A regular MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
February 23, 2021
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 9:00 a.m., in the County Commission Chambers, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Sean Parks, Chairman; Kirby Smith, Vice Chairman; Douglas B. Shields; Leslie Campione; and Josh Blake. Others present were: Alan Rosen, 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
Commr. Parks welcomed everyone to the meeting. He said they were meeting in person and that the meeting was also being streamed live on the County’s website; additionally, they were broadcasting via Zoom Webinar for members of the public who wished to provide input but preferred not to attend. He mentioned the Board’s tradition of having a veteran lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and he commented that Mr. Brad Keough would be leading the Pledge. He said that Mr. Keough was an Installation and Maintenance Technician with the Office of Public Safety Support, noting that he served in the United States (U.S.) Army as an Infantry Team Leader, and the Army National Guard as a Signal Systems Support Specialist from June 2008 to July 2017 when he was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant. He elaborated that Mr. Keough’s tours of duty included support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa, and that his last mission was to develop, enhance, and maintain a company of 175 soldiers’ computer, radio, and network needs. He commented that During Mr. Keough’s military career, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device. He thanked Mr. Keough for his service.
Pastor John Blake with Good News Church in the City of Leesburg then gave the invocation and Mr. Smith lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
virtual meeting instructions
Mr. Erikk Ross, Director for the Information Technology (IT) Department, explained that this meeting was being livestreamed on the County website and was also being made available through Zoom Webinar for members of the public who wished to provide comments during the Citizen Question and Comment Period later in the agenda. He elaborated that anyone watching though the livestream who wished to participate during the meeting could follow the directions currently being broadcast through the stream; furthermore, he relayed that anyone who had joined the webinar via their phone could press *9 on their phones to virtually raise their hand and anyone participating online could click the raise hand button to identify that they wished to speak. He said that when it was time for public comment, he would read the person’s name or phone number, unmute the appropriate line, and the speaker would be asked to provide comments; furthermore, an alarm would sound after three minutes letting them know their time was up. He added that they previously notified the public that comments could be emailed through 5:00 p.m. on the previous day, and those comments were shared with the Board prior to the meeting. He stated that anyone wishing to provide written comments during the meeting could visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/commissionmeeting, noting that comments sent during this meeting would be shared with the Commission after the meeting was concluded.
Mr. Alan Rosen, County Manager, said that Tab 12 was a request to move forward with recommendations to use library impact fees, and there were three items; however, they were only going to move forward with the East Lake Community Library and the Cooper Memorial Library requests. He stated that this tab would need to be voted on separately and that it could be further discussed. He also indicated that Tab 13 was going to be moved to the March 9, 2021 Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting due to an issue with the bidding system. He remarked that Tab 21 had been added since the agenda was first published on February 12, 2021, noting that it was an update on the City of Winter Garden resolution limiting truck traffic on their roads.
Commr. Parks said that he would likely move Tab 21 up to after the public hearings.
Commr. Smith inquired if item three for Tab 12 would be brought back at a different time.
Mr. Rosen confirmed this and explained that staff realized that the County bookmobile was not as big of an issue as the other two items; additionally, it could come up in the following year.
Commr. Campione asked if she could pull Tab 3 and read that proclamation into the record, and Commissioner Parks said that this could be done.
Commr. Smith requested to pull Tab 10 from the consent agenda.
Commr. Shields asked to pull Tab 2 from the rezoning agenda.
Commr. Parks remarked that Tab 2 on the rezoning agenda could be pulled off the rezoning consent agenda at that time.
Mr. Tommy Carpenter, Director for the Office of Emergency Management, reported on the former Sears vaccination site at Lake Square Mall where the County had partnered with the Florida Department of Health (DOH). He said that through the previous day, they had been able to provide 27,122 shots, noting that they had been able to provide almost 2,600 shots on one day. He thanked the individuals who had provided help, and stated that they were currently using the Sharecare appointment system from the State. He commented that they were working with residents to get their second appointments.
Mr. Aaron Kissler, Administrator/Director/Health Officer for the DOH in Lake County, indicated that the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases and deaths were decreasing. He thought that part of this was due to vaccinations, along with prevention and developing antibodies. He said that contact tracing continued, and he displayed a map of the region, noting that Lake County was above 50 percent for the percent of residents age 65+ that had received at least one vaccine shot. He mentioned that DOH would continue to provide second doses, noting that they had completed the second doses for school district teachers and that they were trying to get all teachers aged above 65 vaccinated. He mentioned that they had ramped up their vaccination events in the previous week, and also stated that they were at 37 percent for the out of county residents they were vaccinating. He said that if DOH could not make it out to groups who were interested in the vaccine, they could possibly have a closed point of dispensing (POD) for them. He hoped that they could get a steadier supply of the vaccine, and he encouraged residents to also sign up on websites for the pharmacies that had vaccines.
Commr. Shields asked if there was anything scheduled for Four Corners. He also asked if there was a plan for private healthcare workers.
Mr. Kissler replied that the community health centers would be receiving some of the vaccine, noting that they had a site in Four Corners. He added that they were also looking for a location to do an event, and that private healthcare workers were able to be vaccinated through the hospitals. He commented that DOH had been servicing healthcare workers in their lines, and they were looking at potentially doing some closed PODs for them. He remarked that doctors were looking forward to vaccines coming through the normal chain, though it could be at least a few months. He relayed that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was being evaluated in the current week and that this could help supply as well, noting that production for the Pfizer vaccine was also increasing.
Commr. Campione asked that if a healthcare worker under age 65 was not associated with a hospital, was receiving it through a hospital the only way to be vaccinated. She said that she had not seen any programs where hospitals were doing outreach to healthcare workers outside their corporate communities.
Mr. Kissler stated that the other group DOH was looking at was hospice workers, and he reiterated the possibility of a closed POD for medical workers. He added that they would try to provide more vaccines to the hospitals within the next week.
Commr. Parks stated that there was a meeting scheduled with the County and hospital staff, and he could express this point. He elaborated that the idea was to go over messaging and other ways to get the word out to communities that were currently averse to receiving the vaccine.
Commr. Campione asked if DOH or University of Florida (UF) Health Leesburg went into the churches.
Mr. Kissler replied that they were at some of the events that DOH had done; additionally, they had done over a dozen events over the past few weeks. He stated that they were going to many churches and community centers, and they would be returning for the second shot. He remarked that they would continue to do this in the current and following weeks.
Commr. Parks stated that 54 percent of the Lake County population aged 65+ had been vaccinated.
Mr. Kissler confirmed this for the number of individuals who had received at least one vaccine.
Commr. Parks said that if DOH needed anything, particularly at the UF Health Leesburg site, the BCC would want that experience to be as good as possible for the people coming there.
Mr. Kissler commented that DOH had received support from different groups and departments in the County, and relayed that the Sears site was running great.
Commr. Parks opined that if there was frustration about not being able to get the vaccine, it was not due to the County locally. He said that they could do more if they had more supply, and added that they also needed volunteers.
Mr. Kissler thought that most items had been addressed at the mall location, noting that the software was a statewide issue. He relayed that Mr. Carpenter and his team had been helpful when there was an issue with the software. He opined that things were going well, and commented that DOH was happy to be getting out to events.
Commr. Parks mentioned that they had respect for the virus and acknowledgement of the devastation it had created. He recommended that until a vaccine was received, to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines as much as possible and to use good judgment.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Smith, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the minutes for the BCC meetings of November 10, 2020 (Regular Meeting) and November 21, 2020 (Special Meeting) as presented.
citizen question and comment period
Mr. Vance Jochim, a concerned citizen, suggested moving the County’s COVID-19 update to the end of future meetings. He said that he had recently sent the Board an email discussing the need to open and fund the county law library, and he expressed concerns for low income individuals being able to find pro bono help. He also relayed concerns for the time to prepare BCC minutes.
Ms. Nancy Hurlbert, a resident of the City of Leesburg, commended staff for the vaccination effort at the Sears site, and asked the Board to formally oppose a bill submitted by Representative Anthony Sabatini to dissolve the North Lake County Hospital District (NLCHD). She said that the NLCHD reimbursed six community centers before funds were distributed to their two hospitals, noting that the six community centers were mostly free clinics that were staffed by volunteers and provided care to patients at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or who had no medical insurance, were underinsured, or were denied by Medicaid. She provided information about the number of individuals served by the clinics, and she questioned who would provide free medical care to the most vulnerable in the community if the district was dissolved.
Ms. Mary Kay Rosinski, a former NLCHD Board member, expressed concerns for House Bill 257, which was proposed by Representative Sabatini and would terminate the NLCHD. She explained that this district helped fund six local clinics and two hospitals that provided health-related services to low income uninsured individuals. She said that she had seen the excellent healthcare provided by the clinics and the hospitals, noting that patients could also receive care for substance abuse, mental health disorders and in some cases, dental care. She indicated a concern that these clinics would close and uninsured citizens would go to hospital emergency rooms (ERs) for basic healthcare. She recalled that in 2016, 59 percent of Lake County residents voted to support the district by extending its existence through 2026, and she expressed a concern that the bill did not mention the clinics. She asked the Board to adopt a resolution to oppose House Bill 257.
Ms. Jane Hepting, a resident of the City of Eustis, supported keeping the NLCHD and said that she wanted people with no insurance or means of paying to have that care. She commented that she wanted the $11 million in annual revenue to continue to fund the clinics and hospitals, noting that it created jobs, provided state of the art equipment, kept ERs from overflowing, and provided mental healthcare, preventative care and education. She opined that taxpayers received a significant return on this investment, and that the bill would have a disparate impact on the African-American community. She stated that Representative Sabatini represented the City of Leesburg and to the south, though she opined that he could not speak for the residents of the house bill district that lived in cities outside of Representative Sabatini’s district; however, the Board could advocate for all of these residents in the NLCHD. She urged the BCC to consider a resolution honoring the will of the voters and opposing any attempt to abolish the NLCHD.
Dr. Perry Berkowitz, a former NLCHD Board member, encouraged the BCC to visit the clinics and opined that one could not think of a better use of $1 per $1,000 of their taxes to help the indigent in Lake County. He said that there were 41,000 Lake County residents who lived below the poverty line, and that 2,300 of the approximate 50,000 school students were classified as homeless. He expressed concerns for seeing the NLCHD tax go away, and he opined that it did not make sense to put pressure on the hospital system through the ERs. He asked the Board to do justice for the indigent in Lake County.
Mr. Andy Colando, a resident of Altoona, indicated concerns for cell towers and relayed his understanding that under the current rules, there were certain ways that a tower could be built without the residents knowing. He indicated support for there to be a moratorium so that no more cell towers could be installed until it was reviewed with certain guidelines and input from the community. He opined that future cell towers should be granted based on need.
Commr. Parks said that at the Board retreat, he had asked for information from staff regarding impacts to the BCC, particularly for budget, if the NLCHD bill passed. He added that at some point, staff would present this information to the Board.
Mr. Ross said that one person had raised their hand via Zoom Webinar.
Mr. David Serdar, a concerned citizen, made comments related to local government.
Mr. Vincent Niemiec, a resident of the City of Clermont who was in attendance, recalled that he had previously brought up safety issues regarding Hartwood Marsh Road, and he showed an image of the road. He said that he had been concerned about traffic light programming, and he requested programming the displayed light before a new community was developed. He commented that he had also brought up an issue with U-turns, and asked if the County could install delineator posts.
Commr. Parks opined that this was a reasonable request and noted that Mr. Niemiec could connect with staff.
