Commission Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the Commission Meeting, January 17, 2024

The regular meeting of the Lady Lake Town Commission was held in the Commission Chambers at Lady Lake Town Hall, 409 Fennell Blvd., Lady Lake, Florida, with Mayor Freeman presiding. The meeting convened at 6:00 p.m.

Call to Order

Invocation

Given by Pastor Keith Johnson from the Chapel of Christian Faith

Pledge of Allegiance

Roll Call

Mayor Freeman

Commissioner (Ward) Present
Regan (Four) YES
Roberts (One) YES
Gourlie (Two) YES
Sage (Five) YES
Freeman (Three) YES

STAFF PRESENT

Bill Lawrence, Town Manager; Thad Carroll, Growth Management Director; C.T. Eagle, Public Works Director; Pam Winegardner, Finance Director; Carol Osborne, Deputy Town Clerk; Nancy Wilson, Town Clerk

Town Attorney Derek Schroth was also in attendance.

A. CONSENT

1. January 3, 2024 — Town Commission Meeting Minutes

Commissioner Gourlie made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda as presented; Commissioner Sage seconded. Motion carried 5-0.

B. NEW BUSINESS

There is no new business to present.

C. TOWN ATTORNEY'S REPORT

2. Resolution 2023-116 — Variance — A Resolution Granting a Variance to Allow Additional Wall Signs on the North Façade of the Proposed 6,724 Square-Foot Retail Grocery Store in Accordance with the Provisions of Chapter 17, Section 17-4. B). 2)., of the Town Lady Lake Land Development Regulations, on Property Owned by SK Hammock Oaks, LLC, on Property Being Approximately 20.4 Acres of Land, located at the southeast Corner of the Intersection of Cherry Lake Road and Highway 466, Within the Town Limits of the Town of Lady Lake, FL.

Growth Management Director Carroll presented the background summary for this agenda item stating that the applicant is requesting additional wall signs on the north façade of the proposed retail grocery store. He advised that the application was received in November 2023 and that the 16 adjacent property owners located within 150-feet of this property were notified. Mr. Carroll advised that he has not received communication from any of these property owners, yet there was opposition from the public at the December Planning and Zoning meeting. The Planning and Zoning Board recommended forwarding this resolution to the town commission with the recommendation of approval. Mr. Carroll advised that the application was tabled at the January 3, 2024 commission meeting because the applicant needed to make a few modifications.

Josh Lockhart - CPH Corporation – Program Manager

Mr. Lockhart introduced John Curtis with Kolter Land Partners, who is the master developer of the Hammock Oaks development; Dan Moyer with Casto; Leo Ayala with CPH; Conrad Lambert with CPH; Troy Heffer, project architect with Core States; David Lander with CPH.

Mr. Lockhart reviewed the project stating that the project team had several iterations of the layout, taking into consideration all the required infrastructure, required codes, and the current site restraints.

Mr. Lockhart explained the signage on the building is on the north side of the store that faces CR 466 and includes the locations of the liquor store and the pharmacy. He acknowledged that there are questions regarding the elevations of this store that will be addressed during the final site plan presentation.

Mayor Freeman stated that when this project was first presented it was his understanding that new elevations for this store would be presented soon. He added that it is hard to make a decision on this matter when the present elevations are preliminary and asked if the elevation was computer generated.

Mr. Lockhart stated there is no variance request for the design standards on the elevation; the variance request is simply for the signage on the building.

Mayor Freeman said if the commission is being asked for a variance, they should be shown what that variance might look like. He stated that it is difficult to make a decision without the correct elevations. Also, because these pictures are computer generated, he would have liked to see a picture of how the signs would look with the proper elevation.

Troy Heffer – Core States – Project Architect

Mr. Heffer advised that the signs are in the correct locations on the building and that the colors and material of the building are separate issues.

Commissioner Roberts clarified with Mr. Heffer that the signage, in terms of the font and the size, is consistent with what is being planned regardless of the elevation behind it.

Mr. Heffer answered affirmatively.

Mr. Carroll clarified further that the variance is for the number of signs because it is in excess on one. He advised that once the final elevations are submitted, if the square footage and the number of signs are consistent with the variance request, this request can go forward for consideration. He explained further that should they increase the square footage from what is considered this evening or if they propose additional signs, then they will need to present that at a future meeting.

Mr. Carroll stated that the elevations are a commercial design waiver. He stated that the commission may move forward with this resolution as the number of signs is what is before the commission for consideration.

