A regular MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
March 23, 2021
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 9:00 a.m., in the County Commission Chambers, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Sean Parks, Chairman; Kirby Smith, Vice Chairman; Douglas B. Shields; Leslie Campione; and Josh Blake. Others present were: Alan Rosen, County Manager; Melanie Marsh, County Attorney; Niki Booth, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Gary J. Cooney, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller; Kristy Mullane, Chief Financial Officer; and Josh Pearson, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION and pledge
Commr. Parks welcomed everyone to the meeting. He said they were meeting in person and that the meeting was also being streamed live on the County’s website; additionally, they were broadcasting via Zoom Webinar so that members of the public could participate virtually. He commented that the veteran who would be leading the Pledge of Allegiance was Ms. Jessica Ferguson. He explained that Ms. Ferguson was an Assistant Veterans Services Officer in the County’s Veterans Services Office, and that she had served in the United States (U.S.) Navy as an Aviation Ordnanceman from February 2005 until December 2006 when she was honorably medically discharged. He added that she was stationed at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, with Strike Fighter Squadron 15, which was attached to the USS Theodore Roosevelt. He said that during her time in the Navy, she was awarded the Global War on Terror Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon. He thanked Ms. Ferguson for her service.
Chaplain Rick Spence, with the Office of Fire Rescue, gave the invocation and Ms. Ferguson led the Pledge of Allegiance.
virtual meeting instructions
Mr. Erikk Ross, Director for the Information Technology (IT) Department, explained that this meeting was being livestreamed on the County website and was also being made available through Zoom Webinar for members of the public who wished to provide comments during the Citizen Question and Comment Period later in the agenda. He elaborated that anyone watching though the livestream who wished to participate 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 raise their hand, and anyone participating online could click the raise hand button to identify that they wished to speak. He said that when it was time for public comment, he would read the person’s name or phone number, unmute the appropriate line, and the speaker would be asked to provide comments. He added that everyone would have three minutes to speak, and after three minutes an alarm would sound to let them know that their time was up. He added that they previously notified the public that comments could be emailed through 5:00 p.m. on the previous day, and those comments were shared with the Board prior to the meeting. He stated that anyone wishing to provide written comments during the meeting could visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/commissionmeeting, noting that comments sent during this meeting would be shared with the Commission after the meeting was concluded.
presentation to lake county fair board
Commr. Parks said that Congressman Daniel Webster was a guest at the current meeting and that he had a presentation to make to the Lake County Fair Board of Directors.
Congressman Webster thanked the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) and noted that this presentation was for the fair which was coming in slightly over two weeks. He encouraged everyone to attend and opined that fairs were a great tradition; furthermore, this was the 100th anniversary of the fair. He thanked the BCC for what they did and said that he loved the fairs. He then presented a certificate to Mr. Todd Luce, President of the Lake County Fair Board of Directors.
Mr. Luce thanked Congressman Webster for recognizing them, and he also thanked the BCC. He noted that the Lake County Fair Board of Directors were volunteers and that they were excited about going forth. He relayed that safety was a significant concern and that they worked with the State, local health officials, and the Lake County Office of Emergency Management to put a safety plan together. He mentioned that they could not have the fair without the support of County staff and the citizens of Lake County.
Commr. Parks encouraged everyone to attend the fair.
Commr. Parks said that Mr. Chris Carmody, with GrayRobinson, would give the State legislative update remotely at 9:45 a.m. because he would be visiting the City of Tallahassee on the current day.
Mr. Alan Rosen, County Manager, requested to remove Tab 17, which was for a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant; additionally, the County had passed a new policy that allowed either the BCC Chairman or the County Manager to sign a grant agreement. He added that the cost to ask the Federal Government for that funding was within his authority to spend; therefore, it did not have to come to the BCC. He also said that he had a meeting with the Mount Dora and Tavares City Managers on the following day to discuss this item and ensure that everything was correct before moving forward.
Commr. Campione opined that it might make sense at some point to have a resolution in the BUILD grant packet that the Board adopted.
Mr. Rosen agreed and thought that they had time for this. He relayed his understanding that when he previously asked, the application process had not come out yet, and they would have 30 days to apply. He noted that this item could be tabled currently and he could bring it back on one of the next agendas.
Commr. Campione expressed support for ensuring that there was not a misunderstanding with the City partners that the County was not supporting the effort.
Mr. Rosen then stated that for Tab 6, he received an email from the Eustis City Manager regarding the joint meeting; therefore, this was added to the packet for background information.
Mr. Tommy Carpenter, Director for the Office of Emergency Management, reported on the former Sears vaccination site at Lake Square Mall where the County had partnered with the Florida Department of Health (DOH). He said that the site had been open since January 27, 2021 and had provided 64,202 shots with an average of about 1,605 shots per day. He relayed that the Florida Governor’s Executive Order 21-67, which went into effect on the previous day, allowed the following eligible populations to receive a vaccine: long-term care facility residents and staff; persons 50 years of age and older; healthcare personnel with direct patient contact; and residents determined to be extremely vulnerable by a physician with a properly completed DOH form. He mentioned that over the past weekend, they reached a milestone of vaccinating 75 percent of their 65+ population. He said that their daily positivity rate was still about five percent, and their overall cumulative positivity rate was 8.97 percent, which was the lowest among surrounding counties. He added that Congressman Webster would be stopping by the Sears site for a tour on the current day, and he thanked volunteers including staff, municipal fire service, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO), and the Lake County Tax Collector’s Office.
Commr. Parks thanked Mr. Carpenter, staff, and volunteers. He commented that the county had respect for the disease and mourned those that had been lost, but they did not live in fear. He said that the economy seemed to be getting stronger and it was due to efforts from people like Mr. Carpenter.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Blake, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the minutes for the BCC meeting of December 8, 2020 (Regular Meeting) as presented.
citizen question and comment period
Mr. Nathan Focht, a Lake County resident who volunteered at the vaccination center at Lake Square Mall, acknowledged the amazing work that the County was doing for citizens. He noted that the site could provide 3,000 doses daily, and he encouraged the Board to visit the site.
Mr. Herbert Reed, a resident of Lake County, requested that the second Sunday in June be set aside each year as Racial Amity Day for Lake County. He listed other counties that were doing this, and noted that the State and the United States (U.S.) Congress were also being asked to participate.
Mr. Theo Bob, a resident of the City of Eustis, thanked the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) and expressed appreciation for a statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune being brought to the Lake County Historical Museum.
Dr. Melody Duckins, a resident of the Town of Lady Lake, spoke in favor of continuing the North Lake County Hospital District (NLCHD) and the funding it provided for indigent healthcare. She shared why this meant so much to her personally, and she questioned what the contingency plan would be if the district was taken away. She commented that the district only cost residents about $150 per year, and noted that the people were in favor of the NLCHD in 2016.
Mr. Ross said that there was one hand raised over Zoom Webinar.
Ms. Patricia Bennett, a property owner in the Town of Astatula, said that she was the former clinic resource manager at St. Luke’s Medical and Dental Clinic in the City of Eustis. She described her former position and mentioned that the clinics were the primary recipients of funds from the NLCHD; furthermore, the clinics provided not only primary medical care, but LifeStream Behavioral Center and the hospitals also provided labs, radiology, and mental health services. She added that basic dental care, specialty physician and surgical care could be provided through We Care of Lake County. She relayed her understanding that if patients used the emergency room rather than the existing system, their care would cost about 500 times more. She commented that each county in the State of Florida was responsible for its own indigent medical care, and each county had a system in place for providing for their uninsured residents.
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 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Consent Agenda, Items 1 and 2, as follows:
List of Warrants
Notice is hereby provided of warrants paid prior to this meeting, pursuant to Chapter 136.06 (1) of the Florida Statutes, which shall be incorporated into the Minutes and filed in the Board Support Division of the Clerk's Office.
Lands Available List
Notice is hereby provided of having received a list of property placed on the Lands Available List.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
Commr. Smith asked to pull Tabs 6, 7 and 12 to the regular agenda.
Commr. Parks reiterated that Tab 17 would be pulled from the agenda and would not be heard separately.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Consent Agenda, Tabs 3 through 16, pulling Tabs 6, 7, 12 and 17, as follows:
Request approval of Proclamation 2021-29 designating April 11 - 17, 2021, as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. There is no fiscal impact.
Request approval of Proclamation 2021-41 designating March 2021 as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, per Commissioner Parks.
Request approval of Proclamation 2021-46 designating April 10, 2021, as Gopher Tortoise Day in Lake County. There is no fiscal impact.
1. Of Contract 21-0503 with J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Columbus, OH) for purchasing card services.
2. To authorize the Office of Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation.
The estimated annual fiscal impact is $84,000.00 (revenue), which is based on the current contract and level of usage.
human resources and risk management
1. To extend Contracts 17-0001 for temporary labor services with AUE Staffing, Inc. (Altamonte Springs, FL) and People Ready FL, Inc. (Tacoma, WA) through May 30, 2022.
2. To authorize the Office of Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation.
The estimated annual fiscal impact is $250,000.00 (expenditure) and is within, and will not exceed, the 2021 Fiscal Year Budget.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
Emergency Medical Services
1. Of Contract 21-0505 for purchase of pharmaceuticals from Medline Industries, Inc. (Northfield, IL) and pharmaceuticals plus controlled substances from Bound Tree Medical, LLC (Dublin, OH) and Henry Schein, Inc. (Melville, NY).
2. To authorize the Office of Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation.
The estimated annual fiscal impact is $277,260.00 (expenditure) and is within, and will not exceed, the 2021 Fiscal Year Budget.
1. Of Contract 21-0504 for purchase of medical equipment and supplies from Bound Tree Medical, LLC (Dublin, OH), Dealmed Medical Supplies, LLC (Philadelphia, PA), Henry Schein, Inc. (Melville, NY), Medical Equipment Sales, Inc. (Gainesville, FL) Medline Industries, Inc. (Northfield, IL), Nashville Medical and EMS Products, Inc. (Springfield, TN), QuadMed, Inc. (Jacksonville, FL), and Stryker Sales Corporation (Redmond, WA).
2. To authorize the Office of Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation.
The estimated annual fiscal impact is $1,481.861.00 (expenditure) and is within, and will not exceed, the 2021 Fiscal Year Budget.
PUBLIC SERVICES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Request approval to utilize Contract 061015-RPL with Sourcewell (a cooperative purchasing public agency formerly known as National Joint Powers Alliance) for the purchase of replacement lift equipment. The estimated fiscal impact is $61,535.21 (expenditure) and is within, and will not exceed, the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget.
Request approval of Resolution 2021-48 to advertise a public hearing to vacate permanent grading and drainage easements lying on the east side of North Hancock Road between the Turnpike interchange and CR 561 in the Minneola area.
The fiscal impact is $2,295.00 (revenue-vacation application fee) and is within the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. Commission District 2.
Request approval to accept the final plat for Cagan Crossings East and all areas dedicated to the public as shown on the Cagan Crossings East final plat, located in the Four Corners area. The fiscal impact is $1,551.00 (revenue - final plat application fee). Commission District 1.
