A regular MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
July 30, 2019
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, July 30, 2019 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: Leslie Campione, Chairman; Wendy Breeden, Vice Chairman; Timothy I. Sullivan; Sean Parks; and Josh Blake. Others present were: Jeff Cole, County Manager; Melanie Marsh, County Attorney; Niki Booth, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Gary J. Cooney, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller; Kristy Mullane, Chief Financial Officer; and Josh Pearson, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION and pledge
Pastor Brooks Braswell from First Baptist Church Umatilla gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commr. Campione recognized Mr. Ray Goodgame, Clermont City Councilmember, who had recently passed away.
Mr. Jeff Cole, County Manager, said that since the agenda was first published, staff added Tab 23 under Commissioner Campione’s report.
On a motion by Commr. Sullivan, seconded by Commr. Parks, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the minutes for the BCC meeting of May 21, 2019 (Regular Meeting) as presented.
citizen question and comment period
Mr. Vance Jochim, a concerned citizen, requested for Tabs 6 and 10 to be pulled so that staff could explain why they were being requested. He relayed his understanding that Tab 6 would shift funding from fire reserves to personal services and salaries. He also indicated an understanding that Tab 10 would use a County match to help renovate 19 fire stations, and he opined that the County had issues with architecture and leaks in buildings. He then felt that many rural citizens were experiencing their neighbors redeveloping land, cities attempting to annex their land, or large buildings being constructed next to single family residences. He opined that this was driven by developers being forced to be annexed into cities in order to receive water and sewer services, and he voiced a concern that rural residents who were experiencing these changes were unable to vote on this issue. He relayed his understanding that the City of Tavares did not prescribe the voting boundaries and he thought that there was a need to allow rural residents within an interlocal service boundary agreement (ISBA) to vote for city leaders. He also noted that the Board would be discussing septic tanks and he felt that there should be alternative viewpoints for discussions related to this issue; additionally, he expressed concerns for breaks in sewer lines and lift stations and for the damage they cause.
Mr. Cole said that Tab 6 was a transfer of money to allow the County to fund the approved collective bargaining agreement that included pay increases for the firefighters. He also stated that about $207,000 of the funding for Tab 10 was from impact fees, with approximately $623,000 being from outside grant funding. He explained that the purpose of this item was to renovate 19 fire stations and replace 70 overhead bay doors, 55 pedestrian doors, and 115 windows to bring them up to wind code standards. He stated that many of the fire stations were built in the 1980s and there were different requirements then. He added that this item did not pertain to construction quality. He specified that many of the windows and doors were currently rated for 115 miles per hour (mph) winds and needed to be rated for 140 mph winds.
Commr. Campione agreed that this item was about age and meeting the current code. She felt that many of the buildings were older and that wind load was a concern.
proclamation 2019-73 - smokey bear’s 75th birthday
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Sullivan and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved Proclamation 2019-73 in recognition of Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday on August 9, 2019.
Commr. Campione read and presented Proclamation 2019-73 to Smokey Bear and Mr. Roy Crib, Forest Area Supervisor with the Florida Forest Service.
Mr. Crib thanked the Board for their support.
CLERK OF the Circuit COURT and comptroller’s CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Consent Agenda, Items 1 through 3, as follows:
List of Warrants
Request to acknowledge receipt of the 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.
Central Lake Community Development District Proposed FY 2020 Budget
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Central Lake Community Development District Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2020 in accordance with Section 190.008(b) of the Florida Statutes for purposes of disclosure and information only.
Lands Available List
Request to acknowledge receipt of property placed on the Lands Available List. Lake County has until October 9, 2019 to purchase property from the Lands Available List before it is available to the public.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
Commr. Breeden remarked that Tab 14 was to request approval to place a plaque at the Ferndale Preserve in memory of Mr. Glenn Burns. She mentioned that he was a former Montverde Town Councilman who had passed away in the last year. She elaborated that he was instrumental in the acquisition of the Ferndale Preserve and in writing the grant which helped secure that property.
Commr. Parks commended Mr. Burns and added that he also assisted with the Green Mountain Scenic Byway and Overlook. He expressed appreciation for the support for this item and said that there would be a ceremony for the plaque.
Commr. Campione recalled that Mr. Burns attended discussions about trails such as the Apopka Loop Trail. She commented that he would be missed, that he left a legacy, and that he was appreciated.
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Consent Agenda, Tabs 4 through 16, as follows:
Request approval of an agreement with Deer Island Community Development District for traffic law enforcement on special district roads. The fiscal impact cannot be determined at this time. Commission District 3.
Request approval of Contract 19-0507 with Bryant Miller and Olive, P.A. (Tampa, FL) to serve as counsel for disclosure services. The fiscal impact cannot be determined at this time.
MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
Request approval of a Fiscal Year 2019 budget transfer moving $540,000.00 from Fire Rescue Reserves to Fire Rescue Personal Services for salary adjustments related to the Collective Bargaining Agreement approved on June 11, 2019. The fiscal impact is $540,000.00 (expenditure).
AGENCY FOR ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
Request approval to advertise an ordinance amending Lake County Code, Chapter 2, Article IV, Division 10, entitled Lake County Arts and Cultural Alliance. There is no fiscal impact.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
Request approval of the agreement with the City of Leesburg for the Lake County Office of Building Services to provide the City assistance with construction inspections, plan review and fire inspections for new construction and fire suppression systems as needed. The fiscal impact (revenue) is dependent upon the City's needs and compensated as outlined in the agreement. Commission Districts 1 and 3.
Emergency Medical Services
Request approval to purchase extended service plans for ambulances from Ford Motor Service Company. The fiscal impact is $31,535.00 (expenditure).
Request approval of Contract 19-0918 with Florida Retrofits, Inc. (Palm Bay, FL) for renovations at 19 fire stations. The total fiscal impact is $831,349.44 (expenditure - $623,512.08 funded by the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and $207,837.36 in County funding for the required 25% local match).
PUBLIC SERVICES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Request approval to award Contract 19-0434 to D.H. Pace Company, Inc. (Orlando, FL) for preventative maintenance, repair and replacement services for overhead doors and gates. The estimated annual fiscal impact is $76,000.00 (expenditure).
Housing and Human Services
Request approval of the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plan with proposed project list, approval of the accompanying Resolution 2019-92, and authorization for the Chairman to execute the required certifications. The fiscal impact is $1,299,149.00 (revenue/expenditure).
Request approval for the Chairman to execute the Housing and Urban Development Annual Lake County Public Housing Authority (PHA) Certification of Compliance with the PHA Plan and Related Regulations including required Civil Rights Certification (HUD-50077-CR) certifying conformity with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. There is no fiscal impact.
Parks and Trails
Request approval to place a plaque on the Ferndale Preserve property in memory of Glenn Burns. The fiscal impact is $895.00 (expenditure). Commission District 2.
Request approval of Resolution 2019-93 to advertise a Public Hearing to vacate a portion of an unimproved right of way in the plats of Lake Highlands, which are located north of State Road 50 and east of County Road 455 in the Clermont area. The fiscal impact is $2,295.00 (revenue - application fees). Commission District 2.
Request approval to amend the November 20, 2012, Interlocal Agreement with the City of Tavares for traffic sign maintenance and emergency repairs. The estimated annual fiscal impact is $21,000.00 (revenue). Commission District 3.
presentation – lake county water authority
Mr. Mike Perry, Executive Director for the Lake County Water Authority (LCWA), noted that the Board had asked him to discuss septic tanks. He stated that there were these three ways that wastewater in Lake County was being treated: municipal treatment plants; smaller private package plants; or septic systems. He showed a list of domestic wastewater facilities in Lake and Orange Counties from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and he commented that recreational vehicle (RV) and mobile home wastewater facilities were generally the smaller package plants which were located throughout the counties, regulated by the DEP, and inspected often. He remarked that the DEP did not conduct onsite sewage programs; rather, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) generally managed septic systems. He related that the DOH had an inventory project to find out where the onsite treatment systems were located, and he mentioned that the inventory in the State of Florida was unique for the country and that this was positive for the state. He displayed a chart related to known sewer and septic systems in Lake County which indicated that 43 percent of parcels were using sewer systems with about 51 percent using septic tanks. He showed maps indicating where sewer and septic systems were located and noted that there were about 67,000 known or likely septic tanks in Lake County; additionally, a spreadsheet indicated that there were around 165,000 parcels that were known, likely, or somewhat likely to use septic tanks and that this created a disconnect with the maps. He said that the DEP was unaware that his house had a septic tank and he expressed a concern that it was unknown where each of the septic systems were located in the county. He expressed an understanding that local governments were unaware of where septic tanks were located in their communities and said that an individual with the City of Tavares had indicated that there were issues related to identifying the systems. He mentioned that the DEP had a database related to water reuse and that through 2006, the State of Florida was ranked first in reuse throughout the country. He also remarked that Lake County was now 100 percent reuse and the water was either being sold back to customers or used for irrigating municipal property; furthermore, there was no offsite discharge in Lake County or Orange County with the exception of the City of Winter Garden. He said that even though reuse was being conducted, there was still capacity left on many of those systems and that local entities would have to find a use for that wastewater; furthermore, he noted that wastewater had become a commodity more so than a waste product. He then displayed data for the nutrient loadings for various lakes and noted that point sources and septic systems only had a small impact on Lake Apopka. He mentioned similar results for Lake Beauclair and Lake Dora, and he pointed out that Lake Harris had a slightly higher contribution from septic tanks. He relayed that Lake Eustis and Lake Griffin had small contributions, though Lake Yale had the highest contribution from septic systems. He specified that these were external loadings and that in 2015, it was discovered that the majority of the loading and water quality degradation in Lake Yale was internal from the thick layer of settlement at the lake’s bottom. He explained that the most significant issue for Lake Yale was internal recycling and that the LCWA had a request for proposal (RFP) to address this issue. He showed data from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) indicating that septic tanks made up a small percentage of the phosphorous loading in the lakes and he noted that Lake Harris and Lake Yale had the highest contributions, though they were less than eight percent and were not significant. He commented that septic tanks worked in the right conditions such as on a large parcel of land, and phosphorous generally moved through the groundwater without much reduction. He felt that septic tanks were less effective in dense areas such as mobile home parks, and he relayed that the Florida Onsite Wastewater Association (FOWA) had researched this issue. He commented that Ms. Roxanne Groover, with FOWA, had information about current septic tank designs and the approach to dealing with onsite treatment systems. He mentioned that these new systems could cost up to $30,000 and that this could be out of range for the typical homeowner. He said that the state also provided septic to sewer grants which allowed for communities to change from septic tanks to a municipality’s wastewater treatment system. He suggested that the Board speak with Ms. Groover about this information, and he opined that wastewater and septic tanks were not the most significant issue related to the health of the lakes.
Commr. Campione said she appreciated this information and thought that the Board could delve into it more in the future by possibly inviting Ms. Groover to speak. She felt that it was important to inform the public if there were alternatives or opportunities to connect to nearby wastewater treatment plants, potentially with incentives from cities. She also opined that inexpensive technology such as a drain field and woodchips could be effective and could be used to retrofit a septic system without removing it.
Commr. Parks noted that there were many sources of concern for water resources and opined that septic tanks needed to be addressed. He hoped that the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) would be sensitive to existing land owners from a policy standpoint, particularly in the Green Swamp and the Wekiva River Protection Area. He relayed his understanding that at their best, conventional septic systems would only treat 50 percent of the nutrients. He expressed a concern that items such as inhibitors and medical waste were not tested for and that they could end up in the lakes. He felt that sludge from municipal waste was misapplied to land and caused issues, and he indicated an understanding that systems were being fixed so that older clay pipes and transmission systems were not leaking. He commented that there had been major leaks from municipal systems into water bodies and he expressed a concern over potentially challenging decisions for increasing the requirements of septic tanks.
Commr. Breeden thanked Mr. Perry for the information.
Commr. Campione also thanked Mr. Perry for the report and she thought that the BCC could possibly workshop the issue with the LCWA.
Mr. Perry then discussed hydrilla and recalled that in May 2019, there were many treatments with LCWA funding and County staff, who provided the work at no charge. He explained that the LCWA spent $1.5 million treating areas and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) contributed about $600,000, and he displayed treatment areas in Lake Harris and Lake Dora, along with Lake Yale near Marsh Park which also underwent a tussock removal project. He displayed data indicating that there were about 1,800 acres treated with an average cost of about $753 per acre. He said that there would not be additional treatments during the summer due to the temperature and that he was unsure of the current prognosis for hydrilla, though it was significantly addressed in the fall 2018. He hoped that the FWC’s funding in the state’s budget would be sufficient to continue to maintain the hydrilla.
