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Construction workers build new homes in Philadelphia, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/AP
Construction workers build new homes in Philadelphia, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Lake County Commission on Tuesday, opted not to move forward with a proposed six-month moratorium on preliminary plat submittals for new development, instead, agreeing to revert to the requirement that any development with 50 or more units must apply for Planned Unit Development zoning.

An ordinance will have to come back before the commission to revert to the 50-unit PUD requirement. Public hearings will be scheduled for that.

Rural Conservation subdivision developers will not be required to get PUD zoning for their projects.

The county staff had asked for the moratorium as a way for it to complete work on updating the land development code, including new residential architectural guidelines and subdivision standards. But a backlash from developers changed the commission’s course. Instead, the county will once again require PUD zoning for all proposed developments containing 50 or more units

Affordable housing advocates had also opposed the proposed moratorium, saying it could have an adverse impact on the continued construction of lower cost homes.

“This whole thing came about because we took out the 50-lot requirement that you had to have a PUD while we were putting in design guidelines,” said Commissioner Leslie Campione. “So, we have this gap, so that is where the whole idea of having a moratorium on platting came from. This is very limited in scope, but obviously there has been a huge outcry, backlash. We certainly don’t want to send a negative message, economically.”

The board voted 3-2 to nix the moratorium and reinstate the 50-lot PUD requirement. “We can take that back out once we get our design requirements,” Campione said.

When plans are submitted as a PUD, she said, the staff and commission have more opportunity to review every aspect of a plan, from design to transportation needs, landscaping and more.

“It allows a better process of looking at the site-specific conditions to not only make the development better but to make it blend and work better in the community surrounding it,” Campione said.

“I wholeheartedly agree that without the moratorium this would be the way to go,” said Peter Chichetto, land manager for homebuilder D.R. Horton. He said recent discussions have revolved around housing affordability.

He also suggested the county eliminate its impact fees for development and instead, impose taxes that would be paid by all, such as a one-cent gas tax.

“If we are not going to do the moratorium, that’s fabulous,” said Lisa Rayborn, executive director of the Lake-Sumter Home Builders Association. “However, one of the aspects we would like to have considered is with the industry overall being an economic driver… I would say we are focused on bringing good, sound businesses with good jobs to Lake County and they want to have good houses, neighborhoods, and schools.

Impact fees are causing a big problem for the entire state, she said.

“Also, we had requested to the county to be included in the conversations and bring the experts to the table regarding the design standards and layouts. We are saying we have the experts, builders big and small, developers big and small… Let’s bring them to the table, much like we did with Wellness Way. We’re here to partner. We’re a stakeholder. We want to have collaboration. Before things get implemented, let’s talk ahead of time and have those conversations.”

Commission Chair Kirby Smith pointed out that a meeting is already set to discuss design standard changes, but Rayborn said an hour and a half won’t cut it.

“Instead of that hour and a half at the podium, let’s have real meaningful expertise to talk about lift stations, retention ponds and architectural design standards,” she said. The board did not act one way or the other on her request.

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