Mayor Freeman stated that he would like to table this resolution until the final elevations are available showing the colors and materials along with the signage.

Mr. Heffer stated that the intention of this presentation is the location and quantity of the signs. The signs will be in the same areas and the same sizes as presented tonight.

Dan Moyer – CASTO – Vice President

Mr. Moyer stated that the elevations were initially presented in December and noted that Mayor Freeman had concerns regarding the elevations at that time. He stated that the mayor asked for specific feedback and did not receive any and the other four commissioners were in favor of the design. He advised that a few weeks ago he received word that the elevations were not to the commission’s liking. He stated that he has been working with Walmart and, unfortunately, Walmart is a very large corporation, and it is a very long process to make these changes. He stated that the updates will be presented soon. He reiterated that the request is for additional square footage for signs.

Mayor Freeman stated that he does not care if Walmart is a big machine; if they are a big machine, they can make the wheels turn.

Mr. Moyer stated that he is agreeable to tabling this resolution because the remaining resolutions are independent of the building design.

Town Attorney Derek Schroth stated that each resolution needs to be addressed individually.

Commissioner Roberts stated what is before them are the number and size of signs for the building. She stated that she is in the design industry and changing the background materials will not make a significant difference. She understands that the elevations will be presented as a variance at a later date.

Mr. Moyer stated that he had been pushing Walmart to have the elevations completed prior to this meeting but it did not happen.

Commissioner Regan stated that he would like to see the final product as well.

Commissioner Gourlie clarified that a building this size normally would have one sign and the request is to have four signs for identification and direction purposes. He confirmed that if the store was not a Walmart and was a strip mall, each store would have its own sign.

Mr. Heffer replied affirmatively and stated that the signs will be in the locations depicted on the picture.

Commissioner Sage stated that he would like to see the new design because he is one of three new commissioners not familiar with the project and was not on the commission when this project was initially presented.

Commissioner Roberts asked Mr. Heffer if Walmart consistently uses the same font, the same font size, and the same number of signs on a Neighborhood Walmart as shown in the pictures. She verified with Mr. Heffer that what is before them is no different from any other Neighborhood Walmart that they have built.

Mr. Heffer replied affirmatively.

Commissioner Roberts stated that they are talking about the elevations being different, but the sign will be placed on the building regardless of the elevation. She reiterated that the commission is approving the signage variance, not the elevation.

Mayor Freeman stated that there are two Walmart stores nearby that look appropriate for their locations. He stated that his concern is the design of the building. He stated that Sam’s Club near Town Hall does not have multiple signs on their building.

Mr. Moyer stated that there is no issue tabling this variance.

Mr. Schroth verified with Mr. Moyer that it is his request to table this resolution.

Mayor Freeman asked if there were any comments from the public.

Margot Brewer - 1205 Bower Lane

Ms. Brewer asked if, “Wine and Spirits” is the standard signage to advertise Walmart’s liquor store.

Mr. Heffer replied affirmatively.

Commissioner Roberts made a motion to table Resolution 2023-116; Commissioner Regan seconded.

Commissioner (Ward) Vote
Regan (Four) YES
Roberts (One) YES
Gourlie (Two) NO
Sage (Five) YES
Freeman (Three) YES

Motion passed by a 4-1 vote (Gourlie)

3. Resolution 2023-115 — Variance — Walmart Neighborhood Market — Reduction in Required Loading Areas — Chapter 7, Section 7-5)., of the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) which requires one loading space for every 10,000 square feet of retail commercial space and one loading area for convenience stores. The variance request is for the reduction of 5 of the required loading areas for the proposed 60,724 square-foot retail grocery store and to allow no loading area for the proposed 1,618 square-foot convenience store with fuel operations located within the property of the proposed Walmart Neighborhood Market site, owned by SK Hammock Oaks, LLC within the town limits of the Town of Lady Lake, FL

Growth Management Director Carroll presented the background summary for this agenda item. He stated that based on the site plan that was submitted, six loading zones for the Walmart and one loading zone for the convenience store is required. He noted that the header on this resolution has changed. He advised that the applicant, Dan Moyer, has requested a reduction to four loading areas from the original request of five loading areas, and has added an additional loading zone for the convenience store.

Mr. Carroll discussed this amendment with Town Attorney Derek Schroth who advised that because the change is more compliant with our code, the commission can make a motion in accordance with the way the header currently reads.