Commr. Campione related that the BCC could call Mr. Perry back in a few months to discuss the hydrilla issue.
presentation – wolf branch innovation district
Mr. Brandon Matulka, Executive Director for the Agency for Economic Prosperity, said that the purpose of this presentation was to update the Board on the Wolf Branch Innovation District, which was located in northeast Lake County and east of existing downtown Mount Dora near the new Wekiva Parkway extension. He explained that the district was an approximately 1,300 acre site that was located in the joint planning area (JPA) of Lake County and the City of Mount Dora and had been identified as a strategic corridor for potential significant economic development spurred by the completion of the Wekiva Parkway. He noted that the district was located at the terminus of the Wekiva Parkway extension, or State Road (SR) 453, and SR 46, and the site previously had a master plan and market analysis conducted by the Renaissance Planning Group; furthermore, there had been a Duke Energy site readiness assessment conducted by McCallum Sweeney Consulting which rendered an “A” grade for development. He relayed this information about the site: the City of Mount Dora and Lake County came together to collaboratively and proactively seek to maximize the potential of the area; the Board approved a two-year agreement in October 2017 with an option to extend twelve months with the City of Mount Dora for Levey Consulting to provide strategic and implementation plans for the Wolf Branch Innovation District; the focus was on uses and infrastructure that could support a vibrant and impactful job generating mixed-use community that could include uses such as office space, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, research and development, higher education, warehousing, and retail and residential space; the final strategy report was completed in 2018; and the implementation plan was currently being finalized.
Dr. Richard Levey, with Levey Consulting, said that previously discussed items would be consolidated into one report and that he would also share feedback from key stakeholders. He displayed a timeline, noted that he was here to present the draft report, and mentioned that his organization was on-time and on-budget for this project. He expressed a hope to finish the project and present it to the Board for adoption and processing in September 2019. He showed a summary of the master plan including an image of the geography of the district, which was focused around the interchange with SR 46 and SR 453, and a table showing which land uses would develop over the next 20 years according to this plan and market assumptions. He noted that the market study projected the first vertical construction in 2021, and he displayed a chart showing the buildout of office, service space, residential, and commercial buildings. He displayed images with the existing county regional employment center land use and the proposed boundary recommended as part of this process. He said that they also included a mobility plan which highlighted key transportation corridors such as roadways, a multi-use trail system, and intersection locations. He showed a review of existing policies and standards between the City of Mount Dora and Lake County Comprehensive Plans (Comp Plans), along with the recommendations made. He showed another graphic outlining the proposed innovation district with properties identified throughout the study area of County Road (CR) 441 to the west, Wolf Branch Road to the north, the Orange-Lake County line on the south, and a line just west of the Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento area to the east. He showed a list of parcels that would require a future land use (FLU) change to implement this plan, and said that this was recommended and that there was a process for moving forward on these changes. He remarked that they produced a set of recommended design standards and guidelines, and he showed an image of a gateway district that would have different design requirements than the innovation district. He commented that this was done through a regulating plan which identified the characteristics of different parcel locations and how buildings are placed, masked and oriented. He added that they had standards for cross sections of roadways to create a system of streets and blocks that form the foundation of the proposed innovation district. He related that they had undergone an extensive review of design standards and that in the gateway district centered on the intersection of SR 46 and Round Lake Road, they were attempting to create the impression of entering a new area through a regional gateway. He elaborated that they were encouraging buildings to locate closer to corners to avoid the typical development style of set back buildings with large parking lots, and he indicated an intent for building service elements to be unseen from the major streets. He commented that they had also developed design guidelines for land use types such as for offices, hotels and hospitals. He remarked that for building character and facades, they wanted to encourage a pedestrian scale and have a clear delineation between activities on different floors of a building. He explained that they developed a capital improvement plan for seven years and that it primarily concerned the City of Mount Dora’s responsibilities with regards to utilities or roadways that they envisioned being provided privately by quadrant as development occured. He added that they had recommendations for trail funding and that generally, the onsite trails in the four quadrants would be provided by private development as part of the development review process. He commented that some non-private elements of the plan included roadways such as the extension of Niles Road to connect with SR 46, along with a road south of a church and a school on Round Lake Road that could run parallel to SR 46. He thought that a road could be placed there and they believed that something could be done to relieve the traffic issues around the school. He said that there was a review of funding methods including a special assessment, tax increment financing, and the use of impact fees. He elaborated that for utilities, there were extensive expenditures that the City was making in truck lines to this area and they likely did not have adequate means to recoup those costs but could be considering utility impact fees to do this. He explained that the administration plan included the steps required to implement the plan and that his organization laid out a path for both local governments to follow. He said that they also met with key stakeholders over the past 60 days. He indicated that a real estate broker had questions about how development would occur inside the gateway district and whether there would be a required mix of uses there, such as mixed vertical uses. He clarified that language would be added to encourage this and that it was also asked how the required mixing of uses in the gateway district would be handled. He thought that the best way to accomplish this would be mixing uses by quadrant, and he noted another question regarding build-to zones and if all buildings had to have frontage on the right of way line at the intersection. He denied this and clarified that a single aisle of parking would be possible, though the buildings would still be closer and engage the street. He added that there would be pedestrian connections connecting from sidewalks and the right of way to the buildings but that there would not be buildings set back with multiple rows of parking. He stated that there was another comment about a particular property across from Sullivan Ranch on Round Lake Road that the plan showed as having a density of up to 2.5 units per acre. He explained that the County’s Urban Low FLU allowed up to four units per acre and that City and County staff felt this density was appropriate. He commented that the County required the use of a planned unit development (PUD) for subdivisions of a certain size and that a concern was that his organization wanted to encourage a unique design. He related that their recommendation was to agree with the comment and amend the map to allow up to four units per acre on the parcel.
Commr. Campione relayed her understanding that this parcel was originally shown as being an office or employment center but that Dr. Levey recommended a residential use due to compatibility with Sullivan Ranch.
Dr. Levey said that the land use designation could allow multistory buildings and that this would be a reduction in the land use intensity, though the owner and both County and City staff were amicable to this. He remarked that the last group of comments came from a representative of the Summer Lake-Grace Groves PUD. He commented that the plan was based on a 20 year market study and that there were assumptions about how much of the program could be absorbed in the area. He said that this PUD had a program that would build out to the year 2072 while his organization’s plan was only until around 2040. He indicated that the property’s representative was concerned that the full entitlement of the PUD would not be allowed under the plan because there was a table showing what would be built through 2040. He said that he assured the representative and the City of Mount Dora that this was incorrect and that the plan did not limit the entitlement on the property. He stated it was recommended that not 100 percent of the entitlement be allowed to develop on the internal roadway and go north to SR 46 and that during the development review process, a traffic study would be done to determine how much of the roadway could go north before a southern connection would be required. He said that the property owner was amicable to this and that there was no concern about their existing entitlement. He indicated that another issue raised by the representative concerned access to SR 46, and he said that their work to date had their access coming between two points on SR 46. He commented that his plan attempted to show what they thought to be the best access for traffic signalization and separation to allow the maximum control of access by all property owners north and south of the road. He said that the plan was not developed based on further research on property characteristics, driveways, or uses that could occur, and that these items were better left to the development review process; furthermore, his organization suggested that the determination of the access points would be to use the plan as a guideline and to also utilize a full traffic analysis. He felt that they were able to address stakeholder questions successfully and said that they had conducted an open forum at the City of Mount Dora community building which satisfied homeowner concerns.
Commr. Parks thanked him for his work and praised the emphasis on planning. He expressed excitement for the uniqueness of the plan and for moving buildings near roads. He felt that while this was uncommon in Lake County, this approach had no impact to uses at Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves, and that the design requirements would have little or no effect on whether a business would locate to the area.
Mr. Cole shared that the report would come back before the Board for consideration on September 24, 2019.
public hearings: REZONING
rezoning consent agenda
Commr. Campione said that she had received comment cards on Tab 4 and that it would be moved to the regular agenda.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding any cases on the Rezoning Consent Agenda, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Sullivan and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Rezoning Consent Agenda, Tabs 1 through 3, 5, 6 and 7, as follows:
Tab 1. Ordinance No. 2019-37
Rezoning Case # RZ-19-10-5
Mullins Property Rezoning
Rezone approximately 2.28 +/- acres from Agriculture (A) to Rural Residential (R-1) to facilitate a future Minor Lot Split application.
Tab 2. Ordinance No. 2019-38
Rezoning Case # RZ-19-04-1
Rubin Groves PUD Amendment
Revise Ordinance #2014-7 by establishing a new ordinance with conditions consistent with the Settlement Agreement (effective date of January 4, 2019) and to establish a new PUD expiration date.
Tab 3. Ordinance No. 2019-40
Rezoning Case # RZ-19-11-4
Charles Property Rezoning
Rezone 14.6 acres from Agriculture (A) zoning and Mixed Residential District (R-7) zoning to Rural Residential (R-1) zoning to facilitate the submission of a future lot line deviation application to reconfigure the lot lines of the two (2) subject properties.
Tab 5. Ordinance No. 2019-41
Rezoning Case # RZ-19-13-5
Bryan-Grover Property Rezoning
Rezone two parcels from Agricultural District (A) to Agricultural Residential District (AR).
Tab 6. Ordinance No. 2019-42
Rezoning Case # FLU-18-17-4
Pandolph Comp Plan Amendment - Adoption
Amend the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) to change the Future Land Use Category on approximately 25.29 acres from Regional Office to Urban Low Density FLUC.
Tab 7. Ordinance No. 2019-43
Rezoning Case # RZ-19-09-4
Pandolph Property Rezoning
Rezone 25.29 acres from Agriculture (A) and Planned Industrial (MP) to Planned Unit Development (PUD) to facilitate a seven (7) lot residential subdivision with equestrian uses.
rezoning regular agenda
Rezoning Case # FLU-19-02-4
Sorrento Pines FLU Amendment - Transmittal
Amend the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) to change the Future Land Use Category on approximately 200.45 acres from Rural Transition Future Land Use Category to Planned Unit Development (PUD) Future Land Use Category.
Tab 8. Ordinance No. 2019-44
Rezoning Case # MCUP-19-01-1
474 Independent Mine Expansion MCUP
Amend a portion of Ordinance 2004-80 and a portion of Conditional Use Permit #863-2/3 to expand the existing sand mine by 56.48 +/- acres with approval of a new mining conditional use permit ordinance that will encompass a total 89.10 +/- acres.
Tab 9. Ordinance No. 2019-45
Rezoning Case # RZ-19-12-5
Harmony Hills Rehabilitation Facility CFD Amendment
Replace Community Facility District (CFD) Ordinance #2017-30 with a new ordinance to allow an additional 30,000 square foot building with 60 beds to increase the total number of beds to a maximum of 120 total beds at the existing Comprehensive Transitional Education Facility.
sorrento pines flu amendment - transmittal
Mr. Tim McClendon, Director for the Office of Planning and Zoning, displayed the advertisements for that day’s rezoning cases on the overhead monitor in accordance with the Florida Statutes. He presented Tab 4, Rezoning Case # FLU-19-02-4, Sorrento Pines FLU Amendment – Transmittal, and noted that it would be the transmittal portion of the hearing. He explained that the property was located west of Rolling Oak Road and was adjacent to CR 437 in the Town of Sorrento area within Commission District 4. He noted that the tract size was about 200 acres and the request before the Board was to amend the FLU map from Rural Transition to PUD. He said that if this amendment was transmitted to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), it would allow state agencies to comment on the project including all of the reviewing agencies at the state level such as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the FWC and the SJRWMD. He also clarified that approval to transmit this amendment was not a guarantee for approval of the project. He showed that the existing FLU was Rural Transition, that the proposed FLU was PUD, and that the existing zoning was Community Facilities District (CFD). He relayed this information from the staff analysis: the FLU map amendment would change from Rural Transition to PUD; the PUD land use was adopted by the Board on January 29, 2019; the existing base density allowed in the Rural Transition FLU category was one dwelling unit per five acres and could range to one unit per acre provided the property was rezoned to PUD and had open space requirements; and the current request was to lock in the development program of 348 single family dwellings with about 1.74 units per net acre and require the minimum open space of 25 percent, though the concept plan showed the development with about 49 percent open space. He conveyed that staff found that the request was compatible with the existing adjacent residential property of the neighborhood to the north and that the plan was consistent with the central water and sewer facilities. He also said that the City of Eustis had indicated an intent to serve the project with the availability and capability to do this. He relayed that the traffic impact study on the property indicated that intersections from SR 44 to SR 46 were failing with or without this project. He also commented that there was currently capacity in each school. He showed the concept plan and stated that it had changed from the previous BCC presentation along CR 437 and the southern portion of the project area. He pointed out that areas would be cross-hatched along CR 437 including large residential lots with a minimum of one acre in size, along with the southern properties. He read the requested action to accept the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommendation and transmit the Sorrento Pines FLU Amendment.