Pastor Ben Bond, an attendee with First Baptist Church of Clermont, commented that the church would appreciate addressing traffic issues on Hartwood Marsh Road, and he agreed with Mr. Niemiec’s comments.
CLERK OF the Circuit COURT and comptroller’s CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Blake, seconded by Commr. Smith 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 6, 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.
Cascades at Groveland Community Development District Annual Financial Audit Report
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Cascades at Groveland Community Development District Annual Financial Audit Report for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020, pursuant to Section 11.45, Florida Statutes, and Section 189.418, Florida Statutes.
Greater Lakes/Sawgrass Bay Community Development District Resolution 2020-07
Request to acknowledge receipt of Resolution 2020-07 identifying the Fiscal Year 2020/2021 meeting schedule for the Greater Lakes/Sawgrass Bay Community Development District. This meeting schedule is being submitted in accordance with Section 189.015(1) of the Florida Statutes.
Cascades at Groveland Community Development District Resolution 2020-10
Request to acknowledge receipt of Resolution 2020-10 from the Cascades at Groveland Community Development District, adopting their annual meeting schedule for Fiscal Year 2020/2021, in accordance with Section 189.015(1), Florida Statutes.
Estates at Cherry Lake Community Development District Resolution 2020-09
Request to acknowledge receipt of Resolution 2020-09 from the Estates at Cherry Lake Community Development District, adopting their annual meeting schedule for Fiscal Year 2020/2021, in accordance with Section 189.015(1), Florida Statutes.
Lake County School Board Comprehensive Annual Financial Report/Federal Single Audit
Request to acknowledge receipt of Report 2021-111 – Lake County District School Board Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and Federal Single Audit.
tab 3 – proclamation for animal shelter partner of the year
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Lake County Animal Shelter's Community Partner of the Year Proclamation 2021-18 to Misfit Spay/Neuter Clinic.
Commr. Campione recognized that Mr. Kent Webber, with Misfit Spay/Neuter Clinic and Ms. Whitney Boylston, Director for the Office of Animal Services, were in the audience, and she thanked them. She then read Proclamation 2021-18. She commented that the proclamation referenced 2020 because they were looking back to the previous year, and in the current year they would have a similar recognition of a partner. She commented that Mr. Webber and his family started this, and the County could not have gone down the road of a no-kill mission if they did not have a third party able to help with the spaying and neutering process. She thanked the Webbers, the people that worked for them, the volunteers, and Ms. Boylston.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
Commr. Parks summarized that the Board had pulled Tabs 10 and 12.
Ms. Marsh mentioned that Tab 13 was also going to be pulled.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Shields and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Consent Agenda, Tabs 4 through 16, pulling Tabs 10, 12 and 13 to the regular agenda, as follows:
Request approval of a Lease Agreement with the Lake Agriculture and Youth Fair Association for use of the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center and buildings for Fiscal Year 2021. The fiscal impact is $1.00 (revenue). Commission District 4.
Management and Budget
Request approval for the Lake County Sheriff's Office to apply for the Federal Fiscal Year 2020 Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program, Residual Funding Opportunity - Local Jurisdictions, through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The estimated fiscal impact is $50,000.00 (revenue).
agency for economic prosperity
Request approval of an amended agreement with the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to revise the commencement date for the Florida Job Growth Infrastructure Grant awarded to Lake County for design and engineering of the Round Lake Road Expansion and the construction of a master lift station facility by the City of Mount Dora, within the Wolf Branch Innovation District. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 4.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
Request approval to apply for the 2020 Federal Emergency Management Agency's Fire Prevention and Safety grant for funding designed to reach high-risk target groups and mitigate the incidence of death, injuries and property damage caused by fire and fire-related hazards.
The estimated fiscal impact is $50,000.00 (revenue/expenditure - $47,619.05 in grant funding and $2,380.95 in County funding and is within Fiscal Year 2021 budget).
Request approval to purchase a replacement brush truck from Mullinax Ford of Central Florida, Inc. (Apopka, FL) for the Office of Fire Rescue, and authorization for the Office of Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation.
The fiscal impact is $106,717.20 (expenditure) and is within Fiscal Year 2021 budget. Commission District 4.
Public Safety Support
1. Of contract with North American Fire Equipment Company, Inc. (NAFECO) (Decatur, GA) based on Sarasota County Contract 1868840100, for Public Safety and Development Services uniforms.
2. To authorize the Office of Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation.
The estimated fiscal impact is $186,306.00 (expenditure) and is within and will not exceed the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
PUBLIC SERVICES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Housing and Human Services
Request approval of the Agreement for Cremation, Burial, and Transportation of Indigent or Unclaimed Deceased Persons with the Lake County Funeral Directors Association. The amount spent for Fiscal Year 2020 was $77,880.00. The future fiscal impact cannot be determined at this time, however the budgeted amount is $95,000.00 (expenditure) and is within and will not exceed the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
Request authorization to enter into a reimbursement agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for Waste Tire Amnesty Day(s). The fiscal impact is estimated at $25,000.00 (revenue/ expenditure) and is within and will not exceed the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
Request approval to execute a Proportionate Share Mitigation Agreement between the Lake County School Board, Hilochee Partners, LLC (Lakeland, FL) and the Lake County Board of County Commissioners. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 1.
Request approval of a License Agreement with FBCL Properties, Inc., for a bus shelter located at East Main Street and 13th Street in downtown Leesburg. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 3.
tab 10: termination of agreements with shepherd’s village
Ms. Jo-Anne Drury, Deputy County Manager, said that Tab 10 was a request to terminate a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) agreement in the amount of $950,000, and a State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program funding agreement in the amount of $450,000 with Shepherd’s Village for the construction of a 40 unit affordable housing rental project for seniors. She explained that the project was located in the City of Leesburg in Commission District 1, and that the CDBG agreement provided a 24 month period to complete construction, which ended on February 3, 2021. She elaborated that the SHIP agreement was amended to extend the completion date until February 3, 2022, but Shepherd’s Village had been unable to move forward because of gaps in funding. She mentioned that project costs were estimated to be $2.6 million, of which 54 percent, or $1.4 million, was to come from the County, and 29 percent, or $750,000, was to come from Citizens First Bank; additionally, 17 percent, or $450,000, was to come from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. She said that Shepherd’s Village was not successful in their bid for funding for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, which left a $450,000 funding gap. She noted that the County did not have additional funds at this time, that Shepherd’s Village was planning to revise the project, and that staff was waiting on the revised plans. She stated that both the CDBG and SHIP funds must be expended by specified dates, and an extended delay in completing the project did not meet the program requirements; therefore, staff was recommending that Shepherd’s Village reapply once the project scope and budget had been modified. She commented that CDBG funds for funding years 2018 and 2019 could be reallocated to other projects, including roads, and staff planned to bring that reallocation plan back at the March 9, 2021 BCC meeting. She relayed that SHIP funds for funding years 2018 and 2019 could also be reallocated and could go to residents on the County’s waiting list for down payment assistance, rehab, and demolition and replacement projects.
Commr. Smith thought that it was important for the general public to understand that the County would be reallocating this funding to help the needy. He asked when Ms. Drury thought the Board would be able to get staff’s recommendations for SHIP funding so they could disperse it.
Ms. Drury replied that the County could deploy SHIP funding immediately and that it would not have to come back to the Board. She added that the CDBG reallocation plan would require Board approval, and staff would start that process on March 9, 2021, noting that it would take 30 to 60 days to complete due to the CDBG requirements.
Commr. Campione commented that this particular funding could serve an important purpose, noting that the county had many needs. She was hopeful that the County could pull together other uses and get the funding in the right places to have the largest impact as quickly as possible.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved to terminate agreements with Shepherd’s Village Community for Lake County State Housing Initiatives Partnership funding in the amount of $450,000, and Community Development Block Grant funding in the amount of $950,000, and approved authorization for the County Manager to send the 30-day termination notices.
tab 12: library impact fee applications
Commr. Parks relayed his understanding that the Board was voting on this item separately because they were going to wait on item three, the renovations to the County bookmobile.
Mr. Rosen confirmed this.
Commr. Campione commented that these were much needed funds and that the Astor Community Library would be very appreciative. She added that with the East Lake Community Library design, it was an exciting time to be embarking on that project.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Shields and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved to submit two applications for Library Impact Fees for the following items: the design, construction and equipment of the proposed East Lake County Library ($150,000.00), Commission District 4; and the design, construction and equipment for the Astor County Library ($150,000.00), Commission District 1.
tab 13: contract with helena agri enterprises
Mr. Rosen explained that the County did a request for proposal (RFP) for chemicals, but there was an issue where one of the bids was not reviewed. He added that it went back through and was recalculated, and staff would be ready to make the award; however, they needed to move it back one BCC meeting.
presentation: lincoln park south lake alliance
Commr. Parks said that this item was briefly presented to the Board in public comment in October or November 2020. He recalled that Ms. Sharon Keys, with the Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance, had let the Board know about the Lincoln Park Community Center project in the City of Clermont. He expressed interest and enthusiasm in support for this effort, noting that there was also a partnership with Lake Technical College (Lake Tech) for career and technical training.
Ms. Keys thanked the Board for inviting the alliance back to present their proposal for a community education center in South Lake. She relayed a history of the project and believed that it would provide an opportunity to benefit the community and South Lake. She indicated that the alliance’s mission was building community through creativity, collaboration, and access to life changing opportunities in South Lake. She stated that some of the education programs they hoped to offer included the following: reading, computer and financial literacies; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) early learning; general education development (GED); mentorships; and programs that would assists students in the third, fifth, eight, and tenth grades, along with college prep areas. She said that they had discussed partnerships with the Boys and Girls Club, Lake Tech, Central Florida Urban League, South Lake Television (TV), community banks, and other nonprofit organizations. She added that the Lake County School Board had asked them to consider the early learning VPK classes.
Mr. Alex Busto, with Gatorsktch Architects and Planners, presented the preliminary master plan of the community education center. He said that he had worked with the Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance, the school board, and Lake Tech on this opportunity, as Clermont Elementary School was being closed. He commented that they had looked at the buildings to determine how they could be economically reused for a community center, noting that they were looking at using existing administrative offices for new offices, existing classroom buildings for new educational programs, and the existing gymnasium would remain as a recreation and sports training center. He described several portions of the site including the following: a vocational training area, noting that there was a classroom that could be used for construction trades, along with existing temporary portables that could be used for hands-on training; a classroom pod that could be used for literacy programs, GED and career training; an existing bus loop, commenting that the center of the loop could be used for additional parking or a new building for an automotive program; a kitchen which could be used for culinary arts; the existing library and media center which could be used as a computer literacy lab; a small building that could be used for administration offices for the vocational programs; the center of the site which would be utilized for the community center; the existing administration building which would be made into the new administration offices for the Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance and their partners; an existing auditorium which could be used for community meetings and performances; a classroom pod that could be utilized for senior programs and mentorship programs; a classroom building that could be utilized for teens with a study hall and social areas; and the existing gymnasium could continue its use in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club for recreation and sports training for volleyball and basketball. He commented that across the street from the gymnasium was a city park, and the City of Clermont was in favor of this project: therefore, there was an opportunity for football and soccer programs in the park. He added that they were proposing to set aside half of the classroom building for performing arts including theater, poetry and visual arts training. He mentioned a childcare zone which could be for patrons of the community center or possibly for childcare certification programs, and said that there were other buildings which could be utilized for the VPK program and administrative offices for the childcare zone. He commented that they had more portables in this area that they would remove for additional parking, and their idea was to maximize the parking available on site, along with entering into an agreement with the school board, who were retaining property across the street; additionally, there was an additional parking lot there to serve the campus.
