05, and 15-06 to consider land use designation and annexation of 1.06 acres located at the northwest corner of N. SR 19 and Haselton Road, to be held March 19, 2015 at 5:55 p.m. in the City Commission Room, 10 North Grove Street, Eustis.
Meeting Agenda from Country Greens CDD
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Meeting Agenda for October 27, 2014, from Country Greens Community Development District, together with Financial Statement.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Sullivan and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the County Manager’s Consent Agenda, Tabs 4 through 24 as follows:
Request for approval of Proclamation No. 2015-24 proclaiming March 2015 as Eye Donor Month, per Commr. Conner.
Request for approval of Proclamation No. 2015-23 declaring March 28, 2015 as Developmental Disability Awareness Day, per Commissioner Conner.
Request for approval of Proclamation No. 2015-25 proclaiming April 2015 as Child Abuse Prevention Month, per Commissioner Conner.
Request approval of Proclamation No. 2015-26 declaring March 23-29, 2015 as "Orlando. You Don't Know the Half of It" Week. There is no fiscal impact.
Request approval of Proclamation No. 2015-27 in observance of National Library Week in Lake County, April 12 - 18, 2015. There is no fiscal impact.
Request for approval and signature on the Agreement between Lake County, Florida and New Beginnings of Central Florida, Inc. pertaining to the Shelter Plus Care Program. There is no fiscal impact.
Community Safety and Compliance
Request for approval of revised South Lake Regional Water Initiative (SLRWI) Interlocal Agreement to retain a consultant for the group. The fiscal impact is a maximum of $5,000 which has already been budgeted and approved for FY15 as the County's obligation.
Request for approval of the Satisfaction and Release of Code Enforcement Liens on the property owned by Joyce Galassi in Mt. Dora, District 4. The fiscal impact is $5,000.00 (Revenue).
Request for approval of the Satisfaction and Release of the Animal Service Lien against January Holley and Kathy Holley. The fiscal impact is $650 (Revenue).
Request for approval to solicit and accept sponsorships for a Lake County event - The 4th Annual Wings and Wildflowers Festival to be held October 2-4, 2015 at the Venetian Gardens in Leesburg, FL. There is no fiscal impact.
Facilities Development and Management
Request for approval to award purchase contract for one (1) mobile vehicle lift system under Invitation to Bid (ITB) number 15-0612 to Heavy Duty Lift & Equipment, Inc., (Flowery Branch, GA) in the amount of $25,559.00 for the Fleet Management Division, and authorize execution of all procurement documentation by the Procurement Office. The fiscal impact is $25,559.00 (Expenditure).
Request for approval to use the State of Florida contract for purchasing and installation of carpeting, and authorize Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation. The estimated fiscal impact for the initial year of the contract is $95,000, which includes activity at the Courthouse.
Request for approval of agreement with Applied Data Systems (Mt. Dora, FL) to furnish and install Archibus software that will allow Lake County to manage and record all facets of facility management being completed within the buildings maintained by the County. The fiscal impact is $57,927.20 (Expenditure).
Fiscal and Administrative Services
Request for approval to (1) declare the items on the attached list surplus to County needs, (2) authorize the removal of all of the items on the attached list from the County’s official fixed asset inventory system records, and (3) authorize the Procurement Manager to execute any required title documents. There is no fiscal impact.
Request for approval for the purchase of one (1) gas identification system for the Lake County Fire Rescue Division of Public Safety from Smiths Detection Inc. (Danbury, CT), with authorization for Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation. Also, request approval of a budget transfer. The fiscal impact is $49,995.00 (Expenditure).
Request for approval of Purchase Order to Motorola for $48,076 and Clifton’s Tower Service, Inc. for $15,280 for repairs to the lightning damaged Minneola Communication Tower equipment as follows: MOSCAD site alarm ($16,436), Microwave Radios - 4.9 GHZ PTP ($15,280), and tower lights ($31,640). The total estimated cost for labor, repair and replacement of equipment is $63,356.
Request for approval and signature of Resolution No. 2015-28 to advertise Public Hearing to vacate portions of rights of way in the Plat of the Town of Hampton (PB 1, Pg 63), in the Umatilla area. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 5.
Request for approval and signature of Resolution No. 2015-29 to advertise a Public Hearing (Lake County and Senninger Irrigation, Inc.) to vacate portions of Lake Highlands platted rights of way (PB3/24 & PB3/52) in the Clermont area. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 2.
Request for approval of Resolution No. 2015-30 and execution of the Transportation Economic Development Transportation and County Incentive Grant Program Project Fund Agreement for the construction of the widening of County Road 466A from Sunny Court to US 27 (SR 500) from the existing two-lane roadway to an urban four-lane roadway with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in the amount of $2,652,878.00, and request approval to advertise for bids.
Request for authorization to accept a performance bond in the amount of $398,797.15 associated with Right of Way Utilization Permit #6487 and Commercial/Subdivision Driveway Connection Permit #53063, for the Ardmore Reserve subdivision in the City of Minneola. The subject turn lanes and driveway connection will be located along Grassy Lake Road, just south of Citrus Grove Road, in the City of Minneola. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 2.
Request for approval of a County deed from Lake County to CFX (Central Florida Expressway Authority) for the Wekiva Parkway Project # 429-206 in the Sorrento area. This County deed will quit claim any interest the County may have in RW parcels 329, 331 and 332. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 4.
presentation regarding community use of school facilities
Ms. Wendy Breeden, Public Resources Director, recapped that last year the Board asked staff to meet with Lake County Schools about community use of school facilities and particularly for sports-related use, and she reported that staff and Commr. Parks met with School Board member Debbie Stivender, Superintendent Susan Moxley, and Lauren DeRidder, Lake County Schools Risk Manager, during the time that the school system was in the midst of revising its facility use policy. She related that Ms. DeRidder and Mr. Patrick Todd, Lake County School’s Athletic Department Director, would update the Board on its recently-updated policy.
Ms. DeRidder stated that she would be presenting to the Board a brief overview of their use of facilities policy at Lake County Schools and commented that since they understood that their schools are public property and are paid for and maintained by taxpayer dollars, they do their best to make their facilities available to the general public. She explained that they had a comprehensive formal School Board policy which provides guidelines and rules to ensure consistency across the District about how they apply their policy. She specified that during the 2013-14 school year, they had more than 165 outside facility use rentals, many of which recurred weekly for an entire sports season, and they have had so far in 2014-15 more than 170 outside facility use rentals, and she listed some of the uses or groups that use their facilities, including youth groups and clubs, athletic teams, private lessons, concerts, shows, religious organizations, and charitable organizations. She related that they made some recent process improvements to this policy to make it easier and more accessible to the public, using an electronic application posted on the school system website rather than old-fashioned hard copy applications, and she mentioned that they also have added an easily-accessible TULIP (tenant users liability insurance policy) designed for organizations or individuals that do not already have general liability insurance, which they do require. She added that they had a fee schedule designed to cover their estimated cost for utilities with reasonable and minimal costs ranging from $8 an hour for rental of a classroom to $30 an hour for the commercial rate for rental of a lighted football field, as well as staff fees for custodial and food service employees of $30 per hour.
Mr. Todd commented that one of the challenges with their athletic facilities is to create as many opportunities as they can for community members and especially youth to have a chance to participate in athletics, which may require facilities the cities may not have, and to make those facilities readily available. However, there is a concern about the impact to their outside sports fields and facilities used by numerous sports teams and the potential for overuse to the point that fields do not have an opportunity to recover. He explained that they have looked into how to maintain those facilities at a level that is suitable for varsity athletics and still provide that type of use to accommodate their community. He related that they are trying to create partnerships with some of the cities in order to make some of the municipal facilities readily available, and they have looked at enhancing and upgrading their own practice facilities at a level suitable for game competition in order to accommodate the large number of users. He concluded that they were open to any suggestions and excited to serve their community at that level.
Commr. Parks asked Ms. DeRidder to explain the difficulty with the any resident being able to use the facilities during the day for personal recreational uses, since the older schools are designed in a way that makes that prohibitive due to security issues.
Ms. DeRidder explained that the single entry to many schools presents a challenge and that they have to comply with the Jessica Lunsford Act. She added that the safety and security of their students is paramount, and sometimes that does present a bit of a conflict in opening up the tracks or facilities during the school day when students are present on campus.
Commr. Campione asked about the possibility of using the field or the track during the weekends when they are not being used as part of the school day.
Ms. DeRidder responded that she believed it depended on the design of the school when the field is not outside a locked fenced-in area, since someone needed to unlock the fence.
Commr. Campione asked that the school district consider looking at different locations for the opportunity for public use and suggested that they give another presentation before the Board after looking at whether there is interest in the community for that.
Ms. DeRidder replied that there was a provision in their community use policy that allows the public to access tracks for personal exercise that are accessible during daylight hours, and that usage is exempt from the facility use policy. She assured the Board that she will do research to come up with a list of which facilities would fall within that criteria and policy without a staff member providing access.
Commr. Conner opined that most of the school tracks would now be secured because of vandalism.
Commr. Campione pointed out that Sorrento Elementary was designed as a joint project with the County and the School District.
Commr. Cadwell commented that although he understands the liability and security reasons for locking up the schools, Sorrento Elementary was supposed to be a prime example of a community facility in the off-hours, but it has not reached its potential as they had planned. He elaborated that the actual experience residents are having in accessing the fields throughout the county is not good, which he believes is due to the way the individual principals interpret and utilize that policy and their mindset. He added that he believes the Board needed to have a discussion with the School Board and Superintendent regarding the design needed for a community park or athletic facility, the policy decision regarding public access, and the costs to shut off part of the school from access while making the rest of the property easy to be accessed by the public without having to fill out forms and jump through hoops to walk around the track.
Commr. Parks commented that people are looking at the best value they could get for the money going into these facilities, and he believed it was a good idea to have that discussion. He pointed out that there was discussion about the school system coordinating with the County to draw events for economic development benefit.
Commr. Conner asked whether there is a countywide policy for specific use of facilities or if it was a principal’s decision unilaterally.
Ms. DeRidder responded that it would go through the facility use policy, which states that the facilities will be available to the public when not in conflict with any school related functions or philosophies, after an application is completed and approved by the principal, and it would come to her next. She added that anyone has a right to appeal a decision and assured the Board that the policy is intended to encourage the use.
special assessment for colley drive
Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, explained that since the plat of the area for this special assessment has been around since 1959, it predates a lot of the County’s subdivision regulations. He mentioned that the County has done 105 of these projects since the special assessment program started in 1982, and he gave some of the general special assessment program criteria. He related that the property owners usually contact Public Works about interest in paving their road, and the property owners then distribute the petitions to be signed by at least 55 percent of the property owners with 55 percent of the front footage. He noted that the County checks to see that it has sufficient right of way before going ahead with the project. He stated that the County would share the cost and pay 50 percent for a collector road and 33 percent for a local road, with the property owners paying the remainder, and the property owner has 30 days to pay in full before the unpaid balance goes on their tax bill at usually 2 percent above prime for up to ten years.
Mr. Stivender illustrated on a map that the Colley Drive project is located just east of Tavares, pointing out a lake or pond behind a lot of the lots, and he mentioned that this project has been discussed for a long time. He noted that although Colley Drive is narrow, they made the right of way work by designing swales and other adjustments. He explained that the County would be paying about $48,000 more than usual to cover the cost of picking up the front footage near the railroad owned by CSX Transportation that was common property in the area, as well as two small sections of land near the railroad owned by some of the property owners. He recapped that the initial project was started by Mr. Sam Sawyer, an interested homeowner, who started working several years ago with the adjacent property owners to get the petitions signed in support of the road improvement assessment by October 2013, and the County authorized to advertise for bids in December 2013 after receiving signed petitions from 56 percent of the property owners who own 55.16 percent of road frontage. He reported that they had received the bids for construction on February 5, 2015, and he emphasized that the bids came in lower than the estimated cost of $65.55 per foot per property owner and would actually be only $43.79. He elaborated that the total cost of the project was $307,479.54, and the County’s share plus the railroad frontage would be $158,461.53. He requested that the Board approve a resolution to move forward with the special assessment Project No. SA-105, Bid No. 15-0007, with an interest rate of 5.25 percent for seven years, and to encumber and expend funds in the amount of $293,367.35 for the cost of construction and title searches.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Mr. Sam Sawyer, a resident of Tavares, thanked the Board for considering this petition that they have put forth, and he stated that he hoped they would approve it for them. He added that he and his wife have seen Colley Drive deteriorate during the 37 years they have lived there to the condition that it is in today, and he commented that it is in serious need of repair.
There being no one else that wanted to address the Board, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Commr. Campione noted that there was no opposition in the backup materials.
Commr. Conner asked what the lowest interest rate was that they could offer over a ten-year period.
Mr. Stivender responded that a previous project charged 5.25 percent for seven years, and another one charged 3.25 percent for ten years, although those were for a larger lot of five-acre tracts.
Commr. Conner asked for a minimal interest rate and expressed his preference for making the interest rate for this project at prime rather than the usual prime plus two percent.
Commr. Cadwell expressed concern that doing that might reduce the amount of money that is available for the next project and suggested that the Board have a discussion in the future about the policy for the interest rates the Board would charge for these special assessment projects going forward.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Sullivan and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board authorized Special Assessment Project No. SA-105, Bid No. 15-0007 for Colley Drive, executed Resolution No. 2015-31 to adopt the tentative special assessment roll for the SA-105 project, awarded the construction of the project to John L. Finch Contracting Corp. in the amount of $291,492.35, and encumbered and expended funds in the amount of $ 293,367.35 for the cost of construction and title searches ($145,043.72 to be expended from Renewal Sales Tax Capital Projects-PW – Roads – County Share and $148,323.63 to be expended from County Transportation Trust Fund – Special Assessments – Roads – Property Owner Share). This project is located in unincorporated Tavares in Sections 27 & 34 Township 19S, Range 26E. Commission District 3. The Board set the interest rate for this special assessment at 3.25 percent.
vacation petition no. 1214 – robert albers – chuck hiott – astor
Mr. Stivender explained that Vacation Petition No. 1214 was to vacate a portion of the Plat of Astor by Mr. Robert Albers represented by Mr. Chuck Hiott, and he showed the location of this vacation on an overhead map. He added that there was a letter of support for this vacation from FDOT, and they had no need for any drainage or right of way in that area. He recommended approval to vacate.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding this vacation, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Commr. Cadwell mentioned that this originated as a code case, and the site plan would have to come back to the County if this vacation was approved. He commented that he did not think anything on this site was up to code or permitted, and he expressed especial concern with the containers on the property. He added that this was located on a major corridor going through Astor, but there was no public use for that property, which is usually a major factor in making a decision for vacation.
