By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4 Three meetings were all rolled into one marathon afternoon/evening beginning at 3:00 and wrapping up shortly before 11:00. I've said this before but it bares repeating... I am not the spokesperson for Mount Dora City Council and I''m only one of the seven members so what follows here is just my opinion of a few selected items that I thought you might be interested in reading about.
We began with a Work Session that included a positive report from our Auditors and a review of our proposed 2018-19 budget which is still being tweaked but is getting close to being finalized. Our City Manager thinks that there will likely be no millage increase this year. You might recall that our millage rate was set last year at 6.3 mills. Because of property value increases this year we will collect some additional money and should be able to back off from the 7.0 mill rate that you saw on your recent TRIM notice. This has not been finalized yet but it seems likely to me. One other piece of good news is that we believe that Mount Dora will be approved to receive a "SAFER Grant" which would help pay the salaries of new fire fighters over the next several years.
The Regular Meeting included several important items.
On a 5-1 vote we passed a resolution giving preliminary approval for 387 new single family homes to be built as a PUD (Planned Unit Development) on 155 developable acres off of Round Lake Rd. just north of Round Lake School. There will be lots of green space, walking and bike trails, ball fields, a pool, and a tot lot playground. Two entrances to the development are planned to/from Round Lake Rd. and a traffic light is being constructed right now on the corner of Round Lake and Wolf Branch Roads.
Parking solutions for downtown have been sorely needed for a decade or more. Rather than building a monolithic parking structure which I believe would not fit in well, we are concentrating on developing smaller surface parking lots. We approved a Capital Improvement Revenue Note which is a bank loan for up to $4 million at 3.85% to begin purchasing several properties near the corner of Third Ave. and Baker St. consisting of an old barn and some houses that will soon become a parking lot with 60-85 spaces and much needed rest rooms for downtown visitors. Please don't let that $4 million figure confuse you. This parking lot and restrooms should cost about half of that but we can (should we choose to) also use the same loan to fund a second surface lot which could be located on Donnelly St. where the post office sits now. No decision has been made on that Donnelly St. lot and the property owner hasn't said yet if that property is going to be for sale. If it becomes available, we are "pre-approved" to get the funds to purchase it if we decide to do so. CRA funds are available to be used to repay the bank loan.
The owner of the Renaissance Building located at 411 N. Donnelly St. would like to construct a deck to be used for outdoor dining above the sidewalk on the front side of the building. Although the design looked appealing to me, on the advice of our Historic Preservation Board and our Planning & Zoning staff we declined to approve it on a 5-1 vote.
We are continuing to work toward the possible creation of a downtown "Entertainment District' which would enable adults to carry beer, wine or other adult beverages on the streets in that area. After a discussion among council members and suggestions from the community our legal counsel will incorporate the latest suggestions into a draft ordinance to be considered as a pilot program at our next meeting. More on this soon!
With the recent passing of Senator John McCain we have been reminded of the bravery and old fashioned patriotism and integrity that defined his life of public service. My favorite John McCain story demonstrated his decency when in the midst of his 2008 campaign for
President he quickly but politely intervened when a woman in his Town Hall event audience began to make untrue, disparaging remarks about McCain's opponent, Senator Barack Obama. "I can't trust Obama. He's an Arab," she said implying that Obama was not an American. "No ma'am." McCain said as he took the microphone back from her. "He's a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about. He's not."
In my estimation, that is what America should be all about.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your District 4 City Council Representative