Request approval to accept the final plat for Palms at Serenoa Phase 3 and all areas dedicated to the public as shown on the Palms at Serenoa Phase 3 final plat, located near Clermont. The fiscal impact is $1,551.00 (revenue - final plat application fee). Commission District 1.
proclamation 2021-29 public safety telecommunicators week
Commr. Smith commented that there were guests in attendance from the County’s 911 service including Mr. Greg Holcomb, Director for the Office of Public Safety Support, Ms. Kimberly Stevens, and Ms. Joanna Buchanan. He thanked them for what they did and said it was a challenging job. He then read Proclamation 2021-29.
Tab 6: Resolution for joint meeting with city of eustis
Commr. Smith said that Tab 6 regarded a public meeting with the BCC and the City of Eustis, and he believed that the City had requested that there be no mediator at this meeting. He noted that there had been multiple meetings in the past without a mediator to no avail, and he thought that it was important to have a mediator. He requested that the BCC only have this meeting if they had a mediator, noting that it was an important issue that needed to be done properly in an effective manner.
Commr. Parks stated that he had talked to some Eustis City Commissioners, and they thought that a meeting could be productive if it was just commission to commission with two attorneys in the room. He elaborated that if this did not work, then they could possibly have a mediator after that.
Commr. Smith asked if this was how it worked before.
Commr. Parks recalled that they had a face to face meeting which included staff.
Commr. Campione noted that there was a previous meeting without a mediator, and she opined that they did not get much done. She commented that Mr. Rosen, herself, and Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, had attended the Eustis City Commission meeting on the previous Thursday to introduce Mr. Rosen, and the City had this item on the agenda. She recalled that the Mayor of Eustis had indicated that the City Manager would coordinate with the County Manager to get the meeting set up; furthermore, she opined that the County representatives were given the impression that they could leave the meeting. She relayed that she and Mr. Rosen left the meeting, though Ms. Marsh stayed. She added that at the end of the meeting, the City Commission discussed that agenda item. She noted that it was a long discussion and that several City Commissioners did not think it made sense to have mediation, and she relayed that it was said that the City and County at least needed to meet; additionally, the City Manager said that he did not see how anything was going to come of this because the City and County were at a stalemate over particular issues. She opined that if they did not have a mediator, they could have a challenging time getting something accomplished.
Commr. Parks relayed his understanding that mediation would be the way to go.
Commr. Blake expressed support for trying something different since they had done this twice before and it ended up contentious. He thought that having someone facilitate the meeting would be helpful.
Mr. Rosen asked what would the Board like him to do if the City Manager said that the City refused to meet if they had a mediator.
Commr. Parks replied that they would like to have the City Manager come to the Board and tell them why the City did not want to have a mediator.
Commr. Campione thought that the City possibly did not want to pay for the mediator.
Commr. Parks did not think that it should be too expensive for the County and City to share the cost.
Mr. Rosen inquired if the Board would be fine with the County paying for the mediator if the City refused to pay.
Commr. Smith proposed waiting until the Eustis City Manager came before the Board.
Mr. Rosen said that he would contact the City and get back in touch with the Board.
Ms. Marsh commented that Tab 6 still needed to be approved if the Board wanted to have the March 31, 2021 meeting; additionally, if the meeting would be delayed, staff could bring this item back at a later meeting.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Shields and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved a request from County Attorney for approval of adoption and execution of Resolution 2021-47 authorizing a joint public meeting with the City of Eustis, with the condition to have a mediator.
state legislative update
Commr. Parks explained that this would be a Florida Legislative Session update, noting that Mr. Carmody was working hard for the County to keep track of the legislative agenda items.
Mr. Carmody said that for the County’s four legislative priorities adopted in fall or winter 2020, they were in good posture for the public use building, noting that it was heard in the Florida House of Representatives subcommittee which made it eligible for the budget. He added that the Green Mountain Connector Trail and the Wekiva Trail were well positioned, along with the public radios. He stated that their sponsors in the House and Florida Senate had the appropriations where they needed them to be, so he believed that at least one or two of those projects would be included in the initial budget. He discussed preemption issues and said that for emergency orders, there was a committee bill proposed on the previous day which was aimed at curtailing the Florida Governor and some agencies’ powers due to concern from the business community if different individuals in charge would be as accommodating to the needs of keeping the State of Florida open. He added that included in this legislation were some items relating to local emergency orders and ordinances regarding public emergencies and pandemics. He stated that there was another bill that looked to deal with emergency orders at the local level, and he opined that it was not a good piece of legislation as it related to home rules; furthermore, his organization was working with the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) and other groups to amend it or defeat the legislation. He mentioned that there was legislation that would preempt to the State the regulation of certain occupational licenses, and he opined that it was not in a great posture yet as far as preserving the County’s ability to regulate and license in the county. He also said that the issue of building design would preempt building design in the county, city and special district to the State, with a few exceptions. He noted that Lake County was experiencing a large amount of growth, and that his organization was working with stakeholders to either amend or defeat the legislation. He clarified that there were also other preemption issues, though these were the ones that were starting to catch momentum. He said that for policy issues, the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) fix that was previously discussed was still in transportation bills, commenting that there was another emerging transportation bill in the Florida Senate; furthermore, his organization had conversations about getting this language amended into that bill. He mentioned that for online sales tax, the United States President and Speaker of the House had agreed on terms to enforce the online sales tax required under State laws, and the offset of that funding would be to fund the unemployment tax rolls which would otherwise be a tax on businesses for the next four years. He elaborated that once the unemployment fund was at $4.3 billion or higher, they would start using the tax revenue for other items or let it roll into general revenue. He clarified that this still had to pass the Florida Legislature and be signed by the Governor, and he relayed his opinion that it would make it to the finish line. He said that for COVID-19 liability, which would also protect local governments, businesses and nonprofits, the House passed their version and the Senate put forward its version which amended the healthcare entities-only version into the overall local governments, businesses and non-profits. He mentioned that the Senate now had a complete version covering all entities, and that it was on the third reading calendar. He relayed that they would take up the Senate bill, likely pass it as is with possibly one or two amendments, and he thought that the Governor would sign it fairly quickly as the effective date of the bill was when the retroactivity on the claims went into effect. He expressed appreciation for Commissioner Smith visiting the City of Tallahassee in the previous week and said that he appreciated the Board’s time.
Commr. Parks asked about the status of the North Lake County Hospital District bill.
Mr. Carmody replied that it had not moved yet and unless something changed, he did not like its prospects in this session; however, that committee had one more schedule.
Commr. Smith expressed appreciation for the update.
Mr. Carmody said that Representative Keith Truenow and his chief legislative aide were helpful in ensuring that Commissioner Smith’s schedule was productive. He relayed that all of the County’s legislative delegation was good, and that Representative Truenow had been excellent as a freshman member.
Commr. Parks agreed with this and said that they were working hard.
Commr. Campione asked about two trails and mentioned that a past issue with the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) was if they were to receive an appropriation for a specific capital project that was otherwise on their MPO list, and if the project was vetoed, then they would have to take it off the table for one or two years before they could ask the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for funding. She asked if having these trails as their legislative priorities would be the County breaking its rule that they asked the other members of the Lake-Sumter MPO to follow, or was it possibly because of the types of trails that they would not necessarily fall into this category.
Commr. Parks asked if Mr. Carmody could work with Mr. Mike Woods, Executive Director of the Lake-Sumter MPO, to provide some clarity by the next BCC meeting.
Mr. Carmody confirmed that he could get an answer to this, noting that they would have a better idea if the trails were in play by then. He said that the County ran the risk when they did anything that utilized FDOT funding that there would be some swapping out of projects if they took one. He thought that it would be productive to get an understanding of what was left in the work plan for the next year and what could be vulnerable.
Commr. Campione said that she was hopeful that these projects could be treated different and come from different funding so it would not be a trade out. She encouraged Mr. Carmody to explore this, and she thought that the County had to be cautious.
Commr. Parks noted that there would still be time to react if they got an answer in two weeks.
Ms. Marsh mentioned that on the previous day, FAC sent out an action alert regarding Senate Bill 750 by Senator Joe Gruters, and it was scheduled for the following day. She said that this was an impact fee bill looking to narrow the types of things that the County could use its impact fee funding for. She elaborated that the following items would be excluded if the bill passed: law enforcement vehicles and equipment; fire trucks and equipment; and emergency medical services (EMS) vehicles and equipment. She added that it would also expand the requirement to provide dollar for dollar credits without regard to the type of facility or impact fee, such as if a developer built a road, they could take those impact fee credits and use it toward any impact fee, rather than just transportation impact fees. She stated that it would also cap the amount that impact fees could increase at three percent annually, regardless of the actual magnitude of new growth impact to a community. She said that FAC sent this item out with a list of individuals to contact in the Florida Senate, and she could provide it to the Board.
Commr. Parks questioned whether the Board should write a resolution opposing bills, and he said that traditionally, the Board members weighed in individually. He commented that he would be writing a letter not representing the BCC, and that he would be contacting their representatives regarding his opposition to some of these preemption bills.
Ms. Marsh explained that the County used impact fees for firetrucks and equipment, along with EMS equipment.
Commr. Campione noted that the County collected school impact fees and turned them over to the school district. She asked that if this bill were to pass and the County gave impact fee credits to someone who paid for road construction, would the County hold back funding that would otherwise go to the school district.
Ms. Marsh replied that the example in the action alert said that contribution of a school would be offset against transportation impact fees if no school impact fee was in place. She said that it depended on the wording on the bill, but it looked like there would be the ability to offset using other impact fees if they did not have enough transportation costs they had to pay.
Commr. Parks opined that there were examples of another place in the state where there was an issue, and expressed concerns for making laws that affected everyone throughout the state.
tab 7: county-owned properties
Commr. Smith said that this item regarded selling properties that the County had obtained. He stated that he was fine with some of them, though he had concerns about the following alternate keys: alternate key 1184444 which was valued at $4,800 and offered $300 on a winning bid; and alternate key 2928956 which was a $6,750 property offered at $1,751. He also pointed out that the County was paying the $200 closing cost, and he questioned why the County was paying the closing costs rather than the person who put the bid in. He asked if they could pull these properties to see if a real estate agent could try to sell them at their just value.
Ms. Marsh asked for an image of alternate key 1184444 to be displayed, and explained that it was a 60 by 110 foot lot located on Fern Drive in the City of Leesburg; furthermore, it was acquired through a tax deed as escheatment in 2015. She said that they had tried a few times to sell this property and that they put it out to bid. She remarked that it was valued by the Lake County Property Appraiser’s Office at about $4,800, and clarified that the adjoining property owner had offered $500 for it. She stated that the property to the right was the individual who was interested in purchasing the property highlighted in red. She said that if the Board wanted staff to pull it and put it out to bid with a realtor, they had some other properties they could package together to see if they could get a realtor who could market several different properties, possibly with a reduced commission.
Commr. Campione asked if Commissioner Smith had visited this property.
Commr. Smith replied that he had seen pictures of the property in Paisley, opining that it was just a cleanup issue. He noted that it had a hard road, and he thought that it would be fine.
