Special Commission Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the September 18, 2023 Special Commission Meeting

The special 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 Rietz presiding. The meeting convened at 5:15 p.m.

Call to Order

Mayor Rietz

Commissioner (Ward) Present
Kussard (One) YES
Gourlie (Two) YES
Freeman (Three) YES
Rietz (Five) YES


William Lawrence, Town Manager; Thad Carroll, Growth Management Director; Nancy Wilson, Town Clerk


1. Conceptual Presentation of the Architectural Elevations for the Hammock Oaks Neighborhood Walmart – Proposing a Neighborhood Walmart retail store within the Hammock Oaks Development. Senior Planner Wendy Then stated that a Development Order was issued on November 22, 2021, and the project commenced construction in 2022. Since then, the developer has continued to make progress, and to date, Buildings A, B, C, and D are well under way and walls are being built.

Growth Management Director Carroll said nothing will be decided at this meeting regarding the three conceptual presentations. The purpose is for the applicants to get consensus from the Commission to proceed.

Mr. Carroll presented the architectural elevations for Hammock Oaks Neighborhood Walmart. Earlier this year, at the April 17, 2023, Special Conceptual Workshop, Dan Moyer of CASTO Southeast Realty Services presented a conceptual plan of a Walmart Neighborhood Market. They have the uses on the property to build the market on the corner of Cherry Lake Road and Hwy. 466 and there will be other commercial properties and uses including a fuel station.

On February 23, 2022, the Town Commission adopted Ordinance 2021-25 establishing zoning entitlements for property being approximately 421 acres as a Planned Unit Development (PUD). The PUD allows a number of uses, including single-family detached units, single-family attached units, two-family (duplex) units, multi-family units and neighborhood recreation facilities, and various commercial uses. The commercial uses which are allowed include: offices, personal services, laundry and dry-cleaning retail stores, day care centers, convenience stores with or without fuel operations, as long as they are not located at the corner of Cherry Lake and CR 466, adult congregate living facilities/skilled nursing, clubs, lodges, and fraternal organizations, financial services, office supplies, retail sales and services, business services, office complex, medical offices/clinics, office condominiums, martial arts studios, restaurants, fast food restaurants, banks, commercial recreation facilities, health/exercise clubs, veterinary clinics, religious facilities, hotels.

Originally, elevations were not presented because of the town’s commercial design standards; their first submittal was not adequate to meet those standards. The current elevations do not meet our design standards entirely but elements of them have been incorporated. Deviating from our design standards is a common waiver that is requested. Branding is often the reason why standards cannot easily be met.

Dan Moyer – CASTO Southeast Realty Services

Mr. Moyer said that since they last met the site plan has had very few changes.

The proposed building will be approximately 61,000 square foot located on 20.55 acres of commercial property at the northwest corner of the Hammock Oaks development. There is also a Walmart-branded fuel station proposed on the site, along with a small convenience store. Along the front of the development, there were a number of out parcels available. At that time, however, Mr. Moyer did not have elevations to present for the consideration of the Town Commission. In conclusion, Mr. Moyer said that Walmart was designing a custom elevation for the site, and they will bring those elevations back to the Town at a later date. They worked with Kolter to come up with the design in order to fit in with the surrounding development.

The building is only permitted to have one sign on its main façade, a variance will be required to add additional signage.  They would like signage on four sides of the building.

The current number of parking spaces on site is below the code’s requirement.  This is a result of preserving as many trees as possible as well as accommodating the Duke Energy power line easement. The required number of parking spaces is 304 and they are proposing 286.

The removal of historical trees must be reviewed by the Town to determine if the removal is unavoidable. The applicant has kept as many trees as practicable as shown on the submitted conceptual renderings.

Commissioner Kussard commented on the loss of twenty parking spaces because of the trees and overhead wires then asked if they have built a similar facility and what was the parking ratio. Mr. Moyer answered that they have built a number of Walmart Neighborhood Markets and the parking ratio is similar. She pointed out the fifteen golf cart parking spots for residents of Hammock Oaks only. Commissioner Kussard also commented on the traffic problem on Chula Vista and she hopes that can be resolved down the road. Mr. Moyer said Kolter has been working with Lake County on a future signal when enough houses are built, and the threshold is met. Adequate access to the development was displayed that showed multiple ingress/egress points.