Commr. Campione commented that she could not believe that there was a business operation working out of those containers, and everything about it looked different than what they normally would see on a site plan in Lake County. She suggested allowing the situation to get corrected and then address the vacation at the time of the site plan, and she expressed concern about giving official approval and rewarding something that is problematic.
Commr. Cadwell responded that this type of situation has happened in Astor on some of the old platted roads, but they were not located on SR 40. He also asked how they could present a site plan which would include property that does not belong to the applicant.
Commr. Campione responded that they could mark on the site plan “subject to vacation” before bringing it in for the initial reviews, and the site plan would be approved subject to the vacation being approved. She also asked if they could keep some of the rights of way intact as open space as Astor develops and has more commercial activity in the future in order to keep some of the rural feel to that area.
Commr. Cadwell opined that that could be done with design standards for the rural commercial corridors.
Commr. Campione commented that she cannot vote in favor of this and believes this has to get addressed.
Mr. Chuck Hiott related that they were working on the site plan, but they cannot move forward with it because of the bad situation created by the containers that were put in improperly a long time ago. He pointed out that Mr. Albers has purchased the western part of the property in order to have both sides of the right of way, and the vacation of this specific right of way will enable them to come to the County with their site plan, which will contain a landscaping plan as part of the site plan requirements. He assured the Board that the applicant will be required to bring the property up to code and into compliance, and he pointed out that Mr. Albers purchased this property not knowing that he was in violation and that there were some serious encroachments into the right of way, since the violation occurred prior to Mr. Albers’ purchase of the property. He further explained that after this is vacated, they plan to do a unity of title to combine this with the property that is owned by Mr. Albers to the west and then do a lot line deviation to work another commercial piece on the western portion.
Commr. Cadwell elaborated that the western piece is just a residence right now, although it is part of the rural commercial corridor, so there was always an assumption that something else would go there.
Commr. Campione asked whether the containers would be part of the site plan and if the County allows business to be done out of containers.
Mr. Hiott responded that the County does not allow that, and that would be part of cleaning up the site plan. He elaborated that storage units were allowed, but the business cannot be physically run out of them.
Mr. Stivender clarified that staff supported the vacation, because there was no public purpose for the right of way.
Commr. Campione suggested that the motion reflect that this vacation is subject to the site plan being approved in order to ensure that the Board was not approving it prior to this owner addressing the things that need to be taken care of on the site plan.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Resolution No. 2015-32 for a Public Hearing on Vacation Petition No. 1214 (Robert Albers, Rep. Chuck Hiott) to vacate a portion of right of way known as 2nd Street, in the Plats of Astor, recorded in PB 1, Pg. 24 and PB 2, Pg. 12, with the stipulation that the vacation would not become effective until after the site plan approval for the entire parcel There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 5.
community safety and compliance
advertisement of ordinance regarding nuisance vegetation
Mr. Brian Sheahan, Community Safety and Compliance Director, stated that he would present the proposed ordinance for the Nuisance Abatement Weeds Amendment to the Board which will address the maintenance of uncultivated vegetation. He recapped that the Board requested that staff bring back an ordinance in December that amended their weeds maintenance requirements to address recreational uses adjacent to developed property, specifically concerning a request brought to the County by a local community that was having issues with adjacent areas that were not being maintained properly. He illustrated on a chart what other counties were doing in this regard, noting that all of the surrounding counties except for one have nuisance abatement related to weeds and tall grass, and the height requirements vary between 10 and 24 inches, although most jurisdictions do not address recreational uses. He added that the Seminole County ordinance has a distance requirement from structures, which they have found it difficult to enforce. He pointed out that Lake County has a lot size exemption that is established at one acre, and Polk County has a size exemption related to agricultural properties and two acres or more for developed property. He opined that that provision has worked well for Lake County in the past, although most other jurisdictions do not have that provision, and he also mentioned that the proposed ordinance will add a definition for “Improved Property” to include developed lands and clarify that recreational uses and stormwater ponds are included in that definition as well as “Recreational use” to capture active recreational uses. He also explained that the proposed ordinance maintains the current exemption for properties greater than one acre, except those used for recreational purposes or stormwater ponds and the requirement for grass and weeds to be maintained at 10 inches or less, which is consistent with the existing ordinance. He asked for approval to advertise the proposed ordinance to amend Article III Nuisance Abatement.
Commr. Parks clarified the recreational use that was discussed includes golf courses.
Mr. Sheahan clarified that it would include golf courses, soccer fields, other kinds of ball fields, and any active recreational type uses intended to keep maintained.
Commr. Parks opined that this would become more and more of an issue in the coming years as golf course communities transition, and they are trying to be proactive on that issue. He added that he believes this will give the County the ability to enforce the situations where unkempt golf courses are affecting the property values of nearby residents.
Mr. Sheahan elaborated that if there was an approved site plan for a golf course which shows it as a preserved rough or natural area, that would be allowed to be maintained in that condition; however, if there was no site plan approved, it would need to be maintained as it historically had been done. He added that the ordinance contained a provision for those courses that had been maintained since January 1, 2014, with those that were abandoned prior to that exempt from this provision.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that even the exempt properties would need to fall within the County’s code regarding vacant property, noting Mount Plymouth as a prime example of that.
Commr. Parks opined that the Mount Plymouth site is very far gone at this point.
Mr. Sheahan replied that it was also in various ownership and was not really a golf course anymore.
Commr. Parks noted that that was what they were trying to prevent.
Commr. Campione suggested that they go through the process of determining whether this ordinance would affect any other golf courses in the county by broadening the lot size exemption and to change the height of the grass.
Mr. Sheahan responded that they evaluated taking away the one acre requirement, which they calculated would bring in 16,000 additional properties that would be subject to the ordinance that are not subject to it now.
Commr. Cadwell clarified that they could make the ordinance less restrictive after advertising, although they could not make it more restrictive, and he suggested that they advertise it without the grandfather clause and add it back in later if they decided to do so after addressing all of the others in a public forum.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, explained that people who currently own those vacant properties have a vested right to let them grow under their current code, and putting additional restrictions on them could cause claims against the County.
Commr. Campione pointed out that this deals with nuisance abatement, citing problems in Mount Plymouth with rodents and snakes.
Commr. Cadwell explained that advertising it without a grandfather clause would give them time to decide what they wanted to do, and they could redo this ordinance in a year.
Commr. Parks replied that he likes that proposal, since it keeps the issue moving forward and addresses the concerns of the residents that this issue may get worse during the summer.
Commr. Campione agreed that they should move forward with it to get this issue addressed but asked staff to look at narrowing it to higher R6 residential lots and PUD’s.
Mr. Sheahan mentioned that there was a lot of R6 property in the county that was undeveloped, and the question would be whether the Board wanted to include those.
Commr. Sullivan urged the Board to apply common sense as they move forward with that, keeping in mind that there were specific problems that they needed to address.
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the advertisement of the ordinance revising Article III Nuisance Abatement of the County Code related to maintenance of nuisance vegetation, with removal of the reference of the effective date, and there was an understanding that staff will bring back possibilities of additional properties that could be affected by these regulations. There is no fiscal impact.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 10:25 a.m. that there would be a 15-minute recess.
budget work sessions
human services update and budget presentation
Ms. Allison Thall, Health and Human Services Division Manager, stated that she would provide an overview of their programs and their proposed FY 2016 Health and Human Services budget. She presented an organizational chart illustrating that their division was located within the Department of Community Services and the four sections within Health and Human Services, noting that there were six full-time County employees in their division. She related that the mission of Community Services is to serve as a link between government and the community to work with numerous partners to improve the quality of life while delivering the highest level of service, and the mission of the Health and Human Services Division was to provide services to many Lake County citizens through their programs such as the Children and Elders program, Community Health Worker program, and Veterans Services. She commented that their levels of service for each section within their division are reflected by the number of residents that they have served, and last year they have provided 264 Health Care Responsibility Act (HCRA) determinations, 152 indigent cremations and burials, and 173 Solid Waste-Fire Assessment Tax Hardship approvals; they also distributed about 4,100 resource directories, responded to over 3,400 phone calls from resident seeking assistance, provided information and referral to over 1,900 uninsured and underinsured residents, assisted 682 residents with health-related applications, and served over 7,700 veterans in their office and 429 veterans at the VA clinics in the Leesburg and Clermont areas. She pointed out that the accomplishments of their division were that they contracted with 13 private not-for-profit agencies to serve at-risk children and families and six not-for-profit agencies to provide basic needs for individuals and elders in crisis and partnered with the Sheriff’s Office to contract with Armor Correctional Health Services for inmate medical care, which has increased accuracy and accountability of inmate medical claims resulting in cost containment of medical services. She added that another of their efficiencies is consolidation of their Health and Human Service Grant Reporting functions.
Ms. Thall presented a bar graph illustrating the 2014 population estimates of Lake County and some of the surrounding counties and one depicting the actual state-mandated Medicaid costs assigned to each county by the Department of Revenue showing that Orange County maintains by far the highest Medicaid cost and Sumter County the lowest actual and per capita Medicaid cost, as well as showing a similar per capita cost for Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, and Polk Counties, although Lake was actually the second lowest of those counties. She showed bar graphs comparing veterans’ benefits dispersed by the Veterans Administration and per capita benefit per veteran, noting that the per capita benefit per veteran is relatively comparable throughout their area, although Osceola County rates the highest in this area.
Ms. Thall provided a list of the grants awarded to their 13 not-for-profit agencies funded through the Children’s Services Council, and she recognized the grantees who were in attendance, which were representatives of the Boys and Girls Club of Lake and Sumter Counties, Central Florida Pediatric Therapy Foundation, Cornerstone Hospice, E3 Family Solutions, the Early Learning Coalition, Easter Seals Florida, Educational Foundation of Lake County, Lake-Sumter Children’s Advocacy Center, Lake-Sumter State College, LifeStream, and New Vision for Independence. She explained that these organizations provide programs and services to the most fragile and at-risk children in their community for things such as therapy for special needs children, bereavement programs, and medical exams for physically-abused children, and she specified that over 3,300 children directly benefit from the grant funds awarded to those 13 agencies. She related that they were also able to fund six additional not-for-profit agencies with their Human Services Grants, and she acknowledged the representatives present for Catholic Charities, Faith Neighborhood Center, Lake Cares, Lake Community Action Agency and the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, noting that representatives from the Lake Eustis Foundation were not able to be present that day. She elaborated that these grants address the basic human needs of their community, such as rental and utility assistance, food, and prevention of homelessness, and she specified that over 3,200 residents directly benefit from these grants. She reported that the $47,500 in Human Services grants and $150,761 in Children Services grants represents 2.8 percent of their total Health and Human Services budget.
Ms. Thall gave details of the Health & Human Services Budget and pointed out that this budget is funded completely by the General Fund, with no revenue generated within the division. She related that the proposed FY 2016 budget consists of $331,314 in personal services, $63,473 in operating expenses, $265,236 in grants, $6,780,122 in mandated programs, and just over $2 million budgeted for inmate medical care; and she indicated that they propose to maintain the current levels of service in this budget. She added that the Health Department allocation remains the same as last year and that the Health Department will be providing an update to the Board at a future meeting on their public health program. She pointed out, however, that there are always possible changes to insurance rates, Workers Compensation rates, and FRS, but those items will be discussed in future budget presentations. She noted that this budget reflects a small increase in the General Fund due to their mandated programs and contractual obligations in the amount of $9,434, and she showed a chart listing the known changes to those programs and obligations resulting in that increase, reflecting the increases of the County’s Medicaid budget by $74,498 as determined by the Department of Revenue and the County’s portion of their inmate medical budget by $32,158, with these increases offset by the expected decrease in the Health Department budget by $97,222 due to the termination of a building lease. She presented a breakdown of the division’s expenditures, noting that personal services made up 3.5 percent of their budget, and the largest line items include Medicaid and inmate medical care.
Commr. Cadwell related that he plans on discussing the expansion of the grant program as they go through this budget process, because he believes it will be easy to show how well they leverage those dollars and that the services they get from the little bit of money they spend on those grants is amazing, after weighing it against all of the other needs that will be discussed. He thanked the Chairman for allowing him to be the liaison to the Children’s Services Council and also thanked the committee for doing an amazing job.
Commr. Sullivan asked if the state legislature’s efforts to expand or change Medicaid would affect any of the budget numbers moving forward.
Mr. Heath responded that they will be having future discussions about the Governor’s proposal regarding the Health Department and the possible changes and expansion of Medicaid.
Commr. Cadwell remarked that changes in LIP (Low Income Pool) funding can result in huge changes regarding primary care for those who need it.
Commr. Campione opined that those changes may result in new opportunities to partner with the hospitals and health care providers, although she realizes that they are going to have to deal with future issues regarding that. She then asked whether the inmate medical contract was increasing rather than decreasing as expected when the employees came under Armor Correctional Health Services rather than FRS because of the Affordable Care Act and whether they actually realized savings by that change.
Mr. Heath explained that there were additional first year costs that the Sheriff would not have in subsequent years, including the separation costs for the 28 employees, such as the payout of the vacation time.
Commr. Campione commented that the County was fortunate to have so many organizations that get the best value they could to give the residents of Lake County in need the services they provide.
public works operations update and budget presentation
Mr. Stivender stated that he and his staff will provide an overview of the Public Works budget and operations. He noted that his department has been reorganized several times over the last few years, and he presented an organizational chart showing that the Public Works Department contained the Divisions of Engineering, Environmental Services, Solid Waste, and Road Operations. He related that the Public Works mission was to provide timely services in a courteous and fiscally responsible manner while expending the funds given to their department to keep everyone safe and to serve the public.