Ms. Marsh explained that the second property Commissioner Smith was concerned about, alternate key 2928956, was displayed at the bottom of the screen. She said that this property was put out to bid and was a 100 by 195 foot lot on Hibiscus Avenue. She stated that it also came to the County through a tax deed as escheatment, and the County had it since 2018. She pointed out that the property had a significant amount of debris on it, and the individual who bid on it had also bid on several other properties. She mentioned that the appraised value was $6,750 on the Lake County Property Appraiser’s website, and the bid was $1,751.
Commr. Campione commented that there would be some hauling costs.
Commr. Smith said that he brought it up to see if the Board was possibly willing to try to get market value out of it. He reiterated his concern for why the County was paying $200 on the closing costs.
Commr. Blake said that they were properties that the County did not pay anything for, and part of it was trying to get it off their list of items to deal with. He also agreed with the closing costs suggestion.
Ms. Marsh explained that for closing costs, if they took all of the bids and offers and added them together, it would come to $13,473, noting that staff had subtracted the closing costs; therefore, the revenue of $11,473 on the agenda item was correct. She said that the closing costs came out of the bid amounts, and it was not cash that the County was paying; rather, it came out of the purchase price.
Commr. Campione stated that many times, the County was doing this just to facilitate a transaction so that hopefully a piece of property would be cleaned up or someone who was adjacent could better their neighborhood; otherwise, the property would just sit there. She opined that it would be more work to try another avenue.
Commr. Smith stated that it was just an idea, and thought that the $200 per transaction should go to the bidder rather than the County having to pay it.
Commr. Parks opined that they were challenging properties and that it was better to have them back in private hands. He proposed that Ms. Marsh and Commissioner Smith could meet, and that there could possibly be an option they wanted to present.
Ms. Marsh relayed that she had spoken to Commissioner Smith about it and that if the Board wanted, staff could pull these two properties, bundle them with some other properties, and put out a bid for a realtor for a lower commission rate. She added that if they did not get any bids with a significantly reduced rate, the County could go back to doing a competitive bid.
Commr. Campione noted that much of this would hinge on the realtor’s commission.
Commr. Parks said that he was amicable with this.
On a motion by Commr. Blake, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved a request from County Attorney for approval regarding the following County-owned properties: accept Offers to Purchase on Alternate Keys 1797152 and 3619889; award bid to the highest bidder for purchasing Alternate Keys 1125898, 1310407, 1335612, 1340659, 1343232, and 1394589; authorize the Chairman to execute any necessary closing documents, removing alternate keys 1184444 and 2928956.
tab 12: amendment to centurylink master service agreement
Commr. Smith relayed that CenturyLink was now called Lumen, who he was currently employed with. He believed that he needed to abstain from the vote.
Commr. Parks noted that Commissioner Smith would fill out the appropriate paperwork.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Shields and carried by a vote of 4-0, the Board approved a request from Public Safety of an amendment to the CenturyLink Master Service Agreement, adding Next Generation Core Services for the 911 system. Funding was previously approved under the 2020 State 911 Grant Award.
Commr. Smith abstained from voting.
public hearings: REZONING
rezoning consent agenda
Mr. Tim McClendon, Director for the Office of Planning and Zoning, displayed the advertisements for that day’s rezoning cases on the overhead monitor in accordance with the Florida Statutes. He said that Tab 1 on the consent agenda was unanimously recommended for approval by the Planning and Zoning Board on March 3, 2021.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding any cases on the Rezoning Consent Agenda, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Rezoning Consent Agenda, Tab 1, as follows:
Tab 1. Ordinance No. 2021-8
Rezoning Case # RZ-21-01-5
Rezone approximately 11.55 +/- acres from Community Facility District (CFD) to Rural Residential District (R-1).
recess and reassembly
The Chairman called a recess at 10:20 a.m. for 10 minutes.
rezoning regular agenda
Rezoning Case # RZ-20-38-3
Gaston Tree Debris Facility
Amend Planned Unit Development Ordinance #2018-53 to allow an organic processing and tree recycling facility on 10.128 +/- acres.
Tab 3. Ordinance No. 2021-9
Rezoning Case # RZ-20-35-4
B and B Properties
Rezone Mobile Home Rental Park (RMRP), Urban Residential (R-6), Residential Professional (RP), and Light Industrial (LM) to Planned Commercial (CP) to address non-conforming zoning to facilitate an additional storage building. The application seeks a central sewer connection waiver within the Urban Future Land Use Series.
Rezoning Case # RZ-20-40-3
Grace Var Construction
Amend Planned Commercial (CP) Ordinance #1994-63 to allow C-1 recreational uses (specifically, video games) and remove beauty and flower gift shop use.
Rezoning Case # FLU-20-03-1
Green Swamp Ruby Red Future Land Use Category
Amend the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) to change the Future Land Use Category on approximately 3.83 acres from Green Swamp Ridge to Green Swamp Ruby Red Future Land Use Category (FLUC), a newly proposed FLUC, and amend associated Comprehensive Plan Policies to incorporate the Green Swamp Ruby Red FLUC.
gaston tree debris facility
Mr. McClendon relayed that the property owner for Tab 2 requested a postponement until the following month; additionally, he believed that this case met the 10 day requirement from the Land Development Regulations (LDR), and staff was able to notice the postponement. He added that when staff was ready to bring it back in the following month, they would again advertise and notice that case.
b and b properties
Mr. McClendon presented Tab 3, Rezoning Case # RZ-20-35-4, B and B Properties, noting that it was located on the east side of County Road (CR) 448 in the City of Mount Dora area, in Commission District 4. He mentioned that it was approximately 11 acres in size, and the request was to rezone the property which currently had the four zoning designations of Mobile Home Rental Park (RMRP), Urban Residential (R-6), Residential Professional (RP) and Light Industrial (LM), to Planned Commercial (CP) to address non-conforming issues on the site and to facilitate an additional storage building. He added that there was also a request to waive the central sewer connection required as part of the Urban future land use (FLU) series. He displayed a map of the property and pointed out that the majority of the zoning designations were on the east side of the property, along with the FLU being Urban High. He showed the concept plan which identified several existing structures on the eastern side, noting that everything west of the line of delineation was identified as wetlands. He mentioned that central water was available to the site; however, the sewer lines were not available. He said that the property was part of the Old U.S. Highway 441 major commercial corridor, and that the requested use was compatible with the Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) and the LDR. He concluded that the Planning and Zoning Board recommendation was to find the request consistent with the LDR and the Comp Plan, and to approve the requested rezoning.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Tab 3, Rezoning Case # RZ-20-35-4, B and B Properties.
grace var construction
Mr. McClendon presented Tab 4, Rezoning Case # RZ-20-40-3, Grace Var Construction. He explained that the case was located on the east side of CR 473, just north of California Street within Commission District 3, with a tract size of one-third of an acre. He said that the requested action was to amend the Planned Commercial (CP) ordinance to allow recreational uses, specifically an electronic game room facility, and to remove the existing beauty and flower gift shop use. He said that the property was part of the Urban Medium FLU series, and he displayed a slide to show that the commercially zoned property was consistent with the surrounding land uses on CR 473; however, most of the commercial uses existed on the west side of that street. He displayed the concept plan and pointed out that onsite was an existing approximately 12,000 square foot building with associated parking. He relayed that the request was to amend a 1994 ordinance which currently limited the property use to a beauty and flower gift shop, and that the property now wanted to include an electronic game room. He said that the Lake County Office of Planning and Zoning did not have an approved site plan for this site; therefore, a site plan would be required if this moved forward. He then relayed these staff analysis findings: the proposed electronic game room facility would allow up to 28 computers, with hours of operation Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; at any given time, there would not be more than 25 persons in the building at once; electronic game rooms were consistent with the CP zoning district; and the subject parcel was also consistent with the Comp Plan requirement regarding commercial retail, office, and limited industrial light uses, with locations in the Urban Medium FLU. He stated that the Planning and Zoning Board recommendation was to find the request consistent with the LDR and Comp Plan and approve the request; furthermore, this had been a vote of 4-2.
Mr. Kelly Mathis, an attorney representing the applicant, said that this was a vacant commercial building that had found a tenant interested in opening an electronic game room facility. He opined that the use was consistent with the location, though there were a few neighbors that had expressed concerns. He commented that the location was physically separated from the neighborhood with a chain link fence, and that the amount of usage was minimum. He remarked that the tenant had already submitted an application for a permit and would like to move forward; furthermore, it would depend on if they received a permit. He said that one option that the Board could consider was that the ordinance could either be contingent or conditional on the grant of the permit. He relayed that his client was concerned about being unable to receive the permit because they did not have the zoning, or vice versa; therefore, they were trying to put his client in the best possible posture to open this as an electronic game room facility.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Ms. Helena Osborne-Ponsi, President of the Fountain Lake Landowners Association, said that the subject property was less than 500 feet from one of her neighborhood’s common areas and her property. She stated that she and the other residents were opposed to the request, and she requested that it be denied. She commented that there were already four establishments within minutes of her neighborhood, and she opined that the subject property was in a community. She believed that the building was only 1,680 square feet, and said that it only had one car lane entrance and only one exit onto CR 473. She expressed concerns for where a lane ended nearby and for the facility being within 500 feet of a school bus stop. She relayed her understanding that there would only be 12 parking spaces and said that there was no parking on nearby streets. She opined that this use was unusual for the location, and she asked the Board not to send a message that could be a template for rezoning similar properties in the county. She said that the Board had received around 100 signed opposition petitions from individuals who lived in that community, and she thanked the Board for their service.
Ms. Michelle Parish, a resident who owned the two properties that adjoined the subject property, commented that they were both residential properties with a sidewalk to the subject property. She mentioned that there were children there and that her tenants were concerned for noise and the people that would be brought there. She opposed the request.
Commr. Parks asked if there were other zoning designations throughout the county where one could come forward with this. He added that there was a cap of 25 facilities.
Ms. Marsh confirmed that there was a cap but that the County did not address the zoning. She said that they were considered commercial uses, and she asked if it was a Neighborhood Commercial (C-1) or Community Commercial District (C-2) use.
Mr. McClendon clarified that it was C-1 minimum, along with C-2 through CP.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Commr. Campione opined that if she was just looking at this from the standpoint of the land use in relation to surrounding land uses, along with the comparability and potential for conflict with people currently living in the area, then it was not a good zoning change. She opined that there was too much residential development in close proximity.
Mr. Mathis stated that the facility would be completely indoors, and opined that there would not be any noise and that there would only be minimal traffic. He commented that the property had significant highway frontage, and he expressed concerns for saying that they had to remove the commercial building just because it was next to residential development. He commented that the strict ordinance that the Board had passed limited these facilities’ hours of operation and provided for safety and security. He added that the existing ordinance on the property was limited to a beauty and flower gift shop, and he expressed concerns for this restricting the commercial building owner who was trying to lease his property. He thought that with the physical barrier separation and highway frontage, this facility was not inconsistent with the location.
Commr. Smith asked about the hours of operation.
Mr. McClendon stated that the proposed hours of operation were Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Commr. Campione relayed that she had heard complaints from other facilities that the parking lot gets full and then they spill over onto side streets and other nearby properties. She commented that limited hours and parking spaces did not mean that there would not be more cars than the parking lot could hold. She added that if there was a concern that the uses on the property were too limited, then the request could be for office and general retail as opposed to a gambling facility. She did not think that it was consistent.