Ms. Paula Hoisington, with the Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance, discussed the origin of this project, noting that pastors and community leaders had come together to discuss the possible closing of Clermont Elementary School and how they could use this space to preserve the heritage of the only African-American school known to the community, while also creating a platform that would allow citizens to build bigger and better communities through education, entrepreneurship and empowerment. She said that they envisioned to establish an education center in South Lake to be the pillar of the community for adapting to new realities in both society and their community by creating a pathway to end generational poverty in their community and beyond. She relayed several goals of the facility and opined that its programs would be the greatest asset to underserved, underemployed, and underprivileged residents of South Lake. She said that they had engaged with experienced partners to encompass education administrators, legal representation, real estate representatives and financial experts to help build this vision. She believed that the education center would help fill gaps that currently existed and provide career readiness. She stated that they were hopeful that the BCC would believe in their vision and help to move it forward. She thanked the Board and looked forward to working with them.
Commr. Campione asked how far along they were with the Lake Tech partnership.
Ms. Keys replied that they were still working with the school board.
Commr. Campione noted that Lake Tech was a charter school under the school district and that for many years, they wanted to have a South Lake campus.
Ms. Keys noted that Dr. Diane Culpepper, Executive Director for Lake Tech, wanted to be a part of it.
Mr. Busto commented that the school board owned the land and had to give their blessing, and the Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance was working with the other partners as well.
Commr. Campione liked the idea of the Boys and Girls Club and the gymnasium opportunity, along with the performing arts venue. She expressed support for the project.
Commr. Parks relayed that Dr. Culpepper was excited about the opportunity for Lake Tech to have a campus in South Lake.
Commr. Smith commented that it was nice to have both their educational piece and their technical piece. He thought that the county needed to have more trade school opportunities, and said that he liked the statement about getting rid of generational poverty. He wished them luck with their partnerships and indicated that he would be willing to help.
Commr. Campione asked if there had been any outreach to the South Lake Community Trust, and Mr. Busto did not think they had reached out to them yet.
Commr. Parks asked if a proclamation could be brought forward to support what was going on with this center, noting that it benefited everyone in South Lake. He also said that the Board would explore what they could do with Lake Tech because there could possibly be a legislative item for Lake Tech in the following year.
Commr. Campione noted that the BCC did not want to get into the school board’s business from a budgetary standpoint, and she was unsure what considerations were at play with regards to what they were thinking long-term. She thought that the Board may want to receive feedback on this, and to let them know that the Board was in support of the concept, understanding that the school board owned the property.
Commr. Parks mentioned that he had talked to Ms. Diane Kornegay, Superintendent of Lake County Schools, who was very supportive; however, he agreed that the Board would want to formally have their buy-in. He thanked the Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance and noted that this was how great things got done in the community.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman called a recess at 10:36 a.m. for eight minutes.
winter garden restriction of truck traffic on marsh road
Commr. Parks indicated that Tab 21 would be moved up, noting that he had many comment cards on this item. He explained that the City of Winter Garden recently passed a resolution to ban sand truck traffic on Marsh Road, starting at the Lake-Orange County line. He relayed that the Titan America sand mine was based on the Lake County side and had been in existence since at least 1969. He commented that the City of Clermont and constituents had reached out and expressed concerns, noting that the truck traffic would be banned on March 1, 2021. He indicated a concern that the truck traffic would come through Lake County down Hartwood Marsh Road, and potentially down Hancock Road and Citrus Tower Boulevard as well. He expressed a concern for issues being presented on roads that were already congested level of service “F” roads. He hoped that the Board would start reaching for a solution or express their opinion over what they needed to do next.
Mr. Fred Schneider, Public Works Director, presented information related to this item. He indicated the following background information: on February 11, 2021, the City of Winter Garden passed a resolution to restrict truck traffic on Marsh Road, which was the extension of Hartwood Marsh Road in Lake County to the State Road (SR) 429 interchange in Orange County; the truck restriction may redirect heavy vehicles and trucks to an alternate east-west route such as SR 50; additional truck traffic may travel on local county roads including Hancock Road and Citrus Tower Boulevard; and the truck restriction was expected to begin enforcement by the City of Winter Garden on March 1, 2021. He displayed a map of the area and pointed out several nearby roads. He said that the truck restriction was a half mile in length from the county line to Williams Road; however, there was no truck restriction on the rest of Marsh Road. He explained that traffic had historically travelled between Lake and Orange County along U.S. Highway 27 up along Hartwood Marsh Road and then Marsh Road, before taking Stoneybrook West Parkway to the interchange if they wanted to go north. He showed another image of the area and relayed that in Lake County, they had about 11,000 vehicles per day, with the City of Winter Garden having about 12,000 vehicles per day. He pointed out several roads and the Titan America sand mine, along with the CEMEX sand mine which was once owned by Florida Crushed Stone. He recalled that in the early 1970s, Florida Crushed Stone paved Johns Lake Road and Hancock Road up to SR 50; furthermore, CEMEX currently was not doing much mining, but they had operations at that location. He relayed that the Titan America sand mine had purchased the property from a previous owner that had made the connection in the early 1970s between Marsh Road and Hancock Road; therefore, the mine owner at that time paved the connection between the two counties. He mentioned that if the restriction was to be strongly enforced, it would not leave any opportunities east-west other than SR 50, noting that the next road that was paved was U.S. Highway 192, which was 14 miles south. He relayed that Titan America had a sand mining and borrow pit operation, which would both be impacted; additionally, they had a large number of trucks due to the Interstate 4 (I-4) project. He commented that Lake County had received complaints about truck traffic, and if truck traffic was changed, it would have to use Hancock Road or Citrus Tower Boulevard up to SR 50, commenting that they could also use Hooks Street to get to SR 50. He said that if the vehicles were not dispersed on other roads, there could be an issue with the exit location on U.S. Highway 27. He then relayed the following staff evaluation information: the City of Winter Garden hired a consultant to look at traffic and found that they had 12,672 daily trips on Marsh Road, with 11.3 percent being large and heavy vehicles; the average daily traffic volume of large and heavy vehicles was 1,432 on Marsh Road; a pavement evaluation report provided by Tierra, Inc. identified that the existing pavement structure of Marsh Road in Orange County was not adequate for the volume and weight of vehicles and should be reconstructed; truck traffic had been a continuing complaint of city residents within subdivisions; and the City of Winter Garden truck restriction was a half mile in length from the County line to Williams Road. He indicated the following next steps for Lake County staff: staff was looking at starting a conversation with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) about designating a truck route along U.S. Highway 27 up to SR 50; staff was currently taking traffic counts on Citrus Tower Boulevard and Hancock Road, and would be looking at taking more counts at an off-ramp from U.S. Highway 27 to get an understanding of current traffic volumes and classification of vehicles in the City of Clermont area; conduct a pavement and safety evaluation of Hancock Road and Citrus Tower Blvd to determine impacts due to additional truck traffic; consider truck restrictions on county roads such as Hancock Road and Citrus Tower Boulevard; and discuss prioritizing funding for Hartwood Marsh Road with the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and FDOT.
Ms. Susan Stephens, representing Titan America, submitted a letter into the record that Titan America had sent to the City of Winter Garden when they were first apprised of this. She explained that Titan America had been operating the facility that had been there since 1969, and she noted that the restriction would restrict both vehicle weight and class. She mentioned that the basis of this was to restrict sand trucks for a half mile stretch and that it would require the trucks to go around that half mile stretch of road. She noted that there were residences in the area, and that the east-west truck route was constructed by Titan America’s predecessors to get where the demand was in the east. She said that Lake County had authorized the operations under a conditional use permit (CUP) in 1969 for 365 days per year, seven days per week; however, the trucks did not operate that often. She clarified that the sand mine operation only operated five days per week for limited periods of time, and she opined that the resolution would significantly affect the Center Sand Mine operations. She relayed that Titan America would be required to file a lawsuit against the City in the current week, and she asked Lake County to join them in the lawsuit. She opined that it was a precipitous action that the City had taken unilaterally without considering the impacts on any other community or governmental authority on this roadway.
Commr. Campione noted that the referenced CUP dated back to 1969 with no limitations on hours of operations, and she was glad to hear that Titan America self-imposed restrictions; however, any opportunity that the Board would have to memorialize those limitations would be appreciated to create a level of predictability and certainty for the community.
The Chairman opened the floor for public comment.
Mr. Rick Ault, a resident of the City of Clermont, expressed concerns for there being a sand mine in the middle of a sector plan. He mentioned the volume of traffic in the area, particularly due to a school. He opined that as a short term solution until there was funding to widen the road, the sand trucks needed to be limited while the school zone signs were flashing.
Commr. Campione noted that the sector plan had many rules that applied and which were not thought of in the 1960s. She relayed that the County was dealing with a sand mine that was there before any development and that there was not the pre-planning that the County tried to do currently.
Commr. Parks commented that on the Orange County side of Hartwood Marsh Road, there were housing developments close to the road with no buffer.
Commr. Campione added that the trucks were already traveling there.
Pastor Bond said that his church had been told that there would be the expansion of Hancock Road to four lanes. He asked Mr. Schneider if he had any realistic figures on the expansion of Hartwood Marsh Road, Hancock Road, or County Road (CR) 455.
Mr. Schneider commented that for Hartwood Marsh Road from U.S. Highway 27 to Hancock Road, the County did not have the right of way nor the stormwater ponds until recently. He said that the church on Hancock Road would expand south and that the BCC had an impact fee agreement with the adjacent subdivision to provide some improvements on Hartwood Marsh Road, in addition to beginning the extension of Hancock Road south. He added that this would provide subdivision connections and that the County was looking at connecting it south to Wellness Way. He mentioned that stormwater ponds and right of way for Hartwood Marsh Road had been donated, and the County could now look at how to get the funding for that section of roadway. He said that FDOT was appropriating some funding in this area for priority roads, and the County was looking at how this could allow them to make their match.
Pastor Bond asked if this could possibly be done in one or two years.
Mr. Schneider replied that for Hartwood Marsh Road, the County had to update the plans which could take about six months, and there would be a bidding process which depended on funding. He commented that FDOT’s new fiscal year would begin on July 1, 2021 and that if there was funding available for construction, it was likely that something could happen in the next two years.
Pastor Bond also inquired about the CR 455 extension.
Mr. Schneider stated that it was currently in a project development and environment (PD&E) update stage, and the County was working with CEMEX for a preferred alignment. He said that it could come back to the BCC for a public hearing in April 2021 to approve the alignment that would take it from Hartwood Marsh Road north to SR 50. He commented that they would then go into design, noting that in their five year work program, they had a significant amount of impact fee funding that they could use to complete that project. He said that it was probably a two or three year timeframe for all of these items to come together.
Pastor Bond asked if the extension of Hartwood Marsh Road could happen within two years, and the extension of CR 455 could happen within two to three years.
Mr. Schneider replied that everything depended on funding. He explained that addressing Hartwood Marsh Road between U.S. 27 and Hancock Road could likely cost from $8 million to $10 million. He added that there were limited funds from the County and FDOT, and as FDOT provided funding for projects the County had listed, they could work with them. He noted that FDOT required a 50 percent match and that the County currently had funds in that area to match a project, but not necessarily both. He mentioned that as they went through the Lake-Sumter MPO process of funding, it was a matter of getting it appropriated.