Ms. Lori Conway, Road Operations Division Manager, related that there are 75 full-time employees in that division, and she presented an organizational chart illustrating that it was broken into Maintenance, Special Projects, Outsourcing Contracts, Construction Inspection, and Administration. She explained that there were three maintenance areas in the county, pointing them out on a map, and she gave their mission, which is to be directly or indirectly responsible for the construction and maintenance of the roadways, rights of way, and drainage contained in the County-maintained road network. She specified that there were 1,392 miles of roadway, including 27 bridges, 186 miles of sidewalk, and 20 miles of guardrail, and she mentioned that they also annually grade clay roads by grading 118 miles every two weeks. She related that they mow their rights of way from April to November, with 765 roadway miles of neighborhood roads mowed every five weeks by County staff, 311 miles of collector roads mowed every 4 weeks under contracted services, 60 miles of sidewalk mowed every week by County staff, and other roadways mowed as requested. She continued to list more of the Road Operations’ core services, such as inspection and evaluation of 1,245 miles of paved roads annually, tree removal and trimming, storm pipe cleaning and repair, litter removal performed by their mowing contractor, and management of the Adopt-a-Road Program. She added that they also bid and inspect projects such as roads, trails, and residential developments in accordance with approved construction plans for compliance with County standards, coordinate with FDOT on Local Agency Program (LAP) projects, develop the five-year transportation construction program, and administer the Special Assessment Program. She commented that there were many accomplishments in 2014, but she highlighted the resurfacing of 30 miles of roads, trimming of 69 miles of trees, removal of 51 hazardous trees, and bidding and construction of $13 million worth of projects.
Ms. Conway listed the efficiencies of their department, noting that they outsourced services for cost effectiveness and efficiency for 38 percent of their expenditures for services such as mowing, pavement repairs, asphalt, and drainage projects. She also assured the Board that they evaluate every asphalt overlay project for the best value and response time, and she noted that they lease their heavy equipment rather than purchasing it, saving the County about $115,000 for each motor grader plus the usually extensive maintenance cost for heavy equipment. She related that they surveyed surrounding counties for the miles of roadway they maintained and specified that Lake County has 1,392 miles compared to Marion at over 3,000. She mentioned that Lake County maintains 120 miles of clay roads, as opposed to none in Orange and 296 in Polk, and the County also maintains 186 miles of sidewalk, although Orange County maintains the most miles of sidewalk by far of any county at 2,995. She presented a bar graph illustrating the gas tax revenue that is restricted by statute for transportation expenditures only, and she explained that after she weighted the gas tax revenue for the miles maintained by the County, it showed that Lake County spends $8,200 per mile of road compared to Volusia at a staggering $20,000 per mile. She presented the Road Operations proposed FY 2016 budget reflecting their recommendation of a status quo budget with total expenditures of $8.4 million, and she pointed out that this budget is solely funded by the transportation trust fund and maintains the current levels of service with the possible exclusions of things such as Workers’ Comp rates, FRS rates, and health and property insurance rates.
Mr. Fred Schneider, County Engineer, went over the organizational chart for the Engineering Division which illustrated that it contained the sections of Design/Permitting, Development/ADA, Right of Way, Survey, and Traffic Engineering and Operations, and he noted that they had 43 full-time employees in the Engineering Division. He related that the Division’s mission statement is to enhance and protect the quality of life, health, and safety of the citizens of Lake County by delivering excellent engineering, surveying, and project management support through the efficient use of available manpower and resources; and working to provide for the safe and efficient movement of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicular traffic within the County. He reported that the Engineering Division works to provide support services to Public Works, the County, and other agencies as well as many areas of expertise which are needed to implement the Board’s programs. He added that the Division also seeks out opportunities for public-private partnerships for the construction of new roadways which are presented to the Board for approval, including with the FDOT, Lake Sumter MPO, cities, and towns, and holds public meetings to respond to citizen concerns. They also review and coordinate right of way deeds and easements for capital improvement program projects and developer requirements, as well as maintain right of way records and provide access of those records to the citizens. He elaborated that their division also manages county traffic operational infrastructure and maintains the signs, signals, and striping on County and city roads.
Mr. Schneider stated that their design section supports and conducts departmental engineering and permitting needs including new construction and maintenance and manages projects on the Transportation Construction Program from PD&E through design, permitting, right of way, and bid preparation. He went through all of the services provided through their division, including development and sidewalk construction, surveying, right of way research and acquisitions, traffic operations such as traffic signals and maintenance of roadways, and transportation and traffic engineering, including safety studies and signal timing evaluation. He reported that their accomplishments include the CR 466A Phase 1 and 2 projects with the help of TRIP funds, a legislative grant, and private funding; the $45 million North Hancock Road project with agreements and funding from the Florida Turnpike, FDOT, City of Minneola, and Family Dynamic’s Inc.; design and survey for $28 million of road projects; engineering or storm water and drainage projects; and addressing 112 sidewalk projects consisting of new construction, repairs and retrofits since FY 2011 at a cost of $2.9 million, with 11 of those Safe Access to School priorities.
Mr. Schneider listed some of the division’s efficiencies, including over $31,000 in annual savings due to in-house routing maintenance performed by County staff in their fuel remediation facility, utilizing the engineering staff for design of smaller projects, savings of $2,000 per year through reuse of traffic signs, and the contracting out of their traffic signal services for reconstruction and rebuilds. He showed slides depicting bar graphs of the total number of traffic signals and flashing beacons in the surrounding counties, and he specified that the County has 75 signals for each technician. He also showed a graph illustrating the total number of traffic signs as well as signs per technician, which are 8,100 signs per sign technician in Lake County. He also assured the Board that they inspect every one of their signals on a monthly rotation. He went over the FY 2016 proposed budget which consisted of $2,606,286 for personal services, $2,180,579 for operating expenses, and $102,175 for capital outlay, with $86,993 going to the LSMPO, for a total expenditure amount of $4,976,033; and he noted that reflected a status quo budget which maintains the current levels of service.
Ms. Mary Hamilton, Environmental Services Division Manager, related that they have 23 full-time and 12 part-time employees (spray truck operators) after displaying their organizational chart on the monitor showing that it included stormwater, water lab, mosquito and aquatic plant management, and fiscal and administrative services as part of the Environmental Services Division. She indicated that the mission of their division is to provide for the planning, design, and construction of water quality-related stormwater improvements and monitor and regulate discharges and land disturbing activities that could affect the quality of nearby receiving waters, and she added that the Division also protects public health through effective and environmentally safe methods of mosquito and aquatic plant control and is responsible for the sampling and analysis of various types of waters. She pointed out that they have treated over one million acres and over 2,000 acres of invasive aquatic plants with their four biological employees. They have processed 3,296 water samples which resulted in 15,966 analytes being run in their water lab. Also, they received over 3,000 information requests last year regarding stormwater resulting in 405 flood zone determinations, 143 flood permits, and 62 map changes, and they completed over 2,400 residential lot grading inspections, field surveyed and mapped over 3,000 portion stormwater system components, and constructed over $1 million in stormwater capital improvements.
Ms. Hamilton stated that their accomplishments included the avoidance of an elevated health threat from diseases such as West Nile Virus and Easter Equine Encephalitis and their success in continuing to eradicate invasive exotic aquatic plant species so that their citizens and visitors could continue to enjoy recreational opportunities on their water bodies. She added that another of their accomplishments is that the Water Lab and Adopt a Lake Program participated in an educational event to work on eradication of invasive air potato plants using a beetle and published and distributed over 1,700 of the Adopt a Lake calendars since 2012. She specified that their stormwater accomplishments included completion of the five-year audit under the new community rating system manual and maintenance of their Class 7 which allows their citizens to receive a 15 percent discount on their flood insurance, reduction of their flood permitting and determination fees by going to a GIS based system which required less staff time to process, and hosting of multiple Florida Erosion Control Inspector classes in the county for staff and contractors at no charge. She reported that one of their efficiencies is that staff developed two prototype mosquito collection devices to check suspected areas for dengue or chikungunya for $15 rather than paying $250 to buy those devices; also, they have acquired a used discrete analyzer for their water lab for $1,400 rather than $47,000 for a new one. She showed a bar graph depicting mosquito expenditures per capita for the surrounding counties, illustrating that Lake County’s per capita cost of $3.94 was second only to Volusia at $8.19, and she pointed out that Marion County does not provide mosquito services. She also showed bar graphs of the mosquito expenditures per acre and stormwater expenditures per capita, with Lake being the lowest and Marion the highest for per capita stormwater, noting that Marion County has a countywide MSBU and Volusia and Orange both have multiple dedicated funding sources. She presented their FY 2016 proposed budgets for Mosquito Control, the Water Lab, and the Stormwater MSTU with the totals of $1,304,051; $276,042; and $515,578 respectively.
Mr. Stivender went over the Public Works budget, noting that the vast majority of their revenue comes from the gas tax, and he commented that the recent renewal of the six cents helped a lot to stabilize this fund. He specified that the gas tax provided over $12 million, the general fund provided $1,611,837, MSTU Stormwater contributed $515,578, and grants were $196,324, noting that they apply for as many grants as possible. He gave a breakdown of the expenditures in the budget, which included $7.3 for personal services, $7.7 for operating expenses, $320,675 capital outlay mostly from sales tax, and aids to government agencies of $86,993; and he pointed out that road maintenance was a large part of their operating expense budget. He also mentioned that the County was paying a lot less for fuel than they were a few years ago, and one of their challenges is due to old software and that the data collectors they currently have are no longer supported by vendors. He added that they want to put more cameras in the field at their intersections, and several pieces are in place so that they could get live feeds to the EOC from those cameras as other counties do so that they could see accident information.
Commr. Parks commented that since the County was doing signs only for the Cities of Clermont and Tavares, there could still be a possibility of efficiencies with the other cities, and he opined that there could be a benefit to the city residents by doing that as well because of the economy of scale. He also mentioned that he receives only positive feedback about the work of the road crews, and he encouraged staff to be aggressive in taking care of the Safe Routes to School projects, pursue funding for some of those projects, and promote pedestrian and bike safety.
commission discussion/action items
DISCUSSION regarding county attorney position
Commr. Conner recapped that the Board discussed Mr. Minkoff’s notice of retirement at their last meeting and noted that Mr. Minkoff and Mr. Heath sent a memo to the Commissioners regarding their options. He asked the Board for their thoughts on a course of action.
Commr. Cadwell commented that he did not want the chance of having an opportunity to advance someone on their staff who has been there for a long time and has shown the capability to do the job to pass them by, and he specified that Ms. Melanie Marsh, Deputy County Attorney, has brought 17 years of experience to the office. He remarked that Ms. Marsh had done an excellent job as interim County Attorney while Mr. Minkoff served as interim County Manager, and he stated that he would be very comfortable with Ms. Marsh being offered the job as County Attorney.
Commr. Parks related that although he usually would be in favor of a broader search, he is absolutely comfortable moving forward with Ms. Marsh in this particular case and believes she will do a good job for them.
Commr. Sullivan stated that he agreed with that assessment and elaborated that she brought 17 years of institutional knowledge that would be very hard to replace. He added that he believes creating an opportunity for someone to move forward in their organization would send a good message to the staff in general, and he was comfortable with moving forward with a contract for Ms. Marsh.
Commr. Campione commented that she agreed that experience and institutional knowledge are very important, and she opined that Ms. Marsh is an exceptionally good attorney. She concluded that she believes that negotiating a contract with her is a win-win situation for the County.
On a motion by Commr. Sullivan, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board gave approval to move forward with a contract for Ms. Melanie Marsh to succeed Mr. Minkoff as County Attorney after his retirement.
reports – commissioner parks – vice-chairman and district 2
golden eagle dinner
Commr. Parks related that he had attended the Golden Eagle dinner, where they honored Commr. Campione, and he thanked her for her donations and time that she committed to that event to make it great for scouting.
youth of the year
Commr. Parks mentioned that he had attended and was a judge for the Youth of the Year for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club. He commented that he was impressed with the children who attended and who discussed their plans for the future and what they were going to do to serve their community.
south Lake regional water initiative update
Commr. Parks gave an update on the South Lake Regional Water Initiative and the discussion regarding the alternative water supply for the five cities of South Lake and the County, which he noted was well underway. He reported that the cities are all in agreement to work toward a unified code for landscaping that would address water conservation for new development, and he asked to put this issue on the agenda for the near future.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that they separate out the landscaping portion from the rest of the discussion about turf and ground cover and to discuss landscaping first.
Commr. Campione recommended that they just make suggestions regarding ground cover and turf.
Commr. Sullivan added that the key to that process is that they coordinate with the cities to avoid having three different standards.
Commr. Parks urged the Board to see the big picture about where the Water Initiative was going, because it is getting a lot of attention statewide as a model for sub-regional cooperation, and he believes that what they are doing will show the water management districts which issue the consumptive use permits that they are focusing on the conservation aspect of that as well.
REPORTS – COMMISsIONER campione – DISTRICT 4
trap - neuter - release program
Commr. Campione reported that they had their meeting at the Agricultural Center with the Sheriff on Wednesday, March 18, from about 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. to discuss the trap-neuter-release concept, with about 100 people in attendance. She opined that they had a great response and received a lot of great information. She stated that she was hoping to bring forward for advertising a proposed ordinance at the beginning of April with adoption hopefully later that month with input from the Sheriff for the specifics that would actually help him do the job that he is trying to do at the shelter, cut costs, and facilitate people who are trying to provide this as a service to try to decrease the cat population.
container issue in commercial site plans
Commr. Campione asked for staff to take a look at containers in the context of commercial site plans in order to make sure that those used for storage were adequately buffered or screened and were not the focal point. She pointed out that there was a difference between the containers being used for temporary storage and for them being an integral part of the site plan, which she does not think they want to see in Lake County.
WELLNESS program in northeast lake county
Commr. Campione referred to an email she received from Mr. Roy Hunter, a resident of Paisley who could not attend the meeting due to health issues, regarding a wellness program in northeast Lake County with services such as a Quick Response Vehicle at the Paisley station to help with in-house testing such as blood pressure checks. She indicated that she would like to include that issue for future discussion during their fire department workshop and whether there are programs they could be doing across the county that would help homebound residents. She also relayed some maintenance issues that Mr. Hunter expressed concern about regarding the striping on Maggie Jones Road, emphasizing that it gets very dark without anything on the sides or in the middle, and the patching of some potholes on Fisherman Road. She also relayed Mr. Hunter’s concerns about possible arsenic on the public lands property that was a dairy farm and asked whether it was a real issue that affected their ability to utilize that public land.
Commr. Cadwell responded that the arsenic issue was just a rumor.
Mr. Minkoff explained that there was some contamination from the old cattle farm that used to be on the Paisley property that affected some water, but those issues were dealt with at the time the County acquired the property. He also assured the Board that there were only nitrates from the nutrients from the fertilizer used there but never any arsenic.
