A regular MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
march 9, 2021
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, March 9, 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 Kathleen Bregel, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION and pledge
Commr. Parks remarked that the Pledge of Allegiance would be led by Mr. Steven Cates, landfill attendant with the Public Works Department, who served in the United States (U.S.) Army from 1985 until he retired in 2005 as a Staff Sergeant. He relayed that Mr. Cates was an Avenger Section Leader for the 3rd Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery; additionally, he was a graduate of the U.S. Army Airborne School, the U.S. Army Air Assault School and the U.S. Army Ranger School. He shared that throughout his career Mr. Cates completed one tour to Kosovo, two combat tours to Iraq, and was the recipient of one Meritorious Service Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, nine Army Achievement Medals and six Good Conduct Medals. He thanked Mr. Cates for his service.
Commissioner Blake gave the Invocation, and then Mr. Cates led the Pledge of Allegiance.
virtual meeting instructions
Commr. Parks mentioned that this meeting was a hybrid meeting which was a combination of an in-person meeting and one which allowed individuals to participate virtually. He asked for Mr. Erikk Ross, Director for the Information Technology (IT) Department, to explain how citizens who were listening remotely could participate.
Mr. Ross explained that this meeting was being livestreamed on the County website and was also being made available through a Zoom Webinar for members of the public who were unable to attend in person but 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 speak during the Citizen Question and Comment Period of 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 then identify the person or their phone number, unmute the appropriate line, and allow the citizen to speak for their three minute timeframe. He added that anyone wishing to provide written comments could visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/commissionmeeting, noting that comments presented before 5:00 p.m. the previous day were shared with the Commission prior to this meeting, and that comments sent during this meeting would be shared with the Commission after the meeting was concluded.
Mr. Alan Rosen, County Manager, relayed the following changes to the agenda: for Tab 4, the fiscal impact for the grant had changed from $110,000 to $59,100, noting that an additional attachment for this change had been provided; Tab 21 would be postponed until one of the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meetings in April 2021; for Tab 24, a letter from the City of Groveland reflecting changes to their proposed Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) expansion had been provided to the BCC; and for Tab 28, an update was made to the Lake May Reserve agenda item requesting direction from the Board on the terms of the proposed interlocal agreement from the City of Eustis, noting that Commissioner Campione’s comments had also been provided as an attachment to this agenda item.
Ms. Jeannine Nelson, Human Resources and Risk Management Manager, announced that they would be recognizing employees who had reached service milestones in their careers with Lake County as follows:
Tony Ellis, Office Associate V
Public Works Department
Kieran Johnson, Probation Officer
Office of County Probation
Larry Martin, Database 911 Specialist
Office of Public Safety Support
Raywattie Neura, Program Associate
Office of Housing & Human Services
Elisa Vancise, Library Assistant I
Office of Library Services
Richard Marino, Equipment Operator I
Public Works Department
Niki Booth, Executive Office Manager
County Manager’s Office
Susan Carroll, Senior GIS Business Analyst
Information Technology Department
Janie Barron, Senior Planner
Office of Planning & Zoning
Rebecca Brown, Records Management Technician
Information Technology Department
Linda Goff, Program Specialist
Office of Library Services
Christopher Hicks, EO IV/Team Leader
Public Works Department
Mary Harris, Impact Fee Associate
Office of Planning & Zoning
Richard Varner, Financial Coordinator
Office of Management & Budget
Mr. Tommy Carpenter, Director for the Office of Emergency Management, provided an update on the vaccination site located at the former Sears at the Lake Square Mall which opened on January 27, 2021 as follows: since opening through the previous day, they had provided 46,908 vaccination shots, noting this was first and second doses; they averaged 1,536 shots per day; the previous day was record setting with 2,870 shots being administered, noting this was first and second shots; and during the busiest time on the previous day, they saw 1,100 people in a two hour timeframe, which would be an average of 550 people in an hour. He indicated that in comparison to Orange County which was averaging 2,500 to 3,000 per day in a twelve hour timeframe, Lake County had administered these numbers within a seven hour timeframe. He acknowledged Mr. Derek Smith, with the Office of Emergency Management, and Ms. Megan Milanese, with the Department of Health (DOH) for their leadership and management at the site; additionally, he thanked the County staff and community volunteers such as Mr. Ross and his IT staff, Mr. Levar Cooper, Director for the Office of Communications, municipal fire services, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO), and Mr. David Jordan, Lake County Tax Collector, for providing staff volunteers. He expressed appreciation to everyone at the Lake County site for their great efforts, and for working together as a team.
Commr. Smith opined that was a fantastic job to service 550 people in an hour.
Mr. Aaron Kissler, Administrator/Director/Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Lake County, indicated that the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases had been decreasing and were below 100; furthermore, the county’s positivity rate was averaging around five percent. He displayed a map depicting the percentage of seniors who had been vaccinated within various counties in the State of Florida, and noted that Lake County was up to 62 percent as of this day and was the highest in the Central Florida area. He reported that they had administered 78,000 vaccines so far in Lake County, and indicated that was going well. He then relayed that there were three Executive Orders coming from the Florida Governor’s Office, and stated that one would be effective the coming Monday which would drop the age range eligibility for the vaccine to 60 years of age, noting this also included teachers who were 50 years of age and older, firefighters and first responders. He shared that in addition to administering shots at the Sears site, there were several African-American churches in the City of Leesburg who would be meeting at the community center to receive their vaccinations, the DOH would be doing second doses at the Amazon and St. Patrick Catholic Church sites, and they would be holding some closed points of dispensing (PODs) across the county at various areas where the vaccination rate might be lower. He stated that they were distributing the vaccines as soon as they received them, and that more pharmacies were coming online with the vaccine which would continue to increase over the next few weeks and help the DOH efforts. He mentioned that they had a great event the previous week providing vaccinations to over 200 public school teachers. He acknowledged that the key to their success in getting so many vaccinated was due to the partners in the community, volunteers, and different organizations getting people together and spreading the word.
Commr. Shields inquired about the popup location in the Four Corners area, and thanked Mr. Kissler’s team for doing this.
Mr. Kissler explained that they had gone to a church in the area and would be visiting additional ones. He relayed that they had some groups in that area who were interested in having a vaccination event but that the DOH had not been able to hold the event yet; therefore, they scheduled a special closed POD for these groups at the Amazon location. He stated that the DOH was willing to hold special PODs with any groups that were in Lake County as it was a good way to know how many people might be attending and could help with anyone hesitant about the vaccine since they would be working with people they trusted.
Commr. Parks thanked everyone, and opined what an amazing job these teams were doing. He relayed his understanding that some people were still concerned about when they could get their vaccine, but reiterated that the lack of supply of the vaccine was the issue. He encouraged people who were able to volunteer.
On a motion by Commr. Blake, seconded by Commr. Campione, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the minutes for the BCC meetings of November 17, 2020 (Regular Meeting) and December 1, 2020 (Special Meeting).
commissioners board and committee updates
Commr. Parks explained that this was a new section to the BCC meetings and was added in order to show the residents that there were many volunteer committees that they would be eligible to participate in which dealt with a variety of issues and showed how the local government functioned. He elaborated that these committees typically had a County Commissioner who served as a liaison or Chairperson for them. He mentioned that many of these committees had been around for 20 to 30 years, and focused on different issues throughout the county. He mentioned this was an opportunity for the Commissioners to provide an update on the committees they represented and what they were doing for the community.
Commr. Shields mentioned that he attended the Elder Affairs Coordinating Council subcommittee, noting that they were attempting to get back on track due to the fact there were not as many meetings due to COVID-19. He relayed that Ms. Jo-Anne Drury, Deputy County Manager, would be participating in their next meeting.
Commr. Smith reported on the Lake County Library System Advisory Board, and said that it was interesting to see all that the libraries had done during this pandemic. He commented that libraries were a huge economic impact for the community, and provided a lot of support to the community. He mentioned that since it was his first time in attendance he was learning, but opined it was a great event.
Commr. Campione relayed that the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee had a meeting February 10, 2021 with one of their goals to perform outreach to municipalities in order to collaborate with them on affordable housing strategies. She indicated that they would be sending a letter to each municipality asking them to appoint a representative to attend the next Affordable Housing Advisory Committee meeting at the end of the month and possibly additional meetings moving forward. She said there was a list of things they had asked the municipalities in regards to which strategies they might already be using. She asked the BCC Chairman to encourage municipality participation since there had not been a lot of feedback in prior attempts to do this. She indicated that they were attempting to get everyone together in order to see what was working and to brainstorm together, noting that most of the County’s policies for affordable housing could only go so far because most of the development activity was happening within the municipalities; furthermore, she opined that with some of the things the County had in place that could help, unless they were working together, it sort of stopped with a County policy and did not get put into action in a way that would address the issue. She mentioned that there were other groups working on affordable housing, noting that both Commissioners Parks and Blake were a part of a group. She expressed a desire to bring everyone together in order to look at the big picture, see what was working and what was not, and assist each other in this mission to address affordability of housing in Lake County, in particular workforce housing. She remarked that there was an Arts and Cultural Alliance meeting the previous day, and that she was considering having the Office of Visit Lake representative present on some of the things going on in the realm of arts and cultural affairs. She reported that there was an Orlando Economic Partnership (OEP) Board meeting on May 5, 2021, and that she thought it would be good to have Mr. Tim Giuliani, President and Chief Executive Officer of OEP, present on their strategies as it would be beneficial to the BCC as they began to workshop the County’s economic development plan. She recalled that in the past, the County had relied a lot on the Metro-Orlando Economic Development Group, now OEP, to do Lake County’s business development and outreach on a state and national level; however, she thought since Lake County was currently doing more in-house, it would be helpful for the Board to see how all that fit together.
Commr. Blake reported that the Children’s Services Council voted at their last meeting to start meeting quarterly with subcommittees that would meet on an ad hoc basis as issues came up. He relayed that the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) had drafted a letter as a result of the City of Winter Garden road situation, noting that he had made a small modification to the letter to make sure they were aware that the Lake-Sumter MPO unanimously opposed the action and agreed with Lake County’s position. He relayed that he was also on the Medical Examiner’s Office Oversight Committee for the first time this year, and explained that is was a six county organization that included Lake, Marion, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando and Seminole Counties. He elaborated that this group shared a medical examiner and that her office and the morgue was on Pine Street in the City of Leesburg next to the Leesburg Regional Medical Center (LRMC). He indicated that all of the Counties shared the cost, although roughly 30 percent of the business they did was for Lake County; therefore, they tried to divide the funding responsibility on that basis. He wanted to make the Board aware that at the annual meeting the previous week in the City of Ocala, the medical examiner made the committee aware that she desired to have a new building, noting that while Marion County was the administrator, Lake County owned the building. He reported that this would be a $12 million expense and that Sumter and Marion Counties had indicated that they could not afford their share of that; furthermore, he said it was in the beginning stages and believed that amount would probably come down. He said that because Lake County owned the building, when it came time for the County to contribute 30 percent of whatever the final expense was, then one option might be to sell that real estate to offset the County’s contribution. He stated that the medical examiner preferred to stay in the City of Leesburg area since it was centrally located to the five counties she covered.
Commr. Campione added to the MPO report and mentioned that there were some leaders from the Golden-Triangle municipalities in the meeting, and that there was unanimous support and approval for the resolution to attempt to obtain the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant for the Wekiva Trail. She remarked that another item at the MPO meeting was that they had received information in regards to the amount of funding they would receive for various projects that they had been waiting on funding for. She opined there was a lot of good news at the MPO meeting in regards to transportation funding on countywide projects.
Commr. Blake added that five construction projects were funded, which he opined was great.
Commr. Parks explained that he represented Lake County on the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX), noting that the county had one CFX facility with another future one planned in South Lake for Lake County and the reason they had representation on that Board. He displayed a slide depicting the estimated versus actual budget numbers for CFX, and pointed out that their fiscal health was at 185 percent net revenues after debt service for fiscal year (FY) 2021 year-to-date percentage variance. He opined that this was good fiscal health for the whole agency which included multiple counties, including Brevard, Lake, Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties. He showed a graph which indicated that actual toll revenues were well ahead of projected revenues, even with the drop-off due to COVID-19. He reported that they had 864 days of cash on hand in reserves which meant they had approximately two years of cash on hand to be able to operate if something happened. He mentioned that there were a few challenges with the contact center during COVID-19 in which the average speed to answer (ASA) increased, noting this was due to only having 50 percent of the staff in the facility and technology challenges for trying to do this at home. He reported that new E-PASS accounts were increasing, that staff was coming back on board to reduce the ASA, and that AllianceOne was a vendor coming on board to assist with the ASA process. He shared that there were several automated self-help options that could be used to pay tolls such as the E-PASS toll phone application, paying online, or using the automated phones support number. He relayed that the use of change machines on toll roads was being phased out and converted to reload lanes, and that people could also reload their accounts using vending machines or the mobile application. He explained that the biggest current CFX project was the State Road (SR) 417 widening at John Young Parkway to Landstar Boulevard due to a 136 percent increase depicted in the 5-Year traffic growth. He also reported that a speed study was performed on a portion of SR 408 from Kirkman Road to Chickasaw Trail which indicated that the speed limit on this segment needed to be raised from 55 miles per hour (mph) to 60 mph as data indicated that the lower speed could possibly be causing accidents.
Commr. Shields inquired how people coming out of town would be able to use the toll roads if the change lanes were no longer in operation.
Commr. Parks responded that there was a visitor pass that could be obtained for those renting a car at the airport which was cheaper than playing by plate for the rental car; additionally, he thought the visitor pass could also be purchased at the reload lanes. He relayed that the E-PASS transponders could also be used at many places around the country, noting that CFX had been working on interoperability agreements for several years.
citizen question and comment period
Ms. Jane Hepting, a City of Eustis resident, asked the BCC to oppose Florida House Bill 257 which proposed to end the North Lake County Hospital District (NLCHD).
Ms. Mary Kay Rosinski, a former NLCHD member, asked for the BCC to draft a resolution in opposition to Florida House Bill 257, and to assist with communicating to citizens how the NLCHD helped those in the community.
Ms. Christi Susewitt, a concerned citizen, asked for the BCC to compose a resolution opposing House Bill 257 on the basis that the economic impact statement certification form signed by the NLCHD treasurer contained material omissions regarding the economic impact to both individuals and businesses within north Lake County.
Mr. Vincent Niemiec, a City of Clermont resident, thanked Commissioner Parks and the Lake County Public Works Department for their quick action to address a safety issue at the intersection of Hartwood Marsh Road and Hancock Road in the City of Clermont. He also discussed illegal U-turns exiting out of a large parking lot onto Hartwood Marsh Road, and asked for the County’s assistance with this issue.
Commr. Parks thanked Mr. Niemiec for being a part of this, and said that they would work with him and the City of Clermont as best they could in order to make these issues better with the long term goal to make Hartwood Marsh Road in that section widened.
Honorable Carey Baker, Lake County Property Appraiser, relayed that he was speaking on behalf of the Lake County Historical Society Museum. He shared that the museum had been given the opportunity to receive a smaller version of the Mary Bethune statue which was being placed in National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.
Commr. Parks thanked Mr. Baker for reaching out to him regarding this, and relayed that he had reached out to a couple of ministers of predominantly African-American churches to make sure they would be involved with this.
CLERK OF the Circuit COURT and comptroller’s CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Consent Agenda, Items 1 and 2, 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.