Ms. Kathleen Dial, Principal of Imagine South Lake Charter School, said that they had about 1,034 students and currently, they had less traffic because they were at 80 or 90 percent capacity. She relayed information about the school’s transportation and students, and opined that Hartwood Marsh Road was overcrowded; additionally, more homes were being built. She said that adding heavy truck traffic to the road caused her concern for her school’s buses, families and staff. She hoped that the BCC would consider what limitations could be put in place immediately with regards to restrictions to help ensure safety for travelers.
Mr. Niemiec displayed a map of the area and relayed a concern for the City of Winter Garden’s lack of consideration and communication with this situation. He relayed information about the area and noted that there was also a public shopping center. He suggested to have the City of Winter Garden rescind their decision, to expedite the expansion of Hartwood Marsh Road, and to expedite the CR 455 extension from Hartwood Marsh Road to SR 50. He asked someone from the Board to reach out to the Clermont City Council and recommend a freeze on approving new developments and projects that would increase traffic until a proper solution was reached.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the floor for public comment.
Commr. Campione noted that the request was made for the County to join in the lawsuit, and she was unsure if this was something the Board was entertaining today. She relayed that the Board would need more information about the cost and the potential liabilities, opining that the County had already communicated their displeasure.
Commr. Parks said that he would request an action item for a formal letter from the Board requesting the City to rescind their resolution immediately. He added that he would be supportive of the lawsuit if this was what the Board had to do, commenting that the Board could entertain this at the next BCC meeting if the City had not rescinded its resolution.
Commr. Campione said that as an adjoining jurisdiction, the County may have more success if they went through the channels that they would normally go through such as talking to the City, Orange County, and their counterparts to try to get something worked out amicably.
Commr. Parks agreed and said that the second step could be to reach out to the City of Clermont, noting that the Mayor of Clermont wanted the County and the City to meet with Titan America to work on a solution.
Commr. Smith agreed with sending a letter to the City of Winter Garden, adding that the County could present solutions, along with the Board’s displeasure of what they were trying to do. He said that he was not in favor of being involved with a lawsuit at this point because he did not know what the ramifications would involve. He suggested to send a letter to the City of Winter of Garden and possibly the City of Clermont, and for someone to possibly meet with Titan America to come up with some solutions to help at least temporarily.
Commr. Shields wondered if anyone had talked to the sand customers in Orange County and if the customer could put pressure on the City of Winter Garden.
Commr. Parks relayed that some of it was going to the I-4 project and the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX), though most of it was still development related. He commented that the pressure on the mines would be the additional cost of having to travel a long distance. He supported writing a letter to the City of Winter Garden asking them to rescind the resolution, along with working with the City of Clermont. He thought that the County needed to prepare ordinances to limit truck traffic on Hancock Road and Citrus Tower Boulevard if the block continued. He said that the County could possibly write another letter to the FDOT Secretary of Transportation to promote the widening of Hartwood Marsh Road.
Commr. Campione noted that with those ordinances, the County would be doing what the City of Winter Garden was doing.
Commr. Parks clarified that the trucks would have to go to Hartwood Marsh Road.
Commr. Blake commented that they were dealing with roads that existed because of the mining operations, and he expressed a concern for punishing the operation that was responsible for those roads. He added that the developments there were aware of the mine.
Commr. Campione wondered if the City of Winter Garden considered the impact to Lake County.
Commr. Parks relayed that there was no communication to him, the County, or the City of Clermont. He also asked about the enforceability of this.
Mr. Schneider said that the resolution that the City of Winter Garden had passed left some holes for controlling the class and weight of vehicles. He relayed his understanding that the City would be bringing it forward for an amendment to address this. He opined that they were not likely to enforce it because they typically needed advance notice so that a truck headed in that direction would have an opportunity to turn around; additionally, the City of Winter Garden Police Department would likely be the agency to enforce this.
Commr. Parks opined that if this was not resolved, then the City of Clermont would probably ask for restrictions on Hancock Road and Citrus Tower Boulevard. He added that in the meantime, the County could ask the FDOT Secretary of Transportation to expedite the widening of Hartwood Marsh Road.
Mr. Rosen relayed his understanding that there was consensus to prepare a letter for Orange County and the City of Winter Garden to provide information indicating that they could possibly work together on a solution with Lake County. He relayed that the Board also indicated consensus to prepare a letter for FDOT asking them to accelerate funding to help widen Hartwood Marsh Road. He summarized that the County would probably not join the lawsuit at this point, and that he could work with Mr. Schneider to see what options the County could have to limit the traffic on Citrus Tower Boulevard and Hancock Road; additionally, there could also be another update at the March 9, 2021 BCC meeting. He stated that he could reach out to the Winter Garden City Manager and Mr. Darren Gray, Deputy County Administrator for Orange County.
Commr. Parks requested for the letter to ask the City of Winter Garden to rescind its resolution as well.
public hearings: REZONING
rezoning consent agenda
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 said that Tabs 1 and 2 were placed on the consent agenda for Board consideration, and at the time the agenda was finalized, staff had received no feedback or comments on either case; however, on the previous day, staff received upwards of 150 emails pertaining to Tab 2. He noted that staff would have no objection to this tab being moved to the regular agenda.
Commr. Shields asked to pull Tab 2.
Commr. Campione asked about Tab 1 and noted that she was unsure how it would be laid out in relation to the entrance to the neighborhood and the public’s entrances.
Commr. Parks said that the Board could pull both tabs from the consent agenda.
rezoning regular agenda
Tab 1. Ordinance No. 2021-5
Rezoning Case # RZ-20-18-4
New Missions, Inc.
Rezoning approximately 20.58 +/- acres from Agriculture (A) to Community Facility District (CFD) to accommodate a place of worship, office, and community assembly.
Rezoning Case # CP-19-06
Sand Mining Open Space Requirement
Amend Comprehensive Plan Policy I-4.2.1 entitled ‘Limitations of Development within the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern’ to exempt sand mining operations within the Green Swamp Rural Conservation and the Green Swamp Core Conservation Future Land Use Categories from adhering to the open space requirements during active mining operations and to allow open space credit for all areas subject to reclamation including planned water bodies, artificially created wetlands, and uplands; and amend Comprehensive Plan Chapter X entitled ‘Definitions & Acronyms’ to revise the definition of open space to include reclaimed lands.
new missions, inc.
Mr. McClendon presented Tab 1, Rezoning Case # RZ-20-18-4, New Missions, Inc. He explained that the case was located on the north side of SR 44, east of Green Forest Road, in the City of Eustis area, within Commission District 4. He relayed that the tract size was about 20 acres, and the request was to rezone about 20 acres from Agriculture to Community Facility District (CFD) to accommodate a place of worship, office and community assembly. He said that the future land use (FLU) on the property was Rural, and he showed the concept plan. He noted that the development was pushed to the far east portion of the site, and he pointed out that the access was coming from the east and one area along SR 44. He relayed that the requested rezoning met the Land Development Regulations (LDR) as well as the FLU requirements. He added that the concept plan demonstrated consistency with the Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) requirements and open space, noting that should the request be approved, the multipurpose building would be required to comply with the design standards within the area. He said that the Planning and Zoning Board found the application consistent with the Comp Plan, and he requested that the BCC approve the rezoning.
Commr. Campione stated that it looked like the fencing with the Lakewood Ranch neighborhood went along SR 44, and asked that if the facility was on the east end, would the rest of the land have to come back in for approval to be developed.
Mr. McClendon confirmed that if it was developed further, they would have to come before the Board and meet any rules and requirements as part of this CFD application.
Commr. Campione asked to confirm that if the Board approved this today, then all they were approving was the rezoning to CFD with this particular site plan, and were not creating a vested right for anything else on this property.
Mr. McClendon said this was correct.
Commr. Campione then inquired if it was a 15,000 square foot facility and it could be for worship service location or office space.
Mr. McClendon confirmed that it was 15,000 square feet and that the intent was to use it for all of the listed uses including a community assembly group, a place of worship, office, and some warehousing for what New Missions did.
Commr. Campione asked if the board fence would stay intact.
Mr. Tim Green, representing the applicant, commented that there was an easement for the signage and fencing on the property; additionally, it would stay intact until they had to connect to a nearby street, and they were connecting closer to the developed commercial areas in the east.
Commr. Campione inquired if they had to get a permit from FDOT and if the fence could stay intact from the driveway on the site plan back to the neighborhood entrance.
Mr. Green said that they would have to get a permit, and clarified that the fence only went about 150 feet and did not go in front of this property. He commented that it was the homeowners association’s (HOA) easement to maintain the fence. He added that his client owned both sides of the entranceway and lived in the community.
Commr. Smith asked if additional buildings could be placed on the empty space.
Mr. McClendon explained that the County was capping it at 15,000 square feet and that the applicant would have to come back to request more square footage.
Commr. Campione inquired what it would look like.
Mr. Green said that they did not have formalized plans at this point, noting that it would follow architectural guidelines for the area. He explained that New Missions currently had an operation in the City of Orlando that was moving to Lake County; additionally, they were a missionary organization that served Haiti.
Commr. Campione recalled that several years prior, the County had to come up with a settlement agreement for a property on CR 437 and SR 46, which the County included design criteria in. She stated that it might be worth considering this and that it could be a good design criteria for the Sorrento area.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Mr. Robert Hendrick, a resident of the Lakewood Ranch neighborhood, requested putting off voting until there were conceptual drawings of what was going to happen there. He also expressed support for agreeing on green space, indicating that he wanted to know exactly what would be placed there.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Mr. Green asked the Board not to delay this case and noted that they had to follow the County’s architectural standards, which were not part of the CFD and which they were not asked by staff to present at the current time. He added that they applied for this nine months prior and that signs had been up for over six weeks; additionally, the Planning and Zoning Board had no comments.
Commr. Campione wondered if his client would not already have conceptual plans to give assurance that the design would be complimentary of the neighborhood.
Mr. Green said that they had a site plan demonstrating where the building would be, and they had a 30 foot easement within the HOA which would remain in place. He reiterated that they pushed the building as far east as they could to get it closer to the commercial areas, and they were not suggesting connections to the neighborhood entrance at this point. He added that there were also other commercial properties in the neighborhood.
Commr. Campione opined that the pine trees and the vegetation were attractive, and she wondered if the vegetation in areas not being developed would be left intact.
Mr. Greene relayed that there was no intention of taking any of those trees down at this point.