Commr. Smith noted that the County had just set up a regulation which currently stated that there would be no more than 25 of these facilities; however, they would allow all grandfathered facilities to be there. He questioned how many facilities there would be if this request was approved, and he expressed a concern for doing this before the timestamp that they gave the other operators. He added that although this was a commercial property and that game rooms were indoors, people could still make noise. He pointed out that the subject property was near a residential neighborhood with children and that the hours of operation were until midnight. He relayed that there was a chain link fence and opined that it was not much of a barrier for sound. He indicated concerns for the location and what happened outside the building.
Commr. Parks relayed that he was in opposition, and he believed that the location was an issue. He also expressed concerns for vehicles parking in other places.
Commr. Campione thought that it was important to consider whether the land use fit this location, and she said that she had heard that the concern was more about the land use, compatibility, the size of the property, and what could happen in the parking lots. She commented that it could be a different scenario if the property was surrounded by industrial uses, and she opined that the surrounding area had to be looked at.
Commr. Smith asked if the property owner could currently only rent to a beauty and flower gift shop, and Mr. McClendon confirmed this. Commissioner Smith then inquired if it would be up to the property owner to amend the ordinance for zoning of C-1, CP, etc.
Mr. McClendon said that this was correct, with specific uses listed. He explained that typically an applicant would approach the County, who would identify the currently allowed uses, and if it was not among the uses that the owner wanted to pursue, the ordinance would have to be amended.
Commr. Smith asked if the County had uses that encompassed several things.
Mr. McClendon confirmed this and stated that in most of those instances, there were conventional districts of C-1, C-2, Employment Center District (C-3), or CP. He added that in 1994, this ordinance was narrowly tailored to only allow a beauty and flower gift shop.
Commr. Smith expressed interest in the property owner being able to rent to whoever came there, and he opined that it should not be specific.
Mr. McClendon relayed that if this was a conventionally zoned C-1 property, they could simply move into that site.
Commr. Smith noted that there were options that the property owner could do that would not be so specific, and they could talk to Mr. McClendon.
Commr. Parks remarked that if this request was denied, they could possibly waive the application fee next time if the property owner came in for something different.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried by a vote of 4-1, the Board denied Tab 4, Rezoning Case # RZ-20-40-3, Grace Var Construction.
Commr. Blake voted no.
green swamp ruby red future land use category
Mr. McClendon presented Tab 5, Rezoning Case # FLU-20-03-1, Green Swamp Ruby Red Future Land Use Category. He said that the case was located on the west side of U.S. Highway 27, within Commission District 1, and had a tract size of approximately four acres. He relayed that the requested action was to amend the FLU map to change the FLU category on those four acres from Green Swamp ridge to Green Swamp Ruby Red Future Land Use Category to allow for affordable housing. He showed the existing FLU category which allowed up to four dwelling units per acre, and said that the concept plan was proposing a 72 dwelling unit apartment complex which equated to about 18.8 dwelling units per acre, along with associated amenities. He relayed the following staff analysis findings: the applicant was proposing to construct a 72 dwelling unit workforce housing apartment complex; this property was part of the Greater Groves Planned Unit Development (PUD), noting that this specific portion of the PUD would be allowed up to 165,000 square feet of nonresidential floor area; the request was consistent with Comp Plan Goal V-2, Affordable Housing; and the subject property was located within the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern which had been determined to be an area of statewide environmental value due to the high recharge areas in the Green Swamp. He indicated that while the application was consistent with several Comp Plan policies relating to affordable housing, compatibility, transition of densities and intensities, and the necessary and adequate public facilities element, the application was inconsistent with the underlying Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern FLU series; additionally, this required the County to pursue land use strategies within the Green Swamp which emphasized passive parks, agriculture, and very low density rural residential development. He mentioned that the proposed amendment was also in conflict with the same language in the LDR, noting that the requested 18.8 dwelling units per acre would be the highest density in the county. He relayed that the recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Board was to find the application inconsistent with the Comp Plan, and to not transmit the Comp Plan amendment, by a vote of 5-1.
Mr. Jimmy Crawford, an attorney representing the applicant and Turnstone Development, explained that this was a not for profit corporation formed to provide workforce housing in the South Lake area; furthermore, its principals were Mr. Steve Smith and Ms. Linda Smith, who had founded New Beginnings of Central Florida, Inc. He commented that New Beginnings provided transitional housing, training, and taught job skills to get homeless people ready to move out, have a job, and find permanent housing in three to six months; additionally, they were in three counties. He remarked that the Smiths also saw a need as a result of not being able to place individuals into permanent housing due to rent costs; therefore, they wanted to provide more permanent workforce and affordable housing. He elaborated that they formed two other nonprofit companies, which included Woodwinds Clermont. He said that this organization operated Woodwinds Apartments in the City of Clermont for 96 workforce housing units with a three year waiting list. He added that they had also constructed 70 units in the City of Clermont for affordable senior housing, and had another 49 units going in adjacent to it. He mentioned that they had other projects in the City of Lakeland and Volusia County, and he opined that the Smiths had a proven track record of understanding the State financing system. He clarified that these were not Section 8 subsidized housing; rather, they were only subsidized through the Sadowski fund that the State and Federal Government supplied. He mentioned that residents must have an income between a certain amount, that the Smiths planned to keep and operate it, and that it had a 50 year Sadowski hold so that it must be operated for 50 years in the rent slots provided. He commented that it was about 60 percent of the rent that a market rate apartment would charge, and he commented that their first site design had parking on both sides and that the buildings were closer to Greater Groves. He said that they had met with the Greater Groves community and made several changes as a result, such as moving the buildings as far as they could toward the storage and away from the residents. He added that the closest building was now 110 feet from the Greater Groves wall. He commented that there were two legal issues and that the first was that the request was in Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern. He agreed with protecting the Green Swamp, and noted that they had met with County staff and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO). He displayed an email from Ms. Barbara Powell, with FDEO, which said that FDEO did not want to get involved in the density issue; however, if the density could be achieved without adverse impacts to the aquifer, then the concerns relative to the Green Swamp were largely satisfied. He also clarified that they had not asked for any waiver or variance from any environmental protection. He commented that for consistency, staff found that the request was inconsistent with one LDR and Comp Plan policy which contained the same language that the Green Swamp had been determined to be an area of statewide environmental value due to the recharge; additionally, Lake County shall use strategy within the area to emphasize passive parks, agriculture, and very low rural residential development protection of the natural environment. He opined that this was a general policy that applied to the Green Swamp overall, and that it was not appropriate to apply it to Green Swamp Ridge. He commented that within one mile of the site, on the west side of U.S. Highway 27, there were 21 businesses and around 2,000 multifamily residential units constructed in the Green Swamp. He listed several businesses in the area, noting that most of them were approved under the current Comp Plan; additionally, he opined that they did not comply with the policy. He mentioned that Green Swamp Ridge allowed up to four units per acre and full commercial, adding that there was little land there left to be developed. He opined that the need was significant, and he relayed statistics about the growth of South Lake and the amount of units needed to keep up with new renters; furthermore, he noted that most of these would be market rate apartments which could not typically be afforded by people in these income slots. He opined that the site plan issues were not in front of the Board today; rather, this was the transmittal of a land use amendment, and when they came back for a PUD or site specific zoning, they could get into more detail for items such as walls, landscaping, orientation of buildings and traffic. He said that the allowed uses on this property included medical office, full retail, and a range of commercial; furthermore, he opined that medical office would generate almost three times as much traffic on this parcel as the apartments.
Mr. Jeff Banker, a project engineer representing the applicant, displayed an image which indicated that the Greater Groves PUD had 165,000 allowable square feet of commercial uses, noting that there was about 22,500 square feet remaining. He commented that they did a traffic comparison and projected 42 peak hour trips. He said that more practical uses that could be used on this property included office, medical office, clinics, etc.; additionally, the p.m. peak hour traffic for those uses was 80 for medical office, 104 for general office, 106 for veterinary, and 117 for general clinic. He stated that the proposed use would reduce the amount of traffic that could currently be on the property given the entitlements of the Greater Groves PUD. He showed the site plan and said that they wanted to focus on placing the building as far as they could from the existing single family development, and they had moved it toward the other commercial uses to enhance landscaping and open space areas. He added that they also wanted to focus on stormwater retention, noting that this property had a 60 percent impervious surface area entitlement within the Greater Groves PUD; furthermore, they were providing some additional stormwater retention to promote recharge and ensure that they would meet the criteria.
Mr. Smith relayed his history with the project and relayed that there were concerns from the Four Corners Area Business Council about a lack of affordable housing for employees; additionally, he was asked if he could replicate the Woodwinds Apartments in Four Corners. He noted that they could build at least 70 units and that they had funding available from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC), remarking that to provide financing, the FHFC required the housing to be located near five services. He elaborated that there was a nearby grocery store, medical facility, pharmacy, school and bus line. He mentioned that in 2018, they had been afforded the subject property that the South Lake Hospital owned, which was zoned commercial. He relayed that the hospital was going to sell the property at a price that could be financed, and said that it was also located near the five required services. He mentioned that this was the only land that they had found in Four Corners that met these requirements, and he recalled that they had met with residents. He clarified that this was not a money-driven project and that they were trying to find a way to meet needs in the county. He also explained that this was not Section 8 housing, and that it was an income restricted and rent restricted development, noting that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) set these rates per county; additionally, individuals had to work and have an income to live in these communities. He opined that they had addressed the residents’ concerns, noting that one concern was for crime; however, an individual who had spoken on behalf of the LCSO had opined that the nearby Ashton Chase apartments was a safe neighborhood. He added that that his organization performed extensive background checks, and he showed a copy of the application, noting that it asked individuals to disclose if they had an issue. He said that there were guidelines, such as visitors having to register; additionally, a courtesy officer was provided. He opined that their apartment communities did not have a crime issue and said that they had not evicted anyone since opening in 2018. He commented that for landscaping, there was currently a six foot wall which could be raised to eight feet. He added that they would adopt the recently approved Cherry Lake Tree Farm landscape buffer to ensure that they had an extensive buffer. He noted that there were concerns for individuals parking on the streets, and said that they were adopting Lake County parking requirements to ensure that this would not happen; furthermore, they had said that they would install “no parking” signs on Ruby Red Boulevard if necessary. He added that there were concerns about water capacity, and stated that they had contacted Lake Utilities, who had indicated that there was water and sewer. He relayed that there were concerns about property values, and said that each of the apartments would cost over $225,000 with a total cost of over $15 million. He opined that the value was determined by what other houses were selling for, and that they would help the other property owners keep their tax base low due to the subject property generating over $50,000 of annual property tax. He commented that the 96 units at Woodwinds Apartments were filled within a week and that they had over a three year waiting list, noting that this was for working people such as law enforcement and schoolteachers. He stated that employers nearby had signed a petition to support the development, and that they had offered to give first priority to those living or working in Lake County for the past six months. He then displayed a video with testimonials from residents living at Woodwinds Apartments. He showed pictures of the clubhouse, noting that there would be afterschool programs for children, job training, and a social worker assisting residents with lending and saving money. He also showed pictures of a playground, the buildings, a pool, and he emphasized that they were strict on who came in and who stayed there. He summarized that they wanted to develop workforce housing on land financed by the FHFC, and he opined that it was unfair to businesses and working households if this was not done. He mentioned that residents in subdivisions needed services, and that these employees should be able to afford a place to live where they worked. He asked the Board to approve the request and to do what was needed in Four Corners.