Lake County Semi-Annual Investment Report
Request to acknowledge receipt of Lake County’s Semi-Annual Investment Report of December 31, 2020.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
Commr. Campione asked to pull Tab 11 and Commissioner Blake asked to pull Tab 9.
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 3 through 17, pulling Tabs 9 and 11, as follows:
Request approval of Proclamation 2021-42 designating April 4-10, 2021 as National Library Week in Lake County. There is no fiscal impact.
Management and Budget
Request approval to apply for the Bureau of Justice Assistance Fiscal Year 2020 State Alien Assistance Program Grant. The estimated fiscal impact is $59,100 (Revenue).
HUMAN RESOURCES AND RISK MANAGEMENT
Request approval to advertise an Ordinance creating Section 2-42, Lake County Code, to be entitled Criminal History Checks. The current fiscal impact is approximately $5,000.00 (expenditure); however, due to enhanced fingerprint scanning capabilities and a more comprehensive background screening package, the 2021 fiscal impact will be approximately $7,500.00 (expenditure).
PUBLIC SAFETY AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
Request approval to apply for the 2020 Federal Emergency Management Agency's Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. The total fiscal impact for staffing over three years is $573,012.27 (revenue/expenditure - 100% grant funded) and $16,500 (expenditure) for gear and uniforms.
Request approval of six new firefighter positions for the Office of Fire Rescue for staffing of Fire Station 56 in Fruitland Park. The estimated Fiscal Year 2021 impact is $225,493.47 (expenditure) and has been identified in the existing Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
Request approval to utilize Florida Sheriff Association Contract FSA20-VEL28.0 to purchase a command vehicle pickup truck from Duval Ford (Jacksonville, FL) for the Office of Fire Rescue. The fiscal impact is $39,083.00 (expenditure) and is within Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
PUBLIC SERVICES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Request approval of Contract 21-0430 with Greenway Electrical Services, LLC (Apopka, FL) for the Lake County Courthouse electrical upgrades. The fiscal impact is $45,404.00 (expenditure) and is within, and will not exceed, the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. Commission District 3.
Housing and Human Services
1. To apply for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Community Development Block Grant - Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) program. The fiscal impact is $653,511.00 (expenditure - 100% grant funded).
2. Of supporting Resolution 2021-43 authorizing the County Manager to execute the grant application, amendments, and other documents related to the application for CDBG-CV funds.
Request approval and authorization for the Chairman to sign the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Sub-recipient Contract with the City of Leesburg for the construction of the Leesburg Teen Enrichment Center. The fiscal impact is not to exceed $820,000.88 (expenditure - 100% grant funded). Commission District 1.
Request approval of Contract 20-0919B with Raynor Shine Services, LLC (Apopka, FL) for vegetative debris grinding and disposal services. There is no fiscal impact.
1. Of Contracts 21-0705 for agricultural chemicals with Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC (Mount Dora, FL) and Nutrien Ag Solutions (Haines City, FL).
2. To authorize the Office of Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation.
The fiscal impact is $60,000.00 (expenditure) and is within, and will not exceed, the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
Request approval to accept the final plat for Serenoa Lakes Phase 1 and all areas dedicated to the public as shown on the Serenoa Lakes Phase 1 final plat, located near Clermont. The fiscal impact is $1,551.00 (revenue - final plat application fee). Commission District 1.
Request approval of Resolution 2021-44 designating certain County maintained roads within the Astor community as appropriate for the operation of golf carts. The fiscal impact is estimated at $1,150.00 (expenditure) for sign materials and is within, and will not exceed, the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. Commission District 5.
TAb 9 planning and zoning fee schedule
Commr. Blake mentioned that this agenda item was a fee related to the gambling facilities discussed at the previous BCC meeting, noting that he would be voting against it since it was a new fee.
Commr. Campione relayed her desire for the fee to be higher, and for it to be an annual fee rather than merely a one-time fee. She commented that the Board could revisit this in the future once they saw how the initial fee worked out, how the gambling businesses currently in business responded, whether these businesses would move forward, and what type of law enforcement might still be needed with the added requirements to demonstrate that these facilities would be good members of the community. She reiterated that the Board could revisit this annual fee once they discovered if they had to pay the LCSO considerably more to address issues with these facilities in order to make sure that costs involved were being covered.
Commr. Shields recalled that the Board had previously decided to revisit the entire process the coming summer.
Commr. Smith clarified that there was currently a proposed annual fee of $2,500, and that he thought it was a good idea to wait and see what the actual cost might be and to adjust from that point.
Commr. Parks explained that at the previous BCC meeting, they had enacted an ordinance to regulate simulated internet gambling cafes due to the concern for public safety, in cooperation with the LCSO. He recalled that through this ordinance, the County would charge a fee to the licensor, noting that there would be a limit of only 25 licenses countywide on those establishments, a $20,000 first time registration fee, and a $2,500 fee per year to register. He indicated that the current Board discussion was in regards to how much that fee should be, noting that the Board would reevaluate in the coming summer.
Commr. Campione remarked that there were two issues, one being the issue relating to law enforcement and the pressure placed on them; additionally, the second issue was how this might affect the surrounding business community and businesses which were already in place. She commented that the added law enforcement needs could potentially address this if there was sufficient funding. She relayed that she was undecided yet whether to vote in favor of the fee schedule because she thought it should be more; therefore, if she did not vote in favor of it, it was simply because she thought it should be a higher fee.
Commr. Blake thought the $20,000 fee was excessive; additionally, he relayed that lobbyists from the industry came to the previous BCC meeting and asked the Board to limit the number of businesses. He expressed concerns that a $20,000 fee in conjunction with the cap on the number of facilities made it difficult for a “mom and pop” type of place to come in, in theory he said; furthermore, he opined that by setting the fee so high, it was ensuring that this would bring in corporate facilities who could afford lobbyists and who could come and ask for ordinances that outlawed their competition. He explained that this was the reason for his opposition.
Commr. Campione expressed appreciation for Commissioner Blake’s comments; however, she opined this was an unusual set of circumstances as it was not the typical business competition in this situation.
Commr. Parks said this had become a more urgent issue since a lot of the surrounding counties had already prohibited it, noting this potentially made Lake County the place to go for these businesses.
Commr. Smith thought it was prudent for the Board to at least see how this ordinance worked out and then adjust as needed.
Commr. Parks reiterated that they would review it during the coming summer months.
On a motion by Commr. Shields, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried by a vote of 3-2, the Board approved Resolution 2021-31 adopting the revised fiscal year 2021 Planning and Zoning Fee Schedule, Exhibit N.
Commr. Campione and Commr. Blake voted no.
Tab 11 agreements for fire station 39 utility connection
Commr. Campione explained that this agenda item pertained to the fire station in the Sorrento area which was adjacent to the East Lake Community Park and the Sorrento Elementary School. She elaborated that there was a requirement from the City of Eustis that in order to connect to their water service, the County would have to sign an annexation agreement despite the fact that the city limits were many miles away and the school board had not signed an annexation agreement for the elementary school. She indicated that the County had not signed an annexation agreement on their prior connection for restroom facilities nor the concession stand facilities; therefore, she felt that the Board should explore this more prior to signing an annexation agreement. She relayed that the RedTail community was almost adjacent to the County park and the land that had been purchased to add on to the park; additionally, she had heard from concerned RedTail residents who saw this as a potential opening to something that might have a negative impact on them. She asked that the Board pull this item at this time and not proceed, noting that it would not delay the construction of the fire station as that could continue. She reported that the Board had about two to three months before a final decision on this would need to be made, which she said would give the County a chance to explore other options, such as if the City would agree to remove the annexation requirement or the County could explore the possibility of another water source.
Commr. Smith asked if Commissioner Campione was asking for this item to be tabled, and she confirmed that was correct.
Commr. Campione then made a motion to table Tab 11 and asked if the County Manager had a timeframe for this.
Mr. Rosen relayed that he had seen emails regarding the timing of when a decision would need to be made on this item. He asked for Mr. Wes Jones, Director for the Office of Facilities Management, for his input on the date.
Mr. Jones reported that the substantial completion for this project was scheduled for January 2022; therefore, those connections would not need to happen until near the end of the project. He indicated that there was enough time to research this in order to address any questions.
Mr. Rosen inquired that if it was changed so that construction needed to be for well and septic, would that have an impact closer to that timeline since it might affect how to build the building based on the connection.
Mr. Jones replied that was a good question. He indicated that the drawings showed them tapping into the existing sewer line for the park itself before the County lift station so he was unsure how that would impact the sewer requirements from the City. He explained that if they decided to do a well, then it would be a fairly quick turnaround and would go to the engineer who could design it fairly quickly.
Mr. Rosen suggested postponing for about two months while attempting to address with the hopes to figure it out by then, noting that they could always postpone again if needed.
Commr. Campione suggested to postpone to August 1, 2021.
Mr. Jones remarked that if they could make decisions before the end of the fiscal year, such as August or September 2021, then that would give enough time to make changes.
Mr. Rosen indicated they could postpone until the first BCC meeting in August 2021.
Commr. Parks mentioned that there was a little bit of difficulty for a sewer connection in that area due to it being in the Wekiva Basin and study area; therefore, he thought it was required to connect to utilities in that area.
Commr. Campione said she was aware of that; however, she thought it was worth exploring as there might be other options instead of signing an agreement which was not necessarily in the best interest of everyone.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board voted to postpone Tab 11, the request from the Office of Facilities Management for approval of a developer’s agreement and an annexation agreement with the City of Eustis required for utility connection to Fire Station 39 located at 24815 Wallick Road in Sorrento, until the first Board of County Commissioners meeting in August 2021, noting that if there was a resolution prior to that time, then the County Manager would place this item on the Board agenda to bring back to the Board.
lake may reserve and eustis annexation
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, indicated that there was quite a bit of backup for this agenda item in the Board’s packet and explained this was in regards to two issues. She commented that one issue was that the County had received a letter from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) regarding the transfer of the 25 foot strip of land which indicated that the Elaine Berol Taylor and Scott Bevan Taylor Foundation did not qualify under the requirements of the Florida Statute; therefore, the County had 30 days to respond to FDEP as to what action the County would take, noting that she needed Board direction at this meeting regarding how they wanted to respond to FDEP. She remarked that regarding the second issue, attached in the Board’s backup was the draft agreement that came from the City of Eustis regarding the Thrill Hill annexation properties, noting that Lake May Reserve was tied together with this particular annexation; therefore, she needed direction from the Board regarding how they wanted to proceed on that draft agreement.
Commr. Campione noted on the record that they had received the letter from the Friends of the Wekvia River, Inc. indicating their interest in taking ownership of the strip of property, and that they had voted the previous Thursday night to retain an attorney to review the documents if the BCC should decide to go that route. She opined that it would be difficult to imagine a scenario in which FDEP would not consider the Friends of Wekiva River, Inc. an entity that was engaged in conservation efforts and would fit the requirements needed to be an entity that could receive this property considering that the County had the grant from the Florida Community Trust.
The Chairman opened the floor for public comment.
Mr. Egor Emery, a longtime resident of the area, shared that he had been involved for close to 30 years in the planning of Lake County. He asked for the Board to follow the plans that had been laid out for the county over the last 25 years; furthermore, he wanted them to consider timeliness as he opined that the plans presented for this area were not timely. He mentioned that he had purchased land in that area with the intention to conserve it like the Lake May Reserve, and that he wanted to see a reasonable urban service boundary in which the City of Eustis would provide urban services with urban density that transitioned to more rural which was similar to where currently lived. He expressed a desire for the Board to protect their rural lifestyle. He opined that there were already traffic problems in that area, and that development would worsen the issue with no solution. He encouraged the County to plan and find solutions to these issues.
Ms. Cindy Newton, a resident of unincorporated Lake County, urged the BCC to not sign the Interlocal Service Boundary Agreement (ISBA) proposed by the City of Eustis. She expressed a desire to keep the option for possible litigation or continued work on the ISBA if something could be worked out. She opined that the proposed annexation did not meet the requirements of the Florida Statutes, and expressed appreciation for the County pausing the annexation. She relayed her support for development that suited the environment and wildlife in that area. She agreed with the traffic issues in that area, and did not feel that enough studies had been done to make a proper decision. She supported having environmental impact studies, tax base revenue analysis, master planning of utilities, and studies regarding fire and police coverage.
Ms. Tammy Pena, a resident near the Thrill Hill area, thanked the BCC for listening to Lake County residents regarding their desire for correct planning. She felt that the proposed annexation did not meet the requirements of Chapter 171, Florida Statutes, and that this area needed to be reviewed more closely regarding development plans. She thought the efforts regarding the Lake May Reserve were an opportunity to allow the City to pause and review this area to ensure that proper planning was in place. She thanked the Board for this action, and believed that joint planning between the County and the City would be helpful.
Ms. Patricia Duncan, a Lake County citizen, expressed appreciation to the Board and County staff for all they had done regarding this matter and for listening to residents. She indicated that she had emailed her proposal on this to the BCC, and opined that there were still issues that needed to be resolved. She expressed concerns for endless sprawl in the future in this area. She asked for continued BCC support in addressing the issues that remained.
Ms. Alison Yurko, an attorney representing the Kennedy family in opposition to this annexation stated that under Chapter 171, Florida Statutes, the City of Eustis had to meet the two components of voluntary annexation which were for the property to be contiguous to the city boundaries and that the property was reasonable compact. She then displayed two maps of the area, and pointed out on the map that the proposed area was not contiguous and was not reasonably compact. She also explained some of the provisions of the statute, and opined that this proposal did not meet the requirements of the statute. She requested that the BCC challenge the annexation or use the tools under Chapter 163, Florida Statutes, to have a meaningful discussion about a joint planning area agreement.
Commr. Campione read a letter from a citizen who lived in this area, Ms. Leah Owen, who had intended to be present in the meeting but was unable to be; furthermore, this letter expressed support of the County’s future land use plan which strove to achieve an appropriate balance between public and private interest, the protection of the environment, discouragement of urban sprawl, creation of favorable economic conditions, provision of adequate affordable housing and services, maintenance of established residential neighborhoods, protection of rural and agricultural areas, and protection of private property rights.
Commr. Parks thanked the Eustis City Commission for being in attendance at the meeting.
Mr. Derek Schroth, Eustis City Attorney, relayed comments regarding some information on how the BCC had addressed other municipalities in terms of ISBAs and noncontiguous annexations as follows: in 2011, the BCC approved the City of Umatilla’s request to have noncontiguous annexations; in 2013, the BCC approved the City of Groveland, and the Towns of Howey-in-the-Hills and Lady Lake to have noncontiguous annexations; in 2014, the BCC approved the City of Clermont to have the ability to have noncontiguous annexations, noting that the vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Campione dissenting; and in 2015, the City of Tavares was unanimously approved for noncontiguous annexations. He indicated that when the City of Eustis attempted to have similar agreements as the other municipalities, the BCC said no, noting that August 2015 was the City’s first attempt to have the BCC approve an ISBA which allowed noncontiguous annexations similar to other municipalities. He commented that they went through the conflict resolution process for many years, with various competing resolutions that both Boards had approved. He opined that whether property was contiguous or not was a legal debate, but the political concern was why the City of Eustis was being treated differently. He opined that the transfer of the Lake May Reserve violated the law and conditions of the grant; furthermore, he asked for the BCC to allow the private property owner to conduct a lawful hearing, and allow the Eustis City Commission to be able to consider this proposal.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the floor for public comment.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman called a recess at 10:36 a.m. for seven minutes.
lake may reserve and eustis annexation continued
Commr. Parks recapped that there were two decisions which the Board needed to make, with one being in regards to the ISBA and if they wanted to accept that agreement or add conditions to it; furthermore, the second decision or direction needed was in regards to the letter from FDEP, and recognizing the Friends of Wekiva River, Inc. letter. He thought that with the ISBA, his choice would be to mediate, and to not sign the agreement, noting that they could possibly have a commission to commission meeting with a mediator to work through the details of the ISBA. He indicated that a face-to-face meeting would be his first preference; however, if that did not work, then perhaps it was time to have a court decision on whether that was a legal annexation or not. He remarked that in regards to the Lake May Reserve, he did not think that there was a decision which could be made at this meeting because he saw the FDEP letter as one of caution; furthermore, they had 30 days to respond. He commented if the Board wanted to pursue giving the land to the Friends of the Wekiva River, Inc., then they needed to obtain written approval from FDEP first that it was an acceptable option prior to moving forward with it. He opined there were valid arguments in the letters that he had received from the opposing attorneys.