Commr. Campione asked if this could be in the ordinance, and Mr. Green did not think that his client would have any issue with this.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Tab 1, Rezoning Case # RZ-20-18-4, New Missions, Inc., with the modification that the trees would stay intact and the rest of the site would look natural as it did currently.
sand mining open space requirement
Mr. McClendon presented Tab 2, Rezoning Case # CP-19-06, Sand Mining Open Space Requirement, which was requested by Ms. Tracy Mouncey, Executive Director of the Central Florida Sand Mining Association. He explained that this amendment proposed to exempt sand mining operations in the Green Swamp from open space requirements during active mining operations, and to allow open space to be credited for reclamation areas which would include water bodies, wetlands and uplands created as part of the reclamation process. He mentioned that the previous Comp Plan and LDR allowed wetlands to be included in open space calculations, and did not require mining operations to adhere to open space requirements. He said that the old Comp Plan and LDR effectively did not consider mining to be development, and that the current Comp Plan did not allow wetlands to be credited toward open space, except in some instances in Wellness Way. He elaborated that it required mining operations to provide open space on the upland areas. He gave the example of if one had a 100 acre parcel in Green Swamp Core Conservation that was 100 acres of upland, with the open space requirements being 90 percent, one could effectively only mine 10 percent of that site, minus any wetlands or water bodies, and keeping the buffers for adjacent properties and setbacks from wetlands. He commented that the Green Swamp was about 330,000 acres in size, 110,000 acres of which were in Lake County; furthermore, the majority of the Green Swamp was in Polk County. He also mentioned that Polk County did not require mining operations to meet any open space requirements in their Comp Plan and LDR. He said that State statutes and Lake County’s LDR allowed sand mining in the Green Swamp with a mining conditional use permit (MCUP), and that there were about 7,800 acres within the Green Swamp currently approved for active sand mining with five or six mines in total. He added that all of those mines predated the 2030 Comp Plan adopted in September 2011, and that this amendment would apply to the expansion of existing mines or new sand mines within the Green Swamp. He said that the example listed by the applicant was an expansion to the E.R. Jahna Industries mine that was a 56 acre parcel and that when they excluded out the water bodies and wetlands, they could only mine four acres. He stated that the Florida Administrative Code (FAC) and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) had direct regulatory review of all permits in the Green Swamp and that as part of the FAC, sand mining had to achieve 11 objectives. He said that the BCC had transmitted this amendment on October 27, 2020, and DEO had no objections. He stated that for the recommendation, staff relied heavily on DEO and often deferred to their environmental experts as it pertained to the Green Swamp; furthermore, every indication from the State was that the amendment met and exceeded the FAC for mining in the Green Swamp, along with the State statutes and requirements for Comp Plan amendments. He commented that based on the report from DEO, staff had no objections to this amendment, and the requested action from the Planning and Zoning Board was to find this application consistent and adopt the proposed amendment.
Commr. Campione said that the prior Comp Plan’s open space requirements were never applicable to mining operations, and then the definition changed so that development included mining.
Mr. McClendon confirmed this and indicated that the County’s definition of development now matched the State definition, so mining was included.
Commr. Campione recalled that a committee had been formed to handle this, noting that there would be pushback for taking property rights away, but that they had looked for some amicable rules. She noted that this was left up in the air and that this issue had existed for a number of years, and this was when that definition had changed. She asked if changing the definition took rights away that the mining industry previously had.
Mr. McClendon relayed that this was the applicant’s understanding.
Commr. Campione commented that this would be a fix to go back to what it used to be and that open space requirements would not be applied to mining, which was what Polk County did; additionally, Lake County had sent it to the State, who had indicated that they did not have an issue with it. She commented that uplands species and habitats could be reduced, but then they could be replaced with water bodies and wetland species. She noted that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) appeared to say that when looking at the totality of the Green Swamp and the areas in Lake County, they still had a large amount of upland species and habitats; therefore, this would not be something that FWC would recommend denial of.
Mr. McClendon confirmed the accuracy of this and relayed that none of the reviewing agencies through DEO had objected to the amendments; however, there were some comments about providing open space, which was done through the buffers and setbacks from wetlands.
Commr. Campione asked that if a request was approved, then on a given site that was 100 acres with 25 acres of wetlands and 75 acres of uplands, and if they mined as much as they could on the 75 acres, was it possible that there would be no more uplands on the site once they left.
Mr. McClendon said that this could possibly happen depending on the reclamation process and what was left behind.
Commr. Campione said that she had seen tailings and upland areas created, along with roads, a plant, and parts of the operation that had to be uplands; therefore, there was always a certain amount of uplands. She commented that without any restrictions on the uplands that remain after the fact, she was trying to imagine a scenario where there would not be any uplands left behind.
Mr. McClendon relayed that it would depend on site conditions, and he relayed his understanding that it was wet mining in the Green Swamp; therefore, much of what was left was wetlands and water bodies.
Commr. Campione relayed that there had been emails expressing concerns for unrestricted sand mining, noting that one would still have to go through the permit process, come to the BCC, and go through all of the agencies. She added that this was just a question of whether one would have to set aside land and leave it alone from start to finish.
Mr. McClendon confirmed that any new mine or expansion would be required to come before the Board for consideration.
Commr. Parks said that if it was wet mining, there might be a buffer left, though it would depend on the site. He opined that this was the question, noting that wet mining was mostly a loss of uplands.
Mr. McClendon said that from lessons learned in the past, there were cells or pockets that were mined and then reclaimed.
Commr. Smith relayed that he had no issues with the mining industry and that it was a needed resource, though he had an issue with it being in the Green Swamp. He said that he did not have enough information to make a decision at the current meeting, noting that DEP had some recommendations about open space but that he was unaware of what they were. He said that he planned to visit a sand mine to see their operations, tailings and their end result. He also questioned what happened when one removed sand from the aquifer and replaced it with coarser sand, and how much of the aquifer was charged by the area where the mines were. He mentioned that he had many questions that he needed answered before he could make an educated decision. He knew that it had been an issue in the Green Swamp for years, though he had only seen this item a week and a half prior. He wanted to see if the Board could table this item for 30 or 60 days so that he could gather enough information to make a sound vote.
Commr. Parks said that the Board could entertain this but that they would have public comment on it first. He mentioned that he had issues with the request and was not currently supportive of it; additionally, the question about the loss of uplands had not been answered for him.
Ms. Mouncey, representing the applicant, listed the companies involved in the Central Florida Sand Mining Association as follows: CEMEX; E.R. Jahna Industries; Vulcan Materials; and Titan America. She relayed that the organization was formed in 2006 to communicate the importance of the central Florida sand mining industry as a provider of aggregates to local and regional products, noting that they were a finite resource and had been deemed by the Florida Statutes as a resource of critical state concern due to local and regional infrastructure needs. She commented that her group had been working with County staff for over a year on this item, and she said that the proposed amendment deferred the timing of when the open space requirement was met. She mentioned that mining was a regulated industry, and that this amendment would not change any of the current regulatory requirements or restrict the County’s review of those mining applications. She opined that this amendment would have no effect on the quality or quantity of recharge of groundwater or surface water, or how it was regulated in the Green Swamp. She noted that the Board conditioned them on a site by site basis, and that the current request was about the appropriateness of open space requirements on a temporary use, and not the ecological characteristics of the Green Swamp. She elaborated that mining was a temporary use which led to an end use such as recreation. She relayed that if there was a 1,000 acre parcel in the Green Swamp, at least 50 percent of the acreage was likely to be wetlands and not economically feasible to mine; additionally, of the remaining 500 acres and under the current open space requirements for development in the Green Swamp, 90 percent of the remaining acreage was restricted from development. She expressed a concern for only 50 acres being usable in this example and for the economic model not being workable. She relayed that the Green Swamp Task Force had found that sand mining was integral to the county as an economic resource and that it could be done responsibly and effectively in the Green Swamp. She opined that this would also be contrary to the Comp Plan, which stated that mining was an important resource and should be allowed in Lake County, particularly in the Green Swamp. She agreed with staff that the proposed amendment was consistent with all elements of the Comp Plan, and noted that DEO found no objections, recommendations or comments regarding the application.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Mr. Ault expressed concerns for the amount of acreage of the Green Swamp that could be mined, and he questioned what the holes were filled with. He also indicated concerns for land in the Green Swamp being made more valuable than land outside of it due to open space requirements, noting that the Green Swamp was an area of critical state concern because it was good at filtering the water which went into the aquifer.
Ms. Yolimar Bolivar expressed concerns for the mining industry already being in the Green Swamp, noting that the Green Swamp performed water filtration, and she urged the Board to vote no.
Ms. Mindy Meadows, a resident on Montevista Road, asked if this request was to change the Comp Plan, and Commissioner Parks confirmed this. Ms. Meadows then asked the Board to vote no on changing the amendment to exempt sand mining operations from adhering to the open space requirement. She opined that the Central Florida Sand Mining Association wanted to remove a natural resource, which filtered the water for the aquifer for the majority of the residents in the state. She expressed concerns for destroying the habitat above and below the ground, for endangered species, and for creating more vehicle traffic. She opined that there should not be any mining allowed in the Green Swamp.
Mr. Dave Tisdale, a resident of the City of Clermont, relayed that athletes had told him that they opposed this type of activity, especially for natural areas such as the Green Swamp. He supported the research put into the Comp Plan and opined that there was no need to amend it. He asked the Board to vote no.
Ms. Jane Hepting, a resident of the City of Eustis, hoped that the Board received a letter from Mr. Charles Lee, with the Florida Audubon Society. She relayed that Mr. Lee had opined that removing the uplands would have a long term impact upon aquifer recharge, and she questioned what this would do to the quality of water for people who lived downstream. She also wondered what the State and Federal departments of environmental protection would say.
Commr. Campione commented that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had supported the case, with qualifications.
Mr. Marty Proctor, a resident of the City of Groveland and speaking for the Villa City Community Association, commented that the proposed amendment would apply to the expansion of existing sand mines or to new mines; additionally, it was claimed to be temporary, but he noted that a sand mine had been in place since 1969. He said that individuals had worked to protect the surface and aquifer water in the state, and that special protections had been granted to various areas and springs. He stated that the Green Swamp wilderness preserve was a high elevation swamp and was a critical recharge area for the Floridan aquifer, and he opined that there were individuals working against these protections. He supported voting to ensure that these protections would not cease.
Mr. Ross relayed that there were a few comments on Zoom Webinar.
Ms. Sherry Chester, speaking on behalf of the Ocklawaha Valley Audubon Society (OVAS), said that the Green Swamp abutted the central wildlife corridor to the west which ran through several counties, and that the text proposed to be changed in the Comp Plan had been part of the County’s plan since 2011. She relayed her understanding that Green Swamp Mining Committee recommended in 2012 that the County maintain existing open space requirements to protect a portion of the upland land from development. She questioned what purpose the plan served if it was modified frequently, and she expressed concerns for the proposed change. She relayed that currently, only a small portion of the upland areas could be mined, and she opined that this benefited humankind and nature, in addition to restricting climate impacts. She indicated concerns that without an open space set aside until the area was reclaimed, massive areas would be disrupted, wildlife would be displaced, and hydrology and habitats would be altered for decades. She opined that DEP had written that the department encouraged the County to consider some level of open space requirements for active sand mining operations, and that FWC had noted that the proposed change could lead to more upland areas mined; additionally, they had expressed a concern that development of uplands used by several species with special designations could result in significant habitat modification. She commented that OVAS opposed the proposed amendment, and she opined that open space should be applied to sand mining.
Ms. Kathryn DeJong, a resident of Sorrento, opposed this change to the Comp Plan, and expressed concerns that the doors would be opened to relaxing regulations or the use of open space in the mining industry in other areas. She liked the idea of tabling this item until the newer BCC members had more information if it could not be voted down.
Mr. Lee said that when Lake County had amended its Comp Plan to include the open space requirement for sand mining, the miners had the opportunity to challenge the amendment; however, there was no litigation. He pointed out that sand mines were the only mines allowed in the Green Swamp, and he opined that the letters sent to DEP were lacking in detail when characterizing the agency submittals to DEO. He read the recommendation sent by DEP on this amendment which indicated that the department supported local planning strategies such as the County’s adopted open space requirements within the Green Swamp to direct development away from environmentally sensitive areas and important state resources; furthermore, the department encouraged Counties to consider maintaining some level of open space requirements for active sand mining operations in its conservation FLU categories in the Green Swamp. He opined that the agencies had not universally endorsed this plan change, and he questioned what would govern the sand mines if the open space requirement was removed. He stated that his organization recommended that the Board deny this application or defer it for further consideration. He also indicated his understanding that the only thing that applied to the Lake County criteria for sand mining under DEP’s regulation of sand mining was related to safety concerns.