Mr. Crawford displayed two community support letters, along with a letter from Lake Utilities indicating that they had capacity and would be amenable to providing service to the project. He showed information from the Ashton Chase apartments, noting that the subject apartments were between 55 and 68 percent less than market rate apartments. He also displayed floorplans, noting that the one and two bedroom floorplans were larger than those in Ashton Chase. He mentioned the issue of recharge and opined that it was a red herring in well-drained soils with dry retention ponds. He recalled that Dr. Harvey Harper, a stormwater scientist, had given testimony in a case regarding the Ruben Groves project, in which Dr. Harper conducted a water balance comparison and concluded that more water would infiltrate into the ground on the project site post-development than under pre-development or existing conditions. He entered the tables into the record and said that in the testimony, 20.4 inches of rainfall made it to the aquifer; additionally, post-development, it was 39.3 inches in the residential portion and 39.9 in the commercial portions. He summarized that under post-development, the evapotranspiration losses were limited to just the grassed areas, and there was a net input of water to the ground in these conditions. He showed the water budgets from that case, and he commented that they had rapid infiltration basins in the sandy soils in South Lake, noting that water would be sent straight to the rapid infiltration basin. He expressed a concern for denying development under these conditions due to wanting to protect recharge.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Ms. Kathy Smith, Executive Director for the Community Foundation of South Lake, who was also involved with Housing for All of Lake County and the taskforce for workforce housing, relayed that housing was a national issue. She expressed support for the Smiths, commenting that they had a track record and numerous housing projects already done. She opined that approving this item would help address this issue, noting that individuals such as servers, nurses, teachers and police officers took care of everyone. She asked the Board to consider this change, and she read a letter of support from the managing partner of Carrabba’s Italian Grill in the City of Clermont.
Mr. Tom Ryan, a Lake County resident who was previously the president of the Eagle Ridge Homeowners Association (HOA), commented that there had been a concern for crime, loitering and trucks when a Publix was going to be put in; however, those concerns had not materialized. He commented that Mr. Smith wanted to help people, and he expressed support for the request.
Ms. Denise LaPierre, a resident of the Greater Groves development, commented that residents had previously expressed frustration with how their area had been pieced together without regards to infrastructure, schools, public transportation or recreation for children. She indicated that her area had a low walkability score, and commented that the area only had one bus stop which was two miles from the proposed apartments. She said that schools were not within walking distance, and she questioned what would happen to gopher tortoises on the subject property. She questioned why Mr. Smith was adamant on using this property, and she relayed her understanding that Ms. Smith had sat on the South Lake Hospital Board of Trustees, which she opined created a conflict of interest. She agreed that Four Corners needed affordable housing, but opined that this property was not the appropriate place.
Mr. Charles McCarthy, a neighbor of the proposed development, expressed concerns for there not being enough parking spaces. He disapproved of the request.
Mr. John Kiely, a resident of Lake County, said that he had submitted a letter to the Board. He mentioned that the subject property had been sold to South Lake Hospital with the intent of placing a medical facility there, and he expressed concerns for wastewater. He commented that there was an odor from a septic tank in the area, and he questioned how Lake Utilities could handle this. He also indicated concerns for traffic and access to U.S. Highway 27.
Ms. Ashley Earnest, a resident of Lake County, expressed concerns that the traffic created by this request would impact the Westchester and Greater Groves communities and for there being traffic 24 hours per day. She said that there were already three new residential communities being developed in the Four Corners area and that if there was an accident on U.S. Highway 27, it effectively blocked all routes of traffic. She relayed her understanding that there was another workforce housing complex in the area with vacancies, and she questioned if another was needed. She also indicated concerns for there not being enough parking spaces and for parking overflowing onto Ruby Red Boulevard. She then opined that the property was not within walking distance of public transportation or a school.
Ms. Irene Martello, a resident of the Weston Hills subdivision, expressed a concern for there being 1,100 more housing units being built across the street, and for the Ridgeview community being developed. She indicated concerns for water capacity, and she questioned why low income housing could not go in other empty areas. She opined that there was too much traffic, and expressed concerns for when U.S. Highway 27 was shut down.
Mr. Elvio Klei, a resident of South Lake, opined that South Lake’s capacity was stretched for items such as for law enforcement and medical services; furthermore, he questioned that public transportation was too far away from the project to be feasible, and he expressed concerns for having to cross U.S. Highway 27 to reach schools. He opined that the area was growing too fast and that there were too many things that needed to be spread out. He indicated a concern for there not being adequate amenities and for the development also having an impact on water. He opined that they needed the infrastructure before facilitating these buildings.
Mr. Adam Meys, a board member with the Westchester HOA, recalled that there had been a prior community meeting regarding this request and that residents had voiced concerns about traffic, parking and home values. He opined that Ruby Red Boulevard was not easily accessible, and he expressed concerns for speeding on nearby streets. He expressed concerns for inadequate parking and for the apartments being near the residents of Greater Groves. He opined that this was not the right location for this complex, and he hoped that the County could work with Mr. Smith to find a more appropriate plot of land. He submitted a petition signed by Westchester residents.
Mr. Erik Whynot, an attorney representing the Greater Groves HOA, said that the applicant was asking that a new FLU be created to accommodate 72 low income apartments in three buildings on a 3.8 acre lot; furthermore, staff had recommended against this approval in finding that the FLU was not consistent with the Comp Plan. He remarked that the State had recognized the area as the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern, and that the statute that established this area requires that localities present their own regulations related to the protection of the area, specifically that development in the area must be conservative and that any designation of FLUs must be consistent with State law. He mentioned that Lake County had adopted Chapter VIII of the LDR, from which he quoted that “Lake County’s official statement and policy with regards to the protection of the Green Swamp Area is Lake County shall preserve the integrity of the Green Swamp as an intact ecosystem of statewide significance by protecting its natural resources. Lake County shall also pursue a land use strategy with the Green Swamp area that emphasizes passive parks, agriculture and very low density rural residential development that is protective of the natural environment.” He said that the proposed FLU would increase the current unit density from four units per acre to 18.8 units per acre, and he opined that it was not in line with the County’s policy. He also stated that they had not heard anything in reference to the Florida gopher tortoise, noting that it was a protected species.
Ms. Smith clarified that she had served on the South Lake County Hospital District, that the district was dissolved, and that she was not on the operating board that would have discussed items such as selling property. She relayed her understanding that the hospital needed something larger and was unable to build on the subject property. She explained that affordable housing referred to privately owned housing that received private and Sadowski funding to bring the rent or purchase price to an affordable level for those with low to moderate income. She opined that aside from the funding, affordable housing was indistinguishable from market rate housing; additionally, it had the same architectural and landscaping styles, along with basic amenities. She relayed that they had heard that there was a need to increase the police protection in the area, noting that the Woodwinds Apartments project brought $16 million for the tax rolls. She added that this would be the same type of situation in the subject area, and that much of the funding could be used to increase the police force in the area. She opined that residents needed the housing and said that they were individuals such as teachers and healthcare workers who could not afford to live in the area. She asked the Board to consider the request, and she opined that there was no other location available for it.
Mr. Joe Carlisle, a local realtor and host of Joe Knows South Lake on South Lake Television (TV), opined that many residents’ concerns were misnomers. He opined that for parking, many families came into these communities to stabilize and buy a single car for an entire family. He referenced the testimonial video displayed by the applicant and provided information about the individuals featured in it. He opined that they were good members of the community who were trying to improve their lives. He also expressed concerns for the affordability of housing in Lake County.
Mr. Vincent Mercandetti, a resident of Lake County, submitted a petition of 400 signatures opposing the project. He opined that Mr. Smith had not really approached the community to see what they would be comfortable with, and he proposed to place a park on the subject property to honor victims of COVID-19.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Mr. Crawford commented that there had also been a petition of business owners in support of the request, and opined that it was not challenging to get people to sign a petition. He stated that each multifamily project he had been involved with over the past 10 to 15 years had neighbor opposition, and he believed that those concerns could be protected through the PUD process. He opined that the property would not be made into a park, and he commented that it was a pad ready site; additionally, they would never bury or kill a gopher tortoise. He relayed that the staff report indicated that the request was appropriate at this location but that because of the Green Swamp policy emphasizing passive parks, agriculture and low density residential, it was not appropriate; however, he opined that this had never been applied in Green Swamp Ridge, and should not be applied to a site specific portion. He mentioned that there was open space on CR 474; however, the open space there was Green Swamp Rural or Green Swamp Rural Conservation with very low density. He remarked that an irrigation well would not be allowed and that they would receive their irrigation water from Utilities, Inc. similar to their potable water. He opined that there had not been any evidence that this would affect property values, noting that property abutting Woodwinds Apartments had increased in value each year since 2018. He reiterated that C-1 or C-2 uses could go there currently, and he commented that apartments would be a transitional planning use between commercial on U.S. Highway 27 and the residential development behind the property. He said that appropriate buffers would be installed, and opined that the need was significant. He urged the Board to support the request.
Mr. Banker said that this project would propose under 500 average trips per day, with only 42 during the peak hour. He elaborated that usually about 80 percent of the traffic would take Ruby Red Boulevard to U.S. Highway 27; therefore, about 10 trips may go through the community. He said that they were not requesting a parking waiver, and parking was being provided in accordance with the County code.
Mr. Crawford relayed his understanding that residents were concerned about people turning onto Ruby Red Boulevard and cutting over to Greater Groves Boulevard where there was a traffic signal. He asked if there were traffic considerations that could be done if speed was an issue.
Mr. Banker confirmed this and said that speed tables or other calming devices could be implemented.
Mr. Smith stated that the code required 1.5 parking spaces per unit and that there had once been 100 parking spots empty at Woodwinds Apartments. He commented that many people did not have a car, and children would not be driving; additionally, there were many businesses within walking distance. He relayed that this was the only property that FHFC gave assurance that they would finance, and he mentioned that he had two public meetings.
Commr. Parks asked for an aerial image to be displayed, and he inquired about the road that the County was responsible for.
Mr. Fred Schneider, Public Works Director, said that it was Ruby Red Boulevard to Greater Groves Boulevard. He pointed out a traffic signal nearby, and said that there was no left turn northbound on U.S. Highway 27.
Commr. Parks inquired if there was any right of way going toward Greater Groves from the corner of the subject property.
Mr. Schneider clarified that it was all developed and that he would have to research this.
Commr. Parks also asked if the height of the buildings was 35 feet, and if they considered any other architectural style.
Mr. Crawford confirmed that the height of the buildings was 35 feet, and added that they were within the allowable height limit and were not asking for a variance. He also stated that because the applicant was trying to stay within a tight budget, they were reproducing Woodwinds Apartments with the City of Clermont’s architectural standards.
Mr. Smith added that Woodwinds Apartments was award winning and that the subject development would look identical.
Mr. Crawford stated that they had looked at a two story product, but it did not work because of the requirement for 40 percent open space.