Commr. Smith agreed that the BCC had not met with the Eustis City Commission yet to discuss the BCC’s concerns and the City’s hopes. He reiterated his desire to work with other Cities and that he thought it was important to work together as a team since they were all Lake County. He expressed a desire to see a public meeting in which the City of Eustis and the BCC got together to discuss this. He asked Ms. Marsh if that would be allowed, and Ms. Marsh said that it was. He then suggested finding a day and time when everyone could gather to work this out and find what was best for the City and the residents, and to make an appropriate decision.
Commr. Campione relayed that she liked the idea of meeting together; however, she thought that they would need a facilitator or mediator. She recalled that when reviewing what the facts were when the County was negotiating ISBAs and how they had been portrayed as the BCC treating the City of Eustis differently, she commented that she saw a completely different set of facts. She remarked that those ISBAs which were negotiated took months to do so, and in some cases it took years; additionally, she said that the Cities of Eustis and Mount Dora did not get involved in those negotiations. She explained that once those agreements were agreed upon was when they started to see the problems with them, and the noncontiguous provisions started to create problems for unincorporated residents. She opined that it was not that the BCC was treating the City of Eustis differently; rather, that they realized there were problems with how the other agreements were worded. She elaborated that when the City of Eustis asked for an ISBA roughly five years prior, the BCC had already learned some valuable lessons at that point and the request took the city limits all the way out to the RedTail community and to the Sorrento Springs development, noting that hundreds of residents were very concerned about that. She commented that there were many other items at play in those situations and it was not that the BCC wanted to treat the City of Eustis differently; rather, there were a lot of competing interests happening. She expressed concerns for the comments saying that the transfer of the property strip was an illegal act as FDEP was merely stating that they did not want it to go to that entity, and was asking to know the BCC’s intention. She did not see this as being unlawful or illegal but merely a word of caution that the trust may not be the right entity but the Friends of Wekiva River, Inc. could potentially be. She wished that they were not so far down the road that it seemed like there was so much ground to make up; however, she was hopeful that together they could work the issues out. She stated that she was in favor of getting together, but in order to be productive, they needed to have a professional involved; otherwise, she opined they would end up covering everything over again as opposed to finding a solution. She imagined that the residents who cared about this issue would want to be involved in the vision and planning process. She encouraged a way for the BCC to work with the Eustis City Commission as well as having residents involved. She proposed to let FDEP know about the Friends of Wekiva, Inc. inquiry and get their input as to whether this would be a suitable and acceptable entity to hold the property, noting that this was merely for the purpose of creating a pause on this. She said that otherwise, the City could hold their hearing and vote in favor of the annexations which would put the BCC in a position to possibly have legal action as to whether the Florida Statute is met in this situation. She thought there was room to get something accomplished prior to going to court. She reiterated that the County was not trying to treat the City of Eustis differently; rather, they were trying to look out for unincorporated residents, do the right thing, do it correctly, and not make the mistakes that were made in some of the other agreements. She referenced a list of items she had provided to the Board that she thought would be helpful, such as a trail overlay district in this area, a transportation overlay plan to designate transportation needs, etc. She also thought that issues in regards to the Wekiva Protection Area and study area needed to be reviewed so that anything approved in that area was designed to protect the aquifer, sink hole activity, wildlife corridors etc. She opined it was a unique hydrogeological area; furthermore, she thought that there were ways through proper planning and design to have a coexistence between ongoing development and maintaining the rural character. She thought those were the types of items that only a professional could assist with.
Commr. Parks relayed an understanding that the Eustis City Commission members were willing to listen to residents, and said that maybe the face-to-face meeting might provide an opportunity for residents to come and speak while both Commissions listened. He asked for clarification if the BCC needed to rescind the dedication of the property to the current nonprofit and then wait on FDEP’s response.
Ms. Marsh remarked that she did not think it had to be rescinded at this point; however, what FDEP was asking was for the BCC to tell them how they were going to proceed. She indicated that if the Board’s direction was to submit to them the Friends of Wekiva, Inc., then she would send that to them, noting that FDEP had been fairly quick in responding so she imagined that they would know quickly if this was an acceptable entity. She said that FDEP would then direct the County as to what their next steps needed to be.
Commr. Campione made a motion for the Board to take that action and send the Friends of Wekiva, Inc.’s interest to the FDEP for their response in order to be within the 30 day period requested, and secondly, that the County Manager and the Eustis City Manager coordinate on how they could hold a meeting with a mediator.
Commr. Smith added that another part to the motion should be to not agree to the ISBA until after that meeting.
Commr. Campione said that she would add that there be no agreement on that proposed ISBA, noting that would be part of the discussion with the mediator involved; additionally, they would bring their own concerns as well as those heard from residents.
Commr. Smith seconded the motion.
Commr. Parks clarified that part of the motion would be to set up a face-to-face meeting with both Commissions to involve a mediator, and to be done as soon as possible. He added that the second part would be to obtain FDEP’s response if the Friends of Wekiva River Inc. was an option to dedicate the property to. Ms. Marsh confirmed that was correct.
Commr. Blake recalled that the BCC and Eustis City Commission had met two to three times with the previous County Commission, noting that he did not find that particularly helpful although possibly having a facilitator would help. He relayed that he understood the concerns of the neighbors in the unincorporated area and admired the strategy involved with the land donation; however, he believed that the City of Eustis was following the law. He stated that in terms of the ISBA when it was discussed at previous meetings, his concern was making sure developer agreements were properly disclosed so that it did not create a situation in which people were shocked to find out that one day they could be annexed and have a higher tax situation. He relayed this was the reason he would be voting against this motion.
Commr. Parks relayed that he would support the motion but wanted to make it clear that this did not mean that if FDEP said it was acceptable for the land to be dedicated to the Friends of Wekiva River, Inc. that he would not necessarily vote to approve that. He explained that his reasoning was that he wanted to see how the face-to-face discussions went first. He understood that this might be something the BCC did in order to stop something that might not be good for the residents; however, he understood what it could possibly do to the dynamics.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried by a vote of 4-1, the Board voted to submit to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection the Friends of the Wekiva River, Inc. interest in acquiring the 25 foot strip of land on the east side of the Lake May Reserve in order to see if this was a viable option, for the County Manager and the Eustis City Manager to coordinate a meeting between the County Commission and the Eustis City Commission with the involvement of a mediator, and that there would be no agreement on the proposed interlocal agreement between Lake County and the City of Eustis at this time.
Commr. Blake voted no.
wellness way implementation plan
Mr. Brandon Matulka, Executive Director for the Agency for Economic Prosperity, stated that this would be an update on Wellness Way in south Lake County. He provided this background information on Wellness Way: Wellness Way is an Urban Services Area Plan in south Lake County that is roughly 15,500 acres in size, with 12,000 net buildable acres and 3,000 acres of Conserv II acres, noting that Conserv II was property owned by the City of Orlando and Orange County for reclaimed water purposes; both Lake County and the City of Clermont view this area as an emerging center for new employment and supporting high quality residential development; and the Wellness Way Urban Services Area Plan became effective on December 26, 2017. He explained that the reason the Wellness Way Plan was created was due to the existing conditions that Lake County had been seeing in south Lake County such as population growth continuing to rise, noting that the residential growth had exceeded the commercial and industrial growth. He relayed that there was no mechanism in place to promote connectivity, planning for infrastructure, utilities, open space preservation, water conservation, etc. He indicated that the goals and objectives of the Wellness Way Plan were as follows: simple, flexible and adaptable for development; coordinated development focused on job generation; services, utilities and infrastructure planning; open space requirements; and recreational and technology opportunities in the area. He reported that in 2019, Lake County and the City of Clermont entered into an interlocal agreement to cost share a consultant, Levey Consulting LLC., to assist in the Wellness Way initiatives. He mentioned that the key elements for the scope of work included: coordination between the County, City and landowners; creation of an implementation plan that identified and addressed key issues such as design and community standards, parks and open space, utilities, infrastructure, technology, education, etc.; assistance in business attraction and recruitment; and development and implementation of design guidelines. He then introduced Dr. Richard Levey, with Levey Consulting, who had been working on this over the previous year and a half.
Dr. Levey mentioned that typically there would have been quarterly updates on this; however, due to the pandemic they were unable to and he would be presenting the somewhat completed product to date. He indicated that this was a large area, and opined that it was unique for the County to join with the City of Clermont on the front end to perform detailed work in order to develop a detailed strategy on how to execute this plan so that as development occurred, there was a path that had been resolved. He mentioned that within the Board’s packet there was an implementation plan, a draft set of designed guidelines, and a proposed amendment to the Lake County Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan); additionally, it contained a list of 95 stakeholders that included landowners, city and county representatives, Lake County School Board, and agencies that came under the leadership of Commissioner Parks in order to facilitate this year long effort to discuss the detailed issues and work through any challenges. He displayed a map and information of the existing Wellness Way Area Plan (WWAP) and reported that it required a minimum of 10 percent of every property to be developed in nonresidential use in most categories with 25 percent in a town center; additionally, it had a jobs to housing ratio so that employment was spread out through the entire area. He mentioned that there were several key issues identified in the implementation plan and then explained each of them. He indicated that a concern of the plan was that it spread jobs for nonresidential uses throughout the entire 15,000 acre area which they found to be a challenge and not necessarily conducive to the best physical built environment. He commented that while the Lake-Orange Expressway Connector was a game changer for the area, at the time the plan was developed, the timing was not known; therefore, land use categories and decisions were made on broad assumptions on that. He added that more information was currently known about where the expressway would be going, so they could get detailed on how to plan for the area. He relayed that landowners had concerns about residential yield and the rigidness of the percentages of land allocations, noting that many landowners and developers were concerned about the minimum 1,000 acre size for planned unit developments (PUDs). He remarked that coordination of utilities and specific requirements on development form were also issues that were raised. He then displayed an illustration of the new proposed WWAP map with six new future land use (FLU) categories. He explained that there was a proposition that the landowners and developers wanted to revisit the development program in terms of how much was residential and nonresidential; furthermore, the group was willing to review this if there was a willingness to raise the quality of the built environment so as not to result in what had typically been the norm, such as gated subdivision, not interconnected, no walkability, no quality of design, architect, or landscape, etc. He elaborated that if there was a willingness to require a higher quality of development, then it would be a tradeoff of rearranging the entitlements, noting that this was the principle in which they operated over the previous year. He pointed out the yellow area on the map which was Wellness Way north, or the Hartwood Marsh Road corridor, and said that they specifically did not address changing anything in the Comp Plan for this area, noting all other areas received some adjustments. He then showed the existing WWAP at eleven million square feet as compared to the proposed WWAP slightly under nine million square feet, noting this was nonresidential land use with a slight increase in the residential yield. He then displayed illustrations of the road network as well as the urban form diagram. He mentioned that the plan focused on urban design in regards to how neighborhoods and commercial areas were structured, that every district had a center, that residential areas were designed around walkable areas, that the open space requirement was not adjusted but left at 30 percent, and that there was a hierarchy of streets. He said that they also did a school plan and reported that the existing WWAP would generate two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school, while the proposed WWAP would generate an additional elementary school. He added that these numbers assumed there was no active age restricted neighborhoods, although he believed there would be which would cause these numbers to be adjusted. He remarked that utilities were a big concern since there was development occurring along the U.S. 27 corridor, and he then displayed the areas that the City of Clermont and Lake Utilities, Inc. covered. He mentioned that while there were utilities along the U.S. 27 corridor, there was nothing to the east side; furthermore, he was working with property owners regarding land dedications for utility sites. He commented that in regards to public safety, the City of Clermont had an existing fire and emergency medical services (EMS) facility to the south, there was a similar facility in the Four Corners area, and the City had a commitment for a fire and EMS station in the Olympus project; however, perhaps the best way to approach this was to do something with the City directly in order to be more efficient, effective, and to spend less but provide the same quality of service. He indicated that this was something the County would need to address moving forward and to possibly begin plans in the early stages in order to be prepared. He opined that in order to compete for employers, the telecom infrastructure needed to be in place; therefore, this plan did require that telecom of the highest order be delivered to every commercial and residential site, noting this was important since so many people were currently working from home. He stated that the original assumptions that this plan were operated under were prior to COVID-19, that the demand for office space moving forward would probably decrease, and that it would be difficult at this point to project how much office space would be needed. He relayed that the existing WWAP was based on 1.6 jobs per housing unit; however, they wanted to ensure that this number was responsive to the market. He indicated that a 2018 census study in the area revealed that on average there was 1.26 jobs per housing unit with about 10 percent occurring within the home; therefore, they needed to shift the implementation plan from 1.6 to 1.26 jobs per housing unit in order to reflect real market conditions, noting that he thought this number would continue to accelerate. He shared information regarding the planned Lake-Orange Expressway Connector that ran from SR 429 to U.S. 27, noting that they had brought in leading brokers in the industrial real estate industry to discuss what this location could mean at the interchange of County Road (CR) 455. He opined that this area could be a hidden gem for the county as there was a shortage of large building sites for warehousing distribution and logistics operations; furthermore, south Lake County could become a logistics hub. He stated that this expressway and interchange would open in mid-2025, and opined that Lake County needed to be ready for this market opportunity with utilities such as water, sewer, reclaimed water, and electric which were not there currently. He hoped that this would promote high value, high wage jobs in this location. He then began to discuss the design guidelines which were the details regarding how to develop, noting there were six chapters that contained standards for each category such as how much open space, center, and residential were allowed. He mentioned that they built upon the strengths of the existing WWAP with minor changes that improved the deliverability of the plan. He stated that each development district had criteria for form and design, connectivity and lot development standards. He mentioned the Wellness Way regional road network which contained Wellness Way, Hancock Road, Schofield Road, and CR 455 from Hartwood Marsh Road to Sawgrass Bay Boulevard. He explained that each developer was required to perform a traffic study and would enter into a road agreement with Lake County, noting that the County Attorney and Public Works Director were already working on the first one. He specified that the different developers were taking on different pieces of this road using impact fee strategy and credits to design, permit and construct certain pieces of the road; furthermore, he indicated that there was a plan in place to deliver all these roads earlier than when they would have been delivered in the past. He added that the interchange coming at CR 455 offered a great opportunity perhaps to relieve some of the east to west roads with additional movement in that area. He commented that there was a very detailed trail system plan, and displayed a map depicting them; additionally, he relayed that trails would not merely be on the outside major roads, but to and through neighborhoods for connectivity. He relayed that staff had been in discussions with the Conserv land owners regarding the potential to open these lands up for public access for a trail system, noting that these would be more natural trails. He recalled that in regards to open space, there was no change to the requirement, and recalled that the original plan had wellness or active space and green space, which were conservation areas. He said that there was a commitment from Cemex to dedicate a 100 acre level one park which could be City or County owned; furthermore, there was a robust plan for level two parks, or “close-to-home” parks, with five percent of the net residential acreage required to be in “close-to-home” parks which would bring active green space much closer to residents. He added that these were not necessarily parks that were dedicated to the County for maintenance; rather, would be homeowners association (HOA) or community development district (CDD) parks. He summarized that these were active, critically placed, green spaces within the neighborhood with different types of programs such as a dog park, community garden, or playground for example. He reported that no changes were made to the landscape and natural resources provision in the existing WWAP; however, they were recommending to take them out of the County Comp Plan and put these requirements in the Land Development Regulations. He stated that they were holding onto the Florida Water Star Silver designation for the residential design component and that they were able to work with a wildlife corridor group to identify a critical wildlife corridor in the area, noting that the expressway authority was designing the expressway to accommodate that wildlife movement. He also said that there was no change to the public facilities and utilities except that they were moving some of the criteria that was in the plan into the Land Development Regulations. He then discussed the recommended Comp Plan amendment as follows: amend the consistency between future land use and zoning policy to remove the existing Wellness Way future land use categories and add the six new future land use categories; and revisions to Section I-8 Wellness Way Area Plan to delete certain procedural policies form the Comp Plan because they were recommended to be added to the Land Development Regulations, and amend various policies to be consistent with the draft implementation plan. He remarked that this system, once adopted, would provide for a rational, normalized system of development review and approval. He remarked that for procedural policies, the County currently had a three step PUD approval process which included a PUD boundary analysis, preliminary PUD, and a final PUD, noting that there were no changes to this; rather, the recommendation was to take it out of the Comp Plan and place it within the Land Development Regulations. He relayed that if the Board chose to adopt these design guidelines, then he did not think it was necessary to have a minimum size PUD as every land application could stand on its own if judged against these standards. He concluded that the next steps for the BCC were to accept these deliverables and direct staff to begin processing the Comp Plan and Land Development Regulations amendment process, noting this would include the three steps of going before the Planning and Zoning Board, having a BCC transmittal hearing, and then a BCC adoption hearing.