Mr. Jimmy Crawford, an attorney representing the applicant, said that they had also submitted an economic analysis of how the proposed community would affect the county. He recalled that the applicant had previously applied for a community under the fourth alternative that was available in the Comp Plan to allow up to two units per acre in this land use, which received unanimous approval from the Planning and Zoning Board but was denied by the BCC. He stated that the applicant had then applied for a modified subdivision request and that they had met with the district Commissioner and held a community meeting. He explained that the difference from the previous application was that there was now no fourth alternative; rather, there was currently a PUD land use designation which allowed more flexibility for the County and owner to address issues. He said that this hearing was only to transmit the application and that after receiving comments from the DEO, the Board could adopt, deny, or adopt with changes. He mentioned that the Board would have complete flexibility on the land use and the PUD zoning document which would come before the Board at that point. He shared that they lowered the density from 400 to 348, matched their lot sizes along the eastern exterior due to a request from the Rolling Oak Estates community, increased their buffers to 200 feet along the south property, provided left and right turn lanes at both entrances and an eight foot multimodal path along CR 473, and that there would be traffic calming and either signalization or roundabout discussions. He indicated an intent to cooperate with the Lake County Public Works Department on these issues, and he stated that they had eliminated any possible connection to Sorrento Springs. He elaborated that at the time of the previous application, they were part of the Sorrento Springs homeowners association (HOA) and community development district (CDD), though they had since separated from them. He said that the CDD support letter would come before the adoption hearings but that he had a letter from the CDD Board Attorney who verified that the agreement was executed. He mentioned the utility agreement with the City of Eustis and relayed his understanding that the City’s current position was that they would require a covenant to annex in the future for the provision of the utility agreement. He said that they met with the City Manager who indicated an unwillingness to reconsider their position due to this being an adopted policy of each city in the county, and they did not recommend that this be changed. He stated that they also discussed the practical impossibilities of annexation. He displayed a map and pointed out the Sorrento Pines property, the City of Eustis and the City of Mount Dora. He explained that the City of Mount Dora had annexed up to CR 44 which stopped the City of Eustis from annexing east of that direction. He indicated an understanding that the lowest number of parcels required for the City of Eustis to reach the subject property was 37. He claimed that if there was an annexation requirement for a utility, the only ways for the City to annex them would be for them to be contiguous or there would have to be an ISBA approved by the Board which stated that the City could annex non-contiguous property. He suggested that the City of Eustis did not see any possible way to annex the subject property or any nearby properties without the Board’s cooperation. He relayed his understanding that there was a concern from nearby residents that the City could annex the subject property or Sorrento Springs, which had the same covenants in their utility agreement, and then attempt to annex the large lot residential properties. He stated an intent to mitigate these concerns and said that he had reached out to the Eustis City Commission to review the possibility of removing the annexation requirement from the utility agreement; furthermore, he felt that he would either have this meeting or be told that the meeting would not occur before this case would come back before the BCC. He then opined that the neighbors did not have cause for concern for annexations if the applicant had a utility agreement stating that the City of Eustis could annex the property if it was contiguous or if there was a future ISBA.
Ms. Cathy Hattaway, Planning Group Leader with Poulus and Bennett and representing the applicant, said that the request was for the Board to approve the transmittal to DEO for an FLU amendment to the PUD on the subject property. She relayed her understanding that the intent of the PUD ordinance required several matters which she opined that they complied with, including the ordinance and the new FLU being established to accommodate site specific development standards for unique properties. She felt that this was a unique property and noted that the density to the north was approximately three units per acre and then transitioned to areas of one unit per acre and those with even larger lots; furthermore, she opined that the request complied with this transition approach at 1.74 units per acre. She stated that the PUD ordinance was established by a Comp Plan amendment that identified specific land use types with densities and intensities, which had been specified in this application. She remarked that the PUD ordinance will ensure adjacent land use compatibility and efficient physical integration with existing infrastructure, and said that compatibility was defined in the Florida Statues as uses which could exist over time without undue negative impacts. She thought that this would be a compatible use with adjacent properties, and she related that with regards to infrastructure, the completion of SR 429 had created a different environment in this part of the county and that they would be providing water and sewer utilities on the site. She noted that central water and sewer was a requirement for the ordinance, and she commented that an application for the PUD FLU must be accompanied by a PUD zoning application, which would be considered by the Board if the current request moved forward. She then noted the following differences from a 2018 request for this property: changed the lot sizes and configuration to include a minimum of one acre lots along CR 437 and the southern boundary; proposed 348 residential units, which was 52 units fewer than in the previous year; removed the request for attached units so that the only units would be detached single family homes; significantly increased the buffers along Equestrian Trail to over 200 feet; proposed a 100 foot buffer along the boundary to the east of Equestrian Trail; trees would remain along the buffer areas north of Equestrian Trail and to the east and south of the property; retaining a pine tree stand in the middle of the site; proposing 50 percent open space; eliminated the connection to Sorrento Springs; and proposed architectural design standards which would guarantee quality residential units and design. She shared that it was intended to be a gated community and reported that adjacent property owners would only see similar lot sizes along CR 437. She displayed the 2018 proposed site plan and noted the additional buffers that would be provided. She opined that the request met the intent of the County’s ordinance requirements, was consistent with the Florida Statutes, Chapter 163, was consistent with the objectives and policies of the Comp Plan; and it differed significantly than the 2018 application.
Commr. Parks asked if the proposed 50 percent open space matched what was in the ordinance.
Commr. Breeden denied this and noted that the ordinance specified 25 percent.
Ms. Hattaway said that it was significantly greater than what the ordinance required and that the ordinance for this application would require 50 percent open space.
Commr. Campione said that under the Comp Plan, the applicant would have to attach a zoning ordinance application as part of the PUD land use designation.
Ms. Hattaway clarified that an application for a PUD FLU shall be accompanied by an application to rezone the property to PUD and that when they submitted their Comp Plan amendment application, they also submitted an application for the PUD rezoning.
Commr. Campione stated that the zoning ordinance would address items such as the water and sewer provision, lot widths and sizes, and the number of lots. She asked to clarify that the applicant’s request for a number of lots, which could be more than the BCC would be willing to grant, would not bind them.
Mr. Crawford recognized that the BCC would not be bound from this application and that it was only a transmittal of the land use plan amendment.
Commr. Parks inquired if the 50 percent open space would be required if the request was adopted.
Mr. Crawford confirmed this and said that the proposed FLU ordinance should have specified 50 percent open space.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Mr. Steven Barcus, a resident of Seminole County, stated that he owned property adjacent to the subject property. He said that his property was zoned to allow one home per five acres and mentioned that it was located west of the subject property. He asked for a 200 to 250 foot buffer to the east and north of his property if the request was transmitted. He also relayed his understanding that the subject property contained gopher tortoises and he expressed a concern that construction would drive them west unless they were removed. He was unsure if this was the proper area to place 1.74 houses per acre and he opposed the transmittal.
Ms. Mindy Rodriguez, a neighbor south of the subject property, expressed a desire to maintain rural living for her and her neighbors. She indicated concerns about crime rates, failing intersections and traffic. She relayed her understanding that there had been 458 crimes committed since January 2019 in the Sorrento Pines area with the majority being trespassing and theft. She felt that the applicant was proposing more housing density than in the previous request and opined that low density in the area would be transitioning to high density. She also asked for a buffer to be included for her neighbor to the east.
Mr. Joe Perez, a resident of RedTail, requested that the BCC ascertain that the appropriate modifications to the area’s infrastructure would take place if the request was approved. He said that his neighbors had concerns about their reclaimed water system and relayed that RedTail was under a water services contract with the City of Eustis. He indicated that the system initially operated flawlessly but that there had been pressure issues as the RedTail development grew. He remarked that only 70 percent of RedTail had been completed and that there would be 70 more homes. He related that they had voiced their concerns to the City of Eustis and that they were working on the issue; however, residents were still concerned about additional pressure due to the growth of RedTail. He requested that in addition to traffic, school and quality of life considerations, the Board should also consider water delivery issues.
Ms. Joan Hill, a neighbor to the south of the proposed development, opposed the request and stated a preference for the area to continue to be rural transition. She praised the Wolf Branch Innovation District project and relayed her understanding that there were about 400 homes coming to the area which the City of Mount Dora had encroached into. She also indicated an understanding that the City of Eustis was attempting to come into the area and that only approximately 19 percent of Lake County was rural. She said that Lake County was bordered by Seminole, Orange and Osceola Counties where she opined that residents could live and then drive to the Wolf Branch Innovation District for work. She expressed a desire to keep the Town of Sorrento rural and for restrictions to be placed on the development standards. She relayed an understanding that some of the lot widths in the plan were 40 feet and that some of the side and rear entry lot lines were five feet, which she opined were not rural. She thought that a front entry of 65 to 100 feet would be reasonable and said that the nearby Rolling Acres had front lot lines of 150 feet. She opposed cookie-cutter houses and thought that the proposed density was high. She indicated an interest in specifying the open space percentage and she asked the Board to include a provision that would disallow annexation when water is being supplied. She relayed her understanding that one of the County’s goals was to promote preservation and enhancement of distinctive small towns and rural communities, and she asked the Board to do this for the Town of Sorrento.
Ms. Ginny Miller, a resident who owned property south of the subject property, thought that the applicant was seeking this due to a desire for higher density to fulfill the demand for housing in Lake County. She relayed her understanding that there were many approved projects near the Wolf Branch Innovation District including Sullivan Ranch, Summerview, Stoneybrook, and the Country Club of Mount Dora, along with a new development across from Sullivan Ranch which had up to four units per acre. She thought that the Lakes of Mount Dora had 165 new lots coming in, Timberwalk would have 376 homes next to Round Lake Elementary School, Dora Landings would have 186 homes, Summerbrooke phase four would have 166 new homes, and Wekiva Ridge would have 111 homes. She said that her area had established neighborhoods and that Rolling Oaks, the Hills of Mount Dora and Black Bear had a minimum of one home per one acre. She also listed several neighborhoods with larger lots. She felt that the request would be inconsistent with this development, and she displayed an exhibit showing the consistency with surrounding properties. She opined that the request was consistent with Sorrento Springs but that it would be inconsistent with other surrounding properties.
Ms. Theresa Sidwell, a Lake County resident, read a statement from Ms. Heather Brush, a concerned citizen who could not attend the meeting, which asked if there was any available data that realistically projected impacts on traffic and relayed concerns about traffic and inconsistent densities in the area. She then mentioned that Rolling Oaks had an approximately 150 foot lot size width and indicated concerns about this item for the proposed development. She also opined that the 200 foot right of way buffer adjacent to Ms. Rodriguez’s property was not adequate and that it should be a high berm or fence. She reiterated concerns about traffic and felt that the roads and intersections there were an issue. She relayed her understanding that the City of Eustis provided water service to RedTail but could not annex that subdivision, and she indicated a desire for a previously rejected annexation of the Town of Sorrento area to stand.
Mr. Jerry Rodriguez, a Lake County resident, said he wanted to see the plan for the proposed development and thought that roads, infrastructure and annexation should be addressed first.
Mr. Don Kehr, representing the Shirley Shores Community Group, thought that some individuals moved to the area to enjoy a rural environment. He felt that there was significant development pressure in Lake County and relayed his understanding that each dollar of revenue created by a new residential development for government cost from $1.20 to $1.40 to provide services for those communities. He opined that each approved residential development was a net loss, and he felt that high value properties were being negatively impacted to support development. He asked the Board to consider requiring conformity with the existing code with no zoning changes or Comp Plan or FLU amendments. He opined that that the Board was now due to review their ISBA agreements and that the agreements created issues. He felt that the cities were requiring the County to fund the development of roads and that the agreements should be renegotiated or eliminated.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Mr. Crawford said that the 100 foot buffer on the southwestern side of the property would be examined and felt that the subject property was between competing concerns of lot sizes, open space and buffers. He relayed that the request was at or near the lowest density and that the right of way, open space and sewer economically required a certain density; additionally, a density of one unit per acre would have to utilize wells and septic tanks which he opined were not appropriate for the environment. He relayed that they had tried to have a balance of extra-large buffers and matching lot sizes. He expressed his understanding that residents of Equestrian Trail did not want to see smaller lots, and he said that there were plantings and buffers to provide extra screening which could be considered when the PUD zoning ordinance would come before the Board. He expressed that a berm was expensive and difficult for this development, though extra plantings, pine trees, or another type of visual screening could be considered. He added that they would also consider increasing the 100 foot buffer on the southwestern side near Mr. Barcus’ property. He stated that traffic had been a significant issue for them and mentioned that there was a statutory scheme adopted in the Comp Plan which concerned the approval of developments if traffic issues were already mentioned in the traffic report. He specified that this statute indicated that if a road was failing and a proposed development would impact it, the developer is required to meet with the local jurisdiction and propose a proportional share agreement to solve the road failing issue which the County has to accept. He said that the developer had to pay for their proportionate share of the traffic and that once this is done, the County cannot deny the development based on traffic. He also stated that there were a significant number of trees on the subject property in the buffer near Mr. Barcus’ property. He indicated that the developer had been informed about the water pressure issues and that they would ask the City of Eustis how the development would affect this. He remarked that this was a preliminary stage and asked that the Board vote to transmit the request to let the applicant come back in two or three months with a PUD ordinance, which would include the discussed details, along with the land use plan amendment for adoption. He also commented that they had a specific economic analysis which reported that over 30 years, they would provide a $5.4 million surplus to the County based on income versus services provided.
Commr. Parks noted that 25 percent open space would have to be changed to 50 percent in the ordinance if the request moved forward. He also asked if the applicant would be willing to add that any buffer planting would use 100 percent Florida native vegetation, excluding the entryway, and Mr. Crawford confirmed that this was amicable. Commissioner Parks also thought that they should reference design standards, though this could lead to there being less than 348 units.
Mr. Crawford indicated that the subdivision was not designed to a standard where the developer knew they would be able to build that many units. He relayed that they were amicable to referencing the design standards in the land use plan amendment, though they believed that the PUD ordinance would be the appropriate place to attach them.
Commr. Parks felt that the design standards should be referenced for the Board’s consideration that it was unlikely for the developer to be able to build 348 units. He asked about the price point of these homes.