He stated that staff supports this request because deliveries are scheduled such that they can operate with fewer loading zones; trucks do not queue to unload.

Josh Lockhart - CPH

Mr. Lockhart stated that several loading zones are required for the grocery store and one is required for the convenience store to allow for vendors and deliveries. Additional loading space on the south side of the grocery store was also added by Copacabana Road.

Mr. Lockhart stated that the requirement for loading spaces is designed more like dedicated parking stalls to service the store. He stated that Walmart provides loading docks for deliveries and there are two loading docks on the back of this grocery store, both are 10-feet wide by 130-feet long to accommodate tractor trailers. He stated that this area will also accommodate smaller trailers or box trucks. The rear docks will prevent traffic from being impacted during AM and PM delivery hours. There are usually two tractor trailers that make deliveries per store/per day. Regarding the efficiency and the operational safety that is provided by this variance request the plan also reduces the overall site impact, reduces the amount of pavement, maintains appropriate parking spaces, and works around some of the trees that are on site.

Mr. Lockhart pointed out a buffer area to the south of the loading dock and he said he is working with the development team for that to be a potential site for larger trees or relocating trees to that area.

Commissioner Regan asked if the reduced dockage would result in congestion with trucks that are off schedule, would there be idling trucks waiting to enter by reducing the number of dock deliveries.

Mr. Lockhart stated that the code requires a loading stall not a loading dock. Loading docks provide larger delivery vehicles that bring more products in at one delivery time. Also, there is a 50-foot staging area to the rear of the building in the event the loading dock is occupied.

Commissioner Regan asked what the preferred route for deliveries is.

Mr. Lockhart stated that trucks will enter and exit from Copacabana Road which is at the rear of the store.

Commissioner Roberts asked if the Planning and Zoning Board voted against this resolution and whether they were voting on allowing five spaces versus four spaces?

Mr. Carroll clarified that the Planning and Zoning Board voted on five spaces at the store and zero spaces at the convenience store. He stated that the modifications presented this evening are more compliant with our code.

Commissioner Roberts stated this satisfies her concerns.

Commissioner Gourlie said that our Code is in place to ensure that there are sufficient spaces but Walmart knows better than the town what they need. He stated that the green space has been increased and stated that he does not have any issues with the variance.

Commissioner Sage stated that he does not have any issues with the variance.

Mayor Freeman asked if this design is typical for Neighborhood Walmart’s.

Mr. Lockhart replied affirmatively.

Mayor Freeman asked if there were any comments from the public. Hearing none, he asked for a motion.

Commissioner Sage made a motion to approve Resolution 2023-115 on first and final reading as presented; Commissioner Gourlie seconded.

Commissioner (Ward) Vote
Regan (Four) YES
Roberts (One) YES
Gourlie (Two) YES
Sage (Five) YES
Freeman (Three) YES

Motion passed by a 5-0 vote.

4. Resolution 2023-117 — Variance —Walmart Neighborhood Market — Reduction in Required Parking — Chapter 7, Section 7-4). B). 4)., of the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) which require one parking space for every 200 square feet of retail building area. The variance request is for the reduction of the 49 required parking spaces located within the property of the proposed Walmart Neighborhood Market, owned by SK Hammock Oaks, LLC, within the town limits of the Town of Lady Lake, FL.

Growth Management Director Carroll stated that this variance is requesting a reduction in required parking. He noted the applicant has altered their golf cart dedicated spaces and made them regular car spaces resulting in a reduction of 41 parking spaces instead of 49. He stated that this request is more compliant with our code than when it was presented to the Planning and Zoning Board.

Mr. Carroll stated that this is not the first time this issue has come up with applicants proposing to reduce parking. He stated that applicants must adhere to our code but it is a guideline. When a reduction in parking is requested, the site is reviewed and the justification statement is considered to determine if the variance should be granted.

Mr. Carroll presented slides showing aerial views of shopping plazas where the parking areas are not being utilized. He stated that staff is of the opinion it is better to reduce the amount of asphalt if it is not needed.

Staff recommended approval of the variance. He reported that at the December Planning and Zoning meeting, the board voted 2-1 to forward to the town commission with the recommendation of denial and this resolution was subsequently tabled at the January 3, 2024 commission meeting.

Josh Lockhart - CPH

Mr. Lockhart stated that the variance request is for a reduction of the required stall counts for the grocery store only, not for the entire development. The fuel lot is providing its own stall count.