Ms. Kathy Brown, with the Florida Scrub Jay Consortium, opposed the request and opined that as water resources became more valuable, now was not the time to devalue these lands. She commented that the Green Swamp had a significant amount of high and dry water recharge lands, and she opined that sand mines needed to restore the land. She said that her organization opposed the approval of the Comp Plan amendment, and that they would like to have further independent analysis and public input.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Mr. Charlie Gauthier, a planner representing the applicant, opined that the open space standard for sand mining was not economically feasible and that sand mining could not practically expand. He also opined that there was no rational basis for open space standards being applied to sand mining, noting that all environmental protections of the Green Swamp would remain untouched. He opined that the open space made sense for low density residential development but did not make sense for the concentrated footprint of activity to achieve sand mining. He also commented that the mining areas were old citrus groves, pastures, and uplands where the majority had already been impacted. He stated that the specific development authorization occurred at the MCUP stage, noting that the County had complete control such as if there was a proposal that included valuable native plant communities on the uplands; furthermore, the County could reject that MCUP. He pointed out that LDR Section 6.03.03 had standards for sites containing native upland communities, and that it said that all development proposals shall inventory and identify whether such communities exist; additionally, a minimum of 50 percent shall be set aside and preserved. He added that for larger tracts of 50 acres or more, a management plan must be put in place. He stated that these standards in the code did not apply to agriculture, and he questioned what the land would be used for if not for mining. He stated that the idea of the request being consistent with the Comp Plan was that the plan, as amended by the proposed amendment, would not result in an inconsistency with other aspects of the plan. He relayed that DEO had no objections or comments, and DEP made comments encouraging some degree of set aside; however, he was unsure of the basis for this comment. He added that it was not a technical assistance comment and was a suggestion, and he reiterated that these uplands were already largely impacted and the Board had complete control through the conditional use process. He opined that the County would do better to protect those habitats through mining rather than non-mining and agriculture use.
Commr. Campione asked if the native upland communities LDR would apply currently to a site and if there would have to be a 50 percent set aside.
Mr. Gauthier replied that the County could say that they did not want any impacts on the native upland habitat, or they could say that pursuant to LDR Section 6.03.03, there would only be 50 percent open space and the rest would be subject to management.
Commr. Parks inquired if this was staff’s interpretation of the LDR.
Mr. McClendon clarified that the code identified this as LDR Section 6.03.03 B, specifically the minimum preservation requirements, noting that it was a minimum of 50 percent open space. He added that how Mr. Gauthier interpreted it was how staff had interpreted it in the past.
Commr. Parks then asked why 50 percent was not written into the Comp Plan.
Mr. McClendon responded that the operating plan would handle it at the administrative level, though the Board could entertain putting it into the Comp Plan. He noted that it was handled directly through the LDR.
Commr. Campione asked to confirm that the definition of development activity did not include mining when the last version of the Comp Plan was adopted, and Mr. McClendon relayed that this was his understanding. Commissioner Campione then indicated an understanding that thereafter, the definition of development activity included mining and once this happened, the open space requirements that had been prescribed for residential development in the Green Swamp now applied to mining.
Mr. McClendon said this was correct.
Commr. Campione stated that this was what brought them to where they were now, with the question being if those residential open space requirements should be applicable to mining. She commented that the mining industry was telling the County that it made it unfeasible for them to be able to mine; therefore, their request was to eliminate the open space requirements altogether. She mentioned that the Board was hearing suggestions on how to possibly craft something to address concerns without necessarily putting mining in the same category as residential development. She did not think the intent ever was for mining to be treated like residential development, though she questioned if it should have no requirement for reservation of upland communities, or a certain percentage of land mass to be either preserved or restored after mining.
Ms. Mouncey said that she had been the chairman of the Green Swamp Task Force and that they had asked that question, noting that the planning director at that time had indicated that the open space requirements would not affect them and did not apply to mining. She elaborated that at some point after that, the definition was changed and that this had been missed. She said that the task force concluded that mining was important to Lake County and should be continued to be allowed with those requirements, and she noted that they had setbacks and buffers to create additional uplands and open space. She added that they would have a plant which had to be constructed, that the plant would be uplands when it was removed, and that there would also be internal roads. She relayed her understanding that the Comp Plan was supposed to be the guiding document of the County’s processes, while the LDR was what guided the MCUP process. She commented that they were not aware of the open space limitation until E.R. Jahna Industries’ application a few years prior due to it having been the first expansion in the Green Swamp, and this led to the current request. She opined that mining was a good use and that they had several reclamation efforts which were positive for the county.
Commr. Parks asked to confirm that they were basically unaware of the open space requirement.
Ms. Mouncey confirmed this and reiterated that when they had asked the question during the County’s rewrite of the Comp Plan, they were told that it was meant for residential and commercial development in the Green Swamp; however, mining was an interim use.
Commr. Campione commented that most of the active mines were in the CR 474 area and that many people did not realize that activities were going on there, as opposed to the mines near residential subdivisions.
Ms. Mouncey stated that these mines were more isolated and were between the sand mines creating the lakes and wetlands; additionally, there was not much development in the Green Swamp.
Commr. Parks asked how much area was approved for the approved E.R. Jahna Industries case.
Mr. McClendon replied that the expansion was 56 acres; therefore, only about four acres would have been minable. He added that as part of the existing mine, they were able to demonstrate that they met the open space for the 56 acres.
Commr. Smith asked to confirm that the mining industry had to follow the regulations of the residential industry in the Green Swamp, and Mr. McClendon replied that this was currently correct. Commissioner Smith then inquired if there was any other place in Lake County where the mining industry did not have to follow the residential requirements.
Mr. McClendon clarified that currently, every mine had to meet that open space requirement.
Commr. Smith thought that mines were needed and that it was a natural resource, but they also needed to protect the Green Swamp area of critical state concern.
Commr. Campione commented that only in the Green Swamp did they have 90 percent open space. She relayed that everyone thought the issue had been resolved, but the definition of development had changed.
Commr. Blake inquired if the roughly 6,600 acres in the Green Swamp was the Lake County portion or the complete Polk and Lake Counties portion.
Mr. McClendon said that it was Lake County only.
Mr. Mark Stephens, with The Colinas Group and a professional engineer and geologist, said that from an aerial standpoint, the Green Swamp was a large recharge area; however, from a mining standpoint, it was only a small recharge area. He displayed a map from Lake County and noted the yellow areas showing that recharge to the Floridan aquifer was zero to four inches per year, which was the lowest amount of recharge in most of Lake County, pointing out that this was in the Green Swamp area. He explained that this was because there was a fairly substantial confining unit below the surficial aquifer and above the upper Floridan aquifer. He showed an image of what the geologic cross section looked like in the Green Swamp area, noting the surficial aquifer, a confining unit, and the upper Floridan aquifer. He said that the confining unit was what governed how much water moved from the surficial aquifer down to the upper Floridan aquifer, and it did not make much difference what the permeability of the material above it was. He also clarified that the largest controlling factor was the permeability and the thickness of the confining unit; furthermore, it was clay material and the mining did not affect it.
Commr. Campione asked where the high recharge areas in the Lake Wales Ridge were.
Mr. Stephens said that the red areas on the image were the upland areas and hills, and noted that there was not much of a confining unit below the Lake Wales Ridge. He commented that the recharge in those areas could go up to 10 to 20 inches per year of recharge.
Commr. Campione asked if that was where all of the houses had been built.
Mr. Stephens confirmed this and said that it was along U.S. Highway 27.
Ms. Mouncey summarized that this process had been going on for about a year and that the applicant had gone through planning and zoning, along with the transmittal process, and had not had questions before then. She said that they were a highly regulated industry and had a significant amount of information, and that they wanted to be a partner with the County.
Commr. Blake disclosed that he had received many emails from concerned residents, and had met with the applicant. He mentioned that he did not hear that there had been issues in Polk County where the majority of the Green Swamp existed, using the rules that had been requested to be returned to in Lake County. He also pointed out that the MCUP process was the natural limitation on this, opining that it was challenging for a sand mine to be approved; furthermore, this would not change. He said that the County’s policy would affect roughly two percent of the Green Swamp which could be mined under the current setup, and he opined that mining was one of the most regulated industries. He mentioned uses of sand such as concrete buildings, and pointed out that the mining uses were there before some of the neighborhoods around them, though the Green Swamp was a different situation. He said that there was a maximum of two percent of the total acreage of the protected area that could be mined, and he opined that it was a reasonable request and that Commissioner Campione had made good points about why it came about. He relayed that he would vote in favor of it.
Commr. Shields recalled that he had campaigned on sticking with the Comp Plan and protecting the Green Swamp, and he did not understand why they would remove open space limitations from only one industry. He also thought that the County had been good to the sand mining industry, noting that they had 7,800 acres of access to the Green Swamp. He commented that while the Planning and Zoning Board and staff had indicated that this request was amicable, the BCC were the elected officials who had to answer to the constituents. He relayed that he had heard that the BCC had previously passed environmental issues to the State, and while this may be technically correct, he wanted to listen to the constituents and do what they wanted done; furthermore, individuals in his district cared about the Green Swamp and where they lived. He said that he had hoped to have testimony from the Lake County Water Authority (LCWA), and he expressed that he had learned that any detrimental effects on the Clermont Chain of Lakes would not be determined until it was too late; additionally, they would have to have a study ahead of time. He said that maintaining the water quality of the Clermont Chain of Lakes was imperative to all of the sporting events taking place in the City of Clermont, and he opined that anything that could endanger these lakes must be avoided. He expressed concerns for removing sand that filtered drinking water, and he thought that the County needed to determine where the algae blooms on Lake Minneola were coming from, noting that this lake was also used for athletes and tourism. He opined that there were too many unknowns to approve this item.
Commr. Shields made a motion to deny Tab 2, Rezoning Case # CP-19-06, Sand Mining Open Space Requirement, but the motion failed due to the lack of a second.
Commr. Parks said that he would support the motion, but he would not make the motion. He recognized that the mining industry was valuable and under a strict standard, but his opposition remained because of some significant questions that could possibly be answered with more time. He stated that it was still unclear to him about open space, noting that there were still some pristine uplands in the Green Swamp. He was unsure where those areas, wildlife corridors, and low value uplands were located, and he relayed that the County’s policy said that they shall preserve the integrity of the Green Swamp as an intact ecosystem of statewide significance by protecting its natural resources, including but not limited to hydrologic regimes, wetland and upland communities, floodplain ecological connectivity, wildlife, and aquifer recharge. He said that he still had questions regarding the total reduction of open space, noting that some open space could still be in place through buffers, though the effect on pristine uplands or uplands with value was unclear. He stated that he would not support the request until this was addressed. He thought that there were interesting comments from the mining report, and he asked if the County had an independent hydrologist on staff. He also expressed interest in possible independent review of the upland issues.
Mr. McClendon commented that the County did not have an internal hydrologist; however, they had two or three consultant groups that looked at hydrology reports as part of any mining application.
Commr. Parks asked if they had provided input on this issue, and Mr. McClendon denied this.
Commr. Smith said that he did not second the motion for denial because he still had questions. He relayed that he was currently a no vote because his questions were not answered, and he said that he wanted to talk to the LCWA. He also expressed interest in the long term effect on the Clermont Chain of Lakes.