Mr. Crawford replied that it was not an affordable housing project and that if the units were built today, they would cost around $350,000 to $650,000.
Commr. Campione described some previous challenges in the area and expressed a concern for finding a balance of lot sizes. She requested these items to be included in an approval for transmittal: a requirement that could not be an annexation clause from the City of Eustis for the water and sewer connection; before zoning was approved, there would have to be a certification issued by the City of Eustis that the property receiving reclaimed water downstream would not be impacted by volume or flow; an additional buffer around 200 feet along Mr. Barcus’ property which would be more comparable to the buffer along the north end near the Rodriguez property; when the case would return for rezoning, the Board would address the architectural design requirements to assure a certain quality of home that would be comparable to the surrounding area; and an open space requirement of 50 percent. She also mentioned a preference for this development to be limited to 200 units for one unit per acre with 50 percent open space. She opined that this would create a true transition and assure a higher quality. She also commented that conservation design typically had single loaded roads and that this could be a way to accommodate the buffer near Mr. Barcus’ property.
Commr. Breeden felt that these were good points and also that the developer had made a good effort to listen to the community by providing more open space and buffers. She agreed that architectural design standards, open space, additional buffers, and reclaimed water should be considered, though she expressed a concern for asking the City of Eustis to remove the annexation clause because the subject property was located so far from the city or any ISBA.
Commr. Campione said that the County did not have an ISBA with the City of Eustis or the City of Mount Dora, and there had been discussions with the City of Mount Dora about having this provision for any subdivisions they served outside their JPA.
Commr. Breeden asked if the City of Mount Dora had required this provision.
Commr. Campione replied that there were no formal agreements with the County and she thought there would be an arrangement such that outside of the JPA, the City would not include the annexation clause. She opined that the City of Eustis would not be singled out and that she was going to request this requirement.
Commr. Breeden thought that if the request was transmitted, there would still be time to work the issue out with the City of Eustis.
Commr. Parks opined that ISBAs had been problematic and expressed a desire for the Board to possibly reconsider ISBAs across the county. He mentioned that an agreement did not work out the same for the City of Eustis when compared to some other cities; furthermore, he agreed that someone should not be forced to annex. He also hoped that the County could work with the City of Eustis to find properties that they could annex.
Commr. Campione felt that the way to address this issue was to have a clause in the ordinance for the provision for water and sewer service but that annexation would not be required to obtain it. She opined that there were locations such as Pine Meadows that were adjacent to the city and that this could be an agreement to specifically address a property that, once it became contiguous, would be annexed into the City of Eustis. She felt that these items could be addressed on a case by case basis so that the City of Eustis would not be prevented from annexing properties due to the County attempting to create a comprehensive ISBA.
Commr. Sullivan thought that non-annexation should be addressed through the ISBA process and the County should clearly delineate where those properties could go. He believed that the Board should transmit the request and relayed his opinion that it was a unique property. He felt that the buffers were a good idea and that the design standards and open space would be considered in the PUD process. He relayed his understanding that the PUD process was created to solve these issues upfront.
Commr. Blake supported the transmittal and thought that it was a good idea to address annexations at the County level. He also disclosed that he met with the applicant, Mr. Crawford, and the owner of the property.
Commr. Campione disclosed that she met with the applicant and attended a community meeting. She also indicated that she had discussions with some of the surrounding property owners.
Commr. Breeden, Commissioner Parks and Commissioner Sullivan also disclosed that they had met with the applicant.
Commr. Parks asked if a motion would include some of the discussed changes in the ordinance.
Commr. Sullivan indicated an interest in addressing the following items: the capacity standard; additional buffers; open space requirements; the clause for water and sewer; and landscaping.
Commr. Campione asked Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, if there was sufficient specificity, and Mr. Marsh confirmed this. Commissioner Campione then inquired if the number of units or overall density would be limited.
Commr. Sullivan denied this and thought that this would be part of the PUD process.
Commr. Campione said she appreciated the consideration of including the annexation language to address this issue on the frontend and set a precedent. She expressed that she would not support the request because she wanted to see a limitation on the number of units and a lower density, though she felt that the other added requirements were positive.
Commr. Breeden asked if the motion would include architectural design standards.
Commr. Campione said that this would be included in the PUD ordinance.
Commr. Parks relayed that approval of the transmittal would not necessarily mean that there would be agreement in the future and noted that there would still be an adoption and PUD.
On a motion by Commr. Sullivan, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried by a vote of 4-1, the Board approved Tab 4, Rezoning Case #FLU-19-02-4, Sorrento Pines FLU Amendment – Transmittal, with a request for the applicant to address the following items: the capacity standard; additional buffers; open space requirements; the clause for water and sewer; landscaping; and for architectural design standards to be included in the transmittal, where appropriate, and to be added in specificity to the future zoning ordinance.
Commr. Campione voted no.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman called a recess at 11:33 a.m. for five minutes.
474 independent mine expansion mcup
Mr. McClendon presented Tab 8, Rezoning Case # MCUP-19-01-1, 474 Independent Mine Expansion MCUP. He explained that it was located on the west side of U.S. 27 and north of CR 474, and was located in Commission District 1. He relayed that the subject property size was approximately 90 acres with the true expansion of the mine at about 56 acres. He said that the request was to amend portions of Ordinance 2004-80 and Conditional Use Permit (CUP) #863-2/3 to expand the existing sand mine by 56 acres. He remarked that the current FLU of the subject property was Green Swamp Core Conservation and the current zoning was Agriculture. He then relayed that the mining conditional use permit (MCUP) request was consistent with the Green Swamp Comp Plan policies, specifically including the Green Swamp Core Conservation policy which stated that mining was allowed, along with multiple Comp Plan polices which allowed for mining in the Green Swamp. He also said that the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) allowed mining in the Agriculture zoning district provided an applicant obtained a MCUP, and the applicant was required to reclaim the site within 90 days of the mining being complete. He related that prior to any applicant submitting a project within the Green Swamp, staff always suggested that applicants meet with DEO as they were the last approving agency for these types of permits within the Green Swamp. He indicated that staff had initial concerns about the open space requirements of the Comp Plan; however, after discussions with DEO and the applicant, they showed they met the open space requirements. He then relayed the following information: the applicant would be providing the required 100 foot buffer from adjacent properties; the processing of the sand would not occur on the subject property and would be piped to the northeast; there was no anticipated truck traffic through the expansion area; there would be an extended landscape buffer; and a taller berm was being proposed. He displayed a diagram of the berm and noted that there would be a 100 foot setback landscape buffer and berm of 10 feet in height, the roadway access would now be internal to the site, and there would be planted trees on top of the berm. He showed the concept plan and mentioned the extended 100 foot setback, along with the landscape buffer extended from the north side of this property which moved west and then southwest down the entire southern portion of the subject property. He displayed another map of the entirety of the 474 Independent Sand Mine which was just under 5,000 acres. He pointed out the subject property and the new mining areas, and he reiterated that the sand would be piped to the northeast. He read the requested action to find the request consistent with the Comp Plan and accept the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommendation to approve the MCUP amendment.
Ms. Cecelia Bonifay, an attorney representing the applicant, displayed an overview of the mine and noted the locations of the subject property and an outparcel. She relayed her understanding that the owner of the outparcel had not responded to the mining company, and she said that the operation of Mr. Kevin Jowett, the owner of Revolution Off Road, was to the north. She remarked that the buffer would be along the entire frontage adjacent to Mr. Jowett’s property and that in the past, Mt. Jowett had leased property from E.R. Jahna Industries, the owner of the mine; furthermore, Mr. Jowett had conducted a part of his operation in that area. She showed an image which included Mr. Jowett’s operation and the property line, and she thought that a check-in trailer on Mr. Jowett’s property was close to the property line. She explained that the lease had expired but that since 2012, the owner had advised him that this was an area to be mined and would be close to his property line. She added that based on a swap of land at that time, there was an agreement that the buffer could be reduced to 25 feet; however, the company would be using a 100 foot buffer. She relayed her understanding that Mr. Jowett’s concerns at the Planning and Zoning Board hearing included that the proposed seven foot berm was not high enough, and he wanted landscaping and for an approximately 15 foot unpaved access road on the company’s property to be behind the berm. She shared that the road would not be located behind the berm and that the berm had been increased to 10 feet. She displayed a diagram of the berm and mentioned that the base was now 50 feet and that 10 feet was the height that they felt was appropriate. She relayed that there were a number of existing oak trees in the area which provided a natural buffer, and she said that they would seed grass on the berm along with a fast growing tree that would reach a maximum height in about four years and fill out that area. She stated that this would be behind the existing oak trees and that the trees would not be disturbed. She reiterated that the access road was not for sand truck traffic and that it was a 15 foot unpaved road for dredge operators to reach the dredge and for employees that have to be on the site. She relayed her understanding that Mr. Jowett also had a concern about noise and she clarified that there would be an electric dredge operating; additionally, other than while the berm would be under construction, they did not anticipate any other noise. She remarked that the sand would be sent via pipe to two sites where the plants were located and would then be transported along the established route. She felt that they had attempted to meet the concerns and relayed that this was a small increase in property due to sand being located there. She indicated her understanding that Mr. Jowett had knowledge from 2012 that this area would be mined and that his property was located on an old sand mine. She also shared that a lake would be created on the subject property, and she said that they considered it to be a temporary use and planned to be in and out of the area in about three years. She then shared that a 10 foot tall berm with landscaping on top was the same height used by CEMEX, which was located in the center of Wellness Way; furthermore, there were other high end urban developments near CEMEX.
Commr. Parks asked if the berm slope facing Mr. Jowett’s property would be feasible for hydroseeding native plants, which could be more appealing for that side.
Ms. Bonifay relayed that they were currently planning to seed and grass the slope.
Ms. Chryl DeCrenza, with Kleinfelder and representing the applicant, said that this could be considered and that the foremost issue would be ensuring that it was stabilized. She indicated that they were beholden to the County, the State, and safety standards regarding perimeter berms to ensure stability and to avoid erosion sedimentation control issues. She commented that generally, hydroseeding was not as readily available for native species, though the applicant had indicated that they could consider alternatives to provide a more aesthetically pleasing berm.
Commr. Breeden noted that the berm graphic did not display any seeding or stabilization on the inside slope.
Ms. DeCrenza clarified that there would be vegetation on both sides.
Ms. Bonifay said that the applicant would consider the seeding or hydroseeding of native plants in addition to or instead of the grass. She indicated a desire to ensure that the plants used would cover the berm and that there would not be erosion or destabilization.
Commr. Campione inquired about the items next to the property boundary and if the lease with Mr. Jowett had expired in 2012.
Ms. Bonifay said that they had a 2012 lease on the property which expired prior to 2017 and that those items were located where the leased area was. She thought that Mr. Jowett was informed in 2017 that the lease had expired and those items needed to be moved due to being located where the berm would be.
Commr. Sullivan asked if the timeline was included in the ordinance.
Ms. Bonifay denied this and asked to clarify if this would be for the area adjacent to Mr. Jowett’s property or the entire property.
Commr. Breeden expressed interest in this being for the area adjacent to his property.
Mr. Corby Meyers, General Council for E.R. Jahna Industries, estimated that they would be in the area adjacent to Mr. Jowett’s property for three to five years. He also thought that the overall time period for the entire area would be five to seven years. He explained that they had entered into a lease with Mr. Jowett and that it had expired in 2015 and Mr. Jowett continued to utilize the property with their permission, though the property would eventually be mined and the items there would have to be moved.
Mr. Crawford, representing JAK Holdings and Mr. Jowett, which was the property owner to the north and west sides of the subject property and the operator of Revolution Off Road, felt that JAK Holdings and the subject property owner had existed as good neighbors for many years and wanted to continue this. He said that they did not oppose the expansion of the mine but desired business protections. He opined that JAK Holdings had built a great business for the county over the last 15 years which had a large economic impact and projected an image of ecotourism and outdoor activity that the county tried to present. He claimed that there was an annual race there with an estimated economic impact of over $5 million and that more than 10,000 people visited the property each year. He felt that the staff report was inadequate to describe the business and indicated that the land surrounding the mine was zoned Agriculture, which was true but did not include a CUP that millions of dollars had been invested in to the north of the subject property. He expressed that they appreciated the concessions which had been made but had thought that the berm would be higher. He disagreed with the applicant’s assertion that the berm could not be higher due to the 100 foot buffer requirement, and he relayed his understanding that per the Lake County Code, setback areas shall remain undisturbed except for approved access points, vegetation buffers or fencing. He believed that the perimeter road was not appropriate in the setback and was not an access point and that if the road was moved outside, there would be enough width to build a slightly higher berm. He also pointed out the access road to his client’s property and said that it could not be moved; furthermore, he asked that the berm turn south when it reached the western property line in order to provide a visual buffer for individuals driving into the property from the west.
Commr. Breeden asked if they had discussed how far they wanted the berm to extend south.
Mr. Crawford replied that they had discussed 200 feet but that 100 or 150 feet could possibly be appropriate. He relayed his understanding that this item was not in the ordinance, which only indicated that the applicant would provide a plan consistent with the LDRs and the operating permit. He suggested attaching the diagram or including narrative standards in the ordinance.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Ms. Bonifay thought that the most significant issue raised at the Planning and Zoning Board hearing was that they did not want the road to be located in front of the berm. She reiterated that it was a 15 foot dirt service trail used for safety and to allow individuals to access the mining area via a truck or jeep. She said that they had to include a safety berm when they relocated the road from the front of the berm to the back, and she commented that the company would be willing to extend the berm south to block sightlines to the mine.