The Chairman opened the floor for public comment.
Ms. Lavon Silvernell, a concerned citizen, indicated that the WWAP was presented to the community as a project that would bring jobs, and she expressed concerns that the number of jobs per dwelling unit as just presented was decreasing. She commented that infrastructure was paid by businesses; therefore, if the number of businesses was decreasing, then the cost to the residents was increasing. She also expressed concerns that there was no real open space or undeveloped space in Wellness Way and that the requirement for parks was being reduced with this plan as presented, noting that while there was Conserv land, this was not land that belonged to Wellness Way.
Dr. Levey relayed that he would get with Ms. Silvernell to better understand her concerns.
Mr. Emery, who had spoken earlier in the meeting, opined that this project relied on a shifted cost such as the toll road, but if the toll road was not built, then this project might not be able to happen. He opined that the taxes on residential development did not pay for the services needed and asked to see the bill of what it would cost to do this project presented to the citizens; furthermore, many may not be in support of a logistics network dominating south Lake County. He commented that there were many rental communities in south Lake County, and that the county needed an economy that was sustainable, and in his opinion, rentals were not. He reiterated that he wanted to see the cost of this project presented and to allow the citizens to vote if they were willing to pay those costs for this type of development.
Commr. Parks explained that the reason for this presentation was because it had been a while since they had an update on Wellness Way, and that it was a critical time to make changes to the plan, noting this was not out of the ordinary for a plan that had been in place for 10 years. He shared that while people may say they are not fond of this project, he also heard that from the development community as well. He opined that from a planner’s perspective and policy standpoint, they were probably doing some things that were right. He commented that without Wellness Way, the developmental pattern that was occurring in south Lake County was not productive with properties being broken up by 100 acres at a time on lands that were once orange groves. He indicated that Wellness Way guaranteed that they would get between 16,000 to 18,000 units over that area, where without this plan, it could be close to 30,000 units in an unproductive with less value per acre type of development. He remarked that while this plan may not be perfect, they believed this plan would provide the highest value per acre, which he opined was good for all of Lake County no matter where one lived in regards to how the County provided services with the tax revenues that they were collecting. He shared that there had been lessons learned from past mistakes, and he clarified that in this case, developers were paying for the infrastructure and the BCC was not raising taxes, taking General Fund money, or bonding to build roads or infrastructure; furthermore, there were mechanisms in place to ensure that the people who lived there would be maintaining it. He said from a revenue standpoint, he saw this as a really good thing since they would receive the revenues from the businesses that were located there. He understood that there might be concerns with logistics but he explained that it included finished manufacturing so it was not just trucks coming in and out; rather, the intent would be to actually do final level manufacturing and then logistics coming out of that central area. He thought Dr. Levey was doing an incredible job for the County and that having someone focus on this was money well spent to ensure that it was done the right way. He expressed support for the changes presented to the plan.
Commr. Campione recalled that the Board at some point had discussed how infrastructure would be funded, noting that Commissioner Parks just commented that developers would be paying for the infrastructure. She asked if that was being built into this plan as she thought one of the items they had previously discussed was the use of a municipal service benefit unit (MSBU) or a municipal service taxing unit (MSTU) so that they could actually define the area and say that a certain amount of funding would come out of the improvements that were placed in the development and then go back into the area to take care of the maintenance, whether this was to build them to begin with or maintain them in the future. She said she did not feel comfortable that there was a mechanism in place for this.
Dr. Levey responded that what they had was their existing process. He gave the example of roads, and said that the impact fee system allowed for developers to come forward and design, permit and construct existing roadways. He commented there was a plan in place for two lanes of the entire system for the roads he showed to be funded via the upfront developers paying for those connections, noting that it was also being coordinated with Orange County to the east. He added that there was also a commitment from Cemex to build Schofield Road as well.
Commr. Campione said that this was for the upfront capital, but asked about the ongoing maintenance.
Dr. Levey replied that there had been discussions about the potential for ongoing funding mechanisms for operation and maintenance (O&M) for this area, although nothing had been put in the plan yet, noting there was still time to work through this as they went through the process. He relayed that they wanted to get through the stakeholder process. He thought there was opportunities over the next few months to examine different funding mechanisms for ongoing O&M, noting this was the time to do it since there were no businesses or residents there yet.
Commr. Campione asked what had been done in Orange County regarding this and if they had set up special taxing districts.
Dr. Levey remarked that the only special districts were the community development districts (CDD) as he was not aware of any MSBU or MSTU special assessment district to cover maintenance of facilities, noting that Orange County might have done this but he was not aware of it. He added that CDDs would only be responsible for roads inside their project. He indicated that for 85 percent of this package they had opportunities to explore O&M mechanisms.
Commr. Campione said she would like to see that happen because she knew that as they attempted to take care of roads built through the traditional method, it was difficult to keep up with. She shared that many residents think that the County uses property taxes to pay for roads, but relayed that they did not use property taxes for maintenance of roads. She said that they had discussed going back and having property taxes pay for them, but they received pushback from residents; however, when starting fresh, if they put this in place so that this district already had it in place, then it could ease the burden on the rest of the county and then create a mechanism to take care of these roads.
Commr. Parks agreed, and thought that was what the City of Clermont was talking about with some of the CDDs in their portion of Wellness Way. He said they needed to make sure it was done uniformly across the whole Wellness Way area.
Dr. Levey thought that any district overlay that they might create that would generate revenue would want to have the consent of the City, and he suggested that the governance be at the County level since the largest part of the area was unincorporated and the City had limitations on annexation. He opined the County was the right entity to manage that vehicle whatever it might be, noting that he would explore that. He stated that in regards to utilities, the monthly utility bills would charge and he did not think they needed to worry about water, wastewater or electric as the maintenance of those utility systems were all privately funded and financed. He noted that for the close-to-home parks, he had already mentioned that the parks would be owned by the associations or whatever governance structure was in place; however, if they did develop the 100 acre County park, then that would become the County’s burden with the possibility to have a joint effort with the City. He suggested thinking about roads and trails from an O&M standpoint.
Commr. Campione agreed that this was the time to do this so that everyone who moved there would have full disclosure and full notice that this would be on their tax bill. She said they needed to coordinate this with the City of Clermont since they could annex and then the County would be responsible for taking care of the County roads. She commented that the Lake-Orange Expressway Connector would happen regardless of what happened in Wellness Way as it was funded and needed as an east to west connector to alleviate Hartwood Marsh Road. She stated that it was not being built to address Wellness Way; rather, it was being built to address needs that already existed.
Commr. Parks relayed that there had already been discussions and work with staff regarding roads and the estimated costs, noting that was for internal roads but could include the discussion from this meeting to include county roads as well.
Mr. Ross indicated that there was one citizen who had raised their hand virtually to speak on the topic.
Mr. Frank Costanzo, a citizen participating virtually, shared that he resided in a senior community along Hancock Road near Hartwood Marsh. He commented that he wished this plan had been implemented in his area; furthermore, he opined that the WWAP seemed to be reasonably done. He relayed that his concern was O&M; however, he thought that had just been addressed. He opined it was an excellent presentation.
Commr. Parks asked if they needed a vote or Board consensus to move forward, and Mr. Rosen replied that staff needed consensus. The Board then relayed consensus for staff to move forward with the WWAP. Commissioner Parks thanked Dr. Levey for his work on this project.
rural land protection and stewardship presentation
Commr. Parks mentioned that questions and concerns that often get relayed to him are the effects of rapid growth in Lake County’s natural and unique environment; therefore, people wanted to know what the County was doing to preserve the area, and what they were doing to uphold the County slogan of Real Florida, Real Close. He opined that understanding the past stories of growth in the State of Florida and relating those to Lake County’s position in the state’s next growth chapter was key to making good decisions. He hoped this presentation would give some discussion points and possible next steps.
Mr. Ernie Cox, President of Family Lands Remembered, LLC, commented that many State of Florida counties were determining how to make the state better not only for themselves, but also for future generations and visitors to the state. He explained that the idea of the presentation would be to discuss potential conservation strategies. He shared a little of his background, noting that he was a practicing lawyer with a focus on land use and environmental until about 15 years prior when he decided to start a company focused on large scale conservation, sustainable development, and innovative water resources. He introduced Ms. Allison Megrath, with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., and remarked that Ms. Megrath was a certified land use planner, community engagement specialist, and had the ability to talk with people of different perspectives. He mentioned that he and Ms. Megrath had worked together for over 25 years and displayed a list of projects they had worked on. He shared a personal story regarding growing up in Jupiter, Florida, and displayed a map of that area in 1984 as compared to 2016, noting that much of the farming area from 1984 was currently subdivisions and that everything between Jupiter, Florida and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida was currently developed. He also pointed out on the map an area near Juno, Florida that was still natural lands which was a nature park that was preserved 35 years prior and was right within a developed urban area. He remarked that he had learned through the years, that if land was not placed into permanent conservation, then not to expect that the land would stay the way it was. He displayed a population growth comparison chart and discussed the increased number of people coming to the State of Florida; furthermore, he encouraged thinking about where to put the increased population of people as well as where not to place them, noting this was his focus in regards to conserving parts of the state. He then showed a map of existing conservation lands within Lake County, such as the Ocala National Forest, Wekiva area, and the Green Swamp; additionally, he showed a chart depicting the percentage of conservation land in Lake County and a breakdown of ownership of this land between the County, State, Federal, and private. He reported that currently, approximately 195,000 acres of Lake County was in conservation, noting some was private and some was public.
Ms. Megrath then shared information regarding some conservation land programs in Collier County. She mentioned that in 1997, Collier County found itself with a challenge to its growth management plan as they had not done a good job of monitoring growth, protecting the environment, nor balancing the premature conversion of agricultural lands to other uses. She indicated that as a result of this, there was a final order issued to Collier County which caused them to perform a whole assessment of their rural and agricultural areas, noting that they began to research a program that would review conservation, long-term agriculture, and responsible development. She reported that the solution was the Collier County Rural Land Stewardship Area (RLSA). She then displayed a map which depicted the study area and the findings of the study as follows: lands in green were publicly owned conservation lands which were already there; lands in blue were higher value environmental lands; and the lands in pink were what remained, were potential receiving areas, and were areas that could potentially see development if the other properties with high ecological or environmental value were protected. She explained that these pink areas became the premise for the overall structure of the program; furthermore, she elaborated that this was not a traditional transfer of development rights (TDR) program as typically TDR programs were based on development rights. She indicated that the Collier County RLSA flipped this and placed environmental stewardship first, and that the more ecologically sensitive and environmentally valuable the lands were, the higher the opportunities were to preserve them and shift development to lands which did not have high priorities. She displayed a map of the Collier County RLSA and clarified that the stewardship sending areas (SSAs) were the areas that had the high priority values in which development rights were taken off the lands in order to protect them in perpetuity; additionally, the stewardship receiving areas (SRAs) were the lands that were not as high value and more suitable for development. She reviewed Lake County population projections for the various cities within Lake County, and opined that it was quite significant. She then shared information regarding how three cities in Alachua County addressed growth and noted the following: the City of Archer decided they did not want growth and governed according to that; the City of High Springs was moderate with growth and slowly did annexations but did not keep up with their infrastructure; and the City of Newberry decided growth would come from the City of Gainesville so they annexed as much land as possible in order to protect themselves from this growth. She stressed that paying attention to what is happening within a community as well as the surrounding area was very important as a county faces population increases.
Mr. Cox then shared information regarding the two conservation projects, one being Babcock Ranch which is located in Charlotte and Lee Counties, is a conservation and land use strategy, included the 18,000 acre City of Babcock Ranch, and had a 73,000 acre state preserve that is managed such that it pays for itself through cattle, farming, timber operation, and ecological tour. He added that approximately 90 percent of the original property was being preserved forever, but did involve $350 million in State funding. He shared information regarding the Deering Park Stewardship District which was a special district created by legislature the previous year, noting that typically stewardship districts were a special taxing district that the owners within the property would pay additional assessments to take care of the lands within the property from a development and conservation perspective. He also shared a map of the Farmton Local Plan, and noted that it was about 59,000 acres in total, with approximately 44,000 acres in permanent conservation easements. He indicated that as for funding, the Florida Forever funding was still available, and suggested that the BCC contact their legislators to encourage them to fund the Florida Forever program which could be used for easements and permanent acquisition. He reported that Lake County had two Florida Forever projects that were not yet complete, which included the Wekiva-Ocala Greenway, which was about 72 percent complete with approximately 22,000 acres that still needed to be protected, and another 161,000 acres within the Green Swamp area that were Florida Forever. He indicated that if the Florida Forever program received additional funding, then it could be used for the two Lake County projects. He mentioned that another program at the State level was the Florida’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. He indicated that Lake County had approximately 183,000 acres of agricultural lands within the county, noting that even though the county had seen growth, their agricultural lands over the previous ten years had increased. He remarked that the County could consider what could be done to continue to conserve and promote agriculture. He mentioned a few other possible funding programs through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He opined that it took funding, time, energy, community engagement, and stakeholder involvement to put these plans together, but that there were funds available to assist with this.