Commr. Parks asked if this was how they came to 72 units.
Mr. Smith said this was correct and that ideally, FHFC liked to see no more than 23 units per building.
Mr. Crawford mentioned that one must have 70 units to receive financing.
Commr. Campione asked if the Woodwinds Apartments density was the same.
Mr. Smith explained that there were 10 acres with a 100 foot drop; therefore, they built 80 units on six acres.
Mr. Crawford indicated that the density of both of the other developments was about 12 units per acre.
Commr. Campione inquired that if this was being done in another location, was the County’s highest density 12 units per acre.
Mr. Crawford confirmed that this would be correct without what the applicant was requesting; additionally, anyone could ask for a site specific land use, or a PUD land use if they were not in the Green Swamp. He believed that there were many areas abutting municipalities that were highly developed, and he opined that 12 units per acre was a wasteful land use for multifamily. He said that 20 units per acre was allowed in Orange and Polk Counties.
Commr. Shields said that he had met with the applicant and some residents. He relayed that there were many issues in Four Corners and that the County was trying to embark on a planning process; therefore, this request came in at the wrong time for him and for what he was trying to accomplish in the area. He also expressed concerns for precedents being set in the Green Swamp, and he relayed his opposition.
Commr. Smith stated that he was an advocate of workforce housing, and he agreed with Mr. Crawford that multifamily was usually a transition from a commercial zone to a residential zone; however, he opined that it was too dense for what was there and that it was not very transitional. He commented that if the density was lower, he would be more inclined to be palatable to it.
Commr. Blake opined that when looking at the aerial image of the property, it was challenging to imagine that this area would be an issue out of the surrounding development. He commented that because he had seen the other projects and how carefully Mr. Smith handled them, he would be voting in favor of the request.
Commr. Campione relayed that she was struggling with the density and that it could set a precedent in the Green Swamp. She thought that a lower density could help mitigate concerns about traffic and impact on the surrounding area. She mentioned that she had met with the applicant and visited Woodwinds Apartments, and she opined that it was a great apartment complex. She thought that the product was positive, though her initial response to the location was that the County had many concerns expressed to them from residents in Four Corners about issues brought up at the current meeting, such as lack of infrastructure and community support. She noted that it was a location that did not have a municipal headquarters, and there had been several decades of trying to piece together government services. She opined that interjecting several residential units into an area that was already in need of attention seemed like it could be compounding the situation. She commented that when she was visiting Woodwinds Apartments, she realized that many services that the residents would access would be within their own community. She added that because it was so regulated by the State, safety was addressed in that regard and that if there was an issue with a tenant, that tenant would not be allowed to live there anymore. She opined that if more units would be interjected into the area, this kind of project was probably the best case scenario; however, she was struggling with the precedent, density, impacts and compatibility.
Commr. Parks commended the Smiths and opined that attainable housing was an important issue. He opined that the Smiths were dealing with poor planning that was done before the current BCC, and he was unsure why the subject parcel was carved out like it was. He suggested that the Board needed more time to see if this was the right thing, and mentioned the possibility of there being another site. He thought that there were some unclear issues about buffering and if there was a compromise that could be reached to alleviate some of the community’s concerns. He relayed that he would not support the request the way it was, though he would be in favor of tabling the item for 60 to 90 days to find more solutions.
Mr. Crawford said that the applicant would appreciate tabling it and that it could be for 30 days.
Commr. Shields expressed appreciation for the work being done, but he was unsure if this was the right location at the right time.
Commr. Campione asked if Commissioner Parks’ suggestion was 30 or 60 days.
Commr. Parks relayed his understanding that the applicant would only need 30 days.
Commr. Campione thought that 60 days was more reasonable than 30 days to address issues.
Commr. Shields relayed that he would probably not change his position if it was still in the Green Swamp. He asked if the County would be looking for another location.
Commr. Parks said that the County would be assisting them with looking for another location, and there could be a possibility of reducing the number of units. He stated that the Board had tabled issues like this in the past.
Commr. Campione made a motion to table the case for 60 days to the next BCC meeting.
Ms. Marsh indicated that it would be on May 25, 2021.
Commr. Smith clarified that his main concern was not the project itself, but that it was a land use change. He added that the density was an issue he had, and he commented that the applicant could work with the community to get the density down to a reasonable level.
Commr. Shields relayed that he would vote no because he did not want to set a precedent.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried by a vote of 3-2, the Board tabled Tab 5, Rezoning Case # FLU-20-03-1, Green Swamp Ruby Red Future Land Use Category, until the May 25, 2021 BCC meeting.
Commr. Shields and Commr. Blake voted no.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman called a recess at 12:57 p.m. until 1:30 p.m.
public hearing: ordinance 2021-6 Criminal history checks
Ms. Marsh placed the proposed ordinance on the floor for reading by title only as follows:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY FLORIDA; CREATING SECTION 2-42, LAKE COUNTY CODE, TO BE ENTITLED CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECKS; PROVIDING FOR STATE AND FEDERAL CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD CHECKS FOR SPECIFIED POSITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT OR BY OUTSIDE CONTRACTORS OR VENDORS PURSUANT TO SECTION 125.5801, FLORIDA STATUTES; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CODE; PROVIDING FOR FILING WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Shields and carried by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved Ordinance 2021-6 creating Section 2-42, Lake County Code, to be entitled Criminal History Checks.
Commr. Campione was absent for the vote.
public hearing: ordinance 2021-7 Affordable Housing Waivers
Ms. Marsh placed the proposed ordinance on the floor for reading by title only as follows:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA; REPEALING AND REPLACING ARTICLE III, CHAPTER 11, LAKE COUNTY CODE, ENTITLED HOUSING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM; AUTHORIZING THE COUNTY MANAGER OR DESIGNEE TO WAIVE DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION FEES FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING; RELOCATING DIVISION 2, CHAPTER 2, LAKE COUNTY CODE, ENTITLED HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY, TO CHAPTER 11, LAKE COUNTY CODE; RELOCATING DIVISION 3, CHAPTER 2, LAKE COUNTY CODE, ENTITLED AFFORDABLE HOUSING ADVISORY COMMITTEE, TO CHAPTER 11, LAKE COUNTY CODE; REPEALING SECTION 11-36, LAKE COUNTY CODE, ENTITLED DISTRIBUTION OF CHOOSE LIFE LICENSE PLATE REVENUE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CODE; PROVIDING FOR FILING WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Shields and carried by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved Ordinance 2021-7 regarding the Affordable Housing Waiver Program.
Commr. Campione was absent for the vote.
federal legislative update
Mr. Rosen said that he had asked the County’s federal lobbyists to provide an update on what was going on in Washington, D.C., the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and federal grant opportunities.
Mr. Maurice Kurland, with Alcalde & Fay, said that his organization had been the County’s federal lobbyists for over 20 years, and he had advocated on behalf of the County throughout that time. He displayed the following items that he would cover: federal advocacy; federal resources; major legislative items; the ARPA which was a $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed on March 11, 2021; appropriations; and a future infrastructure package. He mentioned that their federal advocacy was directed toward the administration and all the federal departments and agencies, and to the United States Congress. He said that for federal resources, their advocacy was centered in these three major areas: federal appropriations that had to be passed every year; authorizations of major programs such as the highway bill and water infrastructure; and ongoing grants and the various agency involvements with the County, such as if the County needed assistance securing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursements, getting a permit for a project, etc. He displayed a slide that listed grants that they were currently advocating for the County, pointing out that in 2018-2019 the County was successful in its submissions for firefighter personnel. He mentioned that the current administration just finished the last cabinet appointment, and the 117th United States Congress had new House of Representatives and United States Senate leadership. He said that COVID-19 relief had been a focus of the administration, and he mentioned that they were also in the annual appropriations process; furthermore, there would be a major infrastructure package later in the spring to reauthorize the surface transportation bill, or the highway bill, with the intent to include other types of infrastructure. He explained that the ARPA was $1.9 trillion total and included $350 billion for states, counties and municipalities; additionally, the amount going to counties would be $65.1 billion, and from that, the estimated allocation to Lake County would be about $71.2 million. He displayed a list of major provisions of the ARPA where people could access direct payments, rental assistance, mental health and substance abuse funding, and additional funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. He added that there was also a $3 billion addition for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) programs which funded economic development planning. He said that if a company or industry that was looking to possibly expand or come into Lake County, the EDA had rolling applications for economic development grants. He showed a slide with detail on how funding was broken down for the ARPA, and he commented that 60 percent of the $350 billion was going to the states and Washington, D.C., and the remaining 40 percent was being split between the counties and municipalities. He noted that communities within Lake County would be receiving direct allocations, and that the City of Clermont was looking at receiving an estimated $16.24 million. He mentioned that the funding had to be distributed within 60 days and that the bill was signed on March 11, 2021 with a 50 percent, or an estimated, $36 million, coming to Lake County in the first year. He noted that the next 50 percent would be distributed in the following year and that the County would have to expend the funding by 2024. He displayed an image with the eligible uses for this funding, and said that the U.S. Department of Treasury would have to set more specific guidelines. He relayed that there were four broad areas where funding could be spent, and that it was essentially to fill in revenue loss and assist with economic impacts, mentioning households, small businesses, nonprofits, tourism and hospitality. He added that this also allowed for premium pay for essential workers who worked in challenging environments, though this needed to be clarified. He mentioned that the ARPA discussed the loss of revenue, and that the County would have to look at what its last pre-COVID-19 budget was and where they had been in the previous year. He also pointed out that an eligible use was to make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure. He said that for reporting requirements, there was a requirement of certification to the U.S. Department of Treasury, along with periodic reports. He said that they were currently in the appropriations process and that there were currently 12 appropriations bills that had to be passed every year. He commented that members could submit requests to the appropriations committees for projects that Lake County was seeking funding for, noting that this had been brought back after 10 years and was called community project funding. He stated that his organization had checked with the County’s Legislative Delegation and that Congressman Webster was not going to submit them, though Congressman Michael Waltz and Congressman Scott Franklin were. He displayed some requirements to justify the project requests, noting that it could be for anything from transportation, water infrastructure, parks and recreation, economic development, and small business innovation. He explained that for the infrastructure package, the surface transportation bill, which was called the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, was usually a multi-year bill. He elaborated that the previous five-year bill expired in September 2020 and was extended for another year, noting that it set forth transportation policy and funds for transportation projects across the country for generally three to six years. He said that probably in April and early May 2021, they would try to move this bill, and his organization would be talking with the County about transportation projects. He stated that the County was now in a position to submit specific projects, which they were not able to do 10 years prior, and they would have to see what the Legislative Delegation’s position would be on that, noting that the proposal on this bill was between $2 trillion to $4 trillion over 10 years. He then opened the floor for questions and comments.
Commr. Parks asked if the community project funding was a separate part of the ARPA.
Mr. Kurland clarified that it was entirely separate and was through the appropriations process.
Commr. Parks noted that no roads were listed, though Mr. Kurland had listed them as a possible earmark.
Mr. Kurland said this was correct and that they only talked about water, sewer and broadband; therefore, when it came to transportation projects, they had the appropriations process and the highway bill reauthorization.
