Lake Harris Hideaway, a rustic restaurant with spectacular views of Lake Harris, has been trying to upgrade its bathroom and kitchen for years, but has been hampered because the restaurant is on a septic system.
The restaurant's owner Dan Kelyman spent tens of thousands of dollars to build a new septic tank and a super-deep water well, but, still, the county turned down his requests for expansion.
Now, thanks to an legislative change and some cooperation between Lake County and its cities, the Hideaway will soon be able annex into the city of Tavares, allowing it to tap into water and sewer services, from Tavares, even though the site is not adjacent to its city limits.
The restaurant's annexation request still must go through the city's planning and zoning board, and through two votes with the Tavares City Council. The last vote is scheduled for the end of September.
As soon as that is done, Kelyman said he will be pulling permits for expanding the restaurant's kitchen and woefully inadequate restroom facilities. He hopes to have the improvements made in time for the cooler weather when the restaurant fills to capacity.
The solution to Lake Harris' Hideaway's problem is an example of how the state Legislature's permission to create Interlocal Service Boundary Agreements, ISBA's for short, in 2011 can help business and homeowners gain access to services they need even if they don't adjoin a city's limits.
Under ISBA's cities are invited to negotiate with the county and/or other cites to agree on a boundary in which it would provide services. The point is to get services to land owners in the most efficient and inexpensive manner as possible. Cities with interlocal agreements for fire services are already reaping both safety and monetary benefits from the agreements, said Amye King, Community liason coordinator for Lake County. The agreements allows the nearest engine or ambulance to a 911 call to respond, even if it is in a different city or in the county.
Tavares most recently created an ISBA. Other Lake County cities have also made these agreements, with Lake County. They include: Monteverde, Minneola, Ferndale, Clermont, Groveland, Mascotte, Leesburg, Lady Lake, Fruitland Park, and Umatilla. Eustis has said it isn't interested and Mount Dora has been in and out of negotiations with the county, said \e King.
Another plus to creating the agreements is that cities know how large their city limits could eventually be because of the boundary agreements and can plan accordingly when deciding where to put fire stations or how much capacity a waste treatment plant needs to have.
These interlocal agreements aren't just made between cities and the county, but also between cities. For instance, Tavares and Leesburg, which butt up against each other, have agreed who can annex what.
And, in the case of tiny, fiercely independent Ferndale, sandwiched between Minneola and Montverde, it adopted an interlocal agreement that neither of those cities could annex its land, said King.
Lake Harris Hideaway's septic tank is functioning properly, an earlier versitlyon of this story quoting Jacques Skutt, Tavares' director of community development, said otherwise.