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City Council votes 5-0 to advance HUBZone project


South Apopka leaders, community support "the greater good"

The Apopka City Council voted on two ordinances during Wednesday's meeting that will change the zoning classification of a City-owned, 10-acre tract located in South Apopka, north of East Cleveland Street and west of Sheeler Avenue from Parks and Recreation to Light Industrial. The vote was 5-0 in favor.

This vote moves the City one step closer to beginning negotiations with the Aero-Tel Wire Harness Corporation to swap a parcel of land it owns outside of the Small Business Administration HUBZone, for this parcel inside the HUBZone, and bring a business primed to hire up to 100 employees to this South Apopka neighborhood.

There was enough pushback from that community at the December 16th City Council meeting to cause the Council to table the issue for a month. In that time, the nearby residents, leaders from the South Apopka community, and County Commissioner Bryan Nelson visited with the owner of Aero-Tel, and had a change of heart. They are now endorsing the zoning change, and welcome Aero-Tel to the Cleveland Street parcel.

But before the public could endorse the project, the City Council discovered additional information dating back to 1979.

“I did some research on that piece of property,” said Commissioner Diane Velazquez,” And I found in 1979 that property was purchased for the sole use of a sewer plant at that time.”

In his research, Mayor Joe Kilsheimer recalled something Mayor John Land said about purchasing land for the City of Apopka.

"Today we have new circumstances and new opportunities and I think that’s the purpose – to pursue new opportunity.”

Mayor Joe Kilsheimer

“I do remember Mayor Land said that banking land for future use was a good effort by the city," said Kilsheimer. "And I know they were interested in expanding the spray fields.”

The term "spray field" refers to the release of reclaimed water on the surface of the ground through a variety of sprinkler heads or nozzles. The water then soaks into the ground and re-charges the aquifer.

He also explained why the property may have been give a Parks and Recreation zoning distinction.

“Parks and Recreation was designed to make it the least likely for development,” he said. “It would make it hard to develop anything there. But today we have new circumstances and