Commr. Breeden asked if the berm would come down to the road instead of at the end of the property.
Ms. Bonifay expressed her understanding that JAK Holdings wanted the berm to come down along the side where individuals would enter the property. She said that a seven foot berm had been proposed and that JAK Holdings wanted the view to be blocked, and the applicant had then proposed a 10 foot berm due to the ability to stabilize it. She indicated that they also considered the requirements for CEMEX, which was a 10 foot berm with plantings. She felt that this would be sufficient with trees on top and the consideration of seeding native vegetation and grassing. She opined that the adjacent property owner could have filled in the open area with oak trees and that the mine met all of the requirements and technical provisions. She relayed that they had been working with staff for approximately 18 to 20 months for this request and that DEO had no issues with it. She did not think that this request would have any adverse effect and she asked for the Board’s approval with the discussed conditions.
Commr. Breeden asked if the owners would be amenable to having a three to five year timeframe for the completion of the area adjacent to Mr. Jowett’s property from the time that the mining commences.
Ms. Bonifay replied that the amount of acres or cubic yards mined per year would vary, though she thought that the owner could commit that they would start mining next to Mr. Jowett’s property as the first priority.
Commr. Breeden observed that without a condition, the owner could potentially mine the site for 15 years.
Ms. Bonifay responded that they would have to mine and sell the sand to profit. She reiterated they could begin at the northern end and then work to the south and that if the economy remained stable, the process could move faster than anticipated.
Commr. Breeden expressed a concern that based on the site plan of the entire property, there were large areas which appeared to have never been reclaimed.
Ms. Bonifay explained that the reclamation occurred within a certain timeframe after all mining had ended. She noted that there were areas where mining was no longer occurring but had not been reclaimed yet.
Commr. Campione said that for CEMEX, this was done in smaller increments so that reclamation would be occurring as they progressed.
Ms. Bonifay thought that CEMEX had a larger property and conducted reclamation in phases to coincide with new development. She mentioned that this property was in Wellness Way adjacent to a property designated as the town center with the highest densities of development in that area. She reiterated that her client would be providing a higher berm.
Commr. Sullivan disclosed that he had visited both sites and had met with both the applicant and Mr. Jowett. He felt that Mr. Jowett had a unique business but that the mine brought jobs to the community and met all rules and regulations. He believed that the mine had made considerations and he expressed support for extending the berm south so that the mine could not be seen. He expressed a concern for placing a timeframe on the mine and thought that the applicant had created a reasonable proposal to maintain Mr. Jowett’s business. He suggested including the berm diagram in the ordinance, and he indicated support for the fastest growing vegetation on the berm. He opined that the proposal of a 10 foot berm with vegetation and trees on top was the best solution and that extending the berm south to address visual impacts was a reasonable requirement.
Commr. Parks questioned how far the berm could be extended to the south and if this could be made a condition along with landscaping.
Commr. Sullivan expressed a concern that if the berm was greater than 10 feet in height, the bottom of the berm would have to be wider and would cut into the property utilized as open space and the safety area. He indicated an interest in having a single standard for mining and felt that this had been met. He also relayed his support for stipulations such as extending the berm south to address visual impacts and for having the 10 foot berm with vegetation be included.
Commr. Parks also mentioned the feasibility of seeding native vegetation and/or use of native plants on Mr. Jowett’s side of the berm.
Commr. Breeden thought it should be considered that native vegetation did not always cover as effectively, and she indicated an interest in ensuring that there was stabilization.
Commr. Parks said that this would be included with the feasibility and that there was the possibility of including shrubs that were effective at long-term stabilization.
Ms. Marsh thought that the landscaping requirement was acceptable but staff would need an objective standard for how far down to curve the berm.
Mr. Crawford said that they would be working with the applicant through the operating permit process and that he would not mind conducting a site visit or reviewing an aerial picture showing the line of sight when entering Mr. Jowett’s property. He thought that extending the berm 100 or 150 feet would be sufficient.
Ms. Bonifay proposed 150 feet and Mr. Crawford was amicable to this.
Commr. Blake disclosed that he met with Mr. Jowett and Ms. Bonifay. He noted that Mr. Jowett had expressed concerns about the dredge. He also recalled that he had a recent experience with an electric dredge that was quiet and that this eased concerns about the dredge and the setback.
Commr. Breeden disclosed that she had met with Mr. Jowett and the applicant.
Commr. Parks disclosed that he had met with Mr. Crawford, Mr. Jowett and Ms. Bonifay.
On a motion by Commr. Sullivan, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Tab 8, Rezoning Case # MCUP-19-01-1, 474 Independent Mine Expansion MCUP, with the conditions for the berm to be extended south 150 feet to protect against visual impacts and to include the feasibility of the seeding and/or use of native plants on the adjacent property’s side of the berm.
harmony hills rehabilitation facility cfd amendment
Mr. McClendon presented Tab 9, Rezoning Case #RZ-19-12-5, Harmony Hills Rehabilitation Facility CFD Amendment. He stated that this case was located west of SR 19 and north of Boys Ranch Road in Commission District 5. He reported that the tract size was approximately 65 acres and the request was to replace the existing CFD Ordinance 2017-30 with a new ordinance to allow an additional 30,000 square foot building and increase the number of beds from 60 to 120. He displayed the Rural FLU of the two existing properties and noted that the existing zoning was CFD. He remarked that the property was developed with an existing comprehensive transitional educational facility with 60 beds and that it was previously used as the Lake County Boys Ranch. He mentioned that the CFD zoning was consistent with the Comp Plan and allowed these types of comprehensive transitional educational facilities. He commented that the applicant had submitted and received an exemption from transportation concurrency, as this project would only generate 17 trips during p.m. hours. He showed the concept plan and pointed out where the expansion would be occurring on the south side of the property and where it would be meeting the agricultural setbacks for the district. He read the requested action to find the request consistent with the Comp Plan and accept the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommendation to approve the CFD amendment.
Mr. Rick Hartenstein, Planning Project Manager for Wicks Engineering Services and representing the applicant, said that they were asking for an additional 60 beds and that this would require an additional building. He clarified that the 30,000 square foot building would only have a 15,000 square foot footprint due to being two stories. He recalled that the property was rezoned to CFD in 1998 due to the Lake County Boys Ranch and that the property previously had a CUP. He said that in 2015, they began the CFD process for the transitional educational facility which was approved in 2016, and it was amended in 2017 for clarification on uses. He added that the facility had been in operation for about two years and they felt that it needed to expand to be productive and prosperous.
Mr. Eddie Lacasa, with Chrysalis Health and representing the applicant, said that the property was changed to CFD in 1970 and that in 1978, the existing facility was put in place. He said that the staff report indicated that the current facility was developed in the 1970s and had long term integration into the area’s development pattern and would not disrupt the existing, orderly and logical development of the area. He relayed his understanding that the facility was operated by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in 1998 and that there were some issues due to the children being housed there. He felt that this was would not occur with the population currently being served at the facility which included adults who were there voluntarily to seek help. He relayed that they had not experienced negative impacts on the surrounding areas as a result of the clients committing crimes or causing issues. He remarked that they found the location to be ideal due to being rural and having a lack of negative influences, which was conducive to their efforts to rehabilitate individuals. He added that the facility was self-contained and individuals came there for an average of 40 days; furthermore, food and amenities were onsite and the individuals remained onsite. He opined that there was ample acreage to set back the new structure and to buffer it with landscaping and fencing so that it would have a minimal visual impact on the neighborhood; additionally, they did not have signage except for a single monument sign which was approved. He said that the new structure would be 30,000 square feet and would be two stories with a footprint of 15,000 square feet. He added that it would be consistent with the existing structure which was also two stories, and he felt that the additional beds were needed because there could not be a waiting list for recovery. He elaborated that when an individual was receptive to rehabilitation, there needed to be the ability to receive them, similar to an emergency room, so that they would not change their mind. He noted that they did not typically operate at capacity but needed to be prepared for peak or crisis situations so that individuals would not be turned away. He relayed his understanding that there were 18 senior facilities within 10 miles of the subject property and that seniors had a statistically high number of opioid and painkiller addiction, and he stated that the facility served many of these individuals. He related that they needed capabilities for serving veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who had substance abuse issues and that they also provided pro bono care. He elaborated that about 20 percent of their clients in the past three years had been pro bono, and he said that they currently had 44 full-time employees with most of them being from Lake County. He expressed that with the increased number of beds, they anticipated creating about twenty-five new jobs, but this would not impact traffic significantly due to having three shifts for a twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week operation with a traffic impact of about five trips per shift. He said that they did not have many visitors and that they had visiting days on weekends, though they only had about one or two visitors on a typical weekend. He noted that the staff analysis indicated that they were at 34 percent capacity with their levels of service with traffic and that this request would only generate about 17 peak trips. He mentioned that they were accredited by The Joint Commission and had met or exceeded all of their requirements. He requested that the Board support this application and follow the staff recommendation and the unanimous recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Board.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Mr. Bryan Kemp, a resident on Boys Ranch Road, felt that the Lake County Boys Ranch was effective at tracking the children and opined that when Harmony Hills opened in 2016, another facility that organization owned was closed for inadequacy in operating the facility. He expressed a concern that if the facility continued to grow, they may have issues containing those individuals. He indicated an understanding that these facilities were generally supposed to use a one to one ratio of patients to staff and he expressed a concern if the numbers being discussed would be good for the patients. He claimed that over the past two years, there had been 26 calls for law enforcement to address situations at the facility, and he indicated a concern that they could not control the patients. He also indicated an understanding that a few residents in the area had stated that patients at Harmony Hills had asked to use their phone to call an individual to retrieve them. He said that Boys Ranch Road was paved but had no lines and was narrow. He opined that traffic had increased significantly since the facility had been in operation and remarked that it was a 35 mph road with one way in and out. He relayed his understanding that many patients come from outside the county and he questioned if this was benefitting residents of Lake County.
Commr. Campione asked if a patient had visited his house before.
Mr. Kemp replied that staff from Harmony Hills had visited his house to speak to him about the facility. He said that no patients had come to his home but that an individual had followed him home due to thinking that he may have been a patient. He said that two neighbors had indicated that patients came to their homes. He also submitted a letter from another citizen for the record.
Commr. Blake inquired if he was familiar with the bed count at the Lake County Boys Ranch.
Mr. Kemp denied this and recalled that it was previously a foster home. He said that he went to school with these children and opined that they were well behaved.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Commr. Breeden mentioned the concern about a patient visiting a neighbor’s home and asked how many minors were at the facility.
Mr. Lacosa clarified that there were no minors there and that the facility was for adults. He stated that this issue had been addressed at the Planning and Zoning Board hearing and that they thought it would be a good idea to contact the neighbors and educate them about the facility and the current application. He claimed that they had visited Mr. Kemp’s home with the intention to address any concerns but they were not well received. He also mentioned that the Boys Ranch had 120 beds.
Mr. Manuel Menendez, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Chrysalis Health and Harmony Hills, explained that the need to expand the facility was because they provided pro bono services and had served over 20 residents of the community who had requested pro bono services. He felt that opioid addiction was a growing issue in the country and stated that because of changes in insurance companies, many companies in the State of Florida were closing. He remarked that his agency was in network with insurance and opined that it was the only type of affordable treatment. He elaborated that an indigent individual could wait for a County bed and an affluent individual could pay a large sum of money for treatment; however, his organization tried to meet the need of middle class citizens who carried regular insurance through work, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. He denied that a group home had been shut down and explained that they took over a troubled teen shelter in Broward County and operated it for 20 years; however, it was located in a poor neighborhood which was being gentrified. He added that the facility was voluntarily shut down and was currently operating at another location. He clarified that they never had a group home shut down and had a no eject and no reject policy. He remarked that his original intention for the subject property was a 120 bed facility for children with issues of human trafficking, though he did not feel this was appropriate for the area due to past issues. He felt that the treatment provided was low impact and that the single person in 18 months who walked out was addressed. He noted that it was not a locked facility and when they discovered this issue, they began transporting individuals from the property to the nearest bus stop. He said for the traffic issue of individuals speeding there, they had several meetings with their staff and imposed a 20 mph speed limit for the past month. He relayed his understanding that the staff was following this speed limit and he felt that every issue mentioned at the Planning and Zoning Board meeting was addressed, including having parking passes for employees so that their vehicles could be identified. He believed that they had been a good neighbor and that all of their online reviews had been excellent. He opined that each individual who spoke at the Planning and Zoning Board hearing thought it was a great facility and that their only issues were traffic and people walking down the street. He shared that an individual from the Lake County Public Works Department had indicated that there were not enough trips to warrant action for the street, and he felt that the letter submitted by a citizen could be a false story; furthermore, he opined that this individual worked for a competing organization. He also submitted comments that were supportive of his agency. He thought that the individuals who voiced concerns at the Planning and Zoning Board hearing did not return due to being satisfied with the changes they made. He indicated that his organization treated many individuals pro bono. He felt that they had to increase capacity because they were treating a significant number of people for free and there were economic issues. He also suggested that there was a tremendous need for this service and that they were providing jobs. He did not believe that these facilities could be placed in urban areas and thought that they would be unsuccessful there. He recalled that this was previously a facility to serve people and felt that it should continue to accomplish this. He opined that this use was a smaller impact on the community as what was there previously, and he said that they remodeled the property utilizing local individuals. He hoped that the Board would approve the request and give them an opportunity to continue serving the community.
