Commission Meeting Agenda Item
Agenda Item Title
Ordinance No. 2024-01– First Reading - An Ordinance of The Town of Lady Lake, Lake County, Florida; Providing for a Text Amendment to the Town of Lady Lake Land Development Regulations (Ordinance No. 94-08) Chapter 7, Section 7-9, “Site Development Plan Approval”; Amending the Requirements for Site Plan Approval; also, Amending Chapter 7, Section 7-10, “Time Limitations on Site Plan Approval”.
Agenda Item ID
Staff Recommended Motion
Staff recommends approval of Ordinance 2024-01.
Ordinance 2024-01 is a staff-initiated proposal to amend the site plan approval process within Chapter 7 of the Town of Lady Lake Land Development Regulations. Upon review of the current procedures, as well as reflection upon events which have occurred at previous public hearings, staff is of the opinion that the current site plan approval process is inefficient, unnecessary, and is a process which may be misleading to the general public.
Under the current process, final site plan approval is granted by the Lady Lake Town Commission. However, if a site plan proposal satisfies all of the requirements of the vested rights under an approved zoning ordinance, as well as the applicable building codes, the applicant shall be entitled to exercise those zoning and building entitlements. To deny a site plan proposal which fulfills those requirements can result in litigation against the Town; such litigation is a waste of taxpayer dollars and will likely result in a decision against the Town for the taking of the landowner’s vested development rights.
That is not to say that the general public is absent of any input which occurs on the property. The public has the right and the opportunity to express an opinion in the public hearings at which the establishment of the zoning entitlements is being proposed. In addition, if a variance is required to develop the property in the manner which the applicant desires, that process would also be subject to a public hearing. Site plans containing a waiver or waivers will also still come before the Town Commission for consideration. The Town Commission, when a waiver is requested, has the discretion to deny the waiver request. However, if the zoning entitlements have been granted and any necessary variances have also been approved, the public has no input which should be given consideration regarding the approval of the site plan.
The problem arises when the public makes the assumption that any site plan being brought before the commission for a decision may be considered for approval or denial. As previously explained, if the applicant has satisfied the zoning requirements and applicable building codes, a vote to deny the project is not a viable choice for the Town Commission if they wish to avoid litigation. Allowing public input on the site plan proposal gives the impression that residents have the ability to persuade the Commission to deny the site plan, when in reality, they do not. At the point at which the site plan is approved, members of the public without a clear understanding of zoning entitlements and development rights will feel they have not been heard, or worse ignored, despite voicing their concerns regarding the impacts of the project. Further, media outlets may report that the Town Commission disregarded the concerns of the residents which can, and often do, result in negative coverage about the Town, the elected officials, or Town staff.
When a site plan application is submitted to the Town of Lady Lake, staff should be able to conduct a review of the proposal with a degree of technical expertise that the members of the Town Commission do not possess. Growth Management staff work with the application of the Land Development Regulations on a daily basis and are well versed in what is required to fulfill the code requirements. When taking a site plan to the venue of the public hearing, changes to the site plan may be requested of the applicant by the Town Commission which would result in demanding something that is not enforceable by code requirements.
Ordinance 2024-01 proposes a process in which the site plan review is conducted wholly by Town Staff and staff consultants as applicable. Upon approval of the proposed ordinance, with a determination that all elements of the Land Development Regulations, the zoning entitlements, and applicable building codes have been satisfied, the Town Manager may grant an administrative approval of the Development Order.
Ordinance 2024-01 is not a proposal to remove any rights of the general public to determine the outcome of a site plan approval which they do not currently possess. Rather, it rectifies a process which is inefficient, unnecessary, and may be misleading to the general public. Staff recommends approval of Ordinance 2024-01 as presented.
At the December 6, 2023 Town Commission Workshop, consensus to proceed with drafting an ordinance to modify the site plan approval process was granted by the Town Commission.
The Technical Review Committee reviewed Resolution 2024-01 and found it was ready for consideration by the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Board.
At the January 8, 2024 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Board voted 3-1 to forward Ordinance 2024-01 to the Town Commission with the recommendation of approval.
The second and final reading of Ordinance 2024-01 is scheduled for Wednesday, February 21, 2024, at 6:00 p.m.