Ms. Megrath mentioned that she spent 75 to 80 percent of her time as a funding strategist for her municipal clients, and that she had recently spent time in Lake County to talk with communities in order to see how they brought funding to implement projects, such as some within the Town of Howey-in-the-Hills, and the Cities of Mount Dora and Tavares. She offered their assistance to Lake County to assist with finding funding.
Mr. Cox commented that while the large conservation pieces were very important, the local conservation lands were also important for the community so that people have places to enjoy; furthermore, he opined that Lake County had great natural resources and unique historical cities and towns. He remarked that if the County decided to engage in a conservation strategy session, then he encouraged incorporating the municipalities. He reiterated that from a conservation planning perspective, he tried to focus on how to protect the places where they did not want people, as development would come, while making sure places that get development were good places for people.
Commr. Parks opined that this was an important concept for the Board due to issues they had dealt with in the past, giving the example from this meeting of the City of Eustis being in the Wekiva area and issues with that. He said there were incredible lands in the Green Swamp and Wekiva area that they should do what they could to promote, protect and conserve while promoting growth in the areas that were most appropriate for development. He commented that Lake County was very economically driven but also very protective of Real Florida, Real Close. He shared that growth management was a topic during the recent Board retreat, and he said the Board discussion could be around what the next steps might be, noting that he hoped to continue discussion with Mr. Cox and Ms. Megrath at a future workshop in order to present some strategies with a potential person to champion these efforts. He mentioned they could perhaps consider the concept of a sending and receiving areas within the Green Swamp and Wekiva areas, and to find a way to make this work economically while respecting property rights and recognizing areas that need protected.
Commr. Shields stated he was in support and thanked them for the presentation.
Commr. Campione commented that she would like more information on how the sending and receiving areas worked, and how it could possibly be accomplished without it becoming a property rights issue, noting that she assumed there had to be a willing participant.
Mr. Cox responded that he could provide a brief explanation. He explained that for both rural land stewardship and the other programs, they tried to not take anything away, noting that he liked overlay districts in comprehensive plans. He elaborated that these districts did not take anything away; however, because they were overlay districts, if someone participated in the overlay plan, then the property owner gets more. He indicated that a property owner may be able to get more value, development, and funding or better tax purposes by being in the program. He encouraged giving the landowner something of real value so that they would have an incentive to do something better, noting that it was important to have conversations with landowners to know what they wanted, needed and might have concerns about.
Ms. Megrath stressed that the rural land stewardship program was a voluntary program which did not take anything away; rather, it added value. She specified that each of these programs would look different in different communities which was the reason why conversations and participation of the community and its stakeholders was important in order to tailor the programs to something meaningful to the community.
Commr. Blake inquired about the percentage of Lake County that was in permanent conservation, and what percentage of that was the Ocala National Forest.
Mr. Cox replied that it was 45 percent.
Commr. Parks relayed that the Board was interested in having Mr. Cox and Ms. Megrath present at a later meeting in order to discuss possible strategies in order to get more lands conserved.
Commr. Shields noted that in the Green Swamp it was not merely people but industry too.
Commr. Parks thanked them for presenting.
Commr. Campione remarked about the previous comment about agricultural uses increasing in Lake County, and she wondered if some of that was attributed to people planting pine trees in order to obtain agricultural exemptions. She said that it might be a strategy to promote the continuation of those pine tree forests so they received the benefit of the rights that they would have had if they developed the property, and move it to another property that would be more appropriate for development, then they could keep their pine tree forest as an agricultural use in perpetuity.
Ms. Megrath stated that she had a strong pine tree background and that they could look at ways to incentivize.
Commr. Campione relayed that many citrus owners had done that in previous years to get the exemption.
citrus label tour presentation
Mr. John Jackson, representing the Citrus Label Tour, along with former Lake County Commissioner Catherine Hanson, presented information regarding a program about a crate label tour which they thought would tell the history of citrus within Lake County and would be an asset for the county. He then shared some history about citrus in Lake County and its economic importance within the county through the years. He indicated that at one time there was 140,000 acres of citrus in the county and that in 1980, the county produced 44 million boxes of fruit which represented 13 billion individual pieces of fruit that were picked by hand, two million tons that were transported over the roads to five processing plants, 26 packing houses that were located in the county, 29,000 employees that looked after the groves, and the economic impact was well over $800 million to the county. He commented that due to the rich history of citrus in the county, they desired to tell that story through the use of citrus crate labels, and he then showed some examples of what these would look like to the Board. He explained that citrus crate labels were used for many years to market citrus and placed on the end of a fruit carton which was sent north, noting that many of the fruit was marketed through auctions and the packers needed to have a way to display their product. He elaborated that the crate labels they were developing would be placed on aluminum signs that would be placed throughout the county in places where there was public access for people to view. He remarked that for phase one, they would install 11 signs in the Cities of Umatilla, Eustis, Mount Dora, Tavares, Leesburg, Mascotte, Groveland and Clermont. He stated that each sign cost $2,000 and that eight signs had already been paid for, they had pledges for two and a half signs, and they only needed revenue for one and half signs. He mentioned that they were working with the Cites and the County for placement of the signs. He added that this project was being sponsored by the Lake County Historical Society and the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame, with the hopes that Lake County would be a partner in this effort; furthermore, ways the County could assist was with the website in order to house information and promote the program, for the legal department to ensure the signs were correct, to help with agreements with those who took the signs, and for the Lake County Historical Society to understand the expectations. He relayed that they were desiring for the BCC to endorse and support this project since the industry had been a dominant economic part of the county for many years. He said there were over 10 million citrus trees in the county prior to the freezes, and opined this was a great history that they wanted to preserve, noting that their goal was to have a dedication of the signs in May 2021. He thanked the Board for allowing them to present.
Commr. Parks shared his excitement for this project and his desire for the BCC to endorse it, noting that he had personally contributed to this effort.
Commr. Smith relayed his support of this and shared his family’s history with a packing house.
Mr. Rosen thanked Mr. Jackson for presenting this information, and opined that it would be an interesting addition to what the County was doing to bring people to Lake County. He indicated that Mr. Jackson had already met with the Office of Visit Lake staff, that there were items that the County would be able to work with Mr. Jackson on regarding this, such as possible grants so that the libraries could provide space to house some of this information, and possible grants or opportunities from the economic development team to assist financially if certain criteria was met.
Mr. Jackson stated that they needed assistance with the website, and that there were many stories that could be shared.
Commr. Parks said that the BCC could support this project as allowed, and he thought they should do a formal resolution or proclamation to show their support.
Commr. Campione agreed that they should acknowledge the work done on this, and bring attention to it; additionally, the sources of revenue that could be used for items such as this would go through the normal processes used for promotional and tourism related activities.
Commr. Shields mentioned that possibly a school could assist with the website.
Commr. Campione suggested possibly seeing if Lake Technical College or Lake-Sumter State College could do this as a project.
Commr. Shields added that these schools could potentially brand this and use it as a recruitment tool.
Commr. Parks agreed and thought that one school may have already been identified.
Mr. Rosen relayed that he had spoken with the Lake County School District to see if there was a school that might have a program to assist with this, noting that there was a school that had such a program but was not at the point where they would be able to assist yet. He indicated that he had also reached out to Lake Technical College and was waiting to hear back from them.
Commr. Campione thought another possibility was to be creative with tourism promotional funds such that they might be able to fund retaining someone to accomplish this. She said that with the historical piece of this and that fact it was woven into the county’s history, economy, and agricultural uses, it seemed like this would fit into a possible category for which tourism and economic development funds could be used to help them accomplish their goals since they were consistent with the County’s goals.
Commr. Parks agreed, and indicated that there was BCC and County staff support for this, noting that they would consider some type of formal acknowledgement.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman called a recess at 1:08 p.m. for 35 minutes.
Mr. Rosen relayed that Mr. Chris Carmody, with GrayRobinson, was the County’s lobbyist, and would be presenting virtually regarding the State of Florida Legislative Session. He stated that after Mr. Carmody’s presentation, staff would be looking for guidance from the Board regarding the legislative session so that as items came up, they would understand what direction the Board desired in terms of supporting or opposing different legislation that might affect the county.
Mr. Carmody mentioned that the legislative session was in the second week, and provided a brief overview on what was happening in regards to the budget and COVID-19 legislation. He reported that initially the budget was expected to have a $2 to $3 billion year-over-year shortfall and was a very austere budget to match the austere tax receipts. He commented that since that projection was given in July 2020, each month had been better than what it was expected to be for that month, including January 2021 which he indicated had very strong receipts in comparison to what was expected; furthermore, many thought February 2021 numbers would be similarly strong. He opined that part of that was due to the state opening back up, although tourism still lagged, especially in parts where there was the highest tourism numbers for the state. He indicated that this shortfall was the largest net shortfall since the 2011 session, which was at the height of the Great Recession. He stated that they were expecting some Federal stabilization dollars with some being used for budget reserves, projects, and other needs; however, anything that had a recurring spend, such as education salaries, healthcare/Medicaid, etc., would be problematic because these Federal funds were not recurring and were likely to only be for this year. He explained that there could potentially be another package the following year, but the State Legislature and Governor could not budget for that unless it was guaranteed. He specified that these funds could not be used on recurring costs. He relayed that there were some revenue options that were being considered, that the online sales tax was being discussed to potentially be enforced which would be an approximate $1.3 billion recurring impact to the State if they were to collect on that sales tax. He mentioned that another area they were looking at for revenue sources was the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida (Seminoles). He explained that while the gaming compact had not expired, the Federal Judges had ruled that the State was violating the compact in regards to some of the table games so the Seminoles stopped paying those funds into the State, which was usually about $300 to $350 million. He said that this was missing last year and the previous year, but they were discussing updating the compact to get back in line with the Seminoles and adding additional table games, adding another facility, and allowing sports betting, which would have the biggest impact and estimated to be approximately $750 million in recurring dollars to the State that the Seminole Tribe would pay. He indicated that there would be cuts, such as in higher education and other areas, and his team was paying attention to what they might be. He remarked that he did not expect to have as many cuts in water funding since this was a priority under Governor Ron DeSantis. He reported that while they were required to pass the budget, they would also pass some COVID-19 pandemic relief this session, such as the civil liability for damages relating to COVID-19, COVID-19 related claims against healthcare providers, sovereign immunity, and combating public disorder. He then provided some information regarding each of these. He commented that the civil liability for damages relating to COVID-19 had passed in the House and was with the Senate. He explained that this would protect local governments, business nonprofits and others against any actions that were no worse than negligent, except for healthcare entities who were addressed with the COVID-19 related claims against healthcare providers. He mentioned that the sovereign immunity bill would take the caps on sovereign immunity for Cities and Counties from $200,000 for a single claim or an accumulative of $300,000 up to $500,000 or $1 million depending if there were multiple claims or action. He opined that this was concerning to many Cities and Counties as it could affect insurance rates and the amount needed in reserves. He relayed that while it was currently stalled, it was legislation that could potentially pass. He commented that the combating public disorder bill had many items in each, such as increasing the penalties on 18 crimes and creating three new crimes, and relative to Lake County, it would affect what would be done with budgets on law enforcement, such that if the law enforcement budget was reduced by even a dollar year-over-year, there was a process by which a citizen could challenge it. He added that it also took away sovereign immunity and other protections provided to cities and counties if it was perceived that the law enforcement’s ability to calm a riot had been undermined. He said this bill had passed in the House but had not moved in the Senate. He then discussed Lake County issues such as preemption, the North Lake County Hospital District (NLCHD), growth management, and revenue/expenditure impacts. He explained that there were many preemption legislations and pointed out the one relating to vacation rentals which would preempt local control on how those were regulated. He recalled the revenue/expenditure impact item he had discussed previously in the meeting in regards to the online sales tax; furthermore, there was an additional one regarding legal notices which was mentioned by Mr. Rosen. He commented that there were also issues on code enforcement on home based businesses and House Bill 257, which would dissolve the NLCHD, which he desired to obtain Board input regarding how they wanted GrayRobinson to address and represent the County on during the legislative session. He then provided an update on the CFX language that had been worked on in both transportation bills that were in the House and the Senate, noting this bill was moving along. He said that since the transportation bill did not pass at the previous session, they were expecting it to pass during this session, noting they were working to assist with this. He remarked that in addition to this, his team was working on the tourist development tax (TDT) issues related to trails and design as discussed with the Board, and that they were pleased with the conversation happening and how it was currently being presented. He said they would continue to provide updates on this as the session moved forward. He relayed that there was one additional bill that they wanted Board input on regarding a proposed overhaul on how TDT was collected and enforced which would require renewing every five years by a vote.
Commr. Shields asked if Mr. Carmody thought the NLCHD legislation had support to pass.
Mr. Carmody responded that it was difficult to know for sure. He commented that at this time, it was less than 50/50 since there were local bills that had started to move while this one had not started to move. He reminded the Board that it was not required to have a Senate bill, noting that there was not one for this, and that the process was to work the bill through the House and once it passed the House, then the Senate would take up any local bill on a local bill calendar in the second to last or last week of session. He added that items could be pulled, and that if there was an objection to any local bill, then the senators from that district could request that it be pulled; therefore, it would either not make it to the agenda at all, or it would be more fully discussed and not merely approved by an up and down vote. He reported that as of this day, or week two of session with 50 days left, it was less than 50/50; however, if it came up on the Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Committee the following week, then it could have a chance to continue to move.
Commr. Parks relayed that he was informed that the NLCHD bill did not make it out of committee on the previous Friday afternoon, and he asked for Mr. Carmody to research this.
Mr. Carmody replied that he would check on that, and explained that committee still had future meetings and it could still be addressed. He explained that it had three committees of reference, with the first being the Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Committee, the second being the Ways and Means Committee, and State Affairs being the last. He remarked that the Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Committee had a meeting that morning and had one more meeting scheduled which had not yet published its agenda but would be published that day at 4:00 p.m., noting that there could be additional ones scheduled as well.
Commr. Smith inquired how the County was doing in regards to the items that they had asked for Mr. Carmody’s team to accomplish.
Mr. Carmody responded that they were doing well so far. Her relayed that appropriation projects were filed and moving through the process, noting that two were put forward on the House side with all four being placed on the Senate side. He stated that for policy items, such as the CFX issue as mentioned, it had been amended into both bills; furthermore, for the TDT issue, they were working through the tax package which would not be coming out until the last week of March or first week of April 2021 at the earliest. He indicated that they had been working with the Chairman of both the House and the Senate committees regarding this as well as working with local members to ensure it was positioned as best as possible. He shared that for some of the policy items, they would not have a good update until the session neared the end since they had to work through committees; however, he was pleased with where they were at this point.
Commr. Smith asked for an update on the multi-purpose hurricane shelter.
Mr. Carmody reported that was funded in the House, and Representative Keith Truenow had that item; furthermore, it was moving and was filed in the Senate, noting there was not a committee process for how those got heard. He indicated that for items such as this, they had to wait until the budget came out and work it as best they could, although they were expecting for the multi-purpose hurricane emergency facility to be on the Infrastructure and Tourism Committee either later in the week on March 12 or March 17, 2021 of the following week.
Commr. Smith asked for more information on this at their next BCC meeting.
Commr. Parks indicated that having an update at each BCC meeting while the legislation was in session would be good.