Commissioner Freeman asked about an area on the elevation that Mr. Moyer said was a pedestrian sidewalk. He also mentioned the curb cuts at the local Sam’s Club and explained how difficult the parking lot is to navigate. Further, he does not like the design as presented, adding that the Walmart’s on Hwy. 466 and in Orange County are attractive. Mr. Moyer said they looked at incorporating different colors, but Kolter was concerned because the colors were not being used throughout the development and they want a more cohesive look. What they do will affect the outparcels.

Mayor Rietz liked the elevations and is in favor of the project.

Mr. Carroll said there will be a parking variance that can be taken care of administratively. Also, a sign variance will come back to the Commission.

In conclusion, Mr. Moyer said a variance will be requested to reduce the number of private loading spaces on site from 7 to 2 (the 2 remaining spaces will be part of the truck well). This is being done to have room to relocate trees to the green area behind the building.  In addition, Walmart does not utilize surface loading, all loading will be from within the truck dock.

There was consensus among the Commission to allow the Hammock Oaks Neighborhood Walmart to move forward with their proposed plan. 4-0.

2. Conceptual Presentation the Grand Oaks Manufactured Homes Master Plan – Proposing approximately 795 manufactured home units, 94 RV sites, and 36 cabin sites, along with on-site amenities within the Grand Oaks Development.

Growth Management Director Carroll said that Greg Beliveau of LPG Urban and Regional Planners has submitted a proposal on behalf of Grand Oaks Holding LLC for the redevelopment of 347 acres of property lying approximately one-quarter mile east of the incorporated boundaries of the Town of Lady Lake.  It will front Marion County Road and Griffin Avenue.  At present, there are recreational vehicle sites on the property, as well as rental cabins for those who choose to stay on the property.  The applicant is proposing 15 cabins in addition to the 21 existing cabins. The existing 94 RV sites are not proposed for expansion according to the conceptual plan.

In addition, the property owner would like to create 795 manufactured home lots on the property according to the proposal. The total number of units would be 925 with an overall density of 2.6 dwelling units per acre.  In addition, the applicant is proposing a smart hub area, a solar farm, individual gardens, a community garden, and multiple trails across the property. These amenities would complement the existing clubhouse and pool area, chapel, and several acres will remain designated equestrian areas and open space.  Other amenities may include an outdoor theatre, outdoor performing arts area, and office/workspaces. Services within the development will include doggie daycare, child daycare, educational/tutoring services, and transportation services. The proposal is for an all-ages community.

Greg Beliveau – LPG Urban-Regional Planners

Mr. Beliveau is representing Grand Oaks and a new partner is being brought in on the project. Should the Town Commission be receptive to the proposal, the property owner will file applications for annexation, a large-scale future land use map amendment, and rezoning with the Town of Lady Lake.  Although the property is non-contiguous, the Interlocal Service Boundary Agreement with the Lake County Board of County Commissioners allows for annexations which are non-contiguous with the Town of Lady Lake. Access to the development would be from Marion County Road on the north with two access points, and access from the south and east would be via Griffin Avenue.

Dale Twardokus – New Vision Development

Mr. Twardokus said he wants to create the best working age family community in the country by uplifting families lives. A couple examples of how the development will uplift lives is to provide state of the art educational tutoring and training programs for all ages. This will provide additional support for schools. They are also going to provide healthcare resources to all ages to improve their health and well-being.

Mr. Twardokus is an arborist and landscape designer. He has a passion for the Grand Oaks property which is the reason why he is working on the project. He wants to make the property into something where the longevity of it can be maintained as well as maintaining the ambiance in the community.  Another goal is to protect the environment by installing solar rooftops, a solar farm and the preservation of trees which are a big part of property.

Greg Beliveau – LPG Urban-Regional Planners

Mr. Beliveau said they are going to maintain the equestrian theme and keep the trail systems. The project will be a quality manufactured home product with a lower price point and no age restrictions. Lady Lake does not represent working aged people; they work here but cannot live here. There is a lack of all age housing. Consumer financing will be available through a licensed mortgage company. Grand Oaks is beautiful and peaceful but close to working opportunities. There will be a community hub with amenities including a community garden, fitness center, outdoor theatre, solar farm, daycare, dog care, a library and meeting and event spaces. Dining services will be provided in already built structures.