Commr. Cadwell further explained that they cut the Quick Response Vehicle program in Paisley because they ran out of funding to continue that program, and he noted that Paisley has become an ALS (Advanced Life Support) station. He also mentioned that they took blood pressure on a regular basis at all the fire stations.
reports – commissioner cadwell – district 5
celebration at grand oaks
Commr. Cadwell related that Grand Oaks in Weirsdale had a great celebration during the last two weekends of the caravan that came from California to draw attention to muscular dystrophy, with a basic core of 20 to 30 carriages making it the whole way from California to Lady Lake. He commented that Grand Oaks was an amazing facility and mentioned that Mr. Tom Warriner, owner of Grand Oaks, has recently been appointed to the Tourist Development Council (TDC) board.
px softball tournament
Commr. Cadwell stated that he attended the PX Softball tournament in Clermont on Saturday, March 21, between Amherst and MIT, where he threw out the first pitch. He mentioned that all of the hotels in the area were full due to that event.
fishing show on nbc sports network
Commr. Cadwell reported that NBC Sports Network presented a great and very popular fishing show hosted by Scott Martin that week highlighting the Harris Chain of Lakes in Lake County. He indicated that this was just a small part of what County staff has been working on.
REPORTS – COMMISSIONER conner – CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT 3
sky top rehabilitation center
Commr. Conner commented that he was proud to represent the Board at the grand opening for the Sky Top View Rehabilitation Center in Clermont, which was part of South Lake Hospital, and he noted that there was a good turnout for that.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 12:15 p.m. that they would recess until 1:30 p.m.
Public hearings: rezonings
rezoning regular agenda
cemex-four corners sand mine – mcup#15/1/1-2
Commr. Conner asked the Commissioners to disclose any ex parte communication.
Commr. Cadwell disclosed that he has received one or two emails, and he also has met with representatives from Cemex, David and Lisa Hill, and Mr. Jim Karr. He added that he has also received phone calls from Senator Alan Hays, Mr. Joshua Castleman, Mr. Matt Modica, and Councilman Ray Goodgame from Clermont; and he relayed that Commr. Scott Boyd from Orange County has brought up this issue twice during the Expressway Committee meeting, where he had listened attentively. He also indicated that he visited the mining site and property.
Commr. Sullivan disclosed that he has had meetings with Cemex representatives, David and Lisa Hill, Clermont city officials, and Mr. Matt Modica and that he has received dozens of emails from both sides of the issue. He also disclosed that he visited the site with County staff.
Commr. Parks disclosed that he has spoken to Cemex representatives, Mr. Pete Lyons, Ms. Tracy Mouncey, Mr. Matt Mouncey, Ms. Amanda Wettstein, Mr. Matt McNaulty, and Senator Hays; and he has also met with Mr. Matt Modica, the Hills, Mr. Jim Karr, Mr. Kasey Kesselring, Mr. Ray San Fratello from the South Lake Chamber, Mr. Darren Gray from the City of Clermont, Mayor Tim Loucks from Groveland, Mayor Gail Ashe from Clermont, and Council Member Goodgame. He noted that he visited the site multiple times.
Commr. Campione disclosed that she met with the Cemex representatives and the Hills several times as well as with Mr. Jack Martin, Councilman Goodgame, Mr. Jim Purvis, Mayor Gail Ashe, Darren Gray, Senator Hays, and Jim Carr, and has had conversations with Mr. Kesselring and Scott Boyd. She added that she also has received numerous emails which have been saved as public records and had made several site visits to the mine and the surrounding area as well as a Cemex mine in Sumter County.
Commr. Conner disclosed that he has talked to the Hills, Commr. Jack Martin, Mr. Carr, Tracy and Matt Mouncey, Mr. Lyons, Steven Adams, Alan McViker, James Mott, Senator Hays, Mr. Purvis, Councilman Goodgame, Mr. Gray, and Mr. Kesselring. He added that he also made a site visit with County staff and acknowledged for the record that he received a letter from Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs asking for a continuance, although he did not think there was sentiment on the Board to continue this case.
Mr. Chris Schmidt, Manager of Planning and Community Design, Economic Growth Department, presented the advertisement for the public hearing on the overhead, and he mentioned that the Cemex-Four Corners Sand Mine MCUP#15/1/1-2 request was denied by the Planning and Zoning Board on February 4, 2015 with a vote of 4-1. He explained that the 1,196-acre site is located in the Clermont area approximately one mile southwest of the US Hwy 27 and Schofield Road intersection, and the applicant is requesting a mining conditional use permit (CUP) for a sand mine for the supply of construction aggregate materials. He added that the applicant proposes to mine approximately 568 acres in 28 phases with a projected overall mine life of approximately 30 years, and he assured the Board that no wetlands are proposed to be mined or impacted. He related that the applicant proposes excavation and processing operations to occur on a constant basis 24 hours per day, seven days a week while hours of operation for sales are proposed to be from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. He mentioned that the development of the sand mine includes construction of a processing plant, an office, truck scales, and a water storage pond; and he pointed out that the closest residential subdivision is located approximately 1.5 miles to the southwest.
Mr. Schmidt then gave an update since the Planning & Zoning Board meeting, mentioning that discussion occurred during that meeting involving the mining operation accessing through US Hwy 27 to the west or to Orange County to the east, and he reported that transportation conditions have been placed in the staff report for either scenario. He added that Orange County had provided Lake County with a letter of concern dated March 18, 2015 requesting a continuance of this case and stating their opposition to accessing the mining operation through the Orange County road network, and the Orange County BCC moved forward that morning with the prohibition of heavy vehicles Class 6 through 13 from traveling Schofield between the Lake and Orange County line and west of CR 545 or Avalon Road. He reported that they have received 167 letters of opposition and 2 in support, with 16 questions or concerns, and staff recommendation is for the Board to approve this request.
The Chairman opened the public hearing and announced that there were attorneys and representatives of groups who have filed a notice of appearance to speak for a time that has been predetermined with help from their legal staff.
Mr. Roger Sims from the law firm of Holland and Knight representing Cemex announced for the record that they did not know that the Orange County BCC would take the previously-mentioned action, that they had no notice of the public hearing about said action, and that he made an objection on the record; and he asked that the Board proceed without the Orange County action being an issue for this Board. He also stated that they had a standing objection to reliance on the Wellness Way Sector Plan, since it has not been adopted, was not in force, and was not a series of criteria that are legally appropriate or available. He opined that there has been a lot of misinformation about this project and asked that everyone listen to the basic facts that will be set forth by the witnesses. He specified that trucks from this operation will not be exiting the project on US Hwy 27 and that they plan to travel east instead, despite the issue with Orange County. He emphasized that there is a condition in the staff report requiring them to resolve their issues with Orange County before they can pull an operating permit, which they accept, and Cemex has agreed to rebuild and repave that road, noting that they would not be using Hartwood Marsh or Hancock Road. He pointed out that less than half the Cemex site will be disturbed by mining. He reminded the Board that their decision has to be based on competent, substantial evidence rather than emotions, and he stated that he reserves the right to contest standing in any future proceedings should they occur.
Mr. Mark Stephens, a professional geologist and engineer with the Colinas Group who was presented as an expert in mining, reclamation, and hydrology, showed a conceptual mine plan for the Four Corners Sand Mine on the overhead monitor, noting that the mine would consist of three mining zones which comprise less than 600 acres of the 1,200 acre site as well as a processing plant located near the center of the property, including a nine-acre pond used for processing and recycling water for the property. He explained that the mining will be done by conventional excavation methods using track hoes and front-end loaders to load the sand on an electric conveyor in a moist condition to convey to the processing plant that will process out the courser from the finer sands, with the sand that is finer than the marketable material being placed or slurried back in the excavation for reclamation purposes, and he showed pictures of some conventional excavation equipment. He elaborated that the conceptual phasing of this mine has been decided by consensus of the neighbors, and they would start mining from the west side of the property moving east and then to the south part of the property, with the last part being near the Hills’ farm, which is unusual and more costly, and he illustrated on a slide what the phasing would look like. He related that the mine phasing would be in 100-acre blocks while reclaiming the previous 100-acre block, and he pointed out that the west side of the property would be reclaimed and ready for redevelopment by the time they get to the third block, noting that the majority of the north and west side would be available for reuse by year 10 and that the total property would be available for redevelopment at the end of that time period. He noted that the water source used to process the sand would be obtained through Conserv II reclaimed water, and they would install a lower Florida Aquifer well on the property as an alternative water source as a concession because of the concerns of the neighbors about withdrawals affecting their crops during freeze protection, with all of the water reused and recycled into the lined nine-acre pond to be pumped back through the plant. He stated that they already had their CUP that they obtained in 2013, and he showed photographs of some reclaimed areas on Cemex mines in other locations, noting that all of the reclaimed mine will be uplands with no water bodies created by the mining operation. He showed a video of what the reclaimed mine would look like.
Mr. Stephens added that about half of the material they would mine is not marketable sand that would be placed back into the excavation and mentioned that they have all of their environmental permits, such as the ERP (Environmental Resource Permit) from DEP (Department of Environmental Protection), their industrial wastewater permit needed because of the use of Conserv II water, their CUP, and a letter from US Fish & Wildlife, all of which were noticed and received no comments during the notice period. He reported that the Four Corners Sand Mine meets or exceeds all of the LDR requirements, such as setbacks and more than 35 percent open space with no dewatering or impacts to water levels, wetlands, or lakes. He commented that the mining operation will not negatively affect groundwater recharge, and they are backfilling the excavation with fine to medium sand material, noting that the recharge rate is determined by the underlying confining unit that overlies the upper Floridan aquifer rather than the sand material. He assured the Board that the property will be reclaimed in accordance with state and County requirements, and the reclaimed land will be suitable for all types of future development. He mentioned that Cemex is required to provide financial assurance of 110 percent of the reclamation costs. He stated that Cemex has exceeded some of the LDR (Land Development Regulations) requirements, including implementation of a 250-foot setback on the north side of the property adjacent to South Lake Crossing and installation of a ten-foot high landscaped visual berm, as well as a 250-foot setback off the property line and a ten-foot high landscaped berm on the west side of the property adjacent to Clonts Groves. He related that they were also putting a 300-foot wide transportation corridor at the County’s request between Zone 2 and Zone 3 along Schofield Road so that that road could be improved in the future. He mentioned that they have offered putting in a 200-foot setback on the east side of the property adjacent to the Long Family Farm property owned by the Hills, as well as a ten-foot high landscaped visual berm with Eucalyptus trees, the accommodation previously mentioned to mine that area last, and financial assurance for the Hills’ farm’s crops through a third-party expert determination. He showed slides illustrating some of the berms and views of how the mining property would look, including one of how the eucalyptus trees would look that would be planted at the beginning of the mining operation to give them 20 years to grow in order to supply substantial visual screening and wind protection. He opined that the processing plant will not be visible with the existing views even without the berms or the trees.
Mr. Sims noted the exhibits that were already in the record, such as the application filed in October of 2014 and the Lake County staff report, and confirmed with Mr. Stephens other exhibits that he had referred to in his presentation, which were the slide presentation, hydrogeological report, copy of the consumptive use permit from the SJRWMD for the mine, the environmental resource permit, and the industrial wastewater facility permit issued by DEP for the water usage from Conserv II and the Florida Aquifer well.
Ms. Amber Gartner, a professional engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., recapped that traffic from the site is not going to utilize Hartwood Marsh Road or Hancock Road, and the truck traffic is going to utilize the major arterial roadways surrounding the site, such as SR 429, SR 50, and US Hwy 192. She related that they performed the traffic impact analysis for the site to evaluate the impacts on the surrounding roadway network in Lake County based on Lake County TIA (traffic impact analysis) guidelines, and the trip generation for the site is based on the anticipated mining operations, including the extraction rate, over an annual basis. She elaborated that the current market demand for the site supports a one million gross tons of materials a year extraction rate on an annual basis, which would translate to 160 truckloads of material in and out of the site per day, but the analysis evaluated the maximum impact of the site of up to two million gross tons of material per year or 320 truckloads per day, and she added that there will also be traffic from the associated mine employees working on the site. She mentioned that they performed a TIA with the original application that included access to the west to US 27 as well as access to the east to Orange County, but it was requested at the Planning and Zoning Board meeting that they update the analysis to include access solely to the east of the site, and that updated analysis is provided with the current application materials indicating that traffic from the site will access Schofield Road into Orange County and then access SR 429 to the north and south. She noted that since Schofield Road is an unpaved and unclassified roadway, the site is determined to have less than a 1 percent impact or an insignificant impact on the Lake County classified network by the traffic impact analysis and concurrency determination, and Cemex will be paving the parts of Schofield Road that will be used for site access to County standards in order to accommodate that traffic.
Dr. Christopher Teaf, Director of Toxicology for HSWMR (Hazardous Substance and Waste Management Research) in Tallahassee, stated that he had over three decades of toxicology and risk evaluation experience for governments, organizations, and firms at the local, state, national, and international levels. He explained that he would offer science-based conclusions about dust or silica issues that have been raised regarding the Four Corners project, and he opined that those concerns were misplaced and inaccurate for a variety of compelling scientific reasons. He specified that based on detailed air modeling produced by Dr. John Kugler, the contribution of the mine to local fine particulates will be 0.01 micrograms per cubic meter, which was 1,200 times less than the value judged acceptable by the US Environmental Protection Agency and other health agencies, and he could say confidently that there would be no health hazard. He pointed out that there will be a number of site controls that will be used to manage or control dust on the site, such as water spray, activity setbacks, vegetation berms, and slurry transport of sand at the processing unit. He also reported that the total silica contribution is two billionths of a gram per cubic meter, which is more than 1,800 times less than the US EPA protected air level for crystal and silica, and he showed a graph illustrating that concentration. He concluded that although there are some aspects of science that could be uncertain, conservative air concentration estimates coupled with the site commitments for dust controls show that health concerns related to dust and silica on the site are unwarranted.
Mr. Brian Martin from Fishkind & Associates, which does a lot of financial and economic modeling for a variety of land uses and development projects, including mining, explained that they examined all of Cemex’s operations in the county as well as the sand mine as proposed that day, including the 474 sand mine, the Okahumpka and Clermont Ready Mix plants, and the proposed sand mine, looking at economic impacts such as jobs, output, and wages. He added that they built a fiscal impact analysis model just for Lake County in order to look at the revenues that Cemex generates, such as property taxes and sales taxes, and expenditures to figure out the net fiscal benefit for both Cemex’s operations and the proposed sand mine. He reported that they have found that Cemex would provide a $4.2 million net fiscal benefit to Lake County over the next 20-year time horizon, including $1 million in property taxes, $3.4 million in sales taxes, and $800,000 in school property taxes, and he added that the company would also provide over $35 million per year in total economic output for the county in wages and jobs, which he opined was a very substantial economic benefit to Lake County and its citizens. He specified that the proposed sand mine would provide about $4.7 million of annual economic impact to Lake County, including about $1 million in earnings and 23 total direct and indirect jobs, and about half a million dollars in total net fiscal benefit over the 20 years, along with $300,000 in property taxes and about $200,000 in sales taxes paid to the County.
