ABOVE: Police Chief Brett Meade (Mount Dora Buzz file photo)
Stepping into his role as Mount Dora’s Interim Police Chief last July, Brett Meade hit the ground running and over the last several months earned the respect of the community. On Friday, Interim Mount Dora City Manager Charles Revell appointed Meade as the permanent Chief of Police.
“Serving the citizens of Mount Dora as the Chief of Police is truly an opportunity of a lifetime. Mount Dora is an incredible community and it is an honor to lead a police department staffed with dedicated and committed personnel intently focused on providing a safe environment for our community,” said Chief Meade. “As we move forward, I ask that everyone assists the Mount Dora Police Department in achieving our agency priorities by getting involved, as our goal is to be the premiere law enforcement agency in Central Florida, and we will achieve this distinction by dedicated and trusted community partnerships.”
Meade began his law enforcement career in 1982 with the DeLand Police Department and later served almost 25 years with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office where he retired as a patrol commander. In 2014, Meade was appointed Deputy Chief of Police for the University of Central Florida Police Department and retired with the honorary rank of Chief four years later. Mount Dora’s new chief has extensive command leadership experience in administrative as well as operational positions that include Campus Law Enforcement, Internal Affairs, Tourism Safety, Intelligence, Patrol Command, Investigations, and Youth Crime Prevention programs. Meade embraces community policing and intelligence-led policing philosophies with proven success in crime reduction.
APRIL 2021 UPDATE: Planning & Zoning Commission member John Cataldo resigned in protest of the process and conduct that occurred at the April 21 meeting. APRIL 21, 2021 UPDATE: The Mount Dora's Planning & Zoning Commission voted to pursue an ordinance to increase building heights in the city, including in its historic downtown.
In advance of the public P & Z meeting, the City had advised that no votes would be taken. However, the chairmaninitiateda vote without making a motion or receiving a second, which didn't provide an opportunity for amendments from other commission members. During the meeting some members and residents expressed their frustration with process and conduct of the commission's chairman.
Ultimately, the Commission voted 4-3 to advance "Option A" (see below) which was the most lenient option for developers. P & Z will vote on the finalized ordinance at its May 19 public meeting at 10 a.m. at City Hall. The P & Z Commission consists of city residents appointed by Mount Dora City Council members. The chairman serves as Council Member Doug Bryant's seat and serves at the pleasure of the City Council.
The below article was published April 20, 2021 prior to the meeting ______________________________
Mount Dora Planning and Zoning Commission (P & Z) will continue its discussion on increasing the building heights in downtown Mount Dora, as well as other areas of the city, at its April 21 meeting. In February, the Commission instructed the City’s planning staff to draft an ordinance to increase the heights to accommodate development. As a result, City staff drafted two versions of an ordinance which will be up for discussion at the April meeting.
TWO ORDINANCE VERSIONS:
OPTION “A” This version of the ordinance proposes building heights by zoning district:
Increases downtown heights from 35 feet to 55 feet except within 25 feet adjacent to single-family or duplex zoning districts which would then have a height maximum of 35 feet. (Zoned C-2 & M2). For perspective, downtown’s three-story Renaissance Building on Donnelly Street, is estimated at approximately 35 feet tall and City Hall is 28 feet tall, according to City documents supplied in February.
This proposed ordinance keeps 25 feet height along Lake Dora (no proposed changes).
Highland Street commercial district’s proposed height maximum is 45 feet, except any multiple-family structure within 25 feet adjacent to a single-family or duplex zoning district or use shall be a maximum height 35 feet. (Zoned C-2A)
Other Zoning Districts:
R-3 zoning district has a proposed 55-foot height limit, except any multiple-family structure within 25 feet adjacent to a single-family or duplex zoning district or use shall be a maximum height 35 feet.
Workplace (WP-1 and WP-2) zoning, which are the City’s industrial zoning change to 55 feet.
PLI zoning 55 feet, except within 25 feet adjacent to single-family or duplex zoning districts or use shall be a maximum height 35 feet.
In Mount Dora Golden Triangle, the height maximum is already 65 feet in the code. There are no proposed changes except lands zoned C-3. Mixed use zoning (MU-1) is already 60 feet for the Golden Triangle area.
OPTION “B” This version of the ordinance requires proposed building heights greater than 35 feet to go through the City’s normal “Conditional Use Permit” (CUP). That means projects requesting a building height greater than 35 feet must provide justification to P & Z through the detailed CUP process.
Once occupied, new taller downtown buildings would negatively impact parking in an area already short of spaces, so P & Z could seek to remove the downtown parking exemption by ordinance and create a parking impact fee to be paid by developers as a special criterion in the Conditional Use Permit (CUP). A parking impact fee criterion isn't in the current Option B of the ordinance.
Both ordinances would require Historic Preservation Board consideration through the Certificate of Appropriateness process in cases where the proposed buildings (or additions) are located within the Historic Preservation Review Boundary Area. Neither ordinance is needed to construct a new downtown parking garage.
At its April 21 meeting the Planning & Zoning Commission can choose to:
Ask the City’s planning staff to formalize one of the ordinances as is.