Commr. Parks asked if there would be more clarity on if the County would be eligible for water projects.
Mr. Kurland responded that it remained to be seen what the U.S. Department of Treasury said about that, but that it being included in the bill was indicative of some congressional intent. He relayed his understanding that the funding would be available if the County was trying to address stormwater or sanitary sewer, noting that there could be thoughts about conversion from septic to sewer. He reiterated that they wanted to get confirmation from the U.S. Department of Treasury that this could be allowed. He mentioned that they would pose questions about specific projects to the department.
Commr. Campione inquired about ARPA eligible uses, noting that it said “to make necessary investments” in water, sewer and broadband. She asked if Mr. Kurland would get clarification on what the term “investment” meant under the act, if new construction was considered an investment, or if it would only be maintenance and upgrades.
Mr. Kurland thought that lift stations or old pipes reaching their useful end could sometimes be replaced or repaired. He said that this had not been laid out specifically and that his organization would try to get some guidance on the County’s particular needs for what “investment” meant.
Commr. Campione asked that for the ARPA, if the County could separate out a revenue source and apply for an offset for that amount if they had a reduction in sales tax but not property tax revenues.
Mr. Kurland displayed the ARPA eligible uses slide and said that different local governments’ revenue sources varied with some being more reliant on sales tax, use tax or property tax. He commented that the ARPA did not discriminate among the different revenue losses, and he thought that the County’s overall loss of revenue compared to FY 2019 was the number that they wanted to be looking at.
Commr. Parks reiterated that the County and the Cities had their own allocations, and the County would obtain clarity on some of these uses. He asked if there would be another update for the Board.
Mr. Rosen replied that staff would provide another update and as they received updates, they would work to make sure they had a good proposal for the BCC to decide how they wanted to allocate the funds based on what they could spend it on. He mentioned that it was up to the Board if they wanted to have Mr. Kurland come back closer to when the County thought they could get guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Commr. Parks thought that the County could do this, and he added that another question was if buildings being hardened, specifically the fairgrounds project, could be included in the ARPA, along with questions on water.
Mr. Kurland thought that hardening fell within some of the priorities that the United States Congress and the current administration had for resilience and sustainability. He commented that with the State of Florida’s storms, they needed to be able to respond properly and harden facilities. He also thought that investments in infrastructure were needed and well justified. He then mentioned that $10 billion was set aside for coronavirus capital projects, with $100 million going to each state, along with additional funding based on population. He noted that this was described as critical capital projects to assist with work, education or health, and he commented that the County could possibly utilize this or have the State direct funding to them depending on the project.
Commr. Campione mentioned logistics for federal appropriations under the community project funding requests, and asked if the County would make the same request to Congressman Webster or would they try to get one individual to take the lead.
Mr. Kurland replied that his organization tried to be as strategic as possible and that a regional impact would catch the attention of senators versus a more pinpointed project in the county where they wanted to have the Florida House of Representatives members carry it. He recommended submitting it to all of them because they wanted everyone moving in the same direction, and if a House member could not get it, they would still have senators. He said that his organization recommended to have the County’s senators and three House members all requesting, noting that the United States Senate had not yet taken a position on these earmarks. He reiterated that Congressman Franklin and Congressman Waltz were accepting projects.
Commr. Campione said that the County could at least make the case to their senators that infrastructure community project funding would be appreciated and narrowly focused.
Mr. Kurland commented that those types of projects were well justified and needed, and without this funding, it was more challenging to get a grant or low interest loan. He mentioned that it was an opportunity for senators and House members to help. He added that only local governments and nonprofits could make these requests, that there had to be community support, that they would be posted publically, and that there could not be conflicts of interest; additionally, members were limited in how many they could request. He thought that there were three great opportunities for the County through the ARPA, the appropriations process, and the forthcoming infrastructure bill which could allow for earmarked project requests.
Commr. Parks relayed his understanding that Mr. Rosen and Mr. Kurland could work together to get more clarity to present to the Board in a few weeks, and the Board could possibly consider writing their senators to ask for an infrastructure related appropriation through a letter or resolution.
Mr. Rosen asked Mr. Kurland if the House representatives had a form ready that the County could submit to them.
Mr. Kurland responded that Congressman Waltz and Congressman Franklin had given them some guidance, and he relayed that their deadlines were coming up; furthermore, he would send Mr. Rosen the forms he had after this meeting. He indicated that the appropriations committees were requesting project requests from the members in mid-April 2021, with April 14, 2021 as the current deadline.
Mr. Rosen commented that staff could come back at the next BCC meeting with a few items that might make sense to put forth for the community project funding.
Mr. Kurland added that because of the committee deadlines, the members were currently asking for items, that each member had to vet them themselves, and each member could only submit 10 items. He said that the sooner the County could identify those items, the better. He commented that he would work with the County to ensure that what was being put forth fit well and met the current requirements.
Mr. Rosen said that a top priority was the multi-use facility. He commented that if this fit well into the community project funding and if he received consensus today, the County could fill out the necessary forms and move forward with this item as a priority. He stated that it could be the same thing for trails to submit them for community project funding as well.
Commr. Campione noted that these items were already known as the Board’s top priorities, and she thought pushing them to Washington, D.C. was a good idea.
Mr. Rosen commented that if staff had additional ideas, they would work on them with Mr. Kurland and bring them back to the Board in two weeks.
Commr. Parks thought that clarity on the fairgrounds project would be important.
Mr. Kurland thanked the Board and encouraged them to reach out to him with additional questions.
final alignments for wellness way and hancock road
Mr. Schneider presented the Wellness Way and Hancock Road corridor alignment evaluation and road agreement, noting that the purpose of this presentation was to present the findings of the corridor evaluations for Hancock Road and Wellness Way, to request approval of the final corridor study recommendations, and to request approval of an agreement with South Lake Crossings, LLC properties for design and construction of certain segments of Hancock Road and Wellness Way. He explained that the City of Clermont/Four Corners area was projected to have substantial growth in the future, and that economic, land development and transportation projects of significance in this region included the following: the Wellness Way Area Plan (WWAP) which was a mix of residential, commercial, office, education, medical, and recreational uses consisting of over 15,000 acres; the Four Corners area of Lake County with proposed new housing, commercial, and a recently completed hospital; and continued growth along the U.S. Highway 27 and State Road (SR) 50 corridors. He remarked that for long range planning, the need for improvements was originally evaluated in a 2001 study by the West Orange-South Lake Transportation Task Force and Orange County, that improvements must achieve the long-term vision for growth and transportation across the region, and that the Wellness Way and Hancock Road corridors were identified in the adopted WWAP approved by the Board in 2015. He relayed the following items regarding the purpose and need for this item: sustain projected future growth while preserving the character of existing communities and environment; improve traffic capacity and capacity of the regional roadway network; the WWAP identified the area as having significant economic development opportunities; the WWAP identified the need for additional road corridors; and to enhance emergency evacuation and safety. He listed the following project benefits: improve safety; support the WWAP; would be consistent with projected growth; would have a balanced project approach; and would have context sensitive design for Wellness Way criteria. He added that the project would include the following additional items: coordination with FDOT, County and City projects; joint use stormwater ponds; improved traffic safety; and regional traffic corridors, noting that they would be requiring the developer to donate the right of way and stormwater ponds in exchange for impact fee credits for design and construction.
Mr. John Prowell, with VHB and working with Lennar Homes, provided a technical overview of the corridor studies. He displayed the Wellness Way area map and recalled that a study had been done for the Wellness Way corridor in 2016 from U.S. Highway 27 east to CR 545; additionally, he pointed out the Wellness Way PUD property which was annexed into the City of Clermont, Conserv II land owned by the City of Orlando and Orange County, and the county line. He noted that the 2016 study was done for FDOT, Lake County and Orange County, and the result was the preferred corridor alignment seen on the map in green which extended from U.S. Highway 27 to SR 429. He said that the recommended alignment did not have any significant impacts to environmental resources, archeological sites, historical sites, park lands, or resident/business relocations. He stated that the study recommended two four lane divided sections, with the first being an urban typical section with curb and gutter, seven foot bike lanes, a 12 foot trail, and a six foot sidewalk. He mentioned that the urban section took up about 120 feet of right of way, and the second section recommended through the Conserv II property was a rural section with the same components, noting that there would be roadside swales instead of the closed drainage system. He commented that for the first segment, the County had entered into an agreement with Cemex to start the design and construction of about 0.6 miles, and the project was being bid to start construction. He mentioned that for the next section through Conserv II, the County had approved an option agreement to purchase that right of way, noting that Orange County was progressing with their one mile section study with some land developers. He relayed that the recommended alternative cost estimate was just under $27 million for the full design, construction, and construction engineering and inspection (CEI). He then said that the second corridor study was for Hancock Road and that this section picked up at the intersection of Wellness Way and where Cemex was extending Schofield Road. He pointed this out on a map and noted that the study area extended north to south of Hartwood Marsh Road for about a 1.4 mile segment. He stated that the main drivers for analysis were environmental factors and engineering factors, and there were three considered alignments which he displayed on a map as blue, orange and purple. He explained that blue was called the permitted alignment and was a direct line from the south terminus point to the yellow portion, which was a set corridor. He commented that the same urban and rural sections considered in the Wellness Way study were considered in this study; however, since the corridors were going through wetlands, they looked at an option where the outside of the right of way tied into grade, versus an alternate section which introduced retaining walls on the side to limit impacts. He showed an image of the three alignments and explained that the blue alignment was a direct connection from Schofield Road to their joint connection point, noting that it traversed wetlands. He commented that the other two had wetland impacts as well, and that the orange alignment started to move to the west and navigated the wetlands differently. He explained that the purple alignment traveled across different wetlands and connected to a portion on Schofield Road that did not line up well with the south terminus point. He displayed an evaluation matrix and said that the 120 foot section with no walls, or the blue direct alignment, was recommended due to giving the best access to Schofield Road and Hancock Road, along with being the shortest route and having comparable wetland impacts to the other alignments. He commented that walls could become costly and that the wetland impact would increase with the walls. He stated that they had worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the SJRWMD and had permitted the blue alignment through the agencies; furthermore, the recommended alternative would be just over $11 million for the full construction, design and CEI.
Mr. Schneider said that for the road agreement, the land owner and developer of the South Lake Crossings, LLC properties had proposed to design and construct segments of Wellness Way and Hancock Road for impact fee credits. He added that they had permitted it and did some design work, though staff was still in the process of working with Dr. Richard Levey on a planning study and the overall development of the WWAP. He recalled that he had requested that the developer consider alternative alignments because of the wetland impacts; additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the SJRWMD had agreed that the wetlands were not prime wetlands, noting that the straight road was most preferred by those agencies. He relayed that the agreement would provide transportation impact fee credits for the final design of segments B, D, and E, and an option for the design of segment C. He displayed a map and provided the following information about the segments: segment A was under an agreement with Cemex who had designed and permitted it, and who were in the process of bidding it, noting that landowners would be dedicating right of way; segment B headed further east toward Orange County and was through the South Lake Crossings and Lennar Homes property, noting that it was part of the impact fee credits that they would be receiving for building that section of road; segment C continued on to Orange County and was through Conserv II property, noting that the design was more of an open drainage swale system, that it was under final study, and that it would connect to Independence Parkway and the SR 429 interchange; from the intersection of segments A and B, segment D was through the Lennar Homes property; and segment E was through Conserv II, noting that for segments C and E, the BCC had approved a purchase agreement for Conserv II right of way. He elaborated that they had requested $15,000 per acre for segment C and $20,000 per acre for segment E, opining that these were reasonable requests. He commented that for the property to the north of segment E, known as Hartwood Residential, the BCC had an agreement for the design and construction of the extension of Hancock Road south to near segment E. He added that the agreement would provide for the following items: final design of segments B and D, with an option for the initial design of segment C; construction of the initial two outside lanes of segments B and D, with mass grading for four lane final design; mass grading of segment E to final four lane design; a northbound right turn lane on U.S. Highway 27 to Wellness Way; and the developer may fund the purchase of right of way from Conserv II, noting that if the County did not have the funding available, the developer would upfront the funds in exchange for transportation impact fee credits, with an estimated impact fee credit of about $14.98 million. He concluded by requesting approval of the final alignments of Wellness Way and Hancock Road, along with the roadway improvement agreement with South Lake Crossings, LLC properties for Wellness Way and Hancock Road.
Commr. Shields asked if there would be a traffic light on U.S. Highway 27.
Mr. Schneider responded that there would eventually be a traffic light on U.S. Highway 27, and that it depended on FDOT concurrence and approval.
Commr. Parks relayed that the intent was to have as few traffic signals as possible along U.S. Highway 27 because this would mean that there would be more cuts; additionally, it was a state intermodal system for transportation.
On a motion by Commr. Shields, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the final alignments of Wellness Way and Hancock Road as presented, and the roadway improvement agreement for Wellness Way and Hancock Road, which includes $14,981,688.00 in impact fee credits associated with the right-of-way, design, and construction of portions of Wellness Way and Hancock Road.
appointments to the tourist development council
Commr. Parks noted that he had a comment card for this item.
The Chairman opened the floor for public comment.
Ms. Gigi Lemon, owner of The Big House sports complex with her husband, thanked the BCC for their guidance when they had the opportunity to reopen their facility. She mentioned that they were able to socially distance, provide more hand sanitizing stations, and put in facial recognition software. She said that she was interested in being involved with the Tourist Development Council (TDC), and that her background was in technology, as well as bidding for events and bringing events in. She relayed that The Big House had been open for eight years and that they had been instrumental in working during a hurricane when they had to open for special needs; additionally, they were the home of the Special Olympics. She added that they had also been able to host college fairs, and she expressed interest in procuring additional events. She thought that it was important to reach out to these organizations and let them know that the facility was there, noting that people that came to the county were spending money there. She also thought that being part of the TDC, being able to impart knowledge, and working with the TDC members would help strategically place Lake County.
Commr. Parks expressed appreciation for what Ms. Lemon did, and he praised The Big House.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the floor for public comment.
Commr. Shields made a motion to put forward the names as listed for appointment to the TDC, and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion.
Ms. Marsh clarified that it needed to be narrowed down and that there was only one municipal representative and owner/operator, though there were multiple applicants for a resident involved in the tourism industry; furthermore, the Board could only choose one.
Commr. Parks commented that Mr. Ebo Entsuah was nominated by the City of Clermont for the municipal representative.
Ms. Marsh relayed that Mr. Alex Cooke was the applicant for an owner/operators of hotels, motels or resorts.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to appoint the following individuals to the Tourist Development Council: Mr. Ebo Entsuah, AEE, as a municipal representative; and Mr. Alex Cooke, with Key West Resort on Lake Dora Hotel, as an owner/operator of hotels, motels or resorts.
Commr. Parks commented that the Board was now down to the tourism industry representative, noting that it would need to include the waiver.
Ms. Marsh confirmed that this was correct depending on who they chose.
Commr. Smith expressed support for Ms. Lemon, noting that she attended the meeting and was inspired about it.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to appoint Ms. Gigi Lemon to the Tourist Development Council as a resident involved in the tourism industry, along with a waiver of potential ethical conflict.
appointments to the keep lake beautiful advisory committee
Commr. Smith relayed that this was a wonderful organization and that this item was to appoint City of Groveland Mayor Evelyn Wilson, who was the municipal representative, Ms. Melissa Simmes, and three citizen representatives; however, there were 10 to choose from.
Commr. Campione commented that she was trying to spread it out so that there would be geographic representation, along with people that she knew would be helpful to have on the committee. She thought that Ms. Susan Fetter would be good on that committee, noting that she had been instrumental when the Board was working on a fertilizer ordinance, and that she had a good background in environmental science. She asked if anyone knew Ms. Marlena Sokol, noting that she had written a book on water safety and had taught swimming to children.
Commr. Parks said that Ms. Sokol could possibly be on the Water Safety Advisory Committee.
Commr. Campione mentioned Mr. James Tyla, who was from the Town of Lady Lake. She then stated that Mr. Robert Mack had served on the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and had been effective, and that Ms. Pamela Jennelle was involved in wildlife exploration, kayaking and ecotourism; therefore, she would probably have a significant amount of input on Keep Lake Beautiful.
Commr. Parks proposed to possibly appoint Ms. Fetter, Ms. Jennelle and Mr. Tyla.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to appoint the following individuals to the Keep Lake Beautiful Advisory Committee: City of Groveland Mayor Evelyn Wilson as an elected municipal representative; Ms. Melissa Simmes as a civic organization member; and Ms. Susan Fetter, Ms. Pamela Jennell, and Mr. James Tyla as citizen representatives, with waivers of potential ethical conflict for Ms. Jennelle and Mr. Tyla.
POSSIBLE BCC PLANNING AND ZONING MEETINGS
Mr. Rosen said that he and the Chairman had discussions about possibly changing the BCC meetings with regards to planning and zoning. He relayed that they could have one meeting per month that would just be planning and zoning.
Commr. Parks relayed that he was looking for the Board’s input on this, noting that it was unpredictable how long these items would go.
Commr. Blake thought that it was a good idea.
Commr. Smith also thought that it was a good idea so that residents would not have to sit for so long and wait for their item.
Commr. Shields relayed his understanding that other business could be done afterward.
Commr. Parks confirmed this and related that if something came up, they could add it to the end of the meeting. He also thought that the planning and zoning meeting could be the fourth Tuesday of the month.
Commr. Campione asked that if every item was on the consent agenda, would the Board have to come in and approve it. She added that if the Board decided this was not working out after a few months, they could go back to the old way.
Commr. Parks mentioned that on a day that may only have one case, they could add more items to the agenda after that.
Commr. Campione thought that residents enjoyed seeing that zoning was just one aspect of what the Board had to be involved in, noting that they had received good feedback from people who had come in for zoning meetings but had an opportunity to be part of the whole process; however, she mentioned saving people’s time and allowing them the convenience of not having to sit through a long meeting. She said that she had wondered about opening the meeting and doing a couple key things, then going straight to zoning. She thought that this was worth a try.
Commr. Parks said that the Board could try it this way and they could start the meeting on the fourth Tuesday like any other meeting if there were one or two short items, and then go into zoning; additionally, they could add items to the agenda afterward if they knew it would be a short meeting.
Commr. Campione proposed to try keeping it just zoning and see how it goes.
commissioner shields – district 1
CITY OF GROVELAND RIBBON CUTTING
Commr. Shields mentioned that he and Mr. Alan Rosen, County Manager, went to the City of Groveland and attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new City of Groveland public safety building.
league of cities luncheon
Commr. Shields said that he had attended a League of Cities luncheon and talked to Eustis City Commission members there.
commissioner smith – vice chairman and district 3
CITY OF GROVELAND RIBBON CUTTING
Commr. Smith stated that he also went to the City of Groveland public safety building ribbon cutting and that it had a great turnout.
visiting city of tallahassee
Commr. Smith said that he had visited the City of Tallahassee and that Representative Truenow was working hard for the Board’s interests in Lake County.
commissioner campione –district 4
TRAIL PROJECTS IN LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
Commr. Campione mentioned the Board’s two trail projects in their legislative priorities, and she wondered if they should remove them to be consistent with the Lake-Sumter MPO projects. She added that the Board and their lobbyists could focus on the other projects because they could be setting themselves back if the projects were vetoed. She said that they may be better off focusing on the Wekiva Trail or the Green Mountain Connector Trail, noting that they would not jeopardize the County’s Lake-Sumter MPO position with FDOT. She added that they could still talk to FDOT about the possibility of Wekiva Trail funding from them rather than the Lake-Sumter MPO.
Commr. Parks asked if she was concerned that if those two items were left on there, that it could affect another appropriation for the fairgrounds.
Commr. Campione expressed a concern that if the Wekiva Trail was funded, the County would likely lose several key transportation projects.
Commr. Blake relayed that at a recent Lake-Sumter MPO meeting, the Board had tried to assure the municipal members that this was not something that they should do. He noted that it could be a double standard if the County was doing it.
Commr. Parks said that early on, the items were placed on the legislative agenda for another way to get them funded. He shared Commissioner Campione’s concern to remove those items to not affect the other FDOT projects.
Commr. Campione mentioned the City of Groveland’s U.S. Highway 50 project, and commented that it might be good for the County to explore partnering with them to put a request to Washington, D.C. since it was part of a statewide system.
Commr. Parks asked if this would be a letter that the Board would write.
Commr. Campione said that the earmark funding could be perfect for it, and she proposed discussing it with Mr. Kurland.
Mr. Rosen thought that it was a good idea and that it was always better to go regionally. He added that if the City of Groveland and the County both had a resolution of support, along with a joint request with the City, the County and FDOT, it was more likely that the County may receive that funding. He said that he could add this to the list for their federal representatives in addition to a multi-use facility and trails.
Commr. Parks stated that this would be great.
Commr. Campione mentioned that otherwise, it would be funding that they would continue to ask for through FDOT which would continue to come off of other projects that they would be trying to get in Lake County. She added that there could be a better chance of getting the Wekiva Trail and its connectivity through.
COMMISSIONER BLAKE – DISTRICT 5
MR. ROSEN MEETING FRUITLAND PARK CITY COMMISSION
Commr. Blake remarked that in the previous week, Mr. Rosen had met the Fruitland Park City Commission.
SUMTER COUNTY TRANSPORTATION IMPACT FEES
Commr. Blake relayed that on the current day, Sumter County was set to increase their transportation impact fees by historic levels. He opined that it could create such a disparity that certain projects would make more sense on the Lake County side.
Commr. Blake thanked Mr. Schneider and Mr. Glen Guzman, Director for the Office of Code Enforcement, for helping with transportation and code enforcement issues in his district.
commissioner parks – Chairman and district 2
COMPLIMENTING MR. ROSEN
Commr. Parks complimented Mr. Rosen for doing a great job in the Town of Montverde.
UNITED STATES FLAG CODE
Commr. Parks asked to confirm with staff that Lake County would adhere to the U.S. flag code at their facilities.
Mr. Rosen relayed his understanding that this was the case, but he would confirm this.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 3:05 p.m.
SEAN PARKS, chairman
GARY J COONEY, CLERK