Mr. Darren Stowe, a Certified Planner with Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc., stated that he would discuss criteria required for the conditional use permit approval, which begins with consistency with the Comprehensive (Comp) Plan, and he commented that the proposed use is an allowed use in both the Rural land use designation and the agricultural zoning, and the Comp Plan and the Future Land Use (FLU) Element determines the compatibility and describes use separation measures such as setbacks, buffers, screening, height, and open space requirement, all of which have exceeded the requirements for this project as previously mentioned. He added that an additional measure of compatibility is phasing, which had also been previously described, and mining is specifically addressed in the Conservation Element by three specific policies he displayed on the monitor, one of which prohibits mining in environmentally sensitive areas specifically mentioned in that policy, which he noted did not include the proposed mining area. He elaborated that this project will have no impact to recharge or to water quality while mining in aquifer protection zones as required in the second policy, and they are preserving surface and groundwater resources as required in the third policy. He mentioned that they far exceed the open space requirement of 35 percent, and the reclamation would proceed from the west to the east, especially in Zone 1, in anticipation of the future development in that area.
Mr. Stowe went through five different criteria for the appropriateness of the use and compatibility of the project. He addressed the fact that the location is important, because that is where the sand that is a needed resource is located in Lake County, and he pointed out that there is no residential development that exists within one and half miles of the property. He mentioned that the mine would not be visible from US 27 or Schofield Road, and the design of the project as shown in the CUP application was deemed complete and was recommended by County staff for approval. He noted that the intensity of the project was tempered by the fact that only 100 acres will be mined at a time, and he addressed the configuration of the property by noting that it is surrounded by agricultural or undeveloped land. He recapped that the mining setback from the property has been addressed by the previously-mentioned perimeter berms, setbacks, and screening; and he pointed out that the post-mining reclamation will allow all types of future development. He also emphasized that there will be no public facility impact, and fire protection is adequate. He showed a series of slides which provided an aerial view of a mine in the area to show compatibility with the adjacent agricultural uses.
Mr. Peter Lyons, Vice President and General Manager of Cemex Aggregates for Florida, stated that he wanted to discuss how the company conducts their business and how they look at their role in their community to try to be the best neighbor they could be. He related that safety of their employees and the community is a major concern for the company, and he assured the Board that they want to be good members of the community, noting that the material they process is used in the community in which they operate, usually within 20 to 40 miles of the mine, and was a fundamental, essential, and finite material for the development of those communities as well as the Sector Plan area. He listed some of the things the people in the company do to be good community members, such as sponsor sports teams and work with the schools, and he noted that their goal is to be unobtrusive and invisible to people in the surrounding area by utilizing things such as berms, fences, setbacks, and mining progression. He pointed out that the company has spent $3.5 million on this project so far and will continue to spend money in this community; also, they have 3,000 employees in the State of Florida who live in those communities. He mentioned that Exhibit C in their packet is all of the conditions that they have agreed to in order to accommodate the Hills’ blueberry farm, some of which were previously mentioned, and he added that they have even offered to lease them some property to expand their operation on property they will not mine, although that offer was not accepted. He pointed out that they have worked for three years with the neighboring property owners and have added conditions in their MCUP as a result of that.
Mr. Matt McNulty, who represented the land owner Lake Louisa LLC, mentioned that they also had a vested interest in this piece of property and invested $11 million to acquire it before signing a long-term deal with Cemex to lease and mine the property, because they believed that the best interim use for this property today is sand mining, since development in this area will take a very long time to occur. He added that even five or ten years’ time would coincide nicely with the aftermath of the mining phasing that Cemex has put in place, and he noted that Cemex will take care of building a road, obtaining the required environmental permitting, and sloping and grading the property to a future development standard that they will hold them to as part of their deal. He assured the Board that his company will be watching Cemex on their own and the neighbors’ behalves to make sure that they are sticking to the reclamation plans on time, since they will own the property when Cemex leaves in phases. He opined that it was impossible to currently find reserves in Florida suitable for mining and that this was an excellent opportunity for the county to take advantage of an asset located locally. He added that Cemex has promised to do far more than anyone else would with regard to buffering, screening, and working with the neighbors; and he assured them that they would not be a bad neighbor. He concluded that his company plans on being a good neighbor as well.
Commr. Campione asked whether their agreement with Cemex requires that they wait until the entire proposed mining area is complete or if they were able to utilize those areas as they became restored and reclaimed.
Mr. McNulty responded that as this process has gone on, they have not hammered any new details out, but he believes the phasing of the property will allow for reclamation sooner rather than the full time of the lease.
Commr. Conner noted that Mr. Sims has an excellent reputation for integrity.
Mr. Dan Mantzaris from the law firm of Beaubien, Knight, Simmons, Mantzaris, and Neal, representing the City of Clermont, recapped that the City Council of Clermont reviewed this matter in January and submitted a letter to the Board objecting to the project and the application being currently considered, noting that it was inconsistent with the Wellness Way Sector Plan (WWSP) and the Interlocal Service Boundary Agreement (ISBA), and he emphasized that this was a conditional use permit (CUP) application. He pointed out some things in the code related to the CUP process, including that the proposed conditional use should be in compliance with all requirements and be consistent with the general purpose, goals, objectives, and standards of the Comprehensive Plan and the Lake County Code. He elaborated that there was a specific provision which was very important to the City’s position that deals with the impact on surrounding areas and nearby property and requires that it be compatible with the existing or planned character of the neighborhood in which it would be located. He specified that there was a condition regarding mining which required that it be compatible with the overall economic objectives of Lake County, and he opined that the Cemex presentation did not show the lost economic revenue associated with the planned development of this area and the rest of the Sector Plan area. He added that this project is located within the area affected by the ISBA between Clermont and the County, with the city expected to provide services for the project, and he defined the purpose of an ISBA as to encourage local governments to jointly determine how to provide services to residents in the most efficient and effective manner while balancing the needs and desires of the community. He opined that the mining project will make it difficult for the City to efficiently and officially plan for a delivery of services in this area such as water, sewer, and infrastructure, resulting in the balance of the area suffering. He also opined that the Sector Plan could not be ignored, and there was provision in the law that allows the Board to consider that plan. He added that the County, City and property owners have worked very hard to plan the character of this area after much public involvement into an economic and employment opportunity generating area, and the mining project would be inconsistent with that proposed plan and is not listed as a targeted industry in that plan. He requested that the Board deny the application on behalf of the City Council and Mr. Darren Gray, City Manager of Clermont.
Commr. Campione clarified that the landowners put together the DSAPs in the Sector Plan and decide what to submit and how it should be developed, and then the County and the City looks at that plan to determine whether it was consistent with the adopted plan. She asked whether the $2.5 million that the City had allocated for water and sewer lines would extend those lines south of this proposed mining area, and if so, she opined that they should still have a clear path to extend their water and sewer line if they were following the road rights of way.
Mr. Mantzaris responded that it was based on the road plan of the Sector Plan design phase, but he could not tell her how far that would extend.
Mr. Gray added that they have not gotten that far yet but plan to follow the road network.
Commr. Campione asked whether mining could be an allowable use in the Sector Plan.
Mr. Mantzaris answered that it would entail the same process they were currently going through, but he believes they need to take into consideration the appropriateness of the CUP.
Commr. Campione commented that she believes it makes sense to at least take into consideration what is proposed for the area rather than making the decision in a vacuum. She pointed out that the targeted industries would need the aggregate material to build.
Mr. Mantzaris responded that although they do need it, the application is to ship the sand throughout Central Florida rather than using it in only the Sector Plan arena.
Commr. Campione asked whether they would change their position if the aggregate material was only used within the Sector Plan.
Mr. Mantzaris commented that he did not think it would work financially to do so.
Commr. Campione clarified that the logical conclusion is that if they do not use this sand, they would have to bring the sand from some other place across their roads to get there.
Mayor Gail Ash of Clermont commented that the Board’s decision that day would determine the future fate of more than 16,000 acres of Lake County around the mine, and Clermont and the County have spent years planning the Sector Plan, which she opined would no longer exist if the sand mine is approved. She added that there would also be financial and environmental impacts on property owners, businesses, and Lake Louisa State Park, which represents wonderful recreational activities approximately one mile away from the mining site. She related that she currently lives in Heritage Hills near an existing and expanding sand mine which has been in operation for over 40 years and is expected to be in operation for another 52 years. She opined that the area does not need another sand mine two miles away from an already existing sand mine, and she asked Cemex to find another place to mine since they are not wanted there. She requested the Board to deny the sand mine project for the sake of the existing and future residents and businesses as well as the recreational activities of the possible Sector Plan area.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 3:00 p.m. that there would be a fifteen-minute recess.
cemex - four corner sand mine (cont’d)
Commr. Parks disclosed that he had also met with Mr. Kurt Ardaman and Mr. Roger Sims, which he wanted to add to his list of disclosures.
Mr. Kurt Ardaman with the Fishback Dominick law firm in Winter Park clarified that he represents six separate landowners who abut the proposed 1,200-acre sand mine and who own a total of about 2,500 acres, including South Lake Crossings and Clonts Groves, and he noted that Mr. Jim Hall, a land use planner, would make a presentation.
Mr. Hall from Orlando mentioned that he had been working with the property owners and the County’s Economic Development Department on the Wellness Way Sector Plan for years and noted that their firm has done more sector plans than any other firm in the world. He pointed out that the sand mine is located right in the middle of the bulk of the primary uplands in the Sector Plan from the Conserv land to the wetlands south of the Sector Plan. He commented that the neighboring property owners who Mr. Ardaman represents are very concerned with not only the conditional use but also the operational permit. He emphasized that this was not a permitted use, which is why they needed to go through this process to determine whether a sand mine in that location is an appropriate conditional use using the five criteria in the County’s code, which were location, design, intensity, configuration, and public facility impact, and he opined that the sand mine was inappropriate on all five of those criteria. He noted that the location was right in the middle of the Sector Plan, which had unanimous approval from the Board to send to DEO and which County staff has been expending time and effort on answering the comments from DEO. He presented the RFP that was put out for the Sector Plan on the monitor which stated that a successful sector planning effort would enable Lake County to diversify its economy, protect natural resources, and strengthen its connectivity with other economic hubs in the region, including those to the south on 192, Clermont to the north, within the county, and to the east to Orange County and Horizon West, which is an example of a successful sector plan that developed within 18 years. He pointed out that 2,000 jobs would be required from the DSAP’s that would make up the amount of land contained by the sand mine, and the details regarding design and how the sand mine would operate would not be seen until the next step of the process. He noted that the County’s Comprehensive Plan contains a policy stating that the scale of development normally associated with a DRI is not consistent with the proposed intent of the rural future land use and shall be prohibited, and 1,200 acres of land is considered an intensive land use commensurate with DRI projects. He pointed out that County staff has recognized that the scale and intensity of this sand mine at this location is at least a concern at the minimum if not an outright reason to prohibit the use entirely. He opined that the sand mine project will make construction of the roadways and multipurpose trails that the Sector Plan envisions impossible and retard connectivity for decades, which is also considered a public facility impact.
Mr. Hall remarked that a lot of people will tell the Board that they do not think this is a compatible use, and he pointed out ways he believed it was inconsistent with the Comp Plan, including incompatibility with the adjacent land uses, failure to protect the top soil in the county, and failure in preserving and protecting property rights. He related that although a sand mine is typically located in rural areas, this land is actually next to the Clonts property, which has a current designation of urban low density, and that is an example of another incompatibility. He related that prime or high recharge areas shall be protected and showed on a map that the highest category with some of the best recharge found in Lake County is right in the middle of the sand mine. He added that water is the most critical natural resource that Florida is currently facing, and he emphasized that the Comp Plan specifically states that mining in prime recharge areas shall be prohibited. He opined that the mine would result in a lot of adverse impacts, such as the loud, beeping noise from trucks backing up, to residents who live nearby, and he reiterated that the mining use is not compatible with the agricultural uses or the Wellness Way Sector Plan, as well as the urban designation currently on the Clonts property. He pointed out that there is a high standard for all reasonable steps that need to be taken for this conditional rather than permitted use, and although Cemex has made some offers and concessions to appease neighboring property owners, it has not taken all reasonable steps. He added that there is insufficient right of way to provide alignment from the sand mine, and no available entrance to the site is currently possible. He recommended denial of this CUP.
Commr. Campione asked Mr. Hall whether he is of the opinion that there are no conditions that could be imposed in order to make it a compatible use.
Mr. Hall responded that there probably could be conditions put in the operating plan, but no one has ever brought forth an operating plan on how everything will really work. He elaborated that there were still huge issues that have not been worked out in the several years they have been working on this request. He opined that this would be a disaster for the Sector Plan and would impact it for decades.
Mr. Ardaman asked if his opinion was that the conditional use criteria has still not been met.
Mr. Hall responded that he was firmly of a personal and professional opinion that the criteria have not been met.
Mr. Steven McDonald, Senior Economist with GAI Consultants, discussed fiscal and economic impacts related to the proposed sand mine and related that he has been in Florida since 1990, had been practicing economics for about 25 years with some notable firms, and that his specialties were economics, public policy, public decision making, and economic development. He explained that he looked at what has been happening before and since 1990, how that may translate into an outlook in terms of market development, and the fiscal and economic impact; and he commented that this really is an issue of choice and alternatives. He pointed out that this area has experienced significant growth over the past 20 years and opined that market demand for development of Wellness Way currently exists today rather than 20 to 30 years from now. He mentioned that 60 percent of all current single-family units in Lake County had been constructed over the last 20 years, and 90 percent of all single-family units within ten miles of the subject mining site have been constructed in that time period. He also emphasized that more land has been consumed since 1990 than what exists today, which compellingly implies that this area will have a 20-year build-out potential. He showed a slide illustrating development and intensities of development which indicate market demand and clear paths of growth converging on this subject site, which has the most contiguous available land for growth, including pent-up demand from the recession years.
Mr. McDonald then stated that they also looked at a scenario of an active sand mine on the site consistent with the Cemex plan and its current baseline market value of $1,280 per acre as grazing land as well as a scenario for the WWSP with the ability to accommodate 1,840 dwelling units and 1.3 million square feet of nonresidential use supporting 2,900 jobs. He showed a slide summarizing the fiscal and economic comparisons of those two scenarios, noting that even doing nothing will deliver $32 million, the sand mine will deliver $43 million, and the Sector Plan would result in $5.2 billion of real property market value over the next 20 years, with the Sector Plan generating $24 million in property taxes. He elaborated that economically Lake County is an $8 billion economy, and two-thirds of that is consumer household expenditures. He specified that the mixed use development of the Sector Plan would generate nearly 900 jobs, $30 million in income, and nearly $100 million of market output annually. He concluded that although an active sand mine would result in a little more fiscal benefit than doing nothing, the planned development would deliver much more fiscal and economic benefit.
