Windermere town leaders are considering a new franchise agreement with Duke Energy and two ordinances regarding water conservation.
The June 9 Town Council meeting, which took place virtually via Zoom, saw first readings of the three ordinances. They will go to a second reading and public hearing at the next Town Council meeting, scheduled for July 14.
Franchise agreements serve as negotiated contracts that allow an electric service provider the right to serve customers within town limits and use right-of-ways. According to town documents, the current 30-year franchise agreement between the town and Duke is set to expire in September 2021. The new agreement would be for a 20-year term, and the town would receive an additional revenue of $3,500 per month under the new algorithm.
Regarding water conservation, town documents state, the South Florida Water Management District has begun an effort to have all local governments adopt their own year-round irrigation ordinances.
“The district adopted mandatory, year-round, permanent landscape watering restrictions in 2010,” documents state. “Because local governments have not adopted the rule into local code as swiftly as expected, district staff have been instructed by its governing board to engage in an effort to have all local governments adopt two-day/week, year-round irrigation restrictions.”
Town staff members said they were informed of this initiative May 21 and found the town didn’t have a year-round irrigation ordinance adopted into code. The irrigation ordinance will promote water conservation, increase water-use efficiency, and prevent and curtail wasteful irrigation practices.
Under the proposed ordinance, landscape irrigation would be prohibited between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, with some exceptions. Even-numbered addresses and rights-of-way would be allowed to irrigate only on Thursdays and Sundays, while odd-numbered addresses and rights-of-way would be allowed to on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
While looking into the irrigation ordinance, staff also realized the town’s water shortage code doesn’t meet District criteria for accuracy and completeness. This latter code would address temporary water-shortage plans and orders for emergencies.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, council members also discussed whether the town should go ahead with its annual Fourth of July pancake breakfast.
Although all council members want to go ahead with the pancake breakfast, they were aware the waters still are murky regarding COVID-19 and public safety surrounding it. Some suggestions included scheduling time slots through Eventbrite or putting out a poll to gauge community interest in and sensitivity to holding the event.
“It looks promising, but on the other hand, it might be too early to call,” Council Member Bill Martini said. “I would prefer to have the event if we can, if things are going smoothly. I think we can figure out a way to do it so that it’s safe and we have the proper distancing. I think the town needs a celebration of sorts, so if we can do it safely, I’m for it.”
Council Member Loren “Andy” Williams agreed with at least planning for it while keeping an eye on the numbers.
“I’d really like to see it happen, but I think we just need to be cognizant of the numbers,” Williams said. “Are we going to flatten back out? We've had such a spike moving into Phase 2 already. … I think we should plan it and if we have to cancel it, we will.”
Mayor Jim O’Brien said if the town were to hold the event, staff and council members would have to be cautious and follow the guidelines presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as by the state. As of press time, the Town Council has agreed to plan for the pancake breakfast, with plans subject to change depending on the status of COVID-19 and public safety in the coming weeks.