Mr. Carmody mentioned that his organization sent out a weekly memorandum that covered this, and that he would be willing to send it to each Commissioner if that was helpful. He said that while the legislature was in session it was not always ideal to make appearances to the Commission; however, he would do whatever the Board desired in order to provide updates.
Commr. Parks expressed an understanding of time restraints during session, but thought that an update virtually would be helpful.
Mr. Rosen stated that he could share the weekly updates with the Commissioners.
Commr. Smith remarked that while the Commissioners might get the updates, he thought it was important for the public to receive them; additionally, he wanted the public to understand what was happening since the County spent funding on the lobbyists.
Commr. Parks commented that in regards to the NLCHD bill, while there had been citizens requesting for the BCC to do a resolution on this item, he was not ready to do that yet since they were not aware of what the fiscal impacts to the County might be. He said that until they received that analysis, which he noted staff was diligently working on, he did not want to give an opinion on the matter.
Commr. Blake agreed with this, especially since this was a unanimously passed local bill at the delegation hearing.
Mr. Rosen asked for Ms. Jennifer Barker, Executive Director for Administrative Services, to provide some information on the financial analysis of the NLCHD bill in regards to its affects to the County. He indicated that based on the bill, the County might be responsible for any bonds or issues that were out there; furthermore, he mentioned they could tax an additional year to get rid of those liabilities.
Ms. Barker confirmed that was correct, and relayed that she had checked the NLCHD’s financial report and indicated that there was currently nothing long term but merely short term type liabilities such as operational costs. She explained that if the County had to tax an additional year to clean up any last minute expenditures related to operations, then they could do that; however, there was no long term debt.
Commr. Campione agreed with Commissioner Parks’ request to have an analysis to make sure there was no long term debt. She mentioned that some of the items that had been brought to the Board’s attention by residents were the indigent care clinics, LifeStream Behavioral Center, and those particular services provided by that taxing district; furthermore, she wanted to understand the funding that went to those entities annually, and to what extent the County may then be in a position where potentially entities come to the BCC for needs that were not being met and look for them to help if the taxing district went away. She asked about the Medicaid bill that required the County to be responsible for taking over paying for a hospital stay if someone stayed after a certain amount of time, and whether any of that was tied into NLCHD funding or not. She asked if the hospital was using any of that to cover some of the fees and would any of that fall back on the County if the NLCHD was not there.
Ms. Barker replied that it could possibly. She stated that she could reach out to the NLCHD to obtain an outline of the last two to three years of the funding provided to which entities in order for the Board to have a broader picture of how much they brought in, how much they sent out to clinics or hospitals, and what types of services those covered. She said she would be happy to provide that information to the Board.
Commr. Campione reiterated that the Board desired to understand that if the NLCHD went away, then to what extent the BCC would have groups, individuals or organizations coming to them relaying their needs that were not being met and how this would affect the County.
Commr. Parks said the millage rate associated with that would go away, and asked if it would mean that would be another line item or something added as another tax.
Ms. Barker explained that was a separate governing body and separate millage and it would be eliminated from the tax bill much like when the South Lake County Hospital District went away. She elaborated that this district had one more year that they taxed, and that the County actually collected the funds, and then submitted it to the South Lake County Hospital District directly, minus an administrative fee for collecting it, on their behalf in the final year.
Commr. Blake remarked that a majority of the actual NLCHD Board was in favor of this legislation, and suggested possibly having one of the NLCHD Board members speak to the BCC.
Commr. Campione commented that many people had questions as to where this funding went and how it was used; furthermore, she thought that one of the issues from the start was whether this funding was getting to those who truly needed it.
Commr. Blake relayed that this began when Representative Larry Metz was in the House. He shared that philosophically for him, this was money that was taken from people to be given to someone else and he did not think that was a noble way to do this. He opined that those who have spoken to the BCC regarding this should find ways to help raise money and voluntarily contribute; furthermore, if there were a large number of people who felt that those clinics still needed supplemental funding, there were many private ways to raise supplemental funding for these places, noting that this took the government out of it.
Commr. Parks asked if there was a referendum for this.
Commr. Campione replied there was a referendum which she thought would sunset in 2026.
Ms. Marsh reported that there was a referendum in 2016 which was passed by 58 percent to continue it for ten years.
Commr. Parks said that compounded the question.
Commr. Campine agreed, and commented that when discussing the philosophical side of it, everyone could have different opinions; however, when it was done as a referendum, then it created a question as to whether the State Legislature could come in and undo what the local voters did.
Commr. Blake stated that was another reason why he thought the BCC should not get involved since it was approved to become a local bill by the Lake County Legislative Delegation, which included two Senators and three members of the House.
Commr. Parks opined that was what the Board needed to be sensitive to.
Mr. Rosen commented that if the Board desired to remain neutral then they would tell Mr. Carmody that the Board wanted to remain neutral and see how it played out. He indicated that they had invited members of the NLCHD to the BCC meeting to go over information and not necessarily to say if they were in favor of this bill or against it, noting that these members declined to come as they did not want to be seen as coming out in favor or against it. He said he would invite them again to the next BCC meeting in two weeks, although he mentioned that at that point, they may have a better understanding if this bill would be moving forward. He indicated that staff could gather the requested information for the Board, and could invite NLCHD members to provide additional information of how this might affect the BCC if the district was dissolved.
Commr. Campione thought this would be helpful to this discussion and to the delegation as they may want to review where the funding was going and possibly consider a different approach that might keep some of the district intact but dissolve other parts of it. She opined that it was difficult to have an opinion on how it would affect the County without more information; additionally, if this bill did pass, then having information would help the Board as they planned for future years.
Commr. Shields asked if a resolution from a County had ever stopped a State bill.
Commr. Campione said there were many reasons why she thought a resolution was not the correct approach.
Ms. Barker indicated that she did have a list of the current agreements as a summary, and reported it was approximately $10 million, with about $8 million going to the two hospitals and the remaining going to the Community Health Centers, Community Medical Care Center, AdventHealth Waterman Community Primary Care Clinic, LifeStream Behavioral Center, LifeStream Primary Care Clinic, and St. Luke’s Medical Center.
Commr. Campione recalled that when Representative Metz sponsored his bill that modified how the money could be used, the hospitals had to track the dollars to specific people as opposed to it just going into the hospital fund; additionally, they had to produce documentation.
Commr. Blake remarked that was not happening before, and was sort of the impotence for Representative Metz, noting that it had improved greatly.
Commr. Parks reiterated that if the NLCHD went away, the question was would there be an expectation that someone would have to pay for that, and would the County be paying for it, noting this was an $8 to $10 million question.
Commr. Campione remarked there was no way to know what might happen, such as if the County would have to pay, if other groups and entities would step up and fill that void, or if emergency rooms would get more crowded and hospitals would come to the BCC to ask for them to do something as a County.
Commr. Smith thought they might be able to know since they used to have a South Lake County Hospital District that had gone away. He inquired what impact that had on the County and the clinics in that area.
Commr. Campione explained that they used their funding differently than how the NLCHD did; additionally, their payer mix at South Lake Hospital was completely different than the payer mix at the Leesburg Regional Medical Center. She added those were the type of things that come into play when you ask these type of questions in regards to what impact it would have if the district went away.
Commr. Parks inquired if Commissioner Campione’s desire was to have all these questions answered prior to the Board considering doing a resolution or acting together to oppose it.
Commr. Campione responded that it was more for planning, and that she was not in favor of a resolution. She thought that their legislative delegation had made their decision and done their part of it, and if the Board received this information, then it would help with planning. She relayed that she would like to take it to that delegation and at least show it to them and ask if they had thought about these items and if they would consider relooking at how they were doing it rather than a complete abolition.
Commr. Parks summarized to get all the information together, and then they could go to the delegation.
Mr. Rosen asked for clarification on what the Board wanted for him, Mr. Carmody, and Ms. Marsh to work on as other things moved through at a high level. He asked if they wanted them to fight preemption, and support things that would help reduce expenditures or decrease the tax burden for the local residents.
Commr. Parks mentioned that he had been an advocate for several years for opposing those bills that preempted them, although he relayed that he had a recent discussion with someone who was close to the author of the newest TDT bill, noting that he felt a lot better knowing the intent of it and what it would actually do. He commented that it was the one that would require every five year authorization. He stated that the reason he felt better about it was that he understood that this would only apply if they did something that was outside of what was approved for that money to be spent on and would still require a four fifths majority of the Board to do that; furthermore, it would be good for five years and after that time, it would go to a referendum for that expenditure.
Commr. Campione asked if it was just for that expenditure or the tax as a whole.
Commr. Parks replied that it was for the tax as a whole, although he noted that he would need clarification on this. He added that it had to do with something going on in the City of Miami area.
Ms. Marsh clarified that while that may have been what was intended, it was not written that way and that was not what it said. She indicated that they would need to do some serious amendments to it to make it do what the person was telling the Commissioner. She explained that at that time, it took out all the language pertaining to a four fifths vote for any of the pennies and makes all of it by referendum. She gave the example that even with the existing tax, they would have to take that to a referendum to continue it past she believed July 1, 2026, noting that every five years after, they would have to continue to renew via referendum. She reiterated that this was the current language of the draft she had sent the Board.
Commr. Parks stated that was different than what he had heard. He asked Mr. Carmody if he had any news on that particular bill.
Mr. Carmody said that he would concur with what Ms. Marsh had just stated. He remarked that it was based out of an issue in the City of Miami area; however, how it was just described by the Commissioner was news to him. He commented that possibly that was ultimately how it would end up, but he had not heard that information yet.
Commr. Campione inquired if the referendum requirements required for it to be a general election referendum or at a certain time of the year.
Ms. Marsh replied that she did not believe that it said general referendum; rather, that it said a referendum and then provided specific ballot language that had to be included. She referred to Mr. Carmody for additional information, but noted that she did not think it specifically required a general election.
Mr. Carmody stated that it did not require a general election in the bill; however, he thought that possibly in previous years they had passed laws that would require any referendums to go on a general referendum moving forward. He said he would check on that.
Commr. Smith opined that it was interesting that it was on five years rather than four or six years as it cost more to do a referendum on an off year then during a general or mid-term election.
Commr. Parks said that before they would want to oppose that, they would want to know the details on it in order to be clear, noting that he was not questioning Ms. Marsh or Mr. Carmody’s comments. He added that depended on whether they wanted to even oppose it or merely track it. He relayed that if it was written the way Ms. Marsh had explained, then it would be very concerning for him. He indicated that there were other preemption bills that were concerning to him, such as the subdivisions one which would prohibit them from regulating subdivisions, any design criteria, or any rules with subdivisions.
Commr. Campione remarked that she thought that was only in the code as opposed to a planned unit development (PUD) such that they could still have design requirements for a PUD, but any straight zoning subdivisions or whatever puts someone over the threshold for requiring a PUD, the Board would still have the authority based on the language in this proposed bill.
Commr. Parks knew it was different for a PUD but he thought there were still some limitations that would be placed on them for a PUD as well.
Mr. Carmody relayed that there were some amendments adopted on that day that dealt with PUDs and carving out exceptions; furthermore, that in talking with the sponsor, there were indications that there would be additional changes before it got to the finish line, noting it was in the last committee this week. He added that the Senate bill had not started to move yet, although he expected it to start to move. He said there were opportunities to clarify and that he would get with Mr. Rosen and Ms. Marsh for the language needed to clarify.
Commr. Campione asked why the author wanted to take that authority away from local governments to make those types of decisions.
Mr. Carmody relayed that in his discussions with Representative Toby Overdorf, that the representative’s focus on this was that if someone took their hard earned cash or retirement and purchased a lot, then he wanted them to have full notice of what they could or could not do on that lot. He stated that perhaps this was more of a south Florida issue, noting that the representative was concerned that people might purchase a lot to build a house and then find out they could not have certain design elements that they might want because it might not fit within the neighborhood. He indicated that he was trying to encourage Representative Overdorf to have an open mind on PUDs and developments and have the correct language.
Commr. Campione expressed an understanding for the intent, but opined that it could be achieved in a different way than what this bill proposed.
Commr. Parks added that this was for subdivisions that were four units to the acre with an expectation of requirements and not something out in the country.
Mr. Carmody said he would get with Mr. Rosen and Ms. Marsh to make sure he knew what was needed to protect the County. He mentioned that this bill had been around for a while and was not without controversy since it did take away some rights, noting that the Florida Governor had been on record as not being inclined to support bills such as this that took away local governments’ ability. He said he would keep the Board informed and work with Ms. Marsh regarding language that could be placed in it that would help or reduce effects to the County.
Commr. Parks summarized that Mr. Carmody would track all of the preemption bills, and keep the Board up to date on the ones they discussed.
Mr. Rosen recapped that staff would continue to schedule these updates in order to provide information to the Board and the public on what was happening in the legislature and how it benefited them; additionally, they would continue to provide updates on the topics such as the NLCHD, the changes to the TDT legislation, and growth management. He indicated that they would also pay attention to the preemption revenue/expenditure items and if there was anything that they thought might have a large impact to the County, then they would bring that to the Board’s attention as well.
Commr. Smith commented that they also needed to pay close attention to revenue/expenditure impacts that might happen, and Mr. Rosen agreed with that.
Commr. Parks thanked Mr. Carmody for participating in the meeting, and Mr. Carmody said it was a pleasure to represent the County.
short-term strategic plan
Mr. Rosen recalled that there was a Board Retreat on February 16, 2021 at which the Board reviewed what a short-term strategic plan might look like, noting that many members of the community were present at the meeting, Board priorities were provided to the members present, and those participating in the meeting were able to provide input on topics that they thought were most important for the short-term. He indicated that staff had provided a report in the Board’s packet that summarized the information from the Board Retreat meeting. He explained that they had looked at top priorities for those in attendance at the Board Retreat as well as the top priorities of the Board, and then combined the two to determine what overlap existed; furthermore, the topics that had overlap were economic development, housing and homelessness, quality of life issues, and communication. He relayed that at this retreat, they had provided priority focus areas so that individuals in attendance could vote on items that were important to them; furthermore, those that received the highest marks were economic development, intergovernmental coordination, budget, quality of life, education, and housing and homelessness. He mentioned that on the last two pages of the document in the Board’s packet were details for some of the categories which came out of staff’s request to the BCC regarding their priorities, noting this request from staff was prior to his arrival as County Manager. He remarked that looking at the short- term was the first step in long-term strategic planning, especially since they were beginning the budget process and performing long-term strategic planning would take several months. He relayed that they had discussed having meetings within the different districts; however, since that could take time to accomplish and they were moving into the budget preparation, he desired to have Board consensus in order to take their ideas and move forward with them while still working at the same time on a long-term strategic plan. He inquired if the top priorities from the Board and attendees at the retreat met the Board’s short-term goal for the next year as far as what they wanted to see in the budget so that staff could focus their budget on these priorities.
Commr. Parks asked for clarification that Mr. Rosen was wanting to know what their priorities were to focus on in the short-term.
Mr. Rosen responded that he wanted to know if these were the Board’s short-term priorities that they wanted staff to focus on in the budget. He explained that what they do would go well beyond what these four or five priorities were; however, in general, if these were items that they wanted staff to focus on this year, then as they went through the budget process, they should be seeing items that focus on economic development, housing and homelessness, communications, quality of life, emergency response, etc. He said if there was something else that the Board felt was not on the list that should be from a high level strategic priority, then he needed Board consensus so that staff could start moving forward in the budget process. He indicated that once staff got consensus on if this met what the Board was looking for in the upcoming budget process, then they could discuss the individual meetings in the different districts and the long-term strategic plan.