Commr. Campione asked whether the proximity of construction material affects the cost of construction and whether he believes it would be better to develop on the subject property according to the Sector Plan than to wait and have those land uses happen later.
Mr. McDonald replied that the proximity of construction materials absolutely would affect the cost. He also pointed out that his analysis centered on looking at what would be the highest and best use, and he believed it would be better to develop that land according to the Sector Plan right away rather than wait until later. He added that he believes that it would be more likely to have a better economic, development and fiscal outcome by having a large contiguous plan than to cut it up, and he opined that it is important to have a plan that would accommodate the growth over a 20-year period rather than just waiting for growth.
Mr. Sims asked Mr. McDonald to confirm that the sand mine property will be developed after it is mined, noting that the assumption that the mining property is an either/or deal is not correct.
Mr. McDonald replied that that is not a fair statement and clarified that he was looking at when development would come to this area and the probable build-out. He elaborated that the only way they could have a sand mine and development is if development was 30 years out, but it was his opinion that development pressure was there today and that there was a tradeoff of land uses.
Mr. Rex Clonts, President of Clonts Groves consisting of 711 acres in South Lake County along the east side of US 27 bordered on the south by Trout Lake and on the north and east by Schofield Road, noted that the proposed sand mine would lie along their eastern border for one mile. He stated that Clonts Groves was strongly opposed to the mining operation, because it would adversely affect the development of their property for its currently approved development uses and would severely reduce the value of their property. He explained that his own grove and citrus in general is currently facing a formidable and incurable disease known as greening, which slowly render the trees unproductive and eventually kills the trees, and faced with that reality, they are planning to sell their property for development in the next one to five years, since the updated Comprehensive Plan designates their future land use as Urban Low Density and Town Center which allows four dwelling units per acre plus commercial, retail office, and light industrial. He also mentioned that part of his property is designated as Wellness Way I, which allows 1.85 dwelling units per acre, and all of the land designations for his property require a jobs-to-housing ratio. He opined that a huge mine in the neighborhood is not compatible with Clonts Groves’ land use, and the mine at this location would be a detriment to the area as conceived in the Sector Plan as well as to their existing uses. He concluded that his family wants to stay in the agricultural business, and it was imperative for them to be able to sell that property which is currently ready for development in order for them to have the opportunity to fund future agriculture endeavors. He expressed concerns that the mine would be an impediment to the Sector Plan concept and would effectively separate them from other development in the area.
Mr. Jim Karr, a resident of Windermere and managing partner of South Lake Crossing, who owns 740 contiguous acres to the north and 650 contiguous acres south of the mining operation, mentioned that he was used to compromise and working through issues as a land owner, developer, and realtor; however, even though he has met with the Cemex representatives numerous times over the last 2 or 3 years to discuss a number of things, they are so far apart that he did not think they could make anything work, and he asked that the mine be denied.
Commr. Campione asked Mr. Karr what conditions he felt were acceptable during his discussions with Cemex.
Mr. Karr responded that although the land owners discussed many issues with Cemex such as damage to crops, phasing, buffering, and transportation, they never came to an agreement on anything that was acceptable to the whole group.
Mr. Ardaman stated that he would go through some portions of the Comp Plan, including the conditional use requirements and mining provisions in the code, as well as some of the other information that was previously brought up, and he identified for the record that he handed out background information titled Index to Documents Submitted by Fishback Dominick to the Lake County Board of County Commissioners During the 3-24-15 Hearing on MCUP #15-1/1/-2,” specifying the eight items in that packet. He mentioned that the Board will hear testimony from others later that are not part of their presentation that will likely serve as a substantial competent evidence basis showing that the application has not met the criteria. He presented a slide showing conditional use permit requirements and emphasized that the County’s code requires that this application must be in compliance with all requirements and consistent with their Comprehensive Plan, the Lake County Code, and all additional standards. He pointed out that although staff had to change their staff report to reflect the urban low density land use designation of the Clonts property which allows nonresidential uses and residential development of up to four dwelling units per acre rather than a rural designation, staff’s analysis on the impact on that adjacent property did not change. He pointed out that the scale of development within rural areas is a key factor, and the scale of development normally associated with a DRI is not consistent with the purposes and intent of the Rural Future Land Use and shall be prohibited. He commented that the prior staff report acknowledged that policy and indicated a concern about consistency with that policy and the major impact on the rural area; however, that statement somehow disappeared in the current report before the Board that day.
Mr. Ardaman discussed in detail why there is no demonstration of sufficient right of way for the project, including the fact that portions of the Schofield Road right of way are only 33 feet rather than the minimum of 66 feet required, and he added that the property owners abutting the 33 foot right of way are unwilling to sell or convey additional right of way to the applicant for the sand mine. He reported that Orange County’s previously mentioned concern that was transmitted by letter to the Board also involved concerns about adverse impacts on land uses in Horizon West as well as the impact the truck traffic would have on their roadways, and he elaborated that those concerns prompted them to unanimously approve a request from their Public Works Director to limit the vehicle classifications on the western 3,200 feet of Schofield Road abutting the Lake County line to prohibit classifications 5 through 13, which would be the vehicles associated with any sand mining operation. He related that additional significant impacts by this proposed mining permit include the generation of up to 640 truck trips per day, which equals about one truck per minute in an 11-hour day and a permit allowing them to withdraw 90 million gallons per year out of the aquifer in a high recharge area, although the Lake County Code contains many policies, goals, and objectives which protect aquifer recharge areas. He listed the many Comp Plan and LDR policies that govern and discuss recharge areas. He added that there are at least three Karst features which are close depressions that connect deeper into the aquifer on this property within the proposed mining areas, although the Comprehensive Plan has policies that protect these features, and he opined that Cemex’s proposed reclamation plan will not restore the 1,200 acres to as closely as practical to the contours existing on the site prior to mining as required in Section 6.06.02(D)(2) and will only use material that is much less pervious than the original sand during reclamation. He further specified that the conceptual reclamation sections of Cemex’s application show 15 to 55-foot deep pits after the reclamation, although it is not as noticeable over such a large area. He also presented a report that stated that although this site is within a unique area, there should be more suitable locations for a sand mine within that preferred area. He opined that the fact that only staff will later determine whether future criteria are met in the operating plan constitutes an unlawful delegation of authority, since they are asking for approval for something not before the Board that day, adding that Florida law requires that they have competent substantial evidence before them to show that all of the criteria had been met in order to approve the application. He concluded that the Cemex application and submittals do not show that they comply with the Comprehensive Plan or LDR’s and was not compatible with the existing and planned uses. He requested that the Board recommend denial of the Cemex application.
Commr. Campione stated that she agreed that this is an area where a lot of discharge takes place, due in large part to the sandy soils and the ridge, but she pointed out that there is not a map adopted by Lake County that designates this area as prime recharge, which she discovered during a court case she was involved in a few years back. She asked Mr. Ardaman whether he met with any Orange County staff or elected officials about the letter the Board received.
Mr. Ardaman confirmed that he met and discussed that issue with them and absolutely supports their denial of utilizing Schofield Road to the east to access Orange County. He added that the Horizon West town center was over 20 years in planning, and to allow those trucks on those roads 24 hours a day would decimate the development of it.
Mr. Sims objected to two hydrology reports being put in the record by Devo Engineering which they had already dealt with, stating that it was absolute hearsay and was not competent substantial evidence. He also objected to the Orange County letter and opined that it was not relevant to the Board’s deliberations, noting that he will deal with Orange County’s actions.
Mr. Minkoff noted that strict rules of evidence do not apply to this type of a proceeding, but they could note Mr. Sims’ objections, and the Board could give what weight it feels is appropriate to all of the exhibits and testimony that were submitted that day.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 4:40 p.m. that there would be a five to ten minute recess.
cemex – four corners mine, cont’d
Mr. David Hill, Southern Hills Farms in Clermont, pointed out that two of his speakers were not in attendance due to the start of blueberry picking season, and he recapped that they bought the property in early 2000 and planted 30 acres of landscaped trees until the recession hit which reduced the demand for those trees. He related that he decided to diversify and grow a fruit crop of blueberries, which is more recession-proof than trees, and they were now in full production. He added that his farm was due east of one of the proposed Cemex dig sites, and he pointed out that the ordinance states that the adjacent property owners are to be protected with no significant impacts to them. He mentioned that although he thinks this will lower property values in the area, his biggest concern is to profitably farm blueberries under tough circumstances. He expressed a great deal of concern that strong winds which usually come out of the west in the spring would result in the blueberries being pelted by the sand from the mine, although Cemex has offered some concessions such as offers of 250-feet setbacks, berms, and trees on the west side of the property which would be good for dealing with issues of visibility and some but not all of the wind. He elaborated that the eucalyptus trees that Cemex offered to plant along the property line would be from Australia, would contain sticky resin that would kill bees on the property which are needed to pollinate his crop, and often get covered in a sooty fungus which could dirty or discolor things that are underneath and could possibly be blown onto the blueberry crop; and the previously-described winds can also snap off and make holds in the windbreak.
Mr. Hill noted that the previously-mentioned idea of a third-party mediator was actually his own idea that was brought up to Cemex, noting that he was in favor of a third-party mediator only under certain situations and stipulations, and he commented that this was a tool to be used rather than something that will solve the problem. He pointed out that Cemex has never put guarantees in writing about financial reimbursement, and he added that they need financial insurance rather than the financial assurance Cemex has offered, which is a large difference. He stated that he wanted Cemex to ban the 54-acre dig site to the west of them, but Cemex will not entertain that idea because of the financial loss of 9 or 10 percent of their project. He elaborated that some of his other requests are for Cemex to increase the buffer on the south side of Schofield Road where their site touches his property and for a bond or escrow account to ensure their protection equal to what their crop loss would be. He related that although Cemex representatives are good people, he thinks that good neighbors want to do the right thing without being forced to by government entities, and he opined that Cemex has not given them the kinds of concessions that he really needs other than token symbols. He concluded that if the conditions he mentioned could not be met, he is in favor of denial of the project.
Ms. Jeremy Burris from Colorful Harvest, a fruit and vegetable produce marketing organization which does marketing for Southern Hill Farms, explained that blueberries represent the second largest berry category for retailers across the country and that they specialize in finding growers to sell to national retail outlets such as Publix and Walmart as well as restaurants. He commented that currently blueberry demand and consumption is on the rise, partly because of the cancer-fighting agents they contain, and he pointed out that the window for the blueberry industry in Florida is in the spring months of late March to early May. He elaborated that the blueberry industry in the state is roughly a 20-million pound industry, which is a small percentage of the total crop, resulting in high prices and a lucrative business. He specified that the Hills’ 40-acre farm typically produces 10,000 pounds of blueberries to the acre, resulting in about a 400,000-pound crop which brings in typically about $2.4 million in sales revenues per season. He commented that the crop is very sensitive, has to be picked by hand rather than by machine, and is very easily damaged. He also emphasized that blueberry crops which contain sand and dust are unsaleable and do not meet the US delivery standards they must abide by according to the USDA and other regulatory bodies; and the State of Florida does not have a processing farm for Florida blueberries, which results in the fruit only being able to be sold on the fresh market. He added that the blueberries could not be washed due to many rules and regulations and the fact that wet blueberries start to decay immediately and also present a food safety risk and liability for that. He elaborated that it takes about six years for a blueberry bush to mature and to get to full production capacity that the Hills’ farm is at today. He noted that trickle-down economics would affect the seasonal workers, fertilizer and chemical companies, and packaging suppliers involved in this blueberry crop, as well as his business.
Mr. Ryan Atwood, a resident of Mount Dora, stated that he used to be a fruit crops extension agent with Lake County and currently has an agricultural consulting business and is also a blueberry grower. He related that he would advise a blueberry grower to not plant a blueberry farm on the eastern side of a sand mine, and he advised Mr. Hill to fight the sand mine project at that location. He added that the eucalyptus trees that were proposed as windbreak buffers by Cemex would only grow to 60 or 70 feet tall, whereas every foot of height of windbreak trees offers ten feet of protection horizontally, which means that those trees would only give the Hill farm about 400 feet of protection.
Ms. Lisa Hill, who got up to speak on behalf of Southern Hill Farms, was too upset to speak.
Commr. Sullivan clarified with Mr. Hill that their biggest concern was the property to the west, although the property to the south is also of concern.
Mr. Wayne Rich, a lawyer representing Ms. Bradshaw and another property owner south of the Clonts property, noted that his clients have owned this property for quite some time and are in opposition to this application. He stated that he agreed with Mr. Mantzaris with respect to the Wellness Way Sector Plan and was working with County staff on addressing the report from the DEO. He opined that the WWSP was truly the County’s economic future, and although the transportation issues discussed earlier are certainly vital to it, the Board has heard even more testimony regarding the importance of the water issue and how critical it was for the future of the WWSP. He asked Mayor Tim Loucks of Groveland to give testimony and a demonstration as a hydrologist and expert regarding this issue.
Mayor Loucks announced that he is not a hired consultant and was not being paid for his work or testimony that day, and he gave some information about his background, including as an employee of Reedy Creek Energy Services for 27 years assigned to the water resource division, with education in municipal infrastructure procurement, civil design, and maintenance management. He added that he was recognized throughout Lake County and Central Florida as an authority on current and future water supplies and beneficial aquifer recharge. He commented that he would show the Board the facts about aquifer recharge and why ridge-type sand mining and the proposed reclamation plan for the Cemex mine will significantly and unrecoverably result in a loss of recharge capability, and he presented a Power Point presentation regarding this issue, some of which recapped some of the information already presented previously. He related that the Lake Wale Ridge is currently being utilized by Orange County through Conserv II as a high and prime recharge area and illustrated on several maps the Conserv II recharge sites otherwise known as rapid infiltration basins. He recapped that in 2002 there was a study commissioned showing the hydrological impacts of sand mining in the Green Swamp, and the results concluded that although swamp type sand mining in the Green Swamp has little or no effect on aquifer recharge due to the existing low recharge capabilities of the Green Swamp, ridge-type mining as currently being proposed by Cemex would result in significant unrecoverable loss of recharge capabilities if utilized.
