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An Open Letter to the Apopka City Council

City Council: Tie up loose ends before budget season

Five issues that need to be dealt with in the coming weeks


Apopka City Council,

I wanted to remind you of a few significant loose ends you should get tied down before the FY2024/25 budget takes hold. There are five issues I think you need to either advance or conclude in the coming months:

Settle on a foreclosure policy for unpaid code violation fines

At your April 17th meeting, you discussed the idea of changing the City's foreclosure policy on properties with unpaid fines. The Apopka Voice published an article about it shortly after the meeting:
The idea of changing that policy inspired me to write an editorial about The Golf Group, owners of the Rock Springs Ridge Golf Course lands, which I published in The Apopka Voice: 
It's crucial to note that as of the editorial's publication, the Golf Group still owed the City $2.1 million in unpaid fines. 
It's concerning that this significant issue didn't come up at the May 1st or the May 15th meeting. I believe it requires your attention. Therefore, I'm respectfully nudging you to follow up on this subject as an agenda item at the June 5th meeting.

Get clarity on the Apopka City Center

At its January 17th meeting, the Apopka City Council voted 5-0 to ratify Michelle Boylan as its first economic development director. She started her role on February 5th, which means she recently finished her first 100 days on the job.

In those 100 days, I'm assuming Boylan talked to Taurus Investments about their plans to accelerate the development of the Apopka City Center. I wrote about this in June, and I have heard almost nothing. I know this is a private business with a contract, but it's time they account for their extremely slow pace.

Yes, the Winn Dixie opened,  and I have absolutely no issue with another supermarket in Apopka, but let's face reality... it's not really part of the master plan of most city centers. It's time to let Taurus know the city wants a revised plan and positive movement.

South Apopka Annexation

It's hard to believe it's been over a year since you held two workshops and a town hall loosely based on annexing South Apopka.

Commissioner Alexander Smith called for a South Apopka Committee to analyze the best pathway to annexation and develop a plan to annex South Apopka in five years

"Annexation is a topic that is not going anywhere and needs to be addressed. My recommendation is for the city to appoint a committee to begin serious negotiations with the County and the residents in the unincorporated areas of Apopka. It's time for Apopka to become united rather than divided down the middle of the road. A price tag should not be put on the quality of life or be the determining factor whether to annex or not. Do the human thing, which is the right thing, by annexing and investing in all of Apopka. A true "One Apopka" should be our goal!"

At the time, five years seemed too far in the future, but after another year of no tangible advances, perhaps he is on the right track.

There was a discussion of sending a survey to South Apopka residents to be used as a baseline of interest, followed by an outside organization spending time in this underserved community and learning the who, what, when, where, and why they might want to be an official part of Apopka.

It's not too late to add a modest sum of money to the upcoming budget for a South Apopka Annexation Committee (as Smith suggested), a survey, and a study by an outside organization.

Get back on schedule with the Charter Review

Although City Attorney Cliff Shepard referenced it at the May 15th meeting, the last Charter Review meeting was on April 3rd. Since then, the 2024 Apopka City Commission elections concluded, an Oath of Office Ceremony took place, and a new commissioner stepped in. There have also been three City Council meetings, yet no meeting is scheduled in May. 

I know the Council is split on several issues, but that's no reason to lose momentum. Schedule a new meeting and get back on track as soon as possible. 

Give the residents of Apopka an opportunity to participate in this process and write a new and improved Apopka City Charter.

Retool the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs have been a hot topic lately in the US. Some believe they are essential for creating a more equitable and just society. However, implementing these programs in the US has been a significant challenge.

Apopka was no exception. Although they started a committee in 2022, it floundered for the better part of two years.

Commissioner Diane Velazquez suggested the idea of Apopka having an effective DEI program at the May 1st meeting:

"I asked the Mayor for our commission to REVAMP and appoint new members to Apopka’s DEI Committee," Velazquez said. "Some of the members of the current board have dropped out and have expressed they are no longer interested in being a part of the committee. The Apopka DEI Committee was not operating in its intended mission. The members expressed they are working as event planners. The interim Chief Administrator (Chuck Vavrek) responded to the discussion, saying he would propose a resolution to address the purpose and appointment(s) of the DEI Committee for the council’s review and approval. It will be publicly noticed for residents interested in becoming a member of the DEI Committee."

Apopka resident Don Smith pointed out that DEI covers much more diversity than some people know.

