Parks, Recreation, and Trees Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the January 9, 2019 5:30 p.m.
Parks, Recreation, and Trees Advisory Committee Meeting

The Parks, Recreation and Tree Board Advisory Committee meeting was held in the Town Hall Commission Chambers at 409 Fennell Blvd., Lady Lake, Florida. The meeting convened at 5:30 p.m.

A. Roll Call

B. Staff Present

Mike Burske, Parks and Recreation Director; Thad Carroll, Growth Management Director; Wendy Then, Senior Planner; Becky Schneider, Development Coordinator/Planner; Kris Kollgaard, Town Manager; and Carol Osborne, Staff Assistant

C. Others Present

Commissioner Paul Hannan

D. Public Comment

Chairperson Cantelmo asked if anyone in the audience wished to speak. There were no comments.

E. New Business

1. Approval of Minutes

Member Choquette made a motion to approve the minutes of the July 11, 2018 Parks, Recreation and Tree Advisory Committee meeting.  Member Lowery seconded the motion.  All were in favor (4-0).

Member Turlo arrived at 5:41 p.m.

2. Consideration of Conceptual Landscaping Plans and Waiver Requests for Lady Lake Commons New Major Site Plan MJSP 09/18-002 (Wendy Then)

Ms. Then presented a summary of the agenda item (on file in the Clerk’s office), including civil plans, landscaping plans, and photographs of the current conditions of the site. She stated the applicant is present if there are any questions.

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Burske noted that the applicant will make a monetary donation to the Town’s tree bank due to the deficiency in tree caliper inches. He stated that these funds are used each year to purchase trees for the tree raffle held for Lady Lake’s residents and for landscaping projects around the town.

Chairperson Cantelmo commented that this is a large reduction in the number of required caliper inches.

Member Jones stated the Town has made great improvements in the twenty years that he has lived in Lady Lake. He expressed concern about how the buildings will look at build-out.

Ms. Then stated the applicant is currently planning the grading, paving, storm water, landscaping and parking. The elevations will be presented later. She stated there are several issues that the applicant is trying to manage in conjunction with the widening of Hwy 27/441. A development order will allow them to have the infrastructure in place for water and sewer lines, parking, and storm water drainage.

Member Turlo stated it is difficult for her to make a decision without knowing how the building will look.

Member Lowery noted that the Committee should only focus on the landscaping issues.

Member Jones stated he does not understand the purpose of installing the infrastructure prior to knowing what type of buildings will be constructed on the site.

Member Lowery stated the Town of Lady Lake will not allow any construction that does not comply with Town ordinances and the comprehensive plan.

Chairperson Cantelmo stated she is concerned that the site will not be aesthetically pleasing.

Martin DelleBovi stated he is the executive vice president of Benchmark Group, a real estate investment company, and the applicant for this project. He stated they have experience developing in Lady Lake, and their developments include Village Crossroads Plaza, Lady Lake Crossing Plaza, and Sam’s Club Warehouse plaza. He advised they presented the conceptual plan to the Town Commission for this project and are now required to present the landscaping plan to this committee prior to presenting it to the Town Commission on January 23rd. He stated he is not prepared to present elevations of buildings because the purpose of tonight’s presentation is to discuss the landscaping plan.

Mr. DelleBovi stated the landscape design for this project is very similar to the landscaping at Village Crossroads Plaza, Lady Lake Crossing Plaza, and Sam’s Club Warehouse. He advised that they have learned what foliage is most beneficial from an aesthetic and safety standpoint from those development designs. They have worked with arborists over the past five years to correct some of the issues with those designs.

Mr. DelleBovi stated that he worked with the Town and helped develop the landscaping and tree protection regulations nearly 14 years ago. He stated that the required caliper inches on a commercial development such as this are not achievable based on having a detention pond and having roadways on all four sides of the development. They have to be mindful of trees and vegetation blocking visibility entering and exiting the site. He stated they have worked extensively with staff on this elaborate plan and are pleased with the results.

Mr. DelleBovi stated once the development order is approved, the sewer plan will be completed. He stated the off-site sewer plan currently runs from the lift-station to the south to this site and needs to be continued north onto C.R. 25. He stated they are working with Duke Energy to remove the overhead power lines and will install below grade power lines for the entire area. This will tie into C.R. 25, thus allowing Duke Energy to carry that power system north. He stated the theme of their architecture has been consistent and attractive, and has met the standards of the Town.

Chairperson Cantelmo stated she believes that trees are an important part of the project and should be a major consideration when a development is designed. She expressed her concern that this project will have an almost 50% reduction in the required tree caliper inches.