Mayor Loucks showed a slide illustrating the difference in the recharge both before and after mining, noting an evaporation rate of 29 gallons a day per acre and a seepage to the aquifer of 1,220 gallons per day per acre in the predevelopment site and a reduced aquifer recharge of 50 gallons per day per acre and increase in evaporation of 3,900 gallons per day per acre post mining. He pointed out that South Lake County lies in an area of critical concern and relies 100 percent on the Florida aquifer for all domestic water supplies. He presented a slide showing how Wellness Way will increase the recharge areas after it is built out. He gave a soil permeability demonstration with random samples taken from the South Lake Crossing property extracted at a depth range of one to ten feet to mimic current geological conditions in a tube marked as Tube A and another sample marked as Tube B containing assimilated overburden material proposed by Cemex to refill the borrow pits during reclamation. He added one ounce of water to each tube and pointed to a decreased permeability and recharge rate in Tube B, which he opined illustrates that ridge-type sand mining will significantly decrease the reclaimed mine’s ability to recharge the Florida aquifer. He explained that the overburden is a denser material, and the mining would remove the courser sands that would allow the soil to permeate faster. He concluded that disturbing and mixing the soil would affect the aquifer recharge and would increase evaporation by almost 90 percent.
Mr. Jack Martin, who spoke on behalf of the South Lake Concerned Citizens coalition made up of over a dozen neighborhoods, related that he was a resident of Kings Ridge, a former Orange County Commissioner, and a member of the Planning & Zoning Commission of Clermont; and he stated that he was in opposition to the sand mine. He commented that he knew it was not easy to govern explosive growth, and he pointed out that he was not an extreme opponent of development and believed a private property owner has every right to develop their property. He stated that he also recognizes that the Board is given the responsibility to decide whether a particular zoning request on a specific piece of property in a specific area of the county is compatible with the character and nature of that area. He remarked that South Lake County has been undergoing and continues to undergo explosive residential growth for the past 10 to 12 years, and one of the most difficult things in governing that kind of growth is the continual need to stay aware of the consequences of it, including the change in the character and nature of the area from rural agricultural farmland to high-end residential. He opined that although there is intrinsically nothing wrong with a sand mine, citrus grove, or residential neighborhood, they should not approve neighborhoods in the middle of a fully-operational citrus grove or a sand mine operation in the middle of an area whose character is high-end residential due to an incompatibility of uses. He commented that he is perplexed that this decision is difficult for the Board, considering the opposition from the Cities of Groveland and Clermont, the Planning & Zoning Board, Orange County, and many constituents. He added that the owner of the property, the sand mining company, and possibly FDOT are the only ones in favor of this project. He requested that the Board deny the request.
Mr. Jim Purvis, a resident of Kings Ridge in Clermont, mentioned that he dropped off seven letters from individual neighborhoods in Kings Ridge to County staff which represents over 600 registered voters in opposition to the approval of this application, and he urged the Board to hear the voters and to vote their conscience. He noted that reclaimed and redevelopable are not the same, and he expressed concern about ending up with an unusable 55-foot deep pit 30 years from now. He recapped that Orange County has prohibited access at this point in time, and the applicant has taken US Hwy 27 and Hartwood Marsh Road off of the table as access roads, leaving them basically landlocked with a 33-foot easement, with no one willing to give them any more right of way.
Mr. Ed Torgersen, a resident of Davenport and a small contractor employed by Cemex, commented that Cemex was a good company to work for and employed a lot of local families, providing them with a fairly decent income. He pointed out that the trickle-down effect would affect the truck drivers, sales representatives, and concrete businesses; and he also noted that the WWSP would be built using concrete as the first basic raw material. He related that the site consists of land with low elevation, and he did not see any difference in elevation, the grading process, or recharge between the mining operation and development of the Sector Plan. He also opined that the project will not slow down any development, and he stated that he was in favor of the mining project.
Mr. Tommie Deaner from Cemex stated that he supports this project and mentioned that he has worked in mining for 48 years. He commented that there were only certain reserves in specific areas, and they would not have the quality of life they have today without mining of the materials which make up the roads and everything that is used today other than food crops.
Mr. Art Williams, an Aquatic Control Manager with Cemex, stated that he has been mining for 20 years and that they need to mine where the best quality material is located in order to meet FDOT specifications and their customers’ expectations. He mentioned that mining has provided him a means to provide a living, a stable home, and college educations for his family.
Ms. Carol Johnson, a resident of Winter Garden and representative of 100 homeowners in Lake County and 300 in West Orange County, expressed concern that the trucks coming from Schofield Road will travel on Avalon Road, which contains only two lanes and was already a deadly road, as well as the 429. She pointed out that the tree buffers previously mentioned are an invasive species, which she did not think should be used, and she added that 320 trucks will add pollution and make the air quality worse. She asked whether Cemex would request another permit in the future to mine the rest of the property.
Mr. Brant Pawlowski, a resident of Minneola and a teacher at Clermont Elementary, stated that he is very concerned about the future and direction of growth in Lake County, and he believes that the attributes that provide jobs, benefits, responsible behavior, and community involvement would be beneficial to their area, which he believes are demonstrated by Cemex. He specified that Cemex provides 3,000 jobs in Florida at the present time and the necessary materials needed for homes and roads for future growth. He commented that Cemex has a tremendous commitment to safety, and all procedures and activities are carefully defined and followed, with a zero tolerance for not following every safety precaution. He related that as a teacher he has been involved with Cemex since partnering with them in 2000, which has provided children with a wonderful experience every year, paid for buses to transport the children, paid for all supplies and materials, and provided guest speakers who taught the students about their areas of expertise, including conservation, recycling, and the importance of keeping the aquifer clean. He added that Cemex has also sponsored the South Lake High School wrestling team. He opined that the most important aspect of the Cemex operation has been the exemplary restoration of mining land, noting that Cemex has their own team of biologists to make sure that the correct vegetation is being planted and that the area is restored back to its original habitat. He concluded that Cemex is committed to being responsible and a caring member of their county, and he wholeheartedly endorsed this proposal.
Mr. Curt Henderson, a resident of Clermont, stated that he is one of thousands of runners who use the clay roads in that area, including a world record holder, and he mentioned that during his meetings with Cemex representatives, they have expressed to him their interest in leaving some form of the clay roads intact. However, he expressed concern that there is no guarantee of that without a formal condition in the permit, and he requested that the Board make the maintenance of a clay road or loop as a condition of the permit if this project was approved.
Mr. Richard Combs, a resident of Clermont and President of Kings Ridge Community Association, related that he had been asked by the association to speak at that hearing as representative of approximately 3,500 residents to relay that they had a referendum in all 15 of their neighborhoods which resulted in a unanimous vote to oppose this application. He commented that he and his wife moved to the area five years ago to get away from the congestion and turmoil of the Orlando area and wanted a quiet and beautiful location that had the right balance of residential, recreational, and light industry. He stated that they have a reasonable expectation that the Board as their county representatives must first and foremost protect the rights of the residents in this county, and they do not believe that this application serves the best interest of their entire county; he expressed hope that the Board saw that as well.
Ms. Janice Hull, a resident of Clermont, expressed concern about the effect truck traffic generated by the Cemex project would have on the tourist industry, especially in the event that an emergency on Schofield Road would redirect truck traffic onto US Hwy 27, which is the main tourism route into Lake County and the current location of the Welcome Center.
Vice Mayor Ray Goodgame from the City of Clermont and a resident of Clermont clarified that he was speaking as a private citizen at this hearing, and he opined that the 1,600 acres comprising the sand mine were being threatened to be destroyed by a foreign-owned sand mining company, which would also threaten the economic future of South Lake County for about 30 years as well as the Wellness Way Sector Plan. He also opined that Cemex should leave the area if they really cared about Clermont or South Lake’s future of high-paying jobs and clean industry. He mentioned that the Niagara Bottling plant located in South Lake bottles their water directly from the aquifer as if there was an endless supply of water, ships it out to other areas, and then sells it at a high profit without having to pay anything to the County or the state, and he commented that Cemex wanted to do that same thing by hauling the sand away and selling the sand at a high profit without paying anything for the sand they mine. He stated that these were their natural resources, and the County should be compensated by the operators of the mine. He opined that this was not the type of business they wanted in Lake County, and he related that the Heritage Hills and other sand mines operated by Tarmac using a hydraulic process left a big lake and could not be used for any development. He asked whether they really need another sand mine and indicated that the profits Cemex makes go out of the country to Mexico. He added that the sand they would remove currently helps purify the rainwater before it enters the aquifer, and removing the sand will result in the filtration process being gone forever. He concluded that they need to protect the South Lake area.
Mr. Matthew Modica, a lifelong resident of Clermont, commented that there was no support for this project and that he does not see a reason for the Board to issue a conditional use permit for it. He pointed out that Disney, the number one family tourist destination in the world, is to the east of this project and that 9,000 acres of green space in Lake Louisa State Park is to the west, and he opined that this project does not fit in that area. He reported that the applicant claimed that they would go east out of the site rather than west at the Planning and Zoning meeting since they did not have the right of way to go west, without discussing it with the County. He also opined that they misrepresented the relationship with the contiguous land owners and accused the Board of dragging their feet, even though Cemex voluntarily withdrew their application a year ago. He asked who would make sure that the applicant follows all of the requirements if this was approved, and he opined that the applicant did not have any credibility. He also commented that a sand mine could not be landscaped in his opinion as someone who had done $50 million worth of landscaping.
Mr. Tim Ruelke, Director of the Office of Materials for FDOT in Gainesville, explained that any source of aggregate, rock, or sand that goes into their concrete and asphalt must be approved as well as clean, hard, and durable. He specified that sand typically makes up about 30 percent of their concrete mix and about 10 percent of their asphalt mixes. He added that the mines they use must have a good quality material, and the mine owner must produce the finished aggregate consistently within specifications. He elaborated the Cemex currently operates 17 FDOT-approved facilities, including mines and terminals, which produce coarse and fine aggregates for their concrete and asphalt as well as lime rock for their roadway bases, and Cemex has maintained the equipment and technical expertise to produce high-quality materials to meet FDOT specifications. He reported that there were only 22 FDOT-approved sand mines in Florida, since geology limits the availability of acceptable sand. He commented that the state must continue to improve its transportation infrastructure in order for Florida to maintain its economic growth and quality of life, and FDOT is expecting a strong construction program over the next ten years. He also pointed out that over 30 projects are scheduled for Lake County between 2015 and 2019 with a value of over $450 million, and 339 projects are scheduled including the surrounding counties of Polk, Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Marion, and Sumter for a total value of $2.5 billion. He also opined that local sources of high-quality aggregate will make these projects cost effective.
Mr. Todd Paquette, a resident of Winter Garden and a vendor for Cemex, stated that he hopes the Board approves the proposed application from Cemex for the sand mine, because it would bring more jobs to residents of Lake County and help his small business put more people to work. He opined that Cemex was a very great company which will follow all guidelines the Board imposes to a tee without question.
Mr. Pat O’Brien, a resident of St. Augustine, mentioned that he has done business with Cemex for many decades, and the product they will be providing from the sand mine will contribute greatly to the economic development of this area. He added that they are a strong company and a good employer which provide good benefits to their employees. He noted that there is no other industry that is more heavily regulated by governmental agencies regarding environmental and safety issues, and he assured the Board that Cemex was very safety conscious. He concluded that he supported this application.
Mr. Eric Brown, a resident of Lady Lake, stated that he is a representative of Global Contracting Group along with about 150 families who work for his organization and that he has worked in the mining industry for many years, which has provided a good stable environment for him and the other families that work for them. He commented that he hoped the Board approves the permit, because this industry is going to provide for his family and many families for years to come. He mentioned that he had worked for Cemex at many various locations, and they were one of the best stewards of the environment and the safety of their community and staff.
Mr. Garrett Paquette, a resident of Clermont, related that he was in favor of approval of the Cemex application, noting that they are a trucking vendor for Cemex. He commented that they supply his business with income, which was very important for their company and helped him pay for his daughter’s college education, and he is grateful for the business they give them. Also, he pointed out that development has not stopped around other existing mines that Cemex is currently working, noting that the Kings Ridge development was established after the nearby mine was established. He commented that using the sand from the proposed mine would save money on the purchase of the aggregates, and he pointed out that the aggregates that would be trucked in from other areas would come down Hwy 27, whereas this application gives the County an opportunity to control the truck traffic and destination.
Mr. Jim Abbitt, a resident of Tampa and President of Epperson & Company, a small business with 55 employees located in Tampa, commented that his business is dependent on the mining industry throughout Florida and key customers such as Cemex. He stated that in his experience he has found Cemex to be an excellent business partner which supports local communities and businesses and provides jobs, and he elaborated that they are excellent stewards of the environment and provide a very safe work environment. He added that Cemex supplies products that support home and road construction and other businesses that help the community stay safe and healthy. He remarked that Epperson would not be able to provide the well-paying jobs and support the families they do without Cemex and other similar companies.
Mr. Bryan Hurt, with B & G Conveyor Services, related that Cemex employs local residents and subcontractors, and a denial of this application would affect his livelihood and those of his employees, some of which live locally in the Central Florida area. He explained that the mine provides jobs for people in a wide variety of trades and requires support from other local vendors for the operation. He added that safety and care for the environment are two of the most important concerns for Cemex, and he noted that sand mining has a long history in the area, providing the support and the industry that allows his company and his employees to prosper and create a life for their families in this region by providing good-paying jobs. He elaborated that Cemex also supports locally-owned minority corporations. He emphasized that the sand will be brought into Lake County whether it is mined there or not, and trucking that sand further distances will create a safety issue for everyone in the county.
Mr. James Dinsmore, a resident of Clermont, asked how the restriction on the roads that Cemex uses would be enforced, and he mentioned that Orange County went through a similar issue in the mid 1990’s with Horizon West, which was now a blossoming and vibrant community close to where the proposed project is. He requested that the Board deny this request for the sand mine, because he did not think it was compatible with the area.
Mr. Clayton McMillan, a resident of Winter Haven, a licensed geologist for the State of Florida, and a mine planner geologist for Cemex, commented that the reason they all live in the beautiful communities they do is because of the raw materials that the mines provide, and he added that it provides his livelihood. He opined that stopping the mining would mean that there would be no future building of the communities for their children.
Ms. Lisa Sheridan, a resident of Clermont whose parents lived in Kings Ridge, commented that Kings Ridge was full of good neighbors and that she loved the community. She mentioned that she comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses, and she remarked that she has seen a lot of large companies break the many promises that they make after destroying neighborhoods. She wondered why so much money has been spent so far by Cemex on this project and the concessions that have been made, and she noted that Cemex’s parent company is located in Mexico.