Commr. Parks asked the Commissioners if there was anything they thought was missing on the Board priorities’ list, noting that the focus would be on these.
Commr. Shields said that roads were mentioned quite frequently.
Commr. Parks agreed that roads would be a big issue, specifically the funding structures such as MSBUs for O&M, similar to what was discussed for Wellness Way, noting that it would be a high priority for him to get those in place.
Commr. Campione asked for clarification if Mr. Rosen was asking for input under each of the categories on the Board priorities by category section of the document or did he want them to narrow these down to five top priorities.
Mr. Rosen responded that in viewing the document, the five highest priorities for the Board were communication, emergency response, economic development, housing and homelessness, and quality of life. He explained that the individual items under each of the categories on the last two pages were items that were specifically provided by the Commission prior to the retreat, and staff wanted to place those items in the categories so that the Board could see the items that were important to them under those categories.
Commr. Campione remarked that since the budget was not spelled out as one of those, then was the assumption that it was the overriding element as it was woven into every single one of the issues. She said there needed to be some sort of recognition that they were not looking at these items in a vacuum while thinking that the budget did not affect every decision and provide restrictions on how far they could go to meet these priorities.
Mr. Rosen commented that might be the overall framework because there were some things they desired to do that they simply could not afford to do. He indicated that his goal was to bring the Board a balanced budget since by law they were required to pass a balanced budget. He asked what the Board was willing to afford to do within that guideline.
Commr. Smith asked for clarification that Mr. Rosen was saying that they would work on the top budget priorities that came up and work on the needs over the wants to ensure their budget stayed in line.
Mr. Rosen confirmed that was correct.
Commr. Campione said that was one way to state it but that some might say that one Commissioner’s needs were wants and vice versa.
Commr. Parks remarked that the budget process was long, was beginning at this point, and they had the workshops through which they would address the top items; additionally, over every single topic would be the framework of the budget. He gave roads as an example.
Commr. Campione inquired if philosophically they could get all this done and actually reduce the millage. She opined that this was the goal as residents wanted to know that their taxes were not going up. She asked if there were ways to reduce the millage, or spend more money in one area if they found a way to cut money in other areas. She stated that was the concept of the balanced budget, noting that they would not add any more but would find efficiencies. She remarked that it might be too difficult to articulate that since they all had different philosophies. She thought none of them wanted to raise taxes; however, she questioned what was the definition of what it really meant to raise taxes, and was keeping the millage the same truly increasing taxes. She reiterated that they might not be able to articulate where they were as a Board as a whole since each of them had different thoughts.
Commr. Shields said there were other things such as user fees and impact fees and it was not just property taxes.
Commr. Campione commented that it included the cost of living, the cost of doing business, and that all of those things came into play; additionally, they wanted to be business friendly, attract new business, not overdo fees or impact fees, and yet be able to pay for improvements and things that they needed.
Commr. Parks indicated that a safe starting point was to assume that from the property tax standpoint, there would not be support for an increase in that rate. He thought this could be a starting point to go into the budget process at this point. He reiterated that there were big issues but the budget was overarching all of them and there would always be a budget component to each workshop for addressing each topic.
Commr. Campione opined they could come to an agreement that there be no increase to the millage rates.
Commr. Shields noted that the County had to address the new minimum wage law.
Mr. Rosen relayed that staff was reviewing this, knew there would be some large impacts that needed to be considered, and were looking at what creative ways could be used to help mitigate this. He remarked that while the voters voted for this, if the State decided to put in legislation that cancelled it, then they would see what might happen, noting that at this point they had to plan for it and how to mitigate those increases. He indicated that it was a good goalpost to tell him to come back with a budget that kept the millage rate the same as it was currently and see what they could do with that. He shared the example that he liked having a red line at which the cost of doing business with no new services would be at that line, and that anything above that red line they could afford but anything below the line they could not afford, noting that they may need to raise the millage rate or maybe they did not need some of the items and they could lower the millage rate. He mentioned that with this approach, they could visualize the items that were important, what items they could afford, and what items they could not afford, and then decide whether to move the red line up or down. He added that within that was all the ideas that staff had come up with regarding mitigating any increases that they might have. He recapped if the Commission was fine with these items as top goals, then staff could start to focus on them in the budget process, knowing that at least they wanted to keep the millage rate the same and could then show the impact of what this would look like.
The Board relayed consensus for this approach.
Mr. Rosen indicated that in terms of long-term strategies, it sounded like the Commission desired to look long-term, noting it was important to look into the future, see how decisions made at this point would impact future years, how to measure those against where they were currently, and come back periodically to report on how they were meeting or not meeting those goals and possible reasons why. He relayed that one idea from the Board was to start having strategic meetings in the different districts, noting that the first one was going to be in the Four Corners area possibly on April 19, 2021 at the Cagans Crossing Library if that worked for the Commission.
Commr. Smith and Commr. Campione indicated that they would not be available that day.
Mr. Rosen stated that staff would coordinate available dates with the Commissioners. He also mentioned that staff would work with each of the Commissioners, if they desired, to hold these meetings in their different districts to discuss these priorities and what was important to them and their constituents in their areas; additionally, they would take any data gathered at these meetings to use as the first step in the five year strategic planning.
Commr. Smith commented that they were there to represent all of Lake County, and opined it was fantastic to be able to do these in each of the districts so that everyone had the opportunity to participate.
groveland proposed cra expansion
Ms. Marsh explained that this item was bringing back to the Board discussion and direction regarding the proposed City of Groveland Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) expansion as addressed at a previous BCC meeting. She relayed that Mr. Rosen had provided the Board with a letter from the CRA Board meeting the previous evening at which they indicated that they would remove the unincorporated properties from the expansion; therefore, this item on the day’s agenda was to get direction from the BCC if they wanted to withdraw their objection or continue with the objection. She relayed that currently the City of Groveland was set to have their second and final reading on Monday, March 15, 2021; however, the City Manager had indicated that they were pulling the unincorporated properties out of that expansion.
Mr. Michael Hein, Groveland City Manager, reiterated that the City of Groveland CRA Board met the previous evening and unanimously decided to amend, based on some of the representations and concerns, and withdraw the unincorporated portions of the proposed CRA expansion and extension from the plan; additionally, to invite the member that represented the area as an ex-officio member.
Commr. Campione asked if the concept behind having such a big CRA area was to take on the SR 50 realignment and bond out that infrastructure.
Mr. Hein suggested that it was not that large of a district proportionately and when compared to districts across the State of Florida, it would be under 15 percent of the geographic area of the municipality; furthermore, it was truly one of the most pure CRAs in the form that it was not taking the future tax base from a revenue rich area, for example, as their tax base was more in the north for the industrial and residential bases. He indicated that the intent and the reason it was long term and necessary was because the Groveland City Council had decided to go ahead and either partner with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) or not partner with them to move the SR 50 realignment project forward, noting that over the previous approximate 14 years the community had languished due to a lack of reinvestment in that core area since everyone was waiting for the realignment to happen. He said that in regards to the reduction in revenue stream, while they had great progress over the last couple of years, including the infusion of $7 million towards right-of-way (ROW) acquisition, those costs kept ballooning, noting that currently ROW acquisition for the realignment project was in excess of $30 million. He recapped that since it was not getting cheaper and FDOT was not obtaining more resources, the City intended to leverage the CRA district or bond against it to front the project or fund the project on its own.
Commr. Campione inquired if the study had been completed and if the City was at a point in which they could move right into the acquisition phase and then construction.
Mr. Hein responded that he hoped the Board could visit and see the fruits of the CRA labor at their Founder’s Day weekend to revitalize Lake David; furthermore, he mentioned that there had already been some demolition of some houses that FDOT had acquired towards the ROW. He indicated that they had started the project and that there was something visible and tangible. He said the intent was to have FDOT proceed quickly, and finish ROW acquisition within the next two years to make the project shovel ready should Federal stimulus funds be available or if they were able to develop a public-private partnership with a developer.
Commr. Campione opined that 40 years seemed like such as long time, although it sounded like the City had worked through all of this.
Mr. Hein replied that the 40 year extension was conservatively estimated to be over $30 million with the ROW acquisition estimated to be $30 million.
Commr. Campione asked if they were going to apply for a BUILD grant or other things they were attempting in order to obtain funding.
Mr. Hein responded that they were willing to apply for anything, and that they desired to partner with FDOT since eventually it would be a state owned road, noting there were other things to discuss with who owned parts of it. He relayed their desire to have a close relationship with FDOT and to jointly partner and apply for funding; however, the City was ready to move forward.
Commr. Parks expressed support for what Mr. Hein was doing in the City of Groveland, noting many discussions had happened through the years. He mentioned that the City of Groveland had a plan and had come to the BCC a few years prior with the South Lake Regional Park and had assisted the County with getting into a position where that could actually make that a reality sooner rather than later. He opined that there were many pieces that had to fall into place, that this might be one of them, that the park was part of their bigger plan, and that the key to the City of Groveland’s success was this road project. He said they had done incredible planning to address some of the issues that had been previously discussed regarding driving growth towards the center of the city. He thought it was important to have additional public dialogue regarding this in order to find ways that the County could assist with this.
Mr. Hein appreciated Commissioner Parks’ comments, and relayed that the Groveland CRA Director was prepared to provide a presentation to the BCC regarding their new future land use and form base code developed for their downtown area and core areas, noting this would require public investment in order to perform master storm drainage and centralized parking which would then reduce the burden on private property owners to have those accommodated on their property. He remarked that this would provide a more dense walkable vertical community that also yielded in the long term higher revenues.
Commr. Campione inquired about the parcels being pulled out of this proposal that were in the unincorporated areas, and said that there was nothing to stop those property owners from annexing and then not being part of the CRA unless the City later amended their CRA to add them. She added that they would still get the benefit of that tax revenue going into the City’s general fund.
Mr. Hein replied that was correct.
Mr. Rosen relayed that when staff had a meeting regarding this there was a concern from the Lake County Property Appraiser regarding how to put this all together, noting that this change would alleviate this concern. He mentioned that he had done some studies on CRAs outside of the State of Florida but assumed it might be similar to this state, and opined that if the City was able to do the realignment and pay off their bonds, then the City could end the CRA early.
Mr. Hein confirmed this.
Commr. Parks expressed an understanding of what the City was doing, and that this was a step the Board could take to alleviate some of the concerns without preventing the City from moving forward in getting the road project underway.
Commr. Smith said he was pleased that the City of Groveland CRA decided to take out the unincorporated part of the CRA district since that was his biggest concern due to the issues it would have caused to the property appraiser. He thanked the Groveland City Council for this.
On a motion by Commr. Shields, seconded by Commr. Campione, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to withdraw their letter of objection to the City of Groveland’s proposed expansion of its Community Redevelopment Agency with the provision that the City remove the parcels which reside in unincorporated Lake County, and provide an ex-officio seat on the City’s CRA Board to the County Commission
affordable housing waiver program ordinance
Ms. Jo-Anne Drury, Deputy County Manager, stated that the purpose of her presentation was to provide information on proposed changes to the Affordable Housing Assistance Program Ordinance. She recalled that on November 30, 2020, the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee recommended to the Board of County Commissioners that a process be established to allow development application fees to be waived for affordable housing projects. She explained that the proposed ordinance would do the following: consolidate several county code sections into a single chapter entitled “Housing Assistance Program;” create a new section to authorize the County Manager or designee to waive application fees for single family homes that qualify under State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) guidelines as affordable housing; create a new section that allows the Board of County Commissioners to approve waivers of application fees for multi-family affordable housing developments; and establish criteria for the Board to consider for the multi-family affordable housing waiver. She mentioned that examples of these fees included Comp Plan Amendments, re-zonings, subdivision review (pre-plat, construction plans, final plat), variance requests, all the way to a single-family home permits, etc. and excluded impact waivers as they are covered under Chapter 22, Lake County Code. She indicated that in order to qualify for a waiver, the applicant must meet the SHIP guidelines; additionally, the Board would consider the following criteria when determining whether to grant a multi-family waiver such as the financial impact of the waiver on other County functions, proximity of the project to services or access to public transportation, whether the project was being constructed by an entity for its own employees, and whether the project was being constructed for a specific target group such as workforce, senior, transitional, or bridge housing. She reported that single family waivers would be limited to 25 and if the waiver fees exceeded $500, then there would be a seven year recapture period; additionally, multi-family waivers would be limited to two per year and were subject to a 15 year recapture. She indicated that the annual fiscal impact would be approximately $1,875 for single-family waivers and $15,550 for multi-family waivers. She concluded with the requested action for the Board to approve to advertise the Affordable Housing Waiver Program Ordinance, and if approved, to hold a public hearing on March 23, 2021.
Commr. Smith asked for confirmation that on the waiving of the fee for the single family portion, it was set up for the County Manager or designee to waive that fee; however, any multi-family waiver would come to the BCC. Ms. Drury confirmed this was correct.
Commr. Campione commented that this was something staff had been working on, and that it was one more tool in the toolbox for affordable housing, was something the County did not have prior, and was something they could discuss with the Cities if they wanted to take a similar approach.
On a motion by Commr. Blake, seconded by Commr. Campione, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to advertise the Affordable Housing Waiver Program Ordinance, and to hold a public hearing on March 23, 2021.
community development block grant funds
Ms. Drury mentioned that she would provide background information, options for the Board’s consideration, and then turn it over to the Board for discussion and direction regarding the reallocation of available Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. She reported that the County had $1,050,000 of CDBG funds that were available for reallocation, and that reallocating the funds would require a substantial amendment to the 2018, 2019, and 2020 annual CDBG action plans and would involve several steps. She explained that this item was the first step in that process which would be to obtain the Board’s input and direction on how to reallocate the funds; furthermore, the additional steps would include placing the amendments on public display, holding a public hearing to receive citizen comments, and bringing the substantial amendments back to the Board for final approval. She then displayed a list of six current projects that represented approximately $2.5 million in CDBG funding and were currently underway in various stages as follows: the Minneola water improvement project which was substantially complete; the Leesburg Teen Center which was approved at this meeting with a sub-recipient agreement under the consent agenda and would start construction soon; the Habitat for Humanity Tavares Cottages which were in construction; the Forward Paths Youth Transitional Housing facility for youth experiencing homelessness and was in the permitting phase; the Astor Library project which was in the permitting phase; and the Wooten Wonderland playground American with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements which was in the design phase. She indicated that two current projects were in need of additional funds. She stated that one was the Forward Paths construction of three transitional housing units for homeless youth which was in need of an additional $100,000 to cover increased costs in materials and labor as a result of COVID-19, as well as increased costs for items that were added to the project after the City of Eustis review, noting that these costs included a fire prevention system, site improvements, and additional screening and landscaping. She said that the Habitat for Humanity project was also in need of additional funds, and explained that this was the construction of infrastructure for the City of Tavares cottages, was an affordable housing village that would consist of 23 sustainable, affordable housing units, and that they were tiny homes between 680 and 730 square feet. She elaborated that this project was requesting additional funds in order to cover the cost of topsoil since they needed more fill than expected, and since they had experienced increases in material and labor due to COVID-19. She then presented another County need which could be addressed with CDBG funding which was the resurfacing of roads that served the low/moderate income areas. She indicated that approximately 10 miles of roads could be resurfaced with $800,000 of CDBG funding, noting that staff had identified 1.9 miles of four rated roads, 7.3 miles of five rated roads, and 0.8 miles of six rated roads that would be eligible for this funding; furthermore, this would increase the road resurfacing project by 28 percent. She then showed several maps that identified the roads which staff were proposing to be resurfaced with CDBG funds, noting that they were local roads in the Okahumpka, Bassville Park, Pine Lakes, the south side of the City of Umatilla, and the Lake Mack areas. She then summarized these three possible options for the reallocation of available CDBG funds as follows: to reallocate $100,000 to the Forward Paths Youth Transitional Housing, $150,000 to the Habitat for Humanity Tavares Cottage, and $800,000 for road resurfacing; to reallocate the full amount to road resurfacing; or to reallocate funds to other projects that met CDBG eligibility requirements.