Ask the City’s planning staff to formalize one of the ordinances with changes.
Reject both ordinances.
Table the issue.
If the commission decides to proceed with either of the draft ordinances, it will need to be formalized and presented back to P & Z at a public hearing when it would vote and make recommendations to the City Council.
The City’s newest council member, Austin Guenther, works for G3 Development, his family’s commercial real estate development business which owns commercial properties that could benefit from the height increase. According to G3's website, the councilman is tasked with the company’s business development. G3's ownership also has a stake in Pineapple Point, the undeveloped waterfront acreage next to Lakeside Inn. Guenther would not be required to abstain from voting on any ordinance related to building heights, according to Mount Dora City Attorney Sherry Sutphen, “because he will not gain a special, private benefit different from all area property owners.”
Previous efforts to transform historic downtown Mount Dora with significantly higher building heights have ruffled more than a few feathers in the past. Changing downtown Mount Dora’s vibe with taller buildings could attract more developers, residents and businesses. However, a quick scan of the area shows numerous long-term vacant buildings, including four prime downtown corner properties, which indicates an abundance of space is already available for new businesses.
Anyone wanting to weigh in on increasing Mount Dora Building heights can attend the April 21st meeting 10 a.m. at City Hall. Social distancing and masks are required per the City’s Resolution 2020-138. Follow Mount Dora Buzz on Instagram. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app.
By Marc Crail District 4 City Council Representative
I've selected a handful of items from our April 16 Mount Dora City Council meeting to share with you. Of course, I'm writing from my own perspective and not on behalf of City Council as a whole.
COVID-19 vaccinations have wrapped up now at the St. Patrick Church site. Our community owes the members and leadership of St. Patrick Church a huge debt of gratitude for their generous and long term use of their campus that was very well suited for administering over 31,000 immunizations over the past few months. I am also proud that our city stepped up and led the way to make sure that our residents had a local option to get their shots. Our police and fire departments were supported by their colleagues from Eustis and Tavares along with lots of volunteers worked tirelessly to staff the St. Patrick site. Thanks to all who made this possible. Another interesting statistic is that as of yesterday 42% of Lake County adults have been immunized. That is substantially higher than Orange County's 34% and Seminole's 34%.
Speaking of COVID, we were provided with a packet of statistics from the Department of Health, C.D.C. and other expert sources and discussed the possibility of relaxing mask requirements. The current data doesn't support relaxing mask or social distancing requirements at this time but it seems likely that over the next few months either the Governor or the C.D.C. will move to do that but for now please continue to mask up.
Over the past few months we've been discussing making amendments to our Land Development Code particularly as it relates to our Wolf Branch Innovation District. Our city staff has worked with interested property owners and potential developers looking for ways to promote appropriate development there. Today we approved a "first reading" of that ordinance. There could still be more tweaks because a second reading is required.
At our last meeting we appointed Charles Revell as our Acting City Manager. We had discussed having him serve for a few weeks until we could find an Interim City Manager who would run the city until we have found and hired a permanent Manager. That process will likely take 5-6 months. We have now asked Mr. Revell who retired in 2019 after many years running our electric utility to stay on as our Interim City Manager and we will begin the search for a permanent manager asap. An Executive search firm will be hired to conduct the search. I think this is a good move since Revell knows our city and the city staff very well, is highly regarded and has hit the ground running.
I've got a quote for you today from Jacob Wind. "If you are an American, your heritage is either Native American, slave, refugee or immigrant. That's it."
No matter how and when you and your family got here to Mount Dora, I'm glad that you are here. Our mixture of diverse people and cultures make Mount Dora and America someplace special.
By Marc Crail District 4 City Council Representative
Lake County Schools announced it has scheduled fives days to distribute vaccines to students that are 16 and older at area high schools. The first date is April 5 at Eustis High School from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. No appointment is required and students do not have to be enrolled in the school where the vaccine is being distributed.
Federal and state guidelines have extended eligibility requirements for the Pfizer vaccine to include this age group. DOH-Lake has partnered with Lake County Schools to offer the vaccine at times and locations that are more convenient for the majority of school employees and eligible students.
Students age 16 and 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when receiving both doses. The Pfizer Consent Form must be completed and signed by the parent or guardian in advance for both visits. The student will receive a vaccination card after the first dose and should bring the card for the second dose.
Students age 18+ are asked to please bring ID and the Pfizer Consent Form completed in advance when they come for their first dose. They will receive a vaccination card and should bring that card, along with another copy of the Pfizer Consent Form completed in advance, when they come for their second dose.
We will distribute the vaccine on the following dates:
Eustis High School from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
1st dose 4/5
2nd dose 4/26
South Lake High School from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
1st dose 4/6
2nd dose 4/27
Leesburg High School from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
1st dose 4/6
2nd dose 4/27
Lake Minneola High School from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM
1st dose 4/7
2nd dose 4/28
Tavares High School from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
1st dose 4/8
2nd dose 4/29
The vaccines will also be available to Florida residents 16 and older at the other sites that have the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for ages 18 and older.