Commr. Campione stated that if the Board was going to get into technical analysis and make a decision based on technical facts and opinions, then they needed to hear from a multitude of people. She said that the Board had received many emails, but clarified that this item was not about unrestricted mining in the Green Swamp. She said that the County had to have a way to do things legitimately according to the rules, and the rules had to be based upon facts and science. She relayed her understanding that the process of 90 percent open space across the board was never intended to be the case, and that there could possibly be some set aside, some way of assuring that pristine uplands were protected, or a percentage of the original property was kept intact and that a certain percentage of uplands would be created from the tailings. She expressed interest in having criteria, and she relayed that she had never heard of a connection between the Clermont Chain of Lakes and sand mining in the Green Swamp. She concluded that she wanted the Board to make a decision based on facts and science, and she thought that getting information from all sides was worthy of their time and attention.
Commr. Blake requested to get a definitive answer on where the majority of the Green Swamp was in Polk County, noting that Polk County was doing it this way currently and that he had not heard a complaint about it.
Commr. Smith made a motion to table Tab 2, Rezoning Case # CP-19-06, Sand Mining Open Space Requirement, for 90 days to gather more information.
Commr. Campione seconded the motion and asked the County Manager to coordinate how the Board would get this information.
Commr. Smith then amended his motion to extend the timeframe until the Board felt they had enough information to make a logical decision. He relayed that he would visit the City of Tallahassee to discuss this, along with talking to professionals, Polk County, and the sand industry.
Commr. Campione opined that if they prohibited sand mining or had rules that made it prohibitive, they would probably hear from the State and that the County may possibly have the right to make these decisions taken away.
Commr. Smith stated that he wanted to talk to DEP because they had open space suggestions, opining that the County had to protect its environment.
Commr. Parks thought that tabling the case and getting more information showed a sign of trying to be more open. He relayed that he remained opposed, but there could be some questions answered. He also recalled that some mining permits had been issued.
Commr. Blake asked if Commissioner Smith could amend his motion to make it a continuance.
Mr. McClendon said that the County had received the report from the State on January 15, 2021, and the County had effectively 180 days from that date to deny or adopt the Comp Plan amendment. He believed that the deadline was July 14, 2021 for that amendment.
Commr. Smith asked about the first BCC meeting in July 2021, and Ms. Marsh said that it was July 13, 2021.
Mr. Rosen stated that the County could possibly have their hydrologist give their opinion, and he asked if the Board could email him their questions. He also mentioned possibly setting up workshops or other meetings before July 13, 2021.
Commr. Campione inquired that if Commissioner Smith received feedback and suggestions from the State, how would the rest of the BCC receive that information.
Mr. Rosen replied that it could be written information, or the County could ask them to be part of a meeting.
Commr. Campione added that the mining industry could possibly come up with some helpful ideas.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried by a vote of 3-2, the Board continued Tab 2, Rezoning Case # CP-19-06, Sand Mining Open Space Requirement, to the July 13, 2021 BCC meeting.
Commr. Shields and Commr. Blake voted no.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman called a recess at 1:58 p.m. for eight minutes.
public hearing: vacation petiton in map of pittman
Mr. Schneider presented a public hearing for vacation petition #1258, noting that the applicants were Mr. Clinton Chapman and Ms. Sayward Chapman. He explained that the proposed vacation was located in the Altoona/City of Umatilla area, within Commission District 5, west of SR 19, south of Ravenswood Road, and north of Lake Road. He showed an aerial image and pointed out the area to be vacated, which was an unrecorded map of Pittman, to clear title so the applicants could join the property together. He added that the applicants were going to provide a quit claim deed along Ravenswood Road so that the County would officially have the right of way. He mentioned that there were no letters of support or objection, nor were there any issues with utilities. He said that the advertisement was done on January 26, 2021, and signs were posted; furthermore, staff recommended approval of this vacation request.
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. Campione and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Resolution 2021-30 to vacate an unimproved right of way in the unrecorded Map of Pittman, located west of State Road 19, south of Ravenswood Road, and north of Lake Road in the Altoona/City of Umatilla area.
public hearing: ordinance 2021-4 electronic game rooms
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, placed the proposed ordinance on the floor for reading by title only as follows:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA; CREATING ARTICLE X, CHAPTER 3, LAKE COUNTY CODE, TO BE ENTITLED ELECTRONIC GAME ROOM FACILITIES; REGULATING ELECTRONIC GAME ROOMS AND TECHNOLOGY; PROVIDING FOR LEGISLATIVE AUTHORIZATION; PROVIDING FOR DEFINITIONS; PROVIDING FOR PERMITTING, FEES, AND INSPECTIONS; PROVIDING FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY REQUIREMENTS; PROVIDING FOR ENFORCEMENT; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CODE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; PROVIDING FOR FILING WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Mr. Kelly Mathis, an attorney representing the majority of game room operators in Lake County, said that they were in favor of this ordinance and believed that it imposed appropriate and strong regulation for the game room industry. He thought that it would do much for the operators, residents, city government, and addressed the Lake County Sheriff’s concern. He commented that since this process had gone on from March 2020 through the current date, there were a number of new game rooms. He elaborated that the BCC could possibly consider addressing the cutoff date for the existing game rooms that were grandfathered in prior to the current date. He said that the BCC could back up the cutoff date from the time that the game rooms were notified that the BCC was considering this issue.
Commr. Parks stated that he would be in favor of that.
Mr. Michael Hatfield, an attorney representing the majority of game room operators in Lake County, commented that for the proposed ordinance, page four, section 3-71 used the term “conviction” in its definition section. He said that the Florida Legislature and the courts had been working for many years with the withhold of adjudication, noting that it applied to many crimes that usually were not victim-type crimes, and usually first offenders received withholds of adjudication. He elaborated that if the courts withheld adjudication, it concerned him that it was used in the context of a conviction. He suggested that the County leave out the plea language and just say “a conviction means a determination of guilt in a criminal court of competent jurisdiction,” because they were looking at when a judge made a determination. He added that on page six, subsection (d)(v)(C), he would leave out “or has had an adjudication withheld” because if it was discussing conviction, then adjudication had been withheld; additionally, withholding adjudication was not allowed in many crimes. He stated that on page seven, subsection (e)(iv) regarding denial of eligibility to an applicant who wanted to apply for a permit, line three used the word “unless” twice; furthermore, he suggested to place “or” in front of the second “unless.”
Commr. Campione said that several of these facilities came up in her district recently, and she had received calls from many property owners and business owners with concerns. She opined that the Board would be making a mistake if they allowed for more of these gambling facilities to open in the county, and she thought that other places regulating them more meant that Lake County would only see more facilities. She suggested that the Board reconsider where they were going, and to at least put a moratorium in place, or concurrently bring forward a revised ordinance that would only allow for those businesses in existence six months prior. She opined that it was not in the best interest of existing businesses to do this to the community, and she opined that she now understood the business enough to understand that it was not good for the community.
Commr. Parks said that he had similar concerns, and asked to confirm Commissioner Campione’s suggestion that the ordinance would exclude some of the new businesses.
Commr. Campione thought that the County should go back to at least three to six months, and she did not think the County got to where it needed to go with the proposed ordinance; therefore, she proposed a moratorium and for the County to figure out how they would handle what was already there.
Commr. Blake commented that a retroactive moratorium would be shutting down existing establishments, and he asked how this would work. He also inquired if the number would be capped and if the ones currently in existence would not be shut down.
Commr. Campione thought that through attrition, a way could be crafted to deal with the ones already in existence. She also opined that there had to be a period of time, and that there would be rules to govern them. She said that the County could possibly decide to leave them intact and use similar rules as in the proposed ordinance, but when they went out of business, they could not transfer it or move the business. She stated that the County could seek to have them fade away through attrition.
Mr. Mathis thought that the ordinance already did this, noting that it limited the number of permits available to those in existence, or 25, whichever was greater. He elaborated that no new permits could be issued until that number dropped to 25; therefore, it capped the number of those that operated. He also reiterated his suggestion to back up the date.
Ms. Marsh clarified that the ordinance was written such that anyone who was legally existing as of the current date could come in within the next 30 days and apply for a permit. She added that if they met the permit requirements, they would be issued the permit even if it exceeded 25 facilities. She commented that if the Board wanted to back that date up, they could potentially back it up to when they approved to advertise the ordinance one month prior; however, there was a risk to this because between that time, if someone had entered into a lease or opened a business, the County was potentially subject to being sued for a Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act or takings claims. She concluded that this was something the Board needed to be aware of if they wanted to back the date up to when they first discussed this for approval to advertise, and they made the choice to advertise a licensing ordinance rather than a moratorium.
Commr. Parks asked if there was likely a low probability of having issues if they backed it up 60 days.
Ms. Marsh reiterated that the County could potentially get sued.
Commr. Smith inquired what would happen if the Board approved this ordinance and someone came in for a permit, but did not meet the criteria of the ordinance.
Ms. Marsh explained that they would be denied if they did not meet the permit requirements, and if there were others that got approved within that 30 days, those would stay and the individual who was denied could not reapply until the number of businesses came under the 25 cap. She said that this language was not in the ordinance, but the Board could add language indicating that if they were denied within the 30 days, they could not reapply unless there were openings under the cap.
Commr. Parks asked if at the very least, the Board would have to remove the clause and give them another 30 days from the current date.
Ms. Marsh responded that if the Board enacted it today, existing businesses would have 30 days to apply.
Mr. Mathis explained that they could not open past the current date, but if they were currently open, they would have 30 days to file.
Ms. Marsh said that if only 20 facilities were approved after the initial 30 days, then five new ones could apply to reach the 25 cap.
Commr. Blake said that he did not want to get involved in limiting competition.
Commr. Campione opined that there was a lot going on that she did not think was conducive to the business environment that the County wanted. She expressed concerns for keeping this door open, and said that she did not even like the idea of 25 businesses; however, she knew that they had to work around having some businesses in place. She thought that the County could concurrently go down the road of a moratorium while they worked out the details of what they would do with the businesses already there. She added that then the facilities would be on notice that a moratorium was coming.
Commr. Parks commented that it could be said that there would not be any more establishments than what was there as of the current date, and as a facility went out of business, it would essentially be one less.
Commr. Campione added that an additional fee could also be considered, opining that there should be something more substantial and representative of the impact they had on the County’s resources.
Mr. Mathias noted that the BCC had full authority to establish the fees.
Commr. Smith asked if Commissioner Campione was looking at facilities that were currently unregulated, noting that the point of the ordinance was to regulate it and clean up what the businesses did so that someone who was a legitimate business owner could have a place for people to go. He relayed his understanding that if the Board passed this ordinance, all of those businesses would have to obtain a permit and follow the rules. He opined that the hope would be that they would have 25 great facilities.
Commr. Parks said that the Board could be limiting the number to no more than 25 ever.
Mr. Mathias relayed that there could be more than 25 existing businesses but then they all had to operate according to the ordinance, and if they did not, the County would have additional enforcement powers and ways to make them come in to compliance.
Commr. Parks inquired if there would be more than 25 currently.
Mr. Mathias relayed that he had heard that this was correct and that there had been a number of facilities that had opened recently. He commented that the ordinance would shut the door as of the current day, and the number would never exceed what was existing currently. He said that if the Board did nothing, then there could be more that opened, and he reiterated that the ordinance would require everyone to get their applications filed and operate under these strict regulations.