Commr. Blake asked about the law enforcement calls that were mentioned by residents.
Mr. Terry Link, Executive Director for Harmony Hills, said that he was only aware of three calls, one of which pertained to an individual who was sent to the facility due to the Baker Act, while the other two calls were to remove combative patients. He indicated that generally, they took clients to a hospital if their needs could not be addressed at the facility. He felt that they were great neighbors and said that he had visited nearby households to discuss the residents’ concerns. He opined that Chrysalis Health had a history of caring about people and that they did a remarkable job. He shared that he sponsored all Lake County clients who did not have funding and that he liked to help the community.
Mr. Menendez noted that there were other treatment facilities in Lake County but he was unsure if the same services were being provided with the same effort as the subject facility.
Commr. Blake disclosed that he met with Mr. Hartenstein and Mr. Link in the previous week, and he also spoke with Ms. Debbie Camp. He commented that many emails he received from residents indicated that the facility was operating well but there were concerns about the expansion. He asked if the expansion would only be to 105 beds because they were only using 45 of the current 60 beds. He questioned if they would be willing to limit the facility to 105 beds.
Mr. Menendez clarified that they were seeking 120 beds and that they had licensed 46 beds, though they had the ability to license up to 60 beds. He felt that they needed 120 beds to be economically feasible.
Mr. Hartenstein stated that they felt the need to expand to 120 beds and that the Lake County Boys Ranch previously had 120 beds.
Commr. Blake expressed a desire for the facility to not have a greater impact to the neighbors than the Boys Ranch had. He felt that these types of facilities were necessary but could create issues for the neighbors. He relayed his understanding that the law enforcement issues were in-house issues and that the neighbors did not call them, though he was concerned about there being two issues with neighbors having someone come to their house. He thought that there were about 20 neighbors in the area and noted that he received four or five emails which indicated that there were not serious complaints about the facility’s operation, though they opposed the expansion.
Commr. Sullivan felt that there was growth in Lake County and he expressed support for there not being a bigger impact than the Boys Ranch. He thought that it would be appropriate to approve the requested action; furthermore, the County could become involved with law enforcement, zoning, etc., if circumstances changed.
Commr. Blake agreed with this and felt that a difference when compared to the Boys Ranch was that the current patients were there voluntarily and could choose when to leave. He did not think that there would be issues similar to individuals who were forced to be there, and he said he appreciated the neighbors sharing their opinions.
Commr. Parks appreciated the residents for expressing their concerns. He felt that it was unfortunate that there was this type of need, and he also expressed appreciation for the pro bono care for Lake County residents.
Commr. Campione opined that the Boys Ranch’s 120 beds created a ceiling for the number of beds, and she recalled that there were some issues there. She hoped that, due to this being a voluntary facility, the operators would attempt to ensure that patients were not leaving and asking neighbors to use their phones. She also expressed appreciation for the pro bono care and the services provided to Lake County residents.
On a motion by Commr. Blake, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Tab 9, Rezoning Case # RZ-19-12-5, Harmony Hills Rehabilitation Facility CFD Amendment.
public hearing – resolution 2019-94 vacating right of way
Commr. Campione stated that this was a request for approval of a resolution vacating a portion of an unimproved right of way on the unrecorded plat of Astor Forest Campsites, which was located on West Otter Road, south of Blue Creek, in the Astor area and Commission District 5.
Mr. Fred Schneider, Public Works Director, showed a map with an area that was intended to be a right of way, but was unrecorded. He added that the request signed by the applicants and the United States Forest Service was to vacate any interest the County had in that plat. He said that staff also received some calls from the residents who were concerned with drainage. He indicated that as part of the requirements, the applicants would dedicate 12.5 foot drainage easements from each of their sides so that there would be a 25 foot drainage easement recorded in place of a 50 foot unrecorded right of way. He mentioned that he had spoken with Ms. Linda Wheeler, a nearby resident, who had concerns about drainage, and recalled that he had explained to her that with the recording of the easements, the County had the right to enter property and that they could install a swale or culvert if needed. He remarked that no utilities indicated any opposition, and he recommended approval of the vacation petition to vacate this unrecorded right of way.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Blake, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Resolution 2019-94 vacating a portion of an unimproved right of way on the unrecorded plat of Astor Forest Campsites, which is located on West Otter Road, south of Blue Creek, in the Astor area.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman called a recess at 1:18 p.m. for 42 minutes.
statement from lake county historical society
Commr. Campione read the following statement she wrote about this issue: “We recently learned that Governor DeSantis signed a letter fulfilling the requirements of the Florida legislation which mandated the relocation of the General Smith statue from the U.S. Capitol Building to the Lake County Historical Museum and replacement of the same with civil rights leader and beloved educator Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. As we all know, our museum was selected to house the statue on behalf of the State of Florida, which has resulted in an emotionally charged debate within our community about the appropriateness of this location. Attached to our agenda is a letter and a statement provided by the museum curator on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Historical Society with regard to their decision to move forward with their original plans to house the Edmund Kirby Smith statue in the military gallery of the museum which they operate on the first floor of the Lake County Historical Courthouse. It is important to note that the statue will be removed from the marble pedestal and it would be at floor level; it would not be installed, it would be displayed. In their statement they express respect for those who disagree with their decision and those who intend to stage a peaceful protest march on August 10 in downtown Tavares. Their statement explains their reasoning for wanting to display the Smith statue and their intention to move forward with their plans, and the contents and the context of the display. Thus far, the County Commissioners have not attempted to prevent the Smith statue from being placed in the museum but the Board has weighed in on the context and the manner with which it should be displayed and we have asked to be consulted in this regard as the process moves forward. In recognition of the County Commission’s concern that the display be sensitive to our entire community, the Museum Board included in its statement a description of how they proposed to display the statue. They have represented that the statue will be located in the corner of the military gallery and it ‘will not be displayed in a way that glorifies the man nor the Confederacy but will be strictly historical in nature.’ It will describe Smith’s military service, and will tell about his career as a professor and a botanist following the Civil War and his friendship with Dr. Alexander Darnes, who became the first black doctor in Jacksonville and the second black doctor in the State of Florida. The display will describe the life and accomplishments of Dr. Mary Bethune and discuss the Legislature’s decision to replace General Smith’s statue with Dr. Bethune’s statue. It will provide full context about the national debate about Confederate monuments and statues. And finally, the display will include information about the differing viewpoints expressed within our community including concerns about the injustices and tragedies associated with the Historical Courthouse where the museum is located, and acknowledge the strong emotions felt on all sides of this debate. As I understand it, the Dr. Bethune statue is currently being made by an Italian sculptor and will likely be ready to be transported to Washington, D.C. within the next year. With this in mind, I believe it is incumbent on our Board to address two primary issues. First, I feel it is important for our Board to articulate our position on this matter; and second, if there is a consensus or majority who wish to support the Museum Board’s decision, then we need to direct staff to address logistical details to protect the structural integrity of the Historical Courthouse, including the floor, door openings, entrance areas, and foundation in preparation of this artifact being moved into the building into Gallery #1. With regard to the first issue, I would like to request that our Board consider endorsing the statement prepared by the Board of the Lake County Historical Society which we will read into the record, or in the alternative, draft our own position. I do want to use this opportunity to express how sorry I am to those members of our community who have fervently and passionately argued against the statue because they feel hurt by this decision, or as some residents have stated, they believe the decision is indicative of current day racism and is being made for the purpose of inflicting harm by disregarding their feelings because in my heart nothing could be further from the truth. For me this entire issue is about recognizing that while our country’s history is not perfect, the ideals proclaimed in our country’s Declaration of Independence are perfect: that all people are created equal and have been endowed with unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and because mankind is not perfect it took time for our Constitution and legal system to recognize and treat all of us equally, and despite our best efforts there will always be injustices that need to be corrected and struggles that must be overcome as part of our human condition but all things considered, our system of government and our nation and the ideals which we aspire to are far better than any other form of government on this planet. These things lead me to conclude that it is important to preserve statues and monuments which tell the story of where we’ve come from and where we are today, even if those artifacts invoke strong emotions. As expressed by the Museum Board in its statement, Civil War era monuments and statues, such as the Edmund Kirby Smith statue, give us a ‘historical point of reference that teach us lessons about our country’s past, they teach of the abolition of slavery and remind us of the progress we have made as a nation despite setbacks along the way.’”
Commr. Campione then read the following statement from the Board of the Lake County Historical Society: “As members of the Board of Directors, we respect the opinion of those who disagree with our decision to provide a home in our museum for the statue of General Edmund Kirby Smith, a native born Floridian, who served as a Confederate General in the Civil War. We strongly value the rights guaranteed by our country’s founding documents for peaceful assembly and freedom of speech, and we recognize the rights of Americans to protest when they feel they need to protest. While we respect the rights and opinions of those who disagree with us, we stand firm in our decision as explained below. We believe in the preservation of artifacts and relics, particularly those related to the history of Florida and Lake County. We understand that Confederate monuments, memorials and statues have diverse meanings to those who view them depending on one’s own personal history and ancestry, and for this reason they invoke strong emotions. We acknowledge that some members of our community believe these monuments symbolize inequality, inequity, violence, slavery, and because of these reasons they believe such monuments should be destroyed or relegated to a place of shame or obsolescence. Other members of our community believe these monuments memorialize hardship, bravery, sacrifice and loss of life, and help future generations understand the complexities and underlying causes and circumstances that led to the Civil War and the personal stories of those impacted by the war. And finally, for some people these monuments are seen as a historical point of reference that teach us lessons about our country’s past, they teach of the abolition of slavery and remind us of the progress we have made as a nation despite setbacks along the way. We feel that the Confederate monument or statue of a historical figure such as Edmund Kirby Smith encapsulates all these meanings and should be preserved for posterity sake, and in the present case, a museum is a fitting location. It is within this backdrop that our museum applied to be the recipient of the Edmund Kirby Smith statue as part of a compromise made by the Florida Legislature to remove the statue from the U.S. Capitol Building and replace it with the prominent civil rights leader and educator, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. The legislation which mandated the relocation of General Kirby Smith’s statue explicitly requires that the Kirby Smith statue be placed in a public museum open to all Floridians – not a cemetery or with a private owner or organization. A committee was designated to select a recipient, and not surprisingly, there were not many applicants as this occurred at a time when many communities around Florida were removing monuments in their parks and renaming streets and schools to remove references to Confederate officers. We feel that our museum, centrally located in the State, is a good geographical location for an artifact of this nature, especially considering that our war gallery already has a display about Lake County residents who fought in the Civil War. In addition to our military gallery, our museum contains a wide variety of Florida and Lake County artifacts. A little known fact is that Lake County was a part of St. Johns County when Edmund Kirby Smith was born in St. Augustine, which is located in St. Johns County. Many of the key figures who settled in Lake County either founded cities here or became prominent in the local economy, also fought in the Civil War or were officers in the Confederate Army. The display of the General Kirby Smith statue will not be done in a way that glorifies the man or the Confederacy, but the display will be strictly historical in nature. It will describe its origin, the sculptor, the legislature’s initial decision to place the statue as one of two Floridians in Statuary Hall, his military background, his life as a botanist and professor after the Civil War, his friendship with Dr. Alexander Darnes, who became the second black doctor in Florida and saved thousands of lives in Jacksonville during a yellow fever epidemic, the decision by the State Legislature to remove the Smith statue, Dr. Bethune’s achievements as a civil rights leader and educator, the national movement by some groups to remove all Confederate monuments from the public square, and finally it would include a discussion about the debate in Lake County over the decision to place this statue in the war gallery of a museum in a historical building that has also seen hardship, sacrifice, personal tragedy, violence, reconciliation, and redemption.”
The Chairman opened the floor for public comment.
Mr. David Crump, a concerned citizen, mentioned that he had recently visited the Lake County Historical Museum and thought that it had interesting displays, was neatly organized, and was a nice setting; however, he said that when he visited the military memorabilia room, he felt that it had too many references and support for the Confederacy. He related that this seemed curious to him since Lake County did not exist during the Civil War; furthermore, he opined that there should be more diversity within the military displays. He relayed that he had also attended the Lake County Historical Society annual membership meeting a few months prior and opined that the society encouraged individuals to vote for Board members who would support the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue as well as changed its bylaws to help ensure that their preferred candidates would be elected. He thought that this statue would have a negative affect for the county and he asked for the Board to prevent it from coming to the museum.
Mr. Alan Harris, a Lake County resident, stated he was against the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue coming to Lake County. He felt that there was nothing that connected the general to Lake County and that it would divide the county. He urged the Board to vote no to the statue coming to the museum.
Ms. Barbara Hill, from the City of Eustis, shared concerns with the agreement between the County and the Lake County Historical Society as well as the bylaws of the society which required that artifacts brought to the Lake County Historical Museum be related to Lake County. She felt that the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith had no relationship to the county and should not be placed here. She urged the Board to vote no to the statue.