Mr. Lockhart stated that the site is required to have 300 parking spaces and they are providing 263 spaces including all the ADA stalls; the count excludes stalls that are reserved for cart corrals. He stated the 150 stalls that are closest to the doors are utilized the most. They work to find a balance that meets the needs of the tenant, adheres to the code as closely as they can, and to work around site constraints. He noted that there is a 170-foot-wide power easement that runs directly through the property which eliminates a significant portion of usable area for the site. Duke Energy regulations say that the area cannot be used for stormwater, utility setups, or for loading zones. It restrains the usable area of this site and will become green space by default.

Mr. Lockhart stated that the location and pickup stalls on the west side are dedicated for online pickups. He stated that they have shifted the overall site impact to best suit the trees on site.

Commissioner Regan asked if enough parking spaces have been allocated for the online pickup orders.

Mr. Lockhart stated that they have gone through several iterations with Walmart and how they provide the number of stalls for online pickup orders and 20 stalls for this size store has been deemed to be appropriate.

Commissioner Roberts stated that she does not mind the reduction in spaces.

Commissioner Gourlie stated that he also does not have an issue with the reduction in spaces.

Commissioner Sage asked what our code requires for parking spaces.

Mr. Carroll stated typical spaces are 10’x20’ but there is a provision in our code where additional landscaping or for the purpose of preserving landscaping and open space, allows for 9’x18’ parking spaces.

Mayor Freeman suggested reducing the size of the islands from the parking area into the access roads to facilitate the flow of traffic.

Commissioner Sage confirmed that golf cart traffic will be coming from the new development.

Richard Masso - 373 Carriage Lane

Mr. Masso asked how many parking spaces have been allocated for the employees. He said the developer has complained about the Duke Energy easement twice but they knew about the easement prior to purchasing the property and starting the development. It should have taken into consideration rather than asking the town for variances. He stated that he moved here from Miami, and he lives within seven miles of four Walmart stores. Do we need another Walmart?

Josh Lockhart stated the employees are encouraged to park in the peripheral areas of the parking lot. Also, it is included as part of the parking ratio.

Commissioner Roberts stated that she has spent a lot of time reviewing the site plan and considering several comments she has seen online asking, “…why do we need another Walmart.” She asked if a grocery store and gas station is not developed, what then happens to all the residents of the new development. She stated that as commissioners they must consider not only the present but look to the future of what will be. She stated that she lives within a mile of this proposed Walmart and considering the growth of this area over the next 5-10 years, including 2,000 homes, townhomes, apartments in this development, she would rather they drive the short distance to Walmart than drive CR 466 and further add to the already heavy traffic. She stated that the developer of Hammock Oaks is contributing over $1 million to the widening of Rolling Acres Road from CR 466 to Griffin View Drive in 2025 to enable better traffic flow. She stated the residential portions of the development will still be constructed regardless of whether the site plan is approved. This development solves a lot of traffic problems and stressed that it is not just the needs of the current residents but the needs of our future residents. She stated that she is in favor of this project.

Commissioner Gourlie made a motion to approve Resolution 2023-117 on first and final reading as presented; Commissioner Roberts seconded.

Commissioner (Ward) Vote
Regan (Four) YES
Roberts (One) YES
Gourlie (Two) YES
Sage (Five) YES
Freeman (Three) YES

Motion passed by a 5-0 vote.

5. Resolution 2023-114 — Variance — Walmart Neighborhood Market Site — Historic Tree Removal — Pursuant to Chapter 10, Section 10-5). C). 3). A., of the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) which requires a variance for the removal of historic trees. The variance request is to allow for the removal of ten viable historic trees located within the property of the proposed Hammock Oaks Commercial site, owned by SK Hammock Oaks, LLC, within the town limits of the Town of Lady Lake, FL.

Growth Management Director Carroll recommended modification of the plan submittal. He noted that the commissioners have been provided many documents in their packets regarding which trees will be saved and which trees will be removed. He stated that the motion for recommendation of modification is based on that one of the proposed trees to be removed is located on a parcel that will be developed later. He stated that he would like the applicant to express their reasoning as to why the tree must be removed now. Mr. Carroll said that if that parcel is developed with a smaller footprint, it may not need to be removed at all. His recommendation is to consider the fate of that tree when Parcel 3 has been leased and is presented for development.

