Our December 7th. City Council meeting began at 5:30 and didn't wrap up until well after 11:00 p.m. As usual, I selected a few key items to tell you about. Please keep in mind that I'm reporting to you as one individual and not on behalf of city council as a whole.
We adopted a resolution to utilize Florida's state revolving loan fund to borrow $12 million to update our 40 year-old Wastewater Plant #1. This state financing option will allow us to borrow the needed money with practically no interest. We will also be pursuing a grant from St. Johns River Management District to help lower the cost of these much needed renovations to our taxpayers.
The bulk of our marathon meeting involved consideration of a proposed 224.56 acre development on either side of Route 441 between the Publix at Loch Leven plaza and the Country Club of Mount Dora. Most of this property is currently orange groves and it is currently outside of our Mount Dora city limits in unincorporated Lake County. The owners have decided to sell their property and they have selected a buyer who will develop it. The proposal is for about 18 acres of Commercial development on the south side of 441 and several types of residential options ranging from single family to high density on the vast majority of the property. This project would be one of the biggest expansions of property and residents in recent Mount Dora history.
There were two items on our agenda involving this property. The first one was a first reading to approve annexation into Mount Dora. The second item was another first reading of a "Transmittal Hearing Ordinance".
It seems likely to me that either or both of these items could be reconsidered at a future City Council meeting so I'm going to try to give you the facts of each one without offering my personal opinion that could violate my Sunshine Law obligations. I also want to say that boiling down several hours of community members' comments and council members' discussion into a couple of paragraphs is nearly impossible but I'll give it a try.
On the proposal to annex the 224.56 acres into Mount Dora, the motion, after much discussion was approved. The rational for annexation is that if the property is in Mount Dora, our ability to control the plans for future development would be enhanced.
The second item dealing with the Transmittal Hearing ultimately failed with Mr. Gunther and Mr. Rolfson voting in favor and the other five members voting against it. The majority expressed their interest in delaying approval for Transmittal for a for a month or two so that council would have some time to hold a work session discussion and a public meeting.
When the second (Transmittal) issued failed, the property owner's representative said that his client would no longer be requesting annexation.
It seems likely to me that we will all be hearing much more on this topic in the future.
The other big item on our agenda was a report by our City Attorney on the status of the building height initiative demands by a citizens' group. After hearing her report and lots of good discussion, a motion was approved by a 4-3 vote (Gunther, Rolfson and I voted no) to have our staff draft language for an ordinance to propose placing a Charter Amendment on the November 2022 ballot that would limit building heights in the downtown historic district to a maximum 35' and 25' near the lakeshore with some possible exceptions that would be recommended by our Building Height Review Committee that has been formed and has begun meeting.
Council will also craft a "moratorium" that will preclude any taller buildings being approved in the historic downtown area until the November vote.
I believe that our community needs to get this issue resolved and I think that this compromise will afford citizens with varying opinions the opportunity to get some closure.
I've got a quote for you today from Paulo Coelho who said, "The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion."
Thanks for allowing me to be one of your representatives on Mount Dora City Council.