"Unfortunately, many DEI committees believe DEI is about race or ethnicity. It also includes those with disabilities and belief systems," Smith wrote in a comment to The Apopka Voice. "Too often, DEI committees focus on Diversity and forget about Equity and Inclusion, reducing it to just another affirmative action program. A good DEI committee is going to review ADA standards on all city-owned facilities. Are certain religions excluded from events? They don't need to plan events. They need to make sure the events are DEI compliant."

Thanks, Commissioner Velazquez, for bringing this issue to light. Now, let's keep the ball rolling. Choose new members and give this committee a budget and an agenda to move DEI issues forward.


Thanks again for what all five of you do for the City and for the access I have received from you over the years. I look forward to the Council following up on these matters before the budget becomes all-encompassing.
Apopka City Council, Opinion, Code Violations, South Apopka Annexation, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Apopka City Center, Apopka City Charter Review


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  • JimNisbet

    Interesting opinions from a guy who doesn't actually live in Apopka.

    To your points, I agree on the foreclosure policy. That could be tightened up for sure.

    The Apopka City Center, it's probably time for an update from Miss Boylan, but not a pressing issue. As you stated, she just finished her first 100 days. That sounds like a lot but it's really not.

    South Apopka, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY WILL YOU PLEASE STOP WITH THIS?? Seriously, how many times do we need to study and debate this to arrive at the same conclusion before you get it through your head? THE MAJORITY OF CITIZENS OF SOUTH APOPKA DO NOT WANT TO BE ANNEXED, AND THE MAJORITY OF CITIZENS OF THE CITY DO NOT WANT TO ANNEX SOUTH APOPKA! GET OVER IT!

    City Charter, give the council some time, they just got elected. It will come.

    DEI, Virtually every successful major corporation that adopted DEI programs and hired managers for this have dropped them. We should follow their lead. DEI programs do not promote a more equitable and just society, they do just the opposite. DEI programs do not reward merit, talent, or dedication, or any other good trait an employer seeks from an employee. In fact it de-values good employees by promoting those that do nothing but bring attention to their particular DEI advantage. Your doctor is a great example. I don't care if my doctor is a one eyed one horned flying purple people eater on his own time. If he's the best doctor, that's who I want caring for me. I do NOT want the DEI version of the same doctor, who only got the job so the hospital could claim they are diverse. Do you? It's nonsensical at it's very core. How about we mandate short people for NBA teams? Disabled people for NFL teams? It's Ludacris, and it defies the simple truths of life. We are all not rock stars, so we shouldn't pretend that we are or ask society to do the same. Madness...

    Thursday, May 16 Report this

  • MamaMia

    Reggie, Regarding foreclosures on peoples' properties, the city attorney, and also the police chief, both, said In their opinion, that our current method of city code enforcement is satisfactory, and does not need changed, and that in foreclosures, it can be legally tricky, and involves costing the city. Why do we keep getting some of the council members hell-bent on changing things, unless there is more than meets the eye going on? Nick Nesta said at one council meeting, that getting peoples' properties into compliance with code enforcement is the goal, not raking in cash, and foreclosed properties for the city.....but is what he is saying true? Seems like that is not the case to me. Is the goal to acquire all of these fined properties to sell, and money to pile up from the foreclosures? Regarding the RSR golf course land, and the code enforcement fines of 2.1 million, it is my understanding that the golf group owners are in compliance, so why foreclose, if compliance is the goal? Do you all really believe that the golf group should pay 2.1 million fine, or be foreclosed on? Wow...and the guy that owned it did die. The same at Errol Estate. In that case, the Errol owner had a huge delinquent water bill, and the city was planning on taking the golf course lands to the east of Vick Road and make a "pocket park". It did not happen. At that time, it appeared to me, that Mayor Joe K was thinking about putting delinquent water bills onto your property tax under special assessments, and I talked at the council about it, and how someone could lose their home, he said that they weren't going to do that but, do I trust that? No!

    Thursday, May 16 Report this

  • MamaMia

    While on the grounds of the city hall looking at the 911 memorial out front, and the names of the fire and police department fallen members, why is the name of the Apopka police officer that was killed at Hunt Club Blvd. and 436, in a crash, in 1995, not listed, and honored like the others? Why is Mayor Bryan Nelson's name not on the mayor's plaque? I saw Joe K's name, though? Time to budget for those names to be added out there to the plaques.

    Thursday, May 16 Report this