Mr. DelleBovi clarified the landscaping plans are the only plans being reviewed this evening. He noted that the off-site sewer line was designed because the Town needed to enhance the sewer line and to provide sewer for new utility customers. He advised the building designs for this project are not completed.

Member Choquette stated she understands Chairperson Cantelmo’s concern that developer could have come closer to meeting the landscaping requirements. She asked if the full 778 caliper inches deficiency will be met by the donation to the tree bank and whether that exact amount of tree caliper inches will be planted elsewhere.

Mr. Burske replied that it could be met over time as a landscape project that the Town wants to fund. He explained that many of the oak trees planted in the parks were paid for partially with funds from the tree bank. He stated the new plantings at Heritage Park were funded through the tree bank. He advised that the biggest use of the funds is the annual tree raffle where the Town gives trees directly to residents of the community to plant in their yards. He stated there are several reasons why Mr. DelleBovi cannot meet the required tree caliper inches.

Member Choquette acknowledged that there is a tree deficiency in this design. She stated that one of her biggest aggravations in any complex is when there are too many trees or shrubbery, and it obstructs a driver’s line of sight. She stated she understands that there needs to be an adequate amount of foliage, although safety is a consideration.

Mr. DelleBovi stated that they have donated to the tree bank for each of their Lady Lake development projects, as they did not meet the required tree caliper inches in each case. He noted that even though those projects were deficient in tree caliper inches, they were over-landscaped for the safety of the vehicles that enter and exit. He advised that he has spent a significant amount of money over the last several years for arborists to cut back the canopies to the point where the trees are still viable and allow for improved line of sight for drivers.

Mr. DelleBovi stated that Town’s landscape plan was put together with a tough standard, yet understanding that the developer had to make it work for the project. This was achieved by adding green space to the islands and adding to green space in other areas in the Town.

Ms. Then stated that because Town staff cares about the Town and its aesthetics, they have spent a lot of time reviewing this plan, especially because this project is centralized. She advised that the developer revised the plan before the committee tonight by adding more trees than proposed in the first plan. Staff feels that there is adequate planting for the site.

Ms. Then stated that she understands the requirements and recognizes that the code does not always fit every development. She stated this a very large parcel that will have a lot of out-parcels, exterior roads that require access, and a shopping plaza that has a required number of parking spaces. Staff found that this plan is aesthetically pleasing and provides for line-of-sight because the developer met the requirement of separation of trees and is planting material that is not fighting for space to grow and will reach full potential. The goal is quality plant material that is going to be an accent to everything in the infrastructure.

Member Turlo asked for the timeline for this development.

Mr. DelleBovi replied their proposed timeline includes getting the Development Order by end of January, going out to bid by mid-February, starting site work such as grading and completing the sewer lines by end of March, completion of grading by April, having pads ready for tenants by June, and tenants want to open for business by November.

Member Lowery expressed concerns that this site used to be a lake that may result in water drainage issues in the future.

Mr. DelleBovi stated there has been extensive amount of engineering done on the site, including geotech work for soil samples and location of water tables. He stated they have redesigned their detention areas because of clay and sandy soil areas on the time.

Chairperson Cantelmo asked if there would be additional fill coming in for the site.

Mr. DelleBovi replied the soil will be moved around and graded within the site as a balanced site. They do not believe they will need to bring in fill.

Chairperson Cantelmo asked if there were any questions or comments. Hearing none, she asked for a motion.

Member Jones made a motion to forward the requested landscaping plans and waivers to the Town Commission with the recommendation of approval. Member Turlo seconded the motion. The motion passed (4-1).

F. Chairperson and Members' Report

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Burske reported the Town will celebrate Arbor Day at the Driving Range on Rolling Acres Road on Thursday, January 24th, at 10 a.m. He stated they will plant a tree in honor of a long-time volunteer who passed away. The Lion’s Club is donating the tree.

Mr. Burske announced that the Art in the Park event is being held at the Log Cabin Park during the weekend of January 19th and 20th.  He stated he will begin working on the Easter Egg Hunt event very soon. He stated he will also be planning another movie night, and will most likely move the event to the south side of the Log Cabin due to increasing attendance.

Mr. Burske stated he will be bringing the consideration of the tree grant to the Committee once again in the near future.

G. Adjourn

There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 6:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

s/ Carol Osborne, Staff Assistant to the Town Clerk

s/ Betty Cantelmo, Chairperson

Note: The original signed documents are on file at the Town Clerk’s office. Copies are available upon request.