Mr. Chuck Bromley, a resident of Mulberry, expressed his support for the application for the issuance of the Cemex CUP. He explained that he was a degreed mining engineer and former employee of Cemex who learned as an undergraduate various mining practices with a focus on environmental sustainability and later gained his understanding of how these principles are applied in the real world by first-hand guidance from Cemex, which he opined was one of the world’s leaders in safe and environmentally-responsible mining. He mentioned that he currently works as a sales manager for Met Pro supply, which is a regional manufacturer of minerals processing equipment and a family-owned business that depends on the mining industry, and he commented that Met Pro has been working with Cemex on certain projects such as a raised boardwalk walking trail at the Gator sand mine through a lowland area for local students to enjoy nature and enhance their knowledge of the natural beauty of Central Florida. He commented that the mission behind opening this facility is to support the community through a local economic stimulus that offers local residents a direct form of further employment opportunities and support business opportunities for growth and additional employment. He reminded everyone that Central Florida sand is something they all use as a necessity for their lives; used on the roads they drive on, the houses they live in, the hospitals they visit, and the schools and churches they attend; and it is even used to rehabilitate the beaches for their use. He reiterated a quote previously heard that day which stated, “If it can’t be grown, it has to be mined.”
Mr. Al Jackson, an account manager for TAW headquartered in Hillsborough County, which has about 300 employees in Central Florida, commented that they could not find a better business partner than Cemex. He further explained that TAW was an industrial service organization that focuses on mining, citrus, waste water, power plants, and hospitals and that it does a lot of work in Lake County. He related that they have field technicians who go out to the job site and work on the heavy equipment to keep it running, and those employees use the restaurants, hotels, local shops, and local suppliers. He commented that a mining operation like Cemex will provide jobs and opportunities to a wide variety of trades and will require support from many of the local vendors. He noted that Cemex is nationally recognized as an environmental steward for their efforts in minimizing their impact, and Cemex also makes safety a priority requiring proper safety training and sharing best practices. He also commented on the opportunities and high-paying jobs companies like Cemex provide for this and surrounding communities.
Mr. Randy Lambeth, owner of HT Construction, stated that they have been a contractor for Cemex for the last seven years in Central Florida, and sand mining has a long history in this area, providing the support his industry needs and allowing his employees to prosper and create a life in this region for their families. He reiterated that two of the most important concerns for Cemex are safety and care for their environment and mentioned the proper safety and training that employees receive. He also reiterated that his job and those of his employees would not be possible without companies like Cemex that need the service his company provides.
Mr. Lonnie Wright from GIW Minerals, which supplies the pumps for the mining operations, commented that Cemex is a great company which emphasizes safety. He discussed the importance of Cemex to his company and employees and noted that he was in favor of the mining CUP.
Mr. Dale Dodneu, a resident of Davenport, stated that he lived within two miles from three sand mines and commented that he would rather have sand mines than a lot of residential development. He also mentioned the employment and benefits that Cemex has made possible.
Mr. Mark Davies, a certified professional geologist who works for Cemex and who was primarily responsible for expiration and permitting aggregate operations, related that he has overseen the permitting of five green field sites in five different states. He opined that this application is as simple and benign as a mining application could possibly get, and it would be easy to use this site for post-mining development. He specified that 250 tons of aggregate is needed to build the average home, with even more used in Florida for concrete construction due to the hurricane standards. He commented that this material is unique, and he believed that it should be seen as an asset rather than a detriment to Lake County. He mentioned that the majority of the sand that is clean and coarse enough to be used for DOT construction projects is seen along the spine of the state and is then trucked to its markets many miles away, and the largest cost component of an aggregate delivered to a site is transportation, so the closer it is, the more economical it is for everyone. He concluded that one of the ironies about opposition to the mine is that the majority of the jobs, at least in the short-term, that would be created if it was not mined would probably be construction jobs that would not be possible without this material.
Mr. Vance Jochim, a resident of Tavares and writer of a governmental watchdog blog, opined that the two major issues that need to be discussed are property rights, since the applicant has gone through all of the requirements, and economic development. He suggested that the County take advantage of this opportunity to have a supply of this raw material, since it is hard to find a supply of aggregates, and he commented that it would be more expensive for their construction industry if they had to truck in aggregates from other sources. He also suggested that the Board set up a committee in the future to review the raw materials supply for this county to make sure that it would not damage their ability to grow.
Mr. Carlos Solis, a resident of South Lake County since 1986, pointed out that the majority of people who spoke in favor of this mine do not live in Lake County, and the majority of the people opposed to it do reside in the county.
The Chairman closed the public hearing.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 6:45 p.m. that there would be a ten-minute recess.
cemex – four corners sand mine CUP (cont’d)
Mr. Sims indicated that he would start their brief rebuttal with Mr. Stephens’ remarks.
Mr. Stephens recapped that they are protecting ground water resources with this mine with the alternative water supplies previously mentioned and would not be impacting recharge. He added that the report about the mine using hydraulic dredging previously discussed is completely irrelevant to this application, which instead uses uplands reclamation. He clarified that the discussion regarding the 55-feet of cross sections that were referenced referred to the excavation cross sections and not the reclamation cross sections, and the only requirement in the Comp Plan concerning Karst is to maintain a 100-foot separation between impermeable surfaces and the Karst feature, noting that they do not have any impermeable surfaces that are next to a Karst feature. He opined that the demonstration concerning the recharge is totally irrelevant, because the recharge is governed by the confining unit rather than by the overburden soils.
Mr. McNulty pointed out that the data regarding Horizons West of 22 percent build-out over 25 years is typical, and that is what they are foreseeing as part of this Sector Plan development, which is a long-term build-out to develop the entire sector. He also noted that they have the ability now to control the mining as it goes forward and to ensure that the land is turned into exactly what they want it to be as a future development site as they phase it out.
Mr. Lyons emphasized that they have been a supporter of the Sector Plan the entire time it has been in development, have spent money on it, and see themselves as a part of that. He pointed out that mining is an allowable use under the Sector Plan, and he commented that there is not an either/or proposition for this property to be either developed or mined. He stated that they are willing to be flexible on certain conditions within their current application, including a contingency regarding Mr. Hills’ blueberries, although it will be 15 to 20 years before the area adjacent to his property will be mined. He also indicated that they would be willing to shorten the life of the mine to less than 30 years.
Commr. Parks commented that he was glad that they had the Sector Plan, since he believed there was need for long-term planning and thinking about their future to avoid the problem of piecemeal growth. He agreed that mining materials are needed for continued growth for the next generation as well as for development of the Sector Plan, and although he believes in theory it is possible that prices of building materials would increase if this mine was not approved, there was analysis that was missing to conclude that decisively taking into consideration other mines in the area and the effect on demand. He pointed out that the wording in Section 14.05.03 stating “the planned character of the neighborhood in which it would be located” would factor into the success of the Sector Plan. He added that the economic analysis was compelling on both sides. He noted that he believes right of way would be an issue, since there is no guaranteed right of way, and he expressed concern about the letter they had received from Orange County. He commented that the buffering issue was quite important to the Hills and would be a concern if the right species is not utilized and affects the pollinators. He pointed out that this is a very large proposed project, which would require extensive monitoring of compliance, but he did not see anything showing how that would impact the County and how they would pay for monitoring traffic issues and other stipulations in the CUP.
Commr. Sullivan related that he had some of the same concerns that were just expressed, with the largest concern being the adjacent businesses that bring revenues into the county; however, he believes there were things they could do to further mitigate that. He also expressed concern about the issue of long-term mining and stated that he believed 30 years was too long a period of time. He elaborated that he believes if the market values continue, they could be out of there in 20 years, which fits better with the time period of the Sector Plan, and he recapped that unlike other mining operations, this can be restored to be able to be used as property for further development. He indicated that he was concerned about the transportation issue based on Orange County’s actions, but some of the mitigation could be done by paving of the roads by Cemex that they will use, which will also help some of the dust issues. He concluded that he believes there is a happy medium that they could find to move forward with this project.
Commr. Campione commented that she and the rest of the Commission have tried hard to view this as objectively as possible, and she felt that it was important to look at this issue from two separate perspectives analytically and emotionally, taking into consideration things such as the rule of law, the Constitution, property rights, and due process. She also tried to look at this from the standpoint of how she would feel if this project was next to her property and home and came to the conclusion that she would not want mining activity to occur closer than one quarter of a mile away or 1,320 feet from her house, as long as she could not see or hear the operation; she also indicated that she would not want dust or sand to blow from the site onto her property or trucks from the site entering or exiting near her driveway or using local roads immediately adjacent to her home. She added that she would not want the mining operation to affect her water supply or harm the lake and wetlands near her home, and she commented that she would probably assume the worst unless she felt that all of the loopholes had been closed and that there were clear avenues of enforcement if restrictions and conditions of a mining permit were being violated.
Commr. Campione opined that to vote for an outright denial would be completely against her belief system to honor their property rights and Constitutional rights as Americans, and she pointed out that they use sand for everything. However, she emphasized that she does not think that anything should be allowed, and she wanted to come up with and formulate a plan of conditions that would take what staff has already done a step further to make sure that the future of this area, the Sector Plan, and existing residents and their concerns were adequately protected. She specified that she does not think that Hancock Road or Hartwood Marsh Road should be allowed as routes coming in and out of this property under any condition in the future, and she opined that the conditions of the CUP ensure that there could not be any pits left on the property after reclamation. She suggested that they could also prohibit heavy industrial uses, which could be specified in the Sector Plan, and they could decrease the size of the phases in areas when DSAP’s start to develop adjacent to those phases, as well as require the piles to be pushed further away from the property boundaries of those developing DSAP’s, which would allow the Sector Plan to move forward without hindrance. She also suggested that they allow clay running trails within the perimeter of the initial mining area to ensure the existence of those trails, which would contribute to the Wellness Way concept of wellness activities. She opined that these potential conditions would allow property owners to utilize their property while being able to provide a valuable resource to the Sector Plan and the Central Florida area. She pointed out that the material would have to come from somewhere if they do not have the material right there, and the trucks transporting that material would have to utilize their roads. She expressed concern about the Hills’ farm and thought they could propose conditions and modifications to protect the blueberry farm and the Hills’ property.
Commr. Cadwell listed three areas of concern about this project, which were the transportation alternatives, the transportation network as a whole, and to work with the adjoining property owners. He commented that the adjoining property owners have property rights as well, and the Board was the protector of their property rights. He emphasized that there was not one adjoining property owner who stated that this project would not adversely affect them, and he added that the transportation issues have not been addressed. He opined that the issue of the impact and compatibility with the existing agricultural operations has not been handled by the applicant, and he was not inclined to try to fix those problems at the spur of the moment at that time. He concluded that based on the testimony he has heard that day and the evidence that has been brought before them, he did not intend on supporting the CUP.
Commr. Conner commented that he did not know how Cemex would be able to have road access, noting that he did not agree with the applicant’s assertion that Orange County’s actions should be irrelevant to their decision, and he thought that was a legitimate issue and obstacle to overcome. He also expressed concern about the adverse impact on the blueberry farm as well as the Wellness Way Sector Plan. He opined that the evidence was overwhelming not to support the application, and he did not see a way to find a “happy medium” at this time to those problems.
Commr. Sullivan commented that they had a disagreement about this request, because he felt that the concerns could be mitigated by modifications such as removing Phase III of the mining operation immediately to the west of the Hills’ farm and limiting the life of the mine in the CUP to 20 years. He added that the road application needs to be worked out with their staff before Cemex could move forward.
Commr. Campione suggested that if a DSAP is approved along the northern and southern boundaries and is actually proceeding with development activity, those particular areas would have the buffers increased by 100 feet, a berm would be added if there is not one there already, and the hours of operation would be reduced to eliminate the weekends and 24-7 operation on the excavation on those phases immediately adjacent to the DSAP. She also suggested that mining occur first along the western boundary by the Clonts property where there seems to be potential for the initial development to occur and which has Urban Low zoning, with the requirement that it be completed within three years and that they could not proceed with another phase until it was done. She also elaborated that if there is support for the motion, she believes they need to pin down some very specific requirements with regard to enforcement, the clay trails within the buffer of Zone 1, utilization of adjoining roads, elimination of the use of Hancock and Hartwood Marsh, and specification of exactly what the berms that are constructed would look like.
Commr. Parks indicated that he would be voting against the motion, because he believes there are details of the compromise which they had discussed that would still have to be worked out, and he pointed out that a compromise was not previously reached after extensive discussion. He also mentioned that he did not think they could get past the issue of the right of way.
Commr. Campione commented that it was unfortunate that some of the emails that were written expressed a strong sentiment in a manner that was vitriolic rather than in the spirit of working things out in the best interest of their entire community. She opined that they should not lose sight of the fact that they all have some very essential rights which were at the heart of their Constitution and being Americans, and it was important that everyone respect each other’s property rights.
Commr. Sullivan commented that all of the input they get helps them make a decision, and he read a lot of emails and had a lot of discussions and phone calls about this issue. He opined that the WWSP is a great program, but he also believed that the sand mine with the above-mentioned conditions could peacefully coexist with the Sector Plan as they move forward. He concluded that he believes his job is doing what is in the best interest of Lake County.
Commr. Cadwell related that the conditions and amendments they discussed do not address the concerns he spoke about earlier.
A motion was made by Commr. Sullivan and seconded by Commr. Campione, which failed by a vote of 2-3, to approve the request for MCUP #15/1/1-2, Cemex-Four Corners Sand Mine CUP, with the exceptions that the Phase III property immediately adjacent to the Hills property be removed from the mining operation, that they limit the life of the mine to 20 years in order to fit with the Sector Plan, that they mitigate the western boundary to include changing that to a 3-5 year build-out that would not affect the Clonts property as currently proposed, to limit the hours of operation as previously stated by Commr. Campione if a DSAP is developed on adjacent property, the availability of a north-south route from the mine, and to increase buffers by 100 feet and add berms if a DSAP is approved along the northern and southern boundaries and is actually proceeding with development activity.
Commrs. Cadwell, Conner, and Parks voted “no.”
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried by a vote of 3-2, the Board denied the request for MCUP #15/1/1-2, Cemex-Four Corners Sand Mine CUP, the request for a Mining Conditional Use Permit (MCUP) for a sand mine for the supply of construction aggregate materials.
Commr. Campione and Commr. Sullivan voted “no.”
Commr. Parks commented for the record that he wanted to make it clear that his decision was based on his comments earlier.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.
jimmy conner, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK