Don’t expect to see billowing clouds of smoke, just plenty of cigars in downtown Mount Dora’s newest retailer, Mount Dora Cigars. The small storefront on 5th Avenue opens tomorrow with almost two dozen cigar brands along with a hefty ventilation system to enjoy them.
Dillon Shelton and Estrella Ivette Herrera, an engaged couple, are co-owners of the new venture that will sell cigars between five dollars to twenty dollars. The most popular are likely to be the Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and Olivia. In addition to cigars, the minimalist shop will feature essential smoking accessories that include lighters, cutters, travel cases and lighter fuel. At some point, pipe tobacco will also be stocked.
Shelton, 23, was raised in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area and now resides in Ocoee. He worked in a cigar lounge before college and after finishing school last year decided to open his first store in Mount Dora because the small town gave him a familiar sense of home.
The couple plans to treat customers like family and will make recommendations after learning customers’ preferred flavor profiles. Although the store won’t be offering alcoholic beverages, customers can bring their own or take their cigars to one of the many downtown bars just a stone’s throw away.
Mount Dora Cigars is located at 129 W. 5th Avenue in downtown Mount Dora. It will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays it will be open from noon to 6 p.m.
Growth is inevitable. The local challenge is to prepare for it and manage it responsibly.
As part of its challenge, Mount Dora City Council will kick the tires of a proposed new residential and commercial development, The Parks of Mount Dora, at its regular meeting on January 16.
The proposed 63.51-acre residential and commercial development on U.S. 441 sits immediately north of Stoneybrook Hills Parkway. Although the site is located in Orange County, it’s part of a 1,265 acre Joint Planning Area Agreement (JPA) with Orange County established in 1996. The agreement allows the City of Mount Dora input on the area by coordinating planning efforts and jointly managing its growth with Orange County as it relates to density, certain development standards, and the provision of utilities. The majority of this land is under development as Stoneybrook Hills.
Existing Future Land Use for the property allows for 7.5 acres (75,000 square feet) of office development and 280 multi-family senior housing units. Due to school concurrency, residential units were limited exclusively to housing for seniors. The JPA allows for five dwelling units per acre in the back portion of the property and 66,000 square feet of office development along U.S. 441 frontage. The actual amount of office development could be less depending on the proximity of the existing pond to the office use.
The Parks of Mount Dora is seeking a change in the JPA to increase residential density to 8.93 units per acre with 500 multi-family residential units which would no longer be limited to seniors. The proposed project would also change the 7.5 acres of office development to commercial.
School concurrency is not part of the review with this change in the agreement. However, as part of the Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map amendment that allows for the increase in residential density, the developer will be required to enter into a school mitigation agreement, known as a Capacity Enhancement Agreement (CEA) with Orange County Public Schools. The applicant has submitted a CEA application to the school district, according to Nicholas Thalmueller, Planner for Orange County Planning Division. Concurrency is not required for Lake County Public Schools under the JPA, but impact could be felt in Mount Dora schools if some residents enroll their children in the closer campuses.
Property tax revenue would go to Orange County, but the City of Mount Dora would generate income from the development by supplying water with an “out-of-city” surcharge of twenty-five percent.
Orange County's Planning and Zoning Commission approved the change, however Mount Dora's Planning And Zoning Commission voted against it.
At the January 16 public meeting, Mount Dora City Council will review the merits of the proposal and vote whether to deny or allow the proposed change to the JPA’s Interlocal Agreement's Conceptual Plan to increase the density. The change must be approved by both the Mount Dora City Council and the Orange County Commission before The Parks of Mount Dora can proceed.
Tuesday's City Council meeting will be held at City Hall at 6 p.m.
It was a sad day in downtown Mount Dora when Kelly Davant, co-owner of KaDee Kay kitchen store announced the store would be closing permanently at the end of January.
“We are writing you to thank you for your business for the past 7 years. Indeed it has been a pleasure to serve you as your go-to kitchen store. KaDee Kay Gourmet Kitchen Products will be closing our doors on Friday, January 26, 2018. However, we will have some great sales on our products and store/display fixtures over the next three weeks. Please stop by the store to see what we are offering. If you would like to shop with us but are unable to get to the store you can still use our shop website (www.kadeekay.com) and get the same great deals. (At the check out type SAVE40 to get 40% off your entire purchase.)”
On behalf of their mother, Karen, and themselves, sisters Kelly and Danielle extended heartfelt appreciation for the opportunity to work with colleagues and interact with customers, fellow merchants and vendors.
The trio wrote, “As we move on to other ventures, we will carry a deep and abiding appreciation for all that this experience has offered us. Now is our time to start our new adventure. We are grateful for all of you. We look forward to seeing you around the town for years to come.”
The store will be greatly missed. We wish them the best of luck in their next chapter.
It’s a common growing pain of technology. The internet often brings change faster than local governments can respond.
Mount Dora could consider following the path of other Florida cities, as they try to keep up with the challenges, opportunities and loopholes presented by short-term vacation rentals. Companies like VRBO and Airbnb provide easy Internet-based platforms for property owners to offer short-term vacation rentals. The units can range from single rooms and guest cottages to entire homes.
Short-term or transient vacation rentals are often defined as those rented to guests more than three times a year or for periods under 30 days. Mount Dora reportedly has two hundred such rentals, of which only 25 are licensed in compliance with state law. The city currently has no ordinances pertaining to these rentals, according to Vince Sandersfeld, Mount Dora's interim planning director.
Almost a decade ago, Mount Dora passed an ordinance regulating the operation of bed and breakfasts in an effort to preserve the character, safety and quality of life in residential neighborhoods. Unlike the city’s hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts, the short-term rentals currently bypass city taxes, safety and health inspections, as well as parking and event regulations.
Marathon, Hollywood, Miami, Surfside and Fort Lauderdale and other Florida cities have sought to mitigate the effects of short-term vacation rentals in their communities. Many have developed new ordinances in an attempt to make them safer, accountable and more compatible with existing neighborhoods.
The issue was discussed at a Mount Dora City Council work session and it’s tentatively scheduled to be addressed again at the January 2 regular city council meeting.
UPDATE: JANUARY 2, 2017 In 2009, prior to the popularity of AirBnB and other internet-based rental platforms, the Florida Legislature preempted cities from adopting certain restrictive ordinances regulating short term rentals. At the January 2 meeting, Mount Dora's city attorney advised the city council this limits the option of an ordinance. The council now plans to join other Florida cities in adopting a resolution to send to state lawmakers about their concerns.
The recent launch of Lake County’s newest craft beer has been a runaway success. Retailers and craft beer bars are struggling to keep Wolf Branch Brewing “Season” beer in stock. Now the start-up is gearing up for a launch of another kind.
In mid-to-late January, Wolf Branch Brewing will open its 1,700 square-foot brewery in downtown Eustis. The cozy craft beer bar will feature a selection of house brews on tap, as well as a few taps for guest beers. The goal is for eight to ten house-brewed beers to be on tap at all times, plus offer growlers for patrons to fill in the taproom so beer lovers can take their favorite local beers home.
The brewery will soon add a 300 square-foot beer garden with a mural by local artist Richard Barrenechea of Mount Dora’s “Starry Night” fame.
Wolf Branch Brewing focuses on crafting old-world styles of beer with modern tastes. The grand opening will feature their “Brumada,” a Belgian Wit, “Sibarita,” a Belgian Tripel, “St. Pat’s,” a Red Ale, “Coocha,” a Coffee Milk Stout, and "Season" a Belgian-style farmhouse ale, as well as carefully curated guest beers on tap.
The venue will have more than just beer. A staple will be Grandpa’s Sangria, housemade in red and white varieties and served in mason jars. Recognizing that good grub accompanies great beer, the business is partnering with neighboring Sol de Mexico and other area eateries to have custom menus for delivery in the brewery. With any luck an ordering window will be cut into the beer garden so hungry patrons can order directly from the restaurant. For customers just feeling a tad peckish, the brewery will offer light snacks like chips and gourmet popcorn.
Above: At Wolf Branch Brewing it's a family affair
The brewery will also host some of the area’s top music talent. David Oliver Willis lives a few doors away and will likely be a staple performer.
The seed for Wolf Branch Brewing was planted in 2015 when Jose Villafana, an army veteran and amateur beer-maker, set off on his trek to become a master brewer. Ever since, Jose and his brothers-in-law, Josh Greenberg and Chris Dunlop, have honed their craft, testing and developing a wide range of craft beer styles.
Now the trio and Jose’s father, Jose Villafana Sr., are ready to showcase their beers and friendly hospitality in the brewery named for the Mount Dora road where it all began.
Wolf Branch Brewing is located at 119 N. Bay Street in downtown Eustis between the State Theater and Sol de Mexico. Currently, the brewery is open limited hours: Monday through Thursday from 12:30- to 2:30 p.m. and from 5:00-9:00 p.m. and Fridays until 11:30 p.m. Saturday the hours are 1:30 to 11:30 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. Watch for extended hours after the grand opening later this month.
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