Commr. Campione recommended that if the Board was going to adopt this, to include at least a $20,000 annual fee that these businesses would have to pay in order to operate. She also suggested to consider what other communities were doing that allowed them, and also how many communities were not allowing them.
Commr. Parks asked if the fee could be taken up separately from the ordinance.
Ms. Marsh replied that it was not in the ordinance and would come back as a fee resolution; additionally, if this passed on the current day, the County would likely start receiving applications on the following day. She suggested that if the Board wanted a specific fee, to include it as part of their motion so that the County could charge it in the meantime while they brought back the fee resolution.
Commr. Smith asked what other industries the County charged a fee to, and Ms. Marsh relayed her understanding that there was not an industry that the County charged a fee to.
Commr. Parks questioned what could be done to limit it to 25 facilities.
Ms. Marsh said that they could limit it to 25, but if there were more than 25 existing, the County faced the possibility of being sued for a takings or a Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act claim.
Commr. Blake stated that if the Board was going to go with a number of permits, they could possibly make it based on population, similar to the liquor license.
Commr. Smith opined that there would be some facilities that would not be able to comply with the ordinance and would drop out by attrition; additionally, once the county got down to 25, it would never go above it.
Ms. Marsh suggested that the Board could also take out the restrictions on transfers, noting that currently, it would allow them to transfer to another entity or location. She said that if no transfers were allowed, and if a lease was up and the landlord did not want to renew, then this would also make them go away.
Commr. Shields agreed with Commissioner Smith that the Board should not penalize business owners.
Commr. Parks said that the Board could take out the restrictions on transfers and pass the ordinance on the current date.
Ms. Marsh commented that it could also be changed to “transfer of licenses is not permitted.”
Commr. Parks remarked that they could also enact the $20,000 fee as part of a change to the ordinance.
Commr. Smith remarked that he did not agree with the $20,000 fee and asked if it would be annual or a onetime fee. He questioned what other businesses were charged to do business in the county, opining that it was anti-business.
Commr. Campione opined that it would be anti-business if other businesses were impacted by creating issues for them.
Commr. Smith agreed but thought that this was why this regulation was being done.
Commr. Shields supported bringing up a punitive filing fee at a later date, and to get regulations on the books and get it cleaned up. He opined that if it did not get cleaned up, then the County could shut them down. He thought that it was discussed at the previous BCC meeting that the County had the ability to shut down an industry at some point.
Ms. Marsh explained that the Board could come back at some point and prohibit them for new uses, noting that the existing ones would stay and eventually phase out.
Commr. Shields said that the Board could also add new regulations, and he supported first trying to see if they could solve the issue.
Ms. Marsh mentioned that there was a revocation provision in the ordinance so that if a facility violated any provision of the ordinance, the County could revoke their license.
Commr. Campione asked if the County had the resources to enforce this from a code enforcement standpoint.
Ms. Marsh deferred this to staff but commented that it could also be enforced by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO).
Commr. Campione said that the LCSO had asked the County to prohibit them altogether, and the LCSO was asking the County to help and not cost them more funding. She opined that this was another reason why they had to be charged $20,000 per year to have this business that tended to result in quite a lot of criminal activity.
Commr. Shields stated that it would be unregulated until the ordinance was passed, and opined that the goal line was being moved.
Commr. Campione mentioned that it would take some manpower to stay on top of it and to revoke their permit, and she expressed a concern that this was not being considered. She stated that she had not known much about this issue, and she started doing research and receiving input from businesses in areas where new game room facilities were appearing; furthermore, the businesses were all concerned. She hoped that regulating the facilities would address this, but noted there was a cost to regulating this, along with there being the stigma of a gambling facility.
Commr. Smith asked to confirm that if the Board found the ordinance to be ineffective, they could add an annual fee for everybody at a later date, and Ms. Marsh said this was correct.
Commr. Parks asked that if the Board passed the ordinance today with no transfers, could they come back in six months to further reduce the number from 25.
Ms. Marsh explained that the Board could always amend the ordinance; however, if they were going to impact legally existing businesses, then this was where they had a greater risk. She mentioned that there was a penalty section, and that they could increase the penalties for violations.
Commr. Parks suggested to do something on the current day, and he thought that moving forward with the ordinance and adding in that there would be no transfers permitted was a good place to start.
Ms. Marsh asked what he would like to do about the adjudication withheld. She said that it was currently under the definition of conviction, so if a facility provided a background check with adjudication withheld, they would not qualify. She added that if the Board removed adjudication withheld and left it as a true conviction, then facilities could have a number of adjudications withheld and it would not prevent them from receiving a license.
Commr. Smith commented that many viable businesses had an owner that had been convicted of a crime from a past issue.
Commr. Campione opined that it was fine in certain situations, but possibly was not a good idea in other situations; furthermore, that was why this was included in this particular ordinance.
Commr. Parks recommended to leave the definition as it was.
Mr. Mathias opined that there should be a permit fee for the initial application.
Commr. Campione asked if he could give an idea of what permit fees he had seen.
Mr. Mathias relayed that he had usually seen about $2,500 for the initial permit fee and $50 per machine for the annual renewal fee. He opined that $20,000 was high.
Commr. Campione inquired if Orange County allowed these facilities, and Mr. Mathias replied that they did not have an ordinance one way or the other. Commissioner Campione then asked about Polk County.
Ms. Marsh believed that Polk County had recently prohibited them.
Mr. Rosen said that if the Board set a fee at the current time, staff could always perform an analysis to look at other counties that had a fee to see what made sense for Lake County. He added that if there was a significant amount of work associated with it, this could also be analyzed and staff could recommend changes in fees.
Commr. Parks proposed to take a vote on the current ordinance with the changes and then to possibly take up the fee itself, which he would support being $20,000; furthermore, they could change it in a month.
Mr. Rosen asked that if the fee was set at $20,000 and many people paid it, and then the County decided that it should only be $2,500, would they refund the additional amount to be fair.
Commr. Parks thought in that case, there would be a refund.
Commr. Campione inquired if input had been received from the Lake County Sheriff about this version of the ordinance.
Commr. Parks said that he had talked to the Sheriff a few times about it, and the Sheriff wanted this to be regulated. He was unsure if specific input had been received about a few of the last changes, but the Sheriff was supportive of having regulations in place and making it more challenging for facilities to open. He mentioned that it had been an issue and that the Four Corners area was getting calls for service.
Commr. Campione relayed that the County was always hearing that the Sheriff did not have enough deputies on the street, and she expressed a concern for compounding this situation.
Mr. Rosen said that the only other thought he had would be a moratorium for a month to conduct an analysis for the fees, then come back and discuss it.
Ms. Marsh clarified that legally, it would take more than a month to get a moratorium in place due to requiring two public hearings; additionally, they would have to take it to the Planning and Zoning Board meeting in April 2021. She said that the BCC could also make a decision to bypass the Planning and Zoning Board if they wanted it done more quickly; furthermore, a moratorium could be advertised for the first BCC meeting in March 2021 with adoption for the second meeting in March 2021.
Commr. Parks noted that this could open the door for more facilities, and he opined that this was why the Board needed to pass the ordinance.
Commr. Campione supported setting the fee high, noting that the Board could always reduce it. She said that she was unsure about voting no on the ordinance because she wanted something more stringent, or voting yes because it was at least regulating, noting that there were no regulations currently.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Shields, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried by a vote of 3-2, the Board approved Ordinance 2021-4 creating Article X, Chapter 3, Lake County Code, to be entitled Electronic Game Room Facilities, with the modification for there to be no transfers.
Commr. Campione and Commr. Blake voted no.
Commr. Parks said that the Board could take up the fee now and that it could be $20,000.
Commr. Campione made a motion to charge a $20,000 fee to these businesses to help offset the cost of ongoing code enforcement and enhanced law enforcement needs.
Commr. Parks passed the gavel to Commissioner Smith and seconded the motion.
Mr. Rosen asked if this was an annual fee or a one-time application fee.
Mr. Mathias noted that they could do an initial application fee and later decide was the renewal fee was.
Commr. Campione thought that it should be annual, but if there was a chance to get the votes to pass it, she would go with an initial fee of $20,000, along with an annual fee of $2,500.
Commr. Shields opined that this was a good compromise.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried by a vote of 3-2, the Board approved to charge an initial $20,000 fee to these businesses to help offset the cost of ongoing code enforcement and enhanced law enforcement needs, along with an annual fee of $2,500.
Commr. Smith and Commr. Blake voted no.
Commr. Smith then passed the gavel back to Commissioner Parks.
update on legislative items
Mr. Rosen said that staff was going to come back to the BCC on March 9, 2021 with a midseason update on the legislative items that would impact Lake County, and also to get some direction from the BCC for how they would like staff to work on those items.
commissioner shields – district 1
Four corners items
Commr. Shields mentioned that he had some action items regarding what the County was going to do about Four Corners and how to move forward with the constituents there. He asked for the other Commissioners’ thoughts on how to move things forward with a group that was possibly not being represented well.
Commr. Parks suggested that the Board could do a workshop or meeting there and have a presentation to ask on follow up for action items including the following: lighting that FDOT had promised; connectivity with sidewalks; and commercial design standards that the County implemented. He noted that residents could also provide input to the Board.
Commr. Smith relayed that the Board members all had great ideas for a workshop that had not been brought up and that could not be discussed unless they were in a public meeting. He proposed possibly setting some time once per month in BCC meetings to review items, or to have a special meeting. He also liked the idea of having a meeting in the Four Corners area, and he proposed also possibly having meetings in Altoona or Astor.
Commr. Campione said that the County had a Four Corners meeting at Cagan Crossings, along with a joint meeting with the City of Clermont. She said that there could possibly be a workshop, noting that it was nice to not have as much pressure, and to be able to brainstorm and discuss items.
Commr. Shields relayed that it was about a list of items to get solved and the plan to address them.
Commr. Campione noted that Four Corners was not a municipality, and in order to have those things, there would almost have to be another layer of government there, noting that it cost more for items such as recreation centers. She added that a taxing unit was a possibility if the community wanted it.
Commr. Parks stated that the Board could do a workshop in Four Corners, and he relayed his understanding that there was a plan to allocate workshop time. He questioned if the Board wanted to do it at a regular meeting or in-between.
The Board relayed consensus for doing it in-between regular meetings.
Commr. Parks stated that he was amicable with this and said that he and Mr. Rosen would start discussing this. He wanted to make sure that the Board had plenty of time to discuss ideas.
Commr. Shields thought that a workshop with the Board would be perfect.
COMMISSIONER BLAKE – DISTRICT 5
LEAGUE OF CITIES COVID-19 UPDATE
Commr. Blake thanked Mr. Kissler, Mr. Brandon Matulka, Executive Director for the Agency for Economic Prosperity, and Mr. Carpenter for presenting a COVID-19 update at the last League of Cities luncheon.
thanking mr. alan rosen
Commr. Blake thanked Mr. Rosen for meeting with him in Commission District 5.
providing book to commissioners
Commr. Blake recalled that he had mentioned a book at the Board retreat when they were discussing some zoning changes; furthermore, he indicated that he would provide this book to each Commissioner.
commissioner parks – Chairman and district 2
THANKING STAFF FOR VACCINE DISTRIBUTION
Commr. Parks thanked staff for everything they were doing with vaccine distribution.
FOLLOW UP TO BOARD RETREAT
Commr. Parks commented that the BCC would follow up on the Board retreat and have workshops.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 3:04 p.m.
SEAN PARKS, chairman
GARY J COONEY, CLERK