Referring to lease Parcel 6, Mr. Carroll stated that there is a lot of space to the east of the site plan and he does not believe the land has been divided yet and with Walmart being the first development on this property, he believes there are some alternatives to save one or more trees. He stated that there are a lot of historic trees on this acreage, and he is not opposed to removing some, considering the size of the parking lot, the drive aisles, and the need to circulate throughout the development. He acknowledged that the Duke Energy easement takes up a lot of this property, but the applicant knew that in advance. Because Walmart is the first development, they have more alternatives than subsequent developments on the property.

Josh Lockhart - CPH

Mr. Lockhart advised that there have been a lot of discussions with the design team, with the arborist and with Walmart on how to balance the site such as working around trees, the roads and the power easement. They also have required improvements that come with any commercial development.

Mr. Lockhart stated that there is a significant amount of dirt being moved to meet the requirements for the development, to provide appropriate safe access to the site on all four frontages as well as being able to provide new improvements to enhance this property. He acknowledged that they knew about the easement, the stormwater issue, and the main issue of access off 466.

Mr. Lockhart stated that the removal of the tree on leased Parcel 3 is due to regrading. He agreed that the tree can be reserved for later review when a site plan is submitted for that parcel. He stated that the graphic does not represent the 220 proposed new trees that will provide shade for the parking lot and islands, along with ground cover. He noted that there are 21 historic trees on site, three of which are in poor condition. He stated that 10 out of 18 viable trees will remain; eight trees are proposed to be removed.

Dan Moyer – CASTO

Mr. Moyer stated that they agree to remove the request to remove the tree from Parcel 3 and will review again once the parcel has a tenant. He stated that the design team made efforts to relocate the store but were unable to save trees due to grading.

Commissioner Gourlie asked if any of the trees being removed are multi-trunk trees.

Mr. Carroll stated that he and Commissioner Sage visited the site and looked at the cluster trees. He advised that they qualify as historic because they began their growth separately but grew together over time.

Commissioner Gourlie confirmed with Mr. Carroll that these cluster trees are not viable because they are susceptible to splitting during a storm. He stated that even though the circumference qualifies them as historic, they are not truly historic because they are individual trees that have grown together.

David Landers – CPH - Arborist

Mr. Landers stated that Commissioner Gourlie is correct. He stated the town code defines separate trees as at least 6-inches off the ground between the trunks. If the trunks are closer than that then they are considered one tree. He stated that most of the large diameter numbers are the sum of four or five individual trunks.

Commissioner Gourlie confirmed with Mr. Landers that these trees could be a liability if they split and caused harm.

Mr. Landers stated that the applicant would not want to leave a hazardous tree in place. The trees would be pruned or modified to reduce a hazard, such as a weak connection. He stated that it is his opinion they are not preserving any hazardous trees. He acknowledged that Commissioner Gourlie’s point is well taken.

Commissioner Roberts asked Mr. Landers the difference between a tree that qualifies as a good tree and a tree that qualifies as a fair-condition tree.

Mr. Landers explained that the condition rating is based on the health, the form, and the structure of the tree. Defects such as the overall look of the tree, thin foliage caused by disease, decay, cavities and/or weak branches or trunks also determine condition.

Commissioner Roberts stated that she would like the tree on Parcel 3 saved. She commended the design team’s report adding that they set up a site plan to save 75% of trees that were rated “good”.  She expressed her appreciation for them agreeing to save one tree.

Commissioner Sage stated that he made a site visit to the project site. He stated that there are approximately three or four clusters of trees and presented a picture of the trunk system of a cluster tree. He stated they look healthy and acknowledged that he is not an arborist yet believes there is enough space on the land where Walmart can be relocated to save most of the trees. He stated that the Town of Lady Lake is a Tree City, and that there should be every effort made to save most of the trees. There is a reason why we have a tree ordinance. We should do everything possible to save our trees.

John Curtis - Kolter Land

Mr. Curtis stated that Hammock Oaks and Hammock Reserve total 650 acres, with 180 acres of open space. They saved a 55-acre canopy area full of oak trees that will be a park for the entire community. He stated that they are working with an enhanced landscape plan because they saved all the trees along the east side of Hammock Oaks Boulevard coming off CR 466 and will replant the trees that would be removed because they are below the 36-inch qualification for historic trees. He stressed that there are quality Live Oak trees that will be relocated from another phase of the project and replanted along the Boulevard Road providing a mature canopy. He explained further that there are several areas that will be enhanced with larger oak trees.

