Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 9:00am

Moment of Truth on Landscape Ordinance

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Moment of Truth on Landscape Ordinance
November 30, 2009

     Tomorrow, December 1, 2009, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners have on their agenda the following:  Tab 31 Approval of the Landscape Ordinance.  This comes after a year, or so, of public hearings in which horticultural experts, landscape providers, and business people have all said this was an ill-conceived ordinance.  The landscape ordinance is one of the most complicated overreaches by local government in a long time, and it is being promoted by Commissioners Elaine Renick and Linda Stewart together with the environmental extremists on the Local Planning Agency.

Here are the factual reasons why this landscape ordinance should be voted down:

  • There is no urgency or time sensitive issue with this landscape ordinance, and passing it now does nothing but further depress Lake County’s economy.  If you believe now is not the time, this ordinance should be voted down.
  • After reading the ordinance, you will see Lake County government basically takes over your private property rights.  This ordinance tells you what type of grass you can have, what type of plants you can have, and even requires that you get government approval on how you landscape your private property.  It even tells you the amount of thickness your trees must have.  At some point, when does personal freedoms and choice become important in Lake County and America?  If you believe in freedom, this ordinance should be voted down.
  • Based on this ordinance, homes and businesses that undergo major rehabs and remodels will be forced to rip up perfectly good grass and landscaping to fit some vision of Commissioners Renick and Stewart and the LPA.  If you believe people who wish to improve their property for a better community should not be penalized, this ordinance should be voted down.
  • The ordinance is based on junk science, which has been debunked by Dr. Richard V. Tyson from the University of Florida and the Seminole County Extension Service.  Dr. Tyson says this ordinance is wrong on St. Augustine grass, its irrigation methods, and the water requirements.  In fact, his scientific opinion on St. Augustine grass versus Bahia is totally opposite of the ordinance’s objectives.  Rather than listen to a real expert, Commissioners Renick and Stewart have chosen to side with some of the “Moon Beams” on the LPA.  If you believe that science should be considered in creating ordinances, this ordinance should be voted down.
  • The cost of this ordinance on businesses will be enormous.  Based on Lake County’s own commercial impact statement (after our prodding), this ordinance will impact the following projects: (click here for details)

1.      A small 5,104 square foot restaurant will cost $43,200 more under this landscape ordinance.

2.      A major commercial site of 16.6 acres with a 99,203 square foot building will have to pay $6,000 more under this ordinance.

3.      A small 40.2 acre housing subdivision with 117 lots will have to pay a whopping $185,484 more under this ordinance.  That adds almost $1,585 per lot in costs over the current requirements.

4.      An industrial site of 7.09 acres with an 18,480 square foot building is projected to cost less by $59,100, but that is very questionable compared to the comparable commercial site’s increase in cost.  In addition, any industrial site in Lake County is put through so many hoops that it is not believable they will require less; just ask the cement company.

If you believe that not adding major costs to businesses who want to come to Lake County during these horrific economic times is important, this ordinance should be voted down.

  • Lake County’s landscape ordinance impact statement on residential housing is not intellectually honest because it basically assumes homeowners will keep most of their yard in dirt and put in dollars for imaginary water savings.  The average homeowner will have to spend $498 more in trees under this proposal and they don’t even address the huge cost homeowners will incur during large remodels.  If you believe the county should not mandate “dirt” yards for landscape, this ordinance should be voted down.
  • This landscape ordinance will probably wipe out many of the local nursery people, who carry plants and grasses that no longer meet the Stewart, Renick and LPA code.  Trees that are ready for harvest will be years before maturity and sod fields will be useless.  Due to the economic recession, banks are not lending money.  So, where are these people going to get the money to retool lifelong family businesses?  Many will be wiped out and forced into bankruptcy and more will be added to Lake County’s 12.3% unemployment rate.  If you believe that a useless ordinance should not be passed that will wipe out the wealth of hard working local people, this ordinance should be voted down.
  • In our investigation of the LPA, we found out that LPA Member and close friend of Elaine Renick, Terry Godts, and her husband are in the native plant nursery and architectural landscape business.  Here is a copy of the official list that you can plant on your property courtesy of the LPA.  Many of the provisions requiring native plants and certain landscape architecture is a direct payoff to Renick’s friends in the environmental movement.  By knocking out larger competitors, the Godts and other buddies of Renick stand to earn large profits.  If you believe ordinances shouldn’t be written to directly benefit the friends and family of government officials, this ordinance should be voted down.
  • Lake County is in an economic depression with 12.3% unemployment, a record number of foreclosure filings, which are in the top 25 in America, and a workforce which has seen its wages decline steadily.  Why would any ordinance be put forth at this time which would impede business investment at this time?

The moment of truth is here for some County Commissioners, and they’ve got to decide whose side they are on.  A vote of “Yes” for this landscape ordinance says you are beholding to the left wing loons of the local environmental movement and a vote of “No” says you are on the same side as businesses and working people.  It is really that simple; there is no partial placating, compromising, or talking this away – you are either with creating jobs or creating misery.

Since Commissioners Renick and Stewart were elected over three years ago, the world, America and Lake County have all changed dramatically.  Lake County has gone from solid growth to no growth and the economic fortunes for 95% of the people have plunged.  Just recently, the global warming crowd has been exposed for the hoax they really are, and even the local environmentalists like Godts, Renick, and Stewart have been exposed for the farce they are.  There’s no doubt about it, the environmental movement is about money, and getting yours.  During the next election, growth will be an issue; however, it will be “What are we going to do to get some?”  The no growth movement will be dead, killed by the worst economic event since The Great Depression.

This landscape ordinance should be voted down and hopefully at tomorrow’s public hearing, common sense will break through.  If this ordinance is approved, just add another reason why a business or homeowner should go to Sumter County.  If you would like to comment on today’s newsletter, make a donation to the group, or report improprieties on our Whistle Blowers Link, go to www.lakecountygov.info.

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