The homes will be manufactured with gingerbread trim. They will have a single-family look. There will also be paddock areas, barns and many tree canopies will be preserved.

In response to a question asked by Commissioner Kussard, Mr. Beliveau answered that water and sewer will be run down Griffin Road.  Commissioner Kussard asked if they had contacted the school board regarding concurrency. Mr. Beliveau answered that they have already worked out concurrency and what they will have to pay, which is about $42,000 per student.

Commissioner Gourlie asked about financing. Mr. Beliveau said the homes will be owned and the land will be rented. The chapel will remain on the property. Commissioner Gourlie is in favor of the project.

Mr. Beliveau commented that the World Equestrian Center has wiped out other regional equestrian centers.

The homes will have a media price of $165,000 with a $650-$750 monthly fee.

There was consensus among the Commission to allow the Grand Oaks Manufactured Homes to move forward with their proposed plan. 4-0.

3. Conceptual Presentation of the Architectural Elevations for the Portillo’s Restaurant – New Major Site Plan MJSP 05/23-001 – Proposing a 7,800-square-foot restaurant with drive-thru, 131 parking spaces and dumpster enclosure, on a 3.51-acre parcel zoned Heavy Commercial, located along Hwy 27/441 and referenced by alternate key number 1279445.

Growth Management Director Carroll said that Applicant, Jordan Draper of Kimley-Horn and Associates, submitted an application for a major site plan on April 27, 2023, for a Portillo’s Restaurant on a 3.51-acre parcel zoned Heavy Commercial, located along Highway 27/441 just south of the Tire Kingdom. Mr. Draper is proposing a 7,800-square-foot restaurant with a drive-thru, 131 parking spaces and a dumpster enclosure.  The restaurant has 212 total seats, 164 inside seats and 48 outdoor seats.

In addition, landscape buffer waivers will be required for the south property boundary as well as the east property boundary.  The ten-foot width cannot be accommodated in these areas due to the location of the drive aisle. Both sides of the drive aisle however are landscaped; essentially the landscape buffer will be divided by the roadway along these boundaries. There are also retention pond areas along most of the abutting parcels that will provide additional spacing from adjacent development.  The applicant will provide a total of 592 caliper inches of tree plantings which exceeds the 523 inches of plantings as required by the Land Development Regulations based on the size of the property. Retention areas will be across the street and to the south.

In accordance with the Land Development Regulations, Chapter 20, Section 20-3C).3).A)., new buildings should adopt and must closely follow one of the four recommended architectural styles: Frame Vernacular, Craftsman/Bungalow, Mediterranean, or Mission. A Commercial Design Standard Waiver will be necessary since architectural style design is outside of the four preferred architectural styles. The proposed restaurant exhibits modern exterior walls featuring a combination of red brick, stone block, glass walls, sconces, and decorative mounted lights.

Amanda Schwerin – HD Design Group – Property Development Consultant

Ms. Schwerin stated that the rendering being shown is one of Portillo’s new prototypical designs. It is a national brand and that is what their elevations are following.

Preston Funkhouser – Portillo’s - Facilities Vice President

Mr. Funkhouser said this is Portillo’s 2023 diner prototype. There is one being built in Clermont and two others have been opened - one in Arizona and one in Texas. Portillo’s Southwest Garage design style is beginning to proliferate. They currently have 77 restaurants open in ten states plus seven are under construction.

The drive-thru on the side of the building will face Hwy. 441. The front of the restaurant will face the rear of the property. There is also an outside patio. The building products are robust and can withstand severe weather conditions.

Commissioner Freeman asked if they would be installing solar panels on the roof. The answer was “no”. He added that the roof may be white, but he sees a lot of blacktop which he does not like.  Commissioner Gourlie countered by saying there is more greenspace provided than is required.

Mr. Funkhouser said they are required by Code to provide 116 parking spaces, but they are providing 131. This is the parking ratio that Portillo’s prefers. The parking lot will help with stacking and queuing plus the drive-through has double lanes.

Commissioner Kussard commented that she has never seen this much interest in a restaurant.

There was consensus among the Commission to allow Portillo’s Restaurant to move forward with their proposed site plan. 3-1 (Freeman).

Public Comments

There was one comment about why so many parking spaces are needed. The question was not answered.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:02 p.m..

s Nancy Wilson, Town Clerk

s/ Jim Rietz, Mayor