Commr. Parks asked when they would go into the 2021 CDBG annual action plans in regards to decisions for that year.
Ms. Drury replied that cycle was beginning at the current time and would be coming to the Board in the spring.
Commr. Parks indicated that the reason for his inquiry was because that as a follow up to the presentation they had at the previous BCC meeting from the Lincoln Park committee, the Lake County School District did execute a memorandum of understanding and agreement to move forward, if everything aligned with some conditions, and to follow through with the transition of that property to the general vision of the Lincoln Park committee, with a component of that being the Lake-Technical College for jobs training. He asked if this would affect their ability to discuss this going into the 2021 action plan for CDBG funds.
Ms. Drury confirmed that was correct, and added that they would need to review the location since the City of Clermont was not an urban county partner with Lake County so they may not be eligible if the school was in the city limits. She said they might have to apply directly for their own CDBG funding, although she stated staff could review.
Commr. Smith inquired about the list of current projects as displayed in the presentation and if the projects on the list would use all of the funding.
Ms. Drury responded that the projects on the list were currently funded and underway; however, they were looking to award additional amounts to the two current projects of the Habitat for Humanity Tavares Cottages and the Forward Paths Youth Transitional Housing which would be additional funding then what was seen on the list.
Commr. Campione thought that this funding becoming available was a wonderful solution, and that by placing part of it towards the cottages and Forward Paths was keeping to the original intent of the funding which was to address housing needs. She opined that doing some of the resurfacing projects in these areas was great too and would be much appreciated.
Commr. Blake thanked staff for putting this list together.
Commr. Campione commented that in regards to the 2021 CDBG funding, if it could not be utilized inside the city limits, then they should keep in mind the possibility of trying to get a couple of duplexes in place that could be used for transitional housing so that they would be available for the homelessness and housing team. She gave the example that if they had an individual who they were attempting to get qualified so that they would be able to have their rent paid or doing what they needed to do to receive United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding, then this would provide an in-between place for them, noting that it did not need to be a complex but could be a couple of units in each district that would be used as needed even if they were vacant for a few months until someone needed them. She thought this would qualify to use CDBG funding for and something to consider in the overall housing and homelessness strategy.
Commr. Parks agreed and reiterated his questions regarding the possibility to use for Lincoln Park and for staff to see what could potentially be done for those in the city limits.
Ms. Drury said staff would research this.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Blake, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to reallocate available CDBG funds as follows: $100,000 to the Forward Paths Youth Transitional Housing; $150,000 to the Habitat for Humanity Tavares Cottage; and $800,000 for road resurfacing to whichever roads the Lake County Public Works Department deemed the most critical.
Mr. Rosen mentioned that in the past, he had utilized CDBG funding for resurfacing since it was quicker and easier to meet the timeliness. He said that if this was something that the Board desired to see in the future, then as staff worked on future plans they could allocate some of this funding to housing and to roads for the Board’s consideration.
Commr. Parks indicated that the Board would be interested in this, and expressed appreciation to County staff for this innovative option.
Commr. Campione commented that she realized timeliness was a big part of this; however, she inquired about locations in areas that would meet the CDBG requirements but had dirt roads.
Mr. Rosen indicated that he had discussed this with Mr. Fred Schneider, Public Works Director; however, their concern was the timeliness issue as those types of projects would require to go out for bid. He relayed that staff could still review for future years since it took less funding and time to maintain paved roads as compared to dirt roads.
library advisory board
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Campione, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to appoint the following members to the Library Advisory Board: Ms. Kristin Graffeo for District 1; Ms. Belynda Rinck for District 3; Mr. John Nystrom for District 5 as a reappointment; and Mr. John Stewart as the City of Mount Dora member with Ms. Tiffany Patterson as the City of Mount Dora alternate member.
commissioner shields – district 1
revisions to lcc-59, Grant policy
Mr. Rosen relayed that Commissioner Shields had an idea for a way to be more efficient, and stated that there were grants that the County sometimes applies for which do not require BCC approval to apply for such grants. He explained that this agenda item would change the process so that authority could be provided to the County Manager, or designee, to approve grant requests, noting that they would still come back to the BCC for final approval. He elaborated that one item he was still discussing with staff was to ensure they were doing their due diligence in that process by applying for grants that met the County’s strategic needs. He commented that since there were some granting agencies that required the Board to approve the applications before they moved forward, then he inquired if the BCC would be comfortable providing authority to the Board Chairman to approve grant applications in those instances where the County Manager did not have the authority by the granting agency so that the Chairman could sign them. He indicated that with these changes, then no grant applications would have to come to the BCC as the County Manager, designee, or Board Chairman could sign them, with the approval of the grant still coming before the BCC.
Commr. Shields commented that this would streamline the process and save time in a grant cycle rather than having to wait on a BCC meeting.
Commr. Campione specified that as long as it was something that the Board would thereafter authorize or approve.
Mr. Rosen clarified that the BCC would have to approve the acceptance of the grant over a certain amount.
Ms. Marsh explained that as of this time, the grant would come back to the BCC for approval, and that the Board would just be delegating the application.
Mr. Rosen said that the wording in the policy would change slightly based on the recommendation if approved by the Board, which would provide himself or a designee to apply and/or the Board Chairman if there was a request that the granting agency required the Chairman to sign.
Commr. Campione asked about what would happen in a situation with a grant that had a huge match, and if this might put them in a situation where the Chairman signed off on something and later they discovered they had to provide a large amount of funding.
Mr. Rosen reiterated that approval for the grant would still come back to the BCC for approval. He remarked that if he and staff were considering an item and he noticed that there was a need and something the County might like to do, he would mention to the Board during his report time that they were considering it prior to him signing it to make sure there were no concerns. He said that if staff did apply for something and the BCC did not want to accept a grant, then they would not accept it, noting that he would limit those situations so as not to have a granting agency upset that the County applied and then said no.
On a motion by Commr. Shields, seconded by Commr. Smith, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the revisions to LCC-59, Grant Policy, to allow the County Manager, or designee, to approve grant applications, and to allow the BCC Chairman to sign grant applications in those instances where the granting agency required the Board of County Commissioners to sign the application.
commissioner smith – vice chairman and district 3
tavares city council meeting
Commr. Smith mentioned that Mr. Rosen had gone with him to the Tavares City Council meeting as well as the Astatula Town Council meeting, noting that the meetings went well.
lake county agriculture center
Commr. Smith opined that the Lake County Agriculture Center maintenance was looking better, and he thanked Mr. Wes Jones, Director for the Office of Facilities Management, for his assistance with this endeavor.
commissioner CAMPIONE – district 4
east lake county historical society meeting
Commr. Campione shared that she had attended the East Lake County Historical Society meeting the previous evening, and that she had provided an update on the future of the Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento area to them. She relayed that she showed several maps of the area to them, including the SR 437 realignment, the Round Lake Road extension, the East Lake Community Park master plan, and the Wekiva Trail alignment. She opined it was a good event and indicated that she would attend every six months to report on things happening in that area; additionally, she had also received feedback from people who had used the Neighborhood Lakes Trail Head. She reported that the Society had asked her to bring a request to the BCC regarding their desire to have the BCC assist with restoring the sunken garden which was on County property and part of the former Mt. Plymouth Golf Course and Resort so that people on the trail could enjoy it, noting that could be an item she would bring to the Board in the future.
Commr. Parks opined those were the items that make the community unique and the Board should promote when possible.
commissioner blake – district 5
lady lake town council meeting
Commr. Blake said that he had introduced Mr. Rosen to the Lady Lake Town Council the previous week, noting that the council was appreciative for his attendance.
commissioner parks – Chairman and district 2
city of eustis georgefest event
Commr. Parks congratulated the City of Eustis for a successful GeorgeFest event.
clermont and minneola city council meetings
Commr. Parks thanked Mr. Rosen for attending the Cities of Clermont and Minneola Council meetings, and mentioned they would continue with follow up meetings with the City of Minneola staff to improve communication regarding roads, transportation, and trails.
lake county business tax
Commr. Parks relayed that he was made aware that a couple of Lake County businesses were having issues with other counties which were requiring registration fees and taxes in order to prove they were a business and perform business in their county since Lake County no longer required businesses to register and pay business taxes. He asked staff to research how to address this in order to assist local businesses. He thought it was good for Lake County to repeal that fee; however, he did not want the businesses to have issues in other counties.
Commr. Blake thought there were other ways to show they were a legitimate business such as on Sunbiz.
winter garden action regarding traffic on marsh road
Commr. Parks asked Mr. Rosen for an update regarding the City of Winter Garden’s recent action to restrict truck traffic on Marsh Road which was discussed at the previous BCC meeting.
Mr. Rosen relayed that he had attended a meeting the previous day with those involved which had gone well, noting that the Department of Transportation, the Cities of Clermont and Winter Garden, Titan America, representatives from the sand mining association, and the County were there; additionally, the City of Winter Garden had met with residents to discuss the issues and see if there was a better way to work with all the stakeholders to alleviate the situation without having to go through legal action. He indicated that the second reading of the City of Winter Garden ordinance would happening on the Thursday of this week, that he planned to attend this meeting, and that they had a couple of meetings so far to discuss ways to possibly address the concerns. He mentioned that while the City of Winter Garden’s resolution stated that there were about 1,400 trucks per day, which was not merely 1,400 trucks headed east but all together going east and west, Titan America had counted their trucks and since they were winding down their operation over the next couple of years, they had 60 to 80 trucks per day and were not sure where the other trucks were coming from. He relayed that one borrow pit that was part of Titan America’s operation had over 200 trucks, and if all those trips when leaving and coming back were added together, it was approximately 700 trips rather than the 1,400 mentioned in the resolution. He indicated that Titan America had cameras on the road and that they were willing to have someone watch those cameras in order to get an understanding of what other trucks were using the road; additionally, he commented that even the mining association said that their trucks from the Green Swamp would not even come over in that direction and did not think any of their additional trucks were part of that group. He hoped that staff would be able to obtain information from Titan America as to who else was utilizing that road; furthermore, staff had performed some traffic counts as well as some coring of Hancock Road, although he relayed that Titan America mentioned that they would likely not use Hancock Road but would go U.S. 27 to SR 50 if needed. He summarized that there was good conversation and that Titan America would attempt to alleviate as much as possible and desired to work with the City of Winter Garden, noting that the City appeared to be willing to acquiesce some and talk with the residents regarding what could or could not be done.
Commr. Parks noted that three of the Winter Garden Commission members were up for election which was happening on this day. He indicated that he would also attend the second reading on that coming Thursday, noting that he would not speak on behalf of the BCC but be there to listen and if asked, would relay the County’s preference to rescind the resolution and work through the issues.
Mr. Rosen remarked that he would ask the Winter Garden City Manager for an update on the meeting with the residents the previous evening and would share any information with the BCC.
emergency powers and spending cap during state of emergency
Commr. Parks recalled that Commissioner Blake had inquired about what the Chairman does with a state of emergency, and communicated that state of emergency resolutions were signed every week, noting that the former Chairman had also done this. He inquired whether the Board wanted the Chairman to continue doing this, although he relayed that previous Chairmen understood the purpose and need for the orders to come from the Chairman and to act timely, such as in hurricane situations.
Commr. Campione asked for clarification if Commissioner Parks was inquiring about this within the context of what Commissioner Blake had previously mentioned as she thought it was not a concern regarding the state of emergency as they were following what other Counties were doing, noting that if it came to the point where it did not make sense then they could stop that; however, she thought that Commissioner Blake had raised this in the context as a general rule and gave the example from when she was the Chairman and she instituted a curfew for a couple of days at the request of law enforcement. She commented that they could create a process for this such that if it was a weekend and a special meeting was unable to take place but the Chairman needed did do something, then it could possibly only be in place for no more than a certain period of time, noting that if there was enough time to call an emergency meeting then they would do so instead of having the Chairman make that decision.
Commr. Blake explained that his previous comments were not necessarily related to anything that had happened in Lake County; rather, it was due to the experience over the previous year and what he had seen in other parts of the country which made him consider if their procedures could be locked down more so that power such as that could not be abused in the future in Lake County. He commented that if they were unable to meet in person, then possibly meeting virtually might be an option for any emergency situations. He stated that his other concern regarding this was the spending cap for emergencies.
Mr. Rosen explained that the weekly continuance of the state of emergency was a State law, which Ms. Marsh confirmed. He remarked that when he started, Ms. Marsh had provided him with the County’s emergency powers information, and wondered if it had been a while since they had reviewed it.
Ms. Marsh reported that it was a 1992 resolution and was not codified; additionally, she was working on an ordinance based on discussions with Commissioner Blake. She indicated that she would put this ordinance together, would provide it to the Board for comments, and would then have a public hearing on it. She said that the intent was to place it in the Lake County Code so that it was available, noting that in the previous year, her office had received several public records requests regarding the emergency powers and she had to provide the 1992 resolution to people.
Mr. Rosen said that in conjunction with this, he wanted to talk with Mr. Carpenter regarding best practices for emergency management, especially in non-charter counties in the State of Florida since there were different regulations, in order to look at this holistically to determine what would make the most sense for the County, noting that he had not yet discussed this with Ms. Marsh.
Commr. Campione opined that was a great idea. She commented that in situations like hurricanes, one item that comes up often is like the situation in Astor with flooding and power outages and the Chairman is often asked on the spot to place a curfew in effect. She relayed that this raises the question as to whether they should or should not do this. She indicated that she gets input from law enforcement and asks questions such as if this would be enforceable, if it would serve its purpose, if they were attempting to protect businesses from being looted, if they were trying to protect people’s safety, and how long would the curfew last. She thought that having these discussions and going through what best practices should be in order to establish guidelines for whoever was serving as the Chairman would provide guidance.
Commr. Parks opined that would make it easier, and if it could be accomplished prior to the hurricane season would be great.
Ms. Marsh reported that there was a bill in the Florida Legislature that would change the emergency management powers of Counties which would add a sort of strict scrutiny standard that the Board would have to comply with anytime they were going to impose an emergency order. She relayed that currently under case law it was a fairly deferential standard to a local government; therefore, it looked like this particular bill would pull away from the deferential standard and put it more into a first amendment strict scrutiny standard. She indicated that this bill was working its way through and she was unsure exactly where it was in the legislative process as her office was just informed about it the previous week.
Commr. Campione asked if someone local wrote the bill.
Ms. Marsh replied that it was Senator Manny Diaz.
Commr. Parks thanked Ms. Marsh for the clarification.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 3:42 p.m.
SEAN PARKS, chairman
GARY J COONEY, CLERK