Mayor Freeman stated that he is not in favor of removing the trees. All he is hearing are excuses; get creative.

Richard Masso - 373 Carriage Lane

Mr. Masso asked if the trees will be root-pruned as was mentioned by the arborist at a previous meeting.

Mr. Landers replied affirmatively clarifying that it will be necessary to root prune near the retaining walls and footers.

Mr. Masso stated that he was in the lawn and garden business in the past. He stated that in a recent discussion with those who grow and install plants claim that root pruning will kill the tree over time unless they are trimmed properly which is a little at a time to ensure the tree will grow. He stated that at the Planning and Zoning meeting Mr. Landers stated that he could not guarantee that the trees would survive.

Mayor Freeman commented that root pruning is probably a detail that is not relevant to the conversation regarding the removal of trees; root pruning is not part of the variance.

Andrei Nana - 2202 Marion County Road

Mr. Nana suggested moving some parking spaces to lease Parcel 3 to save some of the targeted trees and provide parking for store associates.

Tom Nash - 3546 Griffin Avenue

Mr. Nash read a prepared statement:

On December 11, 2023 the Planning and Zoning board recommended, when discussing the variance requested in Resolution 2023-114, that the preservation of trees be upheld. The board members did their due diligence in asking all the right questions that evening, and I commend them on their efforts. The Town of Lady Lake has been a registered Tree City USA recipient for 18 years now and I am to assume that the 2023 application has already been submitted. The town has a tree advisory committee. Do they have any input, consideration or recommendations on the excessive number of trees that have been lost over the last few years? One would assume that prior to purchasing a property for development you would do your due diligence to make sure your plan fits in the scope without unnecessary hardships. It is noted that the design team made several concessions to try to make this build fit the scope of the land. In addition to the tree concerns, a monetary settlement will never mitigate the loss of the tree canopy being removed. If a plan to develop the property requires multiple zoning and variance requests, then maybe it is not the right plan for the property. Palm trees, shrubbery, crepe myrtles, ground cover will not replace the canopy that is being lost in this community.

Commissioner Gourlie stated that considering our demographic, people are not going to want to walk the distance from lease Parcel 3 to the store.

Ruth Kussard – 424 Loma Paseo

Ms. Kussard addressed some of the earlier public comments. She stated that not everyone who will be working at Walmart will bring their car. It will be a huge residential area and a lot of those residents may walk to Walmart.

Regarding the trees that have grown together, she relayed a story of a neighbor who had two trees that had grown together unbeknownst to him. During a storm one side broke and caused significant damage to a retaining wall.

Ms. Kussard stated that those who spoke during public comment do not live in the area where this project is located. She stated that when Kolter Corporation purchased that property, they got together with the neighbors, the people who are impacted by that development, and Kolter Corporation made many concessions such as timing devices on Rolling Acres and Cherry Lake Road to reduce speeding. She reiterated Commissioner Roberts comment saying Kolter contributed over $1 million towards widening Rolling Acres Road. Those are the things that are most impacted and the proposed restaurants are the restaurants they wanted.

Ms. Kussard stated that it is extremely upsetting when people who have no say-so in this town, do not live in Lady Lake or live in Lake County come here and tell us how to run our town. She stated that she lives in that area, and she could walk to this Walmart. This is something that the people in that area have requested.

Margot Brewer - 1205 Bower Lane in Spring Arbor Village.

Ms. Brewer stated that the land behind her property is a dog park and is utilized by many people. She stated that they moved to their current home from The Villages in July. She stated that she is Lake County resident, and she appreciates the comments of other knowledgeable people who understand the value of the trees.

Ms. Brewer stated that a house is being constructed near the property line behind her, which is in the county, and there is nothing she can do. The trees have been removed, which has altered their view.

Ms. Brewer expressed her support for preserving as many trees on the subject property as possible. She feels that removing trees is a huge price to pay for the convenience of walking to a Walmart close to home.

Commissioner Roberts referring to Mr. Lockhart’s comment that the inward bound entry off CR 466, in the middle of the development, was a directive from the county.

Josh Lockhart - CPH

Mr. Lockhart advised that there are spacing standards that must be maintained based on the service of the road, speed limit, etc., that dictate where the driveway needs to be placed.

