I've chosen several items from the January 17 City Council agenda to report on today. What follows comes from me as an individual council member and not from City Council as a whole.
Located behind (to the west) our W.T. Bland Library is a 12+ acre Greenbelt Forest Property. We approved a "Task Authorization" for the design of recreational landscape features for a trail system there. Over the past year or more, work has been going on to reduce invasive plants, restore the natural habitat, engage neighbors in the planning process and obtain a $50K grant to help fund this project. The concept is to provide learning opportunities for children while maintaining a natural environment. I'm excited to see this low impact project proceed. What a great idea!
For more than a decade we've been hearing about future plans for the 850-acre Wolf Branch Innovation District located near SR 46. Now, a developer has proposed plans for a 36-acre, mixed-use development. We needed to change the zoning of that parcel from its previous designation as Lake County "Office" to Mount Dora "Mixed Use". The property was annexed into the City at the developer's request in August of 2022. Our Planning and Zoning Commission recommend the zoning change last month on a 6-1 vote. City Council voted 7-0 to make the land use change to "Employment Center" as proposed.
Much of our meeting involved discussion about that property mentioned above. The developer has proposed a mixed use Planned Unit Development (PUD) to include office, retail, an adult living facility, mini-warehouse, convention center, residential and underground parking. After lots of discussion and comments by council members and community members, there was a consensus that most people favored the project but many objected to the height of buildings, some proposed to be over 300 feet tall.
I proposed a motion that we approve "the first reading" for this project to keep discussions alive and continue negotiations between our city staff and the developer in hopes of reaching a compromise before it comes back for a "final" vote. The motion passed on a 6-1 vote (Dawson opposed). Our hope is that common ground on this lynch-pin project can be found. We will definitely be hearing more about this in the upcoming months.
Here are a couple of good news items. Funded by private donations, you will soon see 125 light pole banners around town celebration the contributions of African-Americans locally and nationally just in time for Black History Month.
There is a friendly rumble for a very good cause brewing between Eustis and Mount Dora. Last year Eustis residents got the better of us when they collected more canned goods and cash to benefit Lake Cares Food Pantry. We can't let that stand! Please stop by the Fire Station to drop off your donations Saturday between 10:00-2:00 of drop them off at other neighborhood drop off locations. Thanks in advance for your help.
In recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Day, our quote for today comes from Dr. King himself. "Love is the only force capable of transforming enemy into friend."
I was impressed by the high level of discussion and the thoughtful comments made by my City Council colleagues and interested community members. In my way of thinking, this is how local government is supposed to to function. It could serve as model for state and national government too. By working together and listening to each other, wise decisions can be made. Thanks for the opportunity to serve as one of your representatives.
By Marc Crail Vice-Mayor and District 4 Representative