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Apopka City Council votes to pursue a six-month moratorium on 'dollar stores'

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By Reggie Connell, Managing Editor

Is this the beginning of the end for dollar stores in Apopka?

The Apopka City Council voted 5-0 at its Wednesday meeting to start the process of creating a six-month moratorium ordinance to stop new applications of dollar stores and conduct a study on how to restrict their growth in Apopka.

City Attorney Michael Rodriguez made the proposal for the moratorium/study.

"The Community Development Department, as well as the City Attorney's Office has begun to do the initial research as to the avenues that the City has for regulation for this type of use as we move forward in order to propose changes to our land development code and address this matter," said Rodriguez. "I believe it's best if Council have a motion to authorize staff to begin the process to bring forward a moratorium ordinance."

According to Rodriguez, a moratorium will freeze applications for building permits, site plans, zoning changes, and no land use amendments for small box discount type stores. Rodriguez also recommended a six-month time frame for the moratorium. He also told Council he will bring back an ordinance for the moratorium, and also to authorize staff to begin the study.

Commissioner Diane Velazquez was in favor of the proposed ordinance, as long as it did not hinder other startups wishing to launch in Apopka.

"I'm not crazy about dollar stores, but I don't want to hurt a small business who is coming to start a business here."

"It's specifically defined," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez went on to explain to Council that the study would look into spacing requirements, zoning districts, and buffer zones.

"Those are the mechanisms that can be done under the code aside from outright banning them from the jurisdiction," said Rodriguez. "There are regulations we can consider. The moratorium would allow us to consider all of those while not having to tackle a rush of applications coming in while we look at changing the code."

Commissioner Kyle Becker, who originally brought this to the attention of the City Council and staff, stressed the need to act as fast as possible.

"There's urgency here. We just had another one show that they're going into a vacant storefront. It's pressing. We need to get this done."

In 2010, there were 20,000 dollar discount stores nationwide. Currently, it sits at over 34,000 according to a study done on statista.com. To put that into perspective, there are more dollar stores than McDonald's and Starbucks combined in the US. In 2019, Dollar General's net sales amounted to nearly $27.8 billion, while Dollar Tree generated about $23.6 billion.

There are currently 12 dollar stores in Apopka.

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