Commissioner Roberts asked that considering all the frustration around these trees and entrance location, is it possible to redesign the project to place the store on the opposite side of the parcel and leave the trees where the proposed restaurant is located and have more creative parking solutions.

Mr. Lockhart reiterated that as part of the overall requirements of any development regardless of the developer or the location, grading and site work must be done to meet the requirements of the water management district to treat stormwater. He stressed that an impact to the trees is inevitable regardless of where the store resides.

David Moyer - CASTO

Mr. Moyer acknowledged the new commission members and stated that the plan before them this evening is the same plan as was originally presented at two separate meetings last year with the same trees to be saved and to be removed. He stated that he received feedback after the last two commission meetings. None of the feedback received was negative regarding the site design or trees. He acknowledged the Walmart building elevations is an issue that will be worked through. He stressed that they have gone through considerable effort, adding that commercial development does allow for much flexibility. A residential development has flexibility to deviate roads, to accommodate different sized lots and to work around trees. He stated that a commercial development must provide parking, stormwater and mixed uses.

Mayor Freeman stated that Lady Lake is run as a nonprofit and that taxes are collected because it is necessary. Building a Walmart will cost the town more money to operate.

Mr. Moyer stated that the design team has put in the effort for over a year discussing this site and now to suggest that the entire site be moved to the east after they have gone through considerable effort to get to this point now is hard to swallow.

Commissioner Roberts asked Mr. Carroll if he had a recommendation.

Mr. Carroll stated that he is pleased that they agreed to preserve the tree on lease Parcel 3. He stated that based on tonight’s discussion, as an alternative it seems that the commission would like less development on the site. Regardless of how the site is developed, some trees will have to be removed. He acknowledged that they have done their part in preserving some of the trees. Mr. Carroll advised that historic tree variances have been granted for past developments both commercial and residential, and for other projects around town. He stated with past projects of this magnitude, all historic trees could not be preserved.

Commissioner Gourlie stated that the town runs as a nonprofit and an increased tax base does keep our millage rate low.

Mayor Freeman said that the town raises money because we need to spend money.

Commissioner Gourlie made a motion to approve Resolution 2023-114 on first and final reading as presented; Commissioner Roberts seconded.

Commissioner (Ward) Vote
Regan (Four) NO
Roberts (One) YES
Gourlie (Two) YES
Sage (Five) NO
Freeman (Three) NO

Motion to approve Resolution 2023-114 failed by a 3-2 vote  

Commissioner Sage made a motion to deny Resolution 2023-114 on first and final reading as presented; Commissioner Regan seconded.

Commissioner (Ward) Vote
Regan (Four) YES
Roberts (One) NO
Gourlie (Two) NO
Sage (Five) YES
Freeman (Three) YES

Motion to deny Resolution 2023-114 passed by a 3-2 vote

TOWN MANAGER'S REPORT

Mr. Lawrence acknowledged his appreciation to Pastor Keith Johnson for delivering the invocation. He clarified that invocations would continue prior to meetings but it has been difficult finding clergy to deliver the invocation.

Mr. Lawrence acknowledged former mayor and commissioner, Ruth Kussard, who is in attendance. He stated the police recruiting efforts have resulted in over 18 applications with three applicants continuing in the hiring process, one of which will be sworn in on January 22, 2024 at 1:00 p.m. He invited the commissioners to attend.

MAYOR AND COMMISSIONER'S REPORT

Commissioner Roberts stated that she will be attending the Institute for Elected Municipal Officials event in Gainesville this weekend.

Mayor Freeman stated that he will be in Tallahassee at the end of the month meeting with local representatives and asked the commissioners if they have any questions or concerns for him to relay to our representatives.

Commissioner Regan requested that the mayor discuss the new requirements for elected officials to complete Form 6 for financial disclosure. He stated that the State has overstepped their boundaries to demand what is being asked on the form. The commissioners were all in agreement with Commissioner Regan’s comment. Commissioner Regan stated that the state is losing many valuable people throughout the state due to the form 6 requirement. This is an age where that information can be hacked.

Commissioner Roberts asked the mayor to express to our representatives that she would like to retain her ability to vote by mail and does not want to hand count the ballots in every election.

Commissioner Sage asked the mayor to inquire about higher auto insurance premiums due to poor credit. He stated that many seniors have a poor credit rating due to medical bills.

Public Comments

There were no public comments.

Adjourn

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:04 p.m..

s/ Carol Osborne, Deputy Town Clerk

s/ Ed Freeman, Mayor