Ms. Grace Arnold, a Lake County resident, stated that even though many of her ancestors served in the Confederacy, she was opposed to this statue. She opined that the Lake County Historical Society had manipulated their elections and brought this statue without consulting the BCC. She felt that this statue had no connection to the county and would cause heartache for the county. She asked the Board to vote no to this statue coming to the Lake County Historical Museum.
Ms. Constance Albright, a resident of the City of Eustis, mentioned that she had a degree in history, noting that she felt that history was often affected by our own filters. She thought that beliefs of historical events changed throughout the years.
Mr. Choice Edwards, a City of Clermont resident, opined that the Lake County Historical Museum should have never applied to have the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue come to their museum. He felt that the issue was in regards to the appropriateness of honoring people who committed treason in the cause of preserving slavery which he thought was un-American. He believed that saluting Confederate leaders was a symbol of condoning their actions; furthermore, he did not think that Confederate statues were a Civil War relic and that they represented the establishment of segregation. He asked that if the statue did come to the museum, then the placement should only be for evidence to the suffering that it caused. He asked for the Board to not bring the statue to Lake County.
Ms. Eva Turner, a concerned citizen, opined that this statue would only rekindle negative memories. She felt that many communities were deciding that Confederate monuments did not represent modern values but that Lake County was sending a message that they did. She believed that this statue had no significance to Lake County and would bring problems there. She asked for the Board to reconsider bringing the statue to the county.
Ms. Janet Manchon, a Lake County resident, felt that Lake County had a racist history that attracted the attention of the nation. She asked for the Board to consider the feelings of the African-American residents of the county and to show concern and respect for them. She then asked the Board to vote no to the statue.
Ms. Lawrence Tillett, a resident of Lake County, asked what harm would be done if the statue did not come to Lake County as she felt that the county was thriving, the population was growing, and home values were rising, noting that these items benefited all citizens while the statue did not. She opined that if the museum wanted to teach about this general, they could do so through a photograph and not a large statue. She felt that there were already enough race issues within the country and that the Board should focus on more important issues than the statue, such as education, affordable housing, and preserving the environment. She asked for the Board to vote no.
Mr. Herb Seegers, a Lake County resident since the 1970s, relayed that when the original Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue was dedicated in 1922, Florida representatives quoted a resolution from the Confederate Congress regarding General Smith which praised his justice, integrity, conscious regard for the law, kindness to people and the protection of their rights. He did not believe that the General was evil but rather a representative of history. He felt that eliminating artifacts and information about the Civil War or any war was wrong, and that it was important to review historical facts from the past in order to protect society from revisiting wrongful actions that were done.
Ms. Nancy Hurlbert, a concerned citizen, offered these three reasons to reject the statue: it was removed from the U.S. Capital because it was inappropriate and presented a negative representation of the State of Florida; the statue had no connection to Lake County and the Lake County Historical Society bylaws require that artifacts have a connection to the county; and there was a better place for this statue such as the Museum of Florida History in the City of Tallahassee.
Ms. Susan Fetter, a Lake County citizen, felt that there were many opinions regarding this statue but did not believe that a statue was needed in order to learn about history. She opined that when this statue was first proposed, there was not a lot of community interaction; furthermore, she did not believe that any local organizations were advocating for this statue and said that ten city councils and nine mayors were against supporting this statue. She asked why this community would choose to honor a person by installing a seven foot statue in one of its public buildings, and she encouraged the Board to listen to those opposed to it.
Mr. Gregory Wilhelm, a resident of Lake County, shared some information that he had researched regarding Confederate monuments and the proposal to bring the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue to Lake County. He asked for the Board to not support the statue.
Mr. Egor Emery, a concerned citizen, opined that this statue sent a negative message regarding oppression and he shared his desire for the Board to send a message that they wanted everyone to work together to make Lake County better.
Mr. Jochim relayed that he had attended many BCC meetings regarding this statue, noting that he did not support nor oppose it. He thought that there were good arguments on both sides of the issue and also shared his concerns for the differences between political parties.
Dr. Perry Berkowitz, a concerned citizen, opined that racism and hate crimes were increasing throughout the country and that Lake County had a history of racism as well. He felt that bringing a Confederate statue to the county would be hurtful to the African-American Lake County population. He expressed concerns for the Board’s changing opinions regarding the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue coming to Lake County and stated that he did not want this statue to come to the Lake County Historical Museum.
Ms. Rose Fitzpatrick, a Lake County resident, shared a statement from a report on Confederate monuments from the Southern Poverty Law Center. She opined that those who opposed the statue felt that it represented white supremacy which they did not appreciate. She said that St. Augustine and many other Florida cities did not want the Confederate statue in their communities; additionally, she believed that the majority of the Lake County residents did not want it either. She suggested that the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee would be a more appropriate place for it.
Ms. Mae Hazelton, a concerned citizen, said that she wanted to address the Lake County Historical Museum curator’s previous documented words and the words in his July 25, 2019 letter to the BCC Chairman. She felt that the curator intentionally and consistently mislead the Director of Cultural Affairs, noting that she had submitted a public records request for all emails between the director and the curator. She opined that the curator’s desire for the statue was to glorify the Confederacy and this general.
Ms. Kathleen Higgins, a Lake County citizen, opined that Confederate statues were not tied to the Civil War but rather to the Jim Crow era. She said that while the past could not be changed, people could listen to neighbors and friends who expressed that this statue would bring them pain. She believed this was an opportunity to do the right thing and that wanting this statue should not be more important than the pain it might be causing.
Ms. Tina Morin, a City of Eustis resident, relayed that the Florida Legislature voted in 2016 to replace the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue due to a national concern with Confederate symbols. She shared that she was from the South but did not support the statue coming to Lake County. She opined that saying no to the statue would only upset a handful of people but that saying yes to the statue would deeply hurt many in Lake County.
Mr. Robert Morin, a Eustis City Commissioner, commented that two years ago the City of Eustis was facing the same decision regarding Confederate statues coming to their city. He urged the Board to make the right decision for Lake County residents, noting that in 2018 he was one of the mayors who initiated a resolution to not have the statue in the county. He then read several quotes from Mr. Bob Grenier, Curator for the Lake County Historical Museum, about the issue.
Pastor Chris Walker, a City of Clermont resident, stated that it was the responsibility of elected officials to hear the will of the people, and he opined that the statue was not the will of the people, was not the best decision for Lake County, and would cause division. He felt that if the Board voted in favor of the statue, it would send a message that they were insensitive to a certain group of people.
Mr. Frank Costanzo, from the City of Clermont, thanked the Board for their time and commitment to this decision. He noted that much of what he had planned to say had already been mentioned, and he opined that the Board had made their decision before even listening to the public’s comments. He asked for the Board to spare the county of the potential anguish this action might create, and to promote initiatives which would affirm, encourage, and unite people.
Mr. Louis Ward, a concerned citizen, stated that he was representing the Lake County Democratic Black Caucus who he said opposed the placement of the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue inside the Lake County Historical Museum. He commented that they recommended that the statue be placed in the Civil War display inside the Museum of Florida History in the City of Tallahassee. He asked for the Board to listen to the Lake County residents and the nine cities who signed a resolution against the statue coming to the county. He also expressed concerns with the Lake County Historical Society’s actions as well as those of the Lake County Historical Museum’s curator. He recommended a coalition with representation from both sides.
Ms. Deborah Townsend Herold, a Yalaha resident, commented that she was a practicing immigration lawyer. She opined that Confederate statues were celebrating men who committed treason in the name of preserving slavery, and that it signaled that the United States had not yet come to terms with its responsibility for the wrongs of slavery and the Jim Crow period. She expressed concern that a county with such a brutal history of racism would even consider placing a Confederate statue in their museum, and she urged the Board to reject the statue.
Ms. Mary Flanagan, a City of Tavares resident, thanked those who had already spoken and then read a list of cities and states which had renamed areas with Confederate references. She opined that this Confederate statue was not needed in Lake County.
Rev. Michael Watkins, a concerned citizen, recognized that residents speaking during the planning and zoning hearings were given a voice to their concerns; however, he opined that those in opposition to the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue did not have a voice. He felt that the Board never questioned this decision nor took time to talk to constituents regarding their feelings prior to the decision being made.
Ms. Nicie Allen Parks, a Lake County resident, appealed to the human nature of the Commissioners and asked them to use their authority to make a decision which would represent all of Lake County and to vote no to the statue.
Mr. Gregory Ogiste, a resident of the City of Tavares, said that he was speaking for the younger generation and asked the Board to say no to the statue. He questioned how he could explain the decision to bring it to Lake County to his son.
Mr. Nate Walker, a City of Mount Dora citizen, opined that the BCC had been entrusted by the citizens of Lake County to do what was in the best interest of this great community. He asked them to consider if it was more harmful to bring it here or to allow it to go elsewhere. He urged the Board to vote to unite the community and not to divide it; furthermore, he suggested that the museum tell the history of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith by placing a plaque explaining why his statue was not brought to the county.
Mr. David Warden, a resident of the Town of Sorrento, opined that the decisions made by the BCC would affect people and he encouraged them to be on the right side of history.
Mr. Cecil Garrett, a Lake County citizen, read a letter from Mr. Matt Newby, owner of the North Lake Outpost in the City of Umatilla, which implied that it was important to educate on negative moments in history in order to make sure they did not return.
Ms. Martha Taylor, President of the Tri-City National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) branch which served Lake County, relayed that she was also the National Vice President for the National Association of Black Military Women. She opined that while Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith was a general, he was also a traitor, noting that those in the military did not appreciate traitors. She believed that the way this history was being told was not accurate and she urged the Board to not bring the statue to this county.
Mr. Charles Young, a Lake County citizen, expressed concerns for the way African-Americans were treated in Lake County. He asked the Board to not bring the statue to the county.
Ms. Gail Isaac-Thomas, a City of Eustis resident, commented that much of what she wanted to say had already been spoken. She asked the Board to consider everything that had been said in this meeting and to vote no to the statue.
Ms. Judy Holtz, a resident of the City of Tavares, stated that she was in favor of preserving history but against the placement of the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue in the Lake County Historical Museum. She opined that to place this statue which commemorated a Confederate General in a building where African-Americans used to be mistreated was not the message that she desired for her tax dollars to send.
Mr. Alphonso Walker, a concerned citizen, felt that the decision to bring the statue to the county had already been made. He asked the Board to consider the destiny of this county and thought that this statue would negatively affect Lake County’s economy.
Ms. Jan Green, a Lake County resident, asked the Board to consider the difference between history and his story, meaning General Smith’s story. She mentioned that she agreed with much of what had already been spoken and asked the Board to say no to the statue.
Mr. A.J. Rohe, a Lake County attorney, shared that he had lived in Lake County since 1975 and expressed opposition to government censorship. He relayed that he was not present to speak for or against the statue but rather the role of government in this decision. He said that he was concerned that local governments, including the BCC and the Cities, were even involved in this matter. He opined that since the Lake County Historical Museum was a private entity, it should decide what goes inside it.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the floor for public comment.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman called a recess at 4:15 p.m. for 10 minutes.
statement from lake county historical society continued
Commr. Blake felt that everyone was mostly in agreement with the main issue of the statue being replaced in Statuary Hall. He opined that Dr. Bethune was a great choice for this and he agreed that it was a good time for this to happen. He disagreed that moving the statue would represent deification due to the statue being moved from Statuary Hall to a military wing of a small museum. He said that the Board agreed that slavery and the Jim Crow laws were unthinkable moral evils. He noted that the Board wrote letters to the Governor asking him to move forward with pardoning the Groveland Four and expressed that reading the book Devil in the Grove and its follow up emotionally moved him. He indicated a concern for purging history from museums, burning books, and for a recent act of painting over a mural of George Washington in the City of San Francisco, California. He also recalled that the Board recently elected Ms. Mabel Norris Reese to the Lake County Women’s Hall of Fame. He felt that the subject item today was a question of government censorship over the museum; furthermore, he believed that to learn the lessons of history, some of these memories and lessons from history must be preserved. He also expressed a concern that if this statue was censored, there could be further instances of censorship in the county. He relayed an intent to continue to oppose government censorship, along with supporting what the Museum Board decided for this statue.
