Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 12:14pm

Victory for Lake County Property Rights!

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This morning, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 to accept the stipulated agreement, and six specific Comprehensive Plan amendments, between the State of Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the following land owners: Clonts Groves, Inc.; Jon Pospisil; Sorrento Commons, LLC; Nola Land Company, Inc.; Long and Scott Farms, Inc; and W.D. Long Family Farms, LLP.  By ratifying this agreement with the landowners and the DCA, the commissioners took a stand for the property rights of all of the landowners in Lake County.

During the public hearing, about two dozen people spoke against the adoption of this agreement because as one said, “We don’t want to build.”  Some of the no-growth movement tried to cloud the issue by spreading misinformation on a proposed runway on the Long property and the effect of changing the Rural Protection Area designation.  Lake County staff quickly pointed out that those concerns were red herrings.

Commissioner Welton Cadwell expressed the sentiment of the commission when he said, “Throughout the county there are some great commercial projects being held up of no fault of their own.  This needs to be settled today.”

The BCC really had no other option but to approve the agreement hammered out by the DCA, the landowners, and Lake County staff, because continued litigation had little chance of prevailing and the cost to defend the county would have been enormous.  This agreement was an “all or nothing” agreement, so it had to be approved without any modifications.  It would have been irresponsible to vote against the settlement, and that is the reason it passed with a 5-0 vote.

This was a stunning victory, not only for the landowners who filed legal action against the 2030 Horizon Comprehensive Land Plan, but every property owner in South Lake County.  Under this agreement, all properties in South Lake County will be returned to their rural classification from the Rural Protection Area designation, and the South Lake Strategic Area Plan, concocted by former Commissioner Elaine Renick and would have required up to 60 percent green space for property owners, was completely eliminated.

In particular, former commissioner Renick’s South Lake Strategic Area Plan was insidious because she blantantly attempted to shove an odious land requirement on every South Lake landowner without proper notice.  As we reported at that time, just a half-day before the final acceptance hearing for the Comprehensive Land Plan, Renick concocted the South Lake Strategic Area Plan with her cronies in the no-growth, environemental movement, without public notice to landowners. This overlay would have required as much as 60 percent of all properties be left for green space.  As we predicted then, the South Lake Strategic Area Plan was struck down because it did not follow the law in regards to public notification.  In her zeal to steal the property rights of South Lake County landowners, Renick wound-up doing herself in.

Something for all to note: At the time, Commissioner Jennifer Hill was the only one to stand up against Renick’s odious attempt to steal private property rights from South Lake County landowners under the Rural Protection Area and South Lake Strategic Area Plan, while Commissioner Welton Cadwell did not vote due to illness.

In addition to wiping out the Rural Protection Area and South Lake Strategic Area Plan, those who filed legal challenges to the 2030 Horizon Comprehensive Land Plan were able to secure common sense in the many over-the-top environmental regulations put in the plan by environmental lobbyist Keith Schue.  Brian Sheahan of Lake County’s Division of Planning and Community Design said, “There are several changes to the policies of the Future Land Use, Conservation and the Economic Development Elements of the 2030 Plan.  Among them are the addition of more exemptions to the wetlands policies and additional clarity of when/how surveys required for environmentally sensitive areas will be conducted.”  In other words, they took the environmental fix out of the plan written-in by Schue.

Those brave property owners, who spent their own money to defend the property rights of all Lake County property owners against the outrageous Comprehensive Land Plan, are owed a huge debt of gratitude by many who simply did not have the means to put up a fight.  The outstanding lawyers, who crafted their responses and cases to fight this unjustified government attempt to seize private land, should be congratulated for a job well done!

In line with this victory, the job of correcting the 2030 Comprehensive Land Plan must be completed, and there is much more work to be done.  As our group has reported for the last several years, the 2030 Horizon Comprehensive Plan was doomed for failure because then-former commissioners Renick and Stewart blatantly took steps to stack the Local Planning Agency (LPA) with liberal, no-growth members to write a fully anti-growth comprehensive land plan.  The LPA was designated to craft the new comprhensive land plan and their members did not reflect the will of Lake County’s citizens or landowners.

Because the process was corrupted, Lake County is now stuck with a document that is filled with conflicts, errors, and personal opionions, which will greatly restrict growth over the next decade.  The changes these landowners and their attorneys were able to secure only scratches the surface of bad policies in this plan.  Many more property owners will have to hire attorneys to correct the foul-ups in this plan, and our group encourages the BCC to begin a process of systematically making comprehensive plan amendments to take out the influence of paid-for environemental lobbyist Schue.

Today’s victory by these landowners is another reminder of the poor, bankrupt leadership by former commissiners Renick and Stewart.  Just like the fight with Niagara Bottling, which cost this county hundreds of thousands of dollars, jobs, and a business friendly reputation, the attempt to write a pro-evirnonmental, no-growth comprehensive plan has cost this county untold thousands out of its treasury while dimishing its ability to attract jobs.

Most importantly, this whole thing ended up being a horrific waste of time and money for everyone – property owners, lawyers, BCC, and yes, the environmental movement.  This shoud be a lesson to all, on every political side of the spectrum:  If you decide to stack a committee to achieve an outcome contrary to the will of the people, or the law, you will eventually lose.  It is far better to build these committees with representatives from all sectors, so that real compromise can be achieved.  This entire ordeal is shameful.

The Right Side of the Lake is a publication of Citizens for Better Government, L.L.C., and if you would like to comment on today’s column please go to our website www.lakecountygov.info or www.therightsideofthelake.com.  This newsletter is free to all who would like to subscribe, and we encourage you to send it out to everyone on your mailing list.  If you have information or a topic you would like us to cover please email us directly at lakecountygov@lakecountygov.info.

7 Responses to “Victory for Lake County Property Rights!”

  1. Name says:

    Boy you people really like Jimmy Conner. He must be a really great guy.

  2. read carefully jimmy’s campaign mailers. he will say he was against the south lake strategic area plan but if asked directly he will have to admit he voted for it. ah- vintage jimmy

  3. we now have a replacement for flip-flop charlie– his name is jimmy

  4. Name says:

    Hey Jimmy! Looks like it’s your turn in the barrel this week! You better ask Sean where he found those Preparation H Totables!

  5. Jimmy The Great comes to life and puts two subject articles on his website! They are:

    Commission Approves Traffic Signal To Increase Safety. This is at the Summit Greens which of course is in Sean Parks district and Commission Keeps Same Millage Rates~ Which of course covers the entire county!

    How can Jimmy the Great “the man of the people” forget to mention the subject matter of this article? Victory for Lake County Property Rights! Is Jimmy the Great afraid to take credit for standing up for the people? Could be, you see when he is perceived to be standing up for the people he is perceived by the courthouse mafia as being against them. Can’t do that and survive! He’s caught enough hell over the Borders budget to last him the rest of his last term!

  6. Name says:

    Why are you once again giving Jimmy Conner political cover. After all, he voted against these land owners before he voted for them. For two years Conner voted in lock step with Renick and Stewart. You seem to want to white wash his past record. At least Renick voted for what she believed in, Conner only votes for what is best politically for Conner.

  7. good day for the property owners in lake county. Please do not forget when voting next year—-Jimmy Conner voted for the south lake strategic area plan. He has to go!

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