Commr. Parks read the following statement pertaining to endorsing the statement from the Historical Society: “I pray nightly for discernment as I lead my family, my business, and in my role representing the residents of Lake County. A year ago this same week, this chamber was filled with some really upset people. Many people, mostly residents, but not all were residents, came to speak and voice their opposition to any consideration of bringing the General Kirby Smith statue to Lake County. I’ve been praying for wisdom and discernment on this issue ever since, and my heart is heavy because I believe there are those who seek to divide us nationally and locally. I’m an optimist, sometimes to a flaw, but I believed after that meeting and the several meetings that followed in this County Commission, there could be something very positive and constructive for this community to come out of all this. In my comments during BCC meetings this past year and including the meeting a year ago this week, where this issue has been discussed, I have stated on the record that a process must unfold if indeed the County Commission has purview over the contents, displays, and archived research held within the possession of the Historical Society. Said otherwise, if the Lake County Commission is in place of making the final decision on a relocation of the General Kirby Smith statue to Lake County, and noting that such a decision is not solely based on a person’s individual beliefs, but rather as a collegial board representing all the interests of the residents and businesses in Lake County, then the decision process is extremely important. Many people have expressed outrage and view the potential bringing of this statue as modern day racism. I can understand why some might interpret this Statue as a slap in the face, particularly if one was raised in a time during segregation, when things were far from ‘separate but equal’ and racism and stereotyping was much more pervasive. If it is the purview of this Commission to make a decision to bring the statue to Lake County, then it is incumbent to include those residents with real or perceived concerns within the process of arriving at that decision. Making it clear the end decision may not result in complete agreement on both sides or make every individual happy, but at least the arrival at a decision would be pure and genuine. The process I envisioned and vocalized included seeking a representative mix of African-American pastors and citizens to participate on a regular basis in the decision making and shaping of civil rights exhibits in the Lake County Historical Museum. I stated on the record several times it is my own personal opinion that the General Kirby Smith statue could be an interesting and informative element or component within a larger, comprehensive exhibit on civil rights, the atrocities of the Civil War, and the struggles to defeat racism and stereotyping in Lake County and in Florida and this could be done in a manner that could be mostly inoffensive to the general public and our constituency. I stated it would be particularly important to include a professionally and inclusively designed exhibit on the Groveland Four and Lake County civil rights leaders. I offered the opinion it would be a worthwhile BCC expense to ensure the exhibit was of superior caliber and noted within the professional body of museums as an exhibit of excellence. And one that could actually attract visitors to the museum. I noted the expense would probably be thousands of dollars but would be worthwhile and potentially even covered by Tourist Development Tax revenues. Furthermore, I asked if we could begin the process of displaying photographs of African-American leaders in our community with descriptive text and interpretative displays in the public portions of the County Administration Building and other County buildings. I want to say that I know Carey Baker, Ray Powers, Bob Grenier and A.J. Rohe. They are not racist. I’ve talked with them about this issue for almost a year now. I understand the proposal they are making and again it is my own personal opinion that the General Kirby Smith statue could be interesting and informative within a bigger picture display of civil rights and the Civil War atrocities. However, without following an inclusive and yes, proper lengthy process, the Commission is playing the fool to the few on both sides who want to divide this community. This process should have cleared up any doubt as to whether the end was pre-determined, and it is apparent to me that there still remains a lot of doubt. I’m not sure many in the African-American community feel like they have been a part of the process. I reference Pastor and Leesburg Councilmember John Christian who I talked with on and off through this process and who I thought was going to be included on a panel or committee set-up as a plan to display this larger civil rights display, and apparently he was not. I cannot endorse this letter from the Lake County Historical Society.” He added that it was unclear whether the BCC even had authority, and thought this was an issue that could be considered in the future. He indicated a concern for censorship but he believed that based on the language of the agreement, the BCC would have some input. He reiterated that he could not support the endorsement of this letter.
Commr. Breeden recalled the time of segregation in Lake County and noted how individuals affected by this felt slighted by bringing the statue here. She expressed that she had a deep respect for the First Amendment and opposed censorship. She agreed that the statue had historical significance and opined that it was worthy of being preserved; however, she stated a preference for the statue to be preserved in a more appropriate area at the Museum of Florida History or one of the Florida National Cemeteries. She disagreed with what General Smith represented and felt that the statue would not be positive for the county’s image, business, and economic development. She opined that if the statue did not come to the county, no one would be hurt except for the few who wanted to have it here; furthermore, she felt that if the statue came, it would hurt for a long time and that it was a legacy that she did not want to look back to as a decision she made while on the BCC. She expressed that she did not support the Lake County Historical Society’s letter, and she proposed two possible paths forward that would not involve censorship. She said that the engineering study led her to believe that the statue would cause harm to the Lake County Historical Museum. She recalled that the Lake County Historic Courthouse had been renovated with reverence and respect, and the study indicated that the structural engineer could not guarantee that the weight of the statue being installed would not damage the existing finishes, most notably the existing tile; furthermore, it was their understanding that these floor tiles were irreplaceable and they recommended that the County consider this with regards to the placement of the statue in this building. She felt that they could ask the Governor to not place the statue in the building based on the possibility that it would cause harm. She opined that another option would be to take the Historical Museum back under Lake County. She relayed her understanding that the materials there belonged to the County, and she felt that the Lake County Historical Society was attempting to be thoughtful about the overall exhibit and display; however, she opined that this would take it further away from a Lake County museum. She expressed a concern for the size of the museum and that paying so much attention to the statue would change the direction of the museum. She also expressed a concern for a memo that Mr. Grenier had sent to Ms. Sandy Shaughnessy, with the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, on Thursday, September 27, 2018. She recalled that on September 11, 2018, she had withdrawn her support and that on September 27, 2018, Mr. Grenier’s email read that “I am quite excited to tell you that the County Commission officially voted 5-0 in favor.,” which she felt was a misrepresentation of the BCC.
Commr. Sullivan agreed with Commissioner Breeden regarding the BCC vote. He felt that the issue was not about the person and that the Civil War was the most devastating war America ever had. He opined that it should be memorialized in Lake County’s museum, that it was history, and that he did not want to censor that history. He also relayed his understanding that General Smith resigned his commission before he became a Confederate general. He recalled stating publically that he did not believe that any good could come of this item, and said that he had related this to the Lake County Historical Society. He indicated an interest in refining the process and for the BCC having a better say if a controversial item was coming to the museum. He said that based on the rules and regulations that governed the Historical Society, the Board did not have this option and doing so would represent censorship due to the Historical Society being a private entity. He thought that they and the Board could improve their processes, though he felt that this was beyond the scope of this particular situation. He relayed that he had numerous calls from individuals supporting and opposing the issue, and he related that generals, colonels and captains did not make political decisions; rather, presidents and congressmen did this. He expressed disappointment in not having this conversation before the issue went forward; additionally, he did not believe that the Board had the authority to refuse the statue. He remarked that the Governor had signed off on the statue being moved to Lake County and indicated an interest in changing the process in the future. He noted that the Board could review the lease with the Historical Society, and he also expressed an interest in ensuring that appropriate facilities were available for the march on August 10, 2019. He related that the Historical Society had voted to move forward with bringing the statue here and he relayed a desire to provide input to not glorify what happened, but to tell the story in a non-political manner. He also indicated support for the statue of Dr. Bethune going to Statuary Hall.
Commr. Campione felt that the process could be changed but expressed a concern for erasing history. She relayed that she was aware of issues in the county such as those described in Devil in the Grove, and she relayed that she had supported asking the Florida Cabinet to pardon the Groveland Four. She opined that there was discussion in the country concerning purging history and expressed a concern for later generations not being able to understand what happened in history. She said that the Museum Board’s statement was a description of how they planned to create their display and that it included how the statue would be discussed, such as the statue being replaced, the process for when it was selected and why it was being replaced now, and the debate in Lake County. She disagreed that Dr. Bethune had nothing to do with Lake County and General Smith due to her statue being installed in Statuary Hall while General Smith’s statue would be coming to a small museum. She said that Dr. Bethune was also a civil rights leader and felt that she was linked to Lake County. She relayed that the legislature set this process in motion and that a location had to be picked. She elaborated that it was included in the law that the statue could not go to a cemetery or to a private organization; furthermore, it was not included in the law that the statue could be sent to the museum in the City of Tallahassee. She thought that the Museum Board had offered a way to display the statue and tell the whole story. She mentioned the idea of a potential replica or presentation of the Dr. Bethune statue which could discuss why she was selected to take General Smith’s place in Statuary Hall. She relayed that the BCC had been talking to the Museum Board about a way to free some space for a civil rights and black history gallery to tell the story of Lake County. She opined that the subject display could be presented in a positive way and she thought that it would ultimately be seen as something that could be positive. She indicated an understanding that the debate had pertained to taking Confederate monuments out of the public square, and she opined that the appropriate location for this type of artifact was a museum; furthermore, this was a compromise to place the statue in a museum. She clarified that this item was on the agenda due to a letter signed by the Governor indicating that the Dr. Bethune statue was being created.
Commr. Breeden expressed that she could not support any extra expenditures beyond what the Board already gave to the Historical Museum. She thought that there were would be many costs if the County moved forward, including engineering costs, moving costs, and the cost of the exhibit.
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried by a vote of 2-3, the Board denied the BCC request for the Governor to identify another location for placement of the statue of General Smith based on the probability that the placement of the statue would damage irreplaceable historical finishes of the Lake County Historic Courthouse, most notably the floor tiles.
Commr. Campione, Commr. Sullivan and Commr. Blake voted no.
Commr. Parks indicated that he could not support a motion to endorse the Museum Board’s decision. He felt that the process had been lost but that it could have been different if the process was more involved and inclusive. He reiterated his thought that there could have been a possibility to include the statue within an overall comprehensive exhibit and changing the theme of that portion of the museum.
Commr. Breeden relayed her understanding that a committee was supposed to have been set up almost a year prior, though this never happened.
Commr. Sullivan agreed that the Board could review the process and he felt that the Historical Society performed a difficult job for little funding. He opined that it was likely not inclusive enough, and he relayed that the rules indicated that the Board did not have the authority to tell the Historical Society what items to bring in and how this should be done.
Commr. Breeden noted that it was the Board’s facility and they could determine if something would happen to that facility.
Commr. Campione agreed with Commissioner Sullivan about the process and working with the Museum Board going forward. She expressed a commitment to not censoring what a private historical society and curator did, though she thought there had been some misrepresentations made. She recalled that the Board discussed the process and context and that they agreed on there being sensitivity and for the statue being placed in the correct context; furthermore, she relayed her understanding that the Board had voted on this.
Commr. Breeden clarified that the Board did not vote on this item and that it was a discussion about setting up a committee.
Mr. Cole asked if staff should move forward with evaluating the building, and Commissioner Campione thought that this had to be done.
Commr. Breeden inquired if this would be at the expense of the Lake County Historical Society.
Mr. Cole responded that staff could solicit to determine the costs and what this would entail.
Commr. Blake relayed his understanding that the Lake County Historical Society would fund those expenses.
On a motion by Commr. Blake, seconded by Commr. Sullivan and carried by a vote of 3-2, the Board approved to endorse the decision of the Lake County Historical Society in their letter.
Commr. Breeden and Commr. Parks voted no.
Commr. Campione asked if the Board would postpone their noise ordinance workshop.
Mr. Cole confirmed this and said that Tab 22 would be moved to the BCC’s first meeting in August 2019.
hurricane irma reimbursements
Mr. Cole relayed that he had received notification that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had authorized $4 million of the County’s $7.8 million in Hurricane Irma reimbursements. He elaborated that this designation had been made to the State of Florida and the State then had a process that it needed to go through to pay the funds. He said that there would be a news release discussing $1.9 million but that there was a total of $4 million that FEMA had identified. He said that FEMA’s announcement was a good indication that the funding would be received soon and he expressed optimism that this would occur within the next few weeks.
commissioner parks – district 2
thanking ms. jill brown
Commr. Parks thanked Ms. Jill Brown, Director for the Office of Transit Services, for spending half a day with him as they rode with Ms. Marie Terry Suarez, a Lake County citizen who was visually impaired, as she used the County’s transit system to travel to New Vision for Independence. He noted that it was a challenging process and that there were some issues that could be discussed at a future meeting.
ordinance for registry of airbnb
Commr. Parks indicated interest in a potential ordinance with regards to the registry of Airbnb and those types of platforms. He clarified that this would not be a new tax but would be a way to ensure that everyone was paying their share for heads in beds. He also thanked Mr. David Jordan, Lake County Tax Collector, for conducting research on this issue.
school supply drive
Commr. Parks announced that the County was conducting a drive for school supplies in the County Administration Building and that the supplies would be provided to Lake County children. He noted that the Office of Building Services made a significant donation today and he thanked everyone that donated supplies.
clermont councilmember ray goodgame
Commr. Parks mentioned the loss of Mr. Goodgame and expressed a desire to memorialize and discuss him.
Commr. Breeden mentioned that Mr. Richard Swartz, a former County Commissioner, also passed away in the previous weekend.
COMMISSIONER BLAKE – DISTRICT 5
Commr. Blake thanked staff from the Lake County Public Works Department who helped determine where sidewalks would be placed from the Piney Grove Baptist Church in the south side of the City of Umatilla to a community center. He relayed that there was a community meeting and that it had been well received; additionally, he thought that staff would move into right of way acquisition.
commissioner campione – CHAIRMAN AND district 4
letter concerning medical marijuana facilities
Commr. Campione said that this letter would describe a situation that the County was dealing with in regards to a medical marijuana facility that had caused issues with noise and lights. She elaborated that the letter would ask Ms. Nikki Fried, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, to consider whether there was an administrative approach or possible rulemaking that could assist with these situations. She relayed her understanding that the County did not have any say due to the Right to Farm Act and that the marijuana facility was considered to be an agricultural use. She thought that there was significant interest from companies in the county and that the Board was considering residents who wanted to have a rural lifestyle. She relayed that she had talked to this marijuana facility and that they were working to make changes.
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved a letter to Commissioner Nikki Fried, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, requesting assistance in identifying appropriate state regulations to help mitigate the impact of medical marijuana facilities.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
leslie campione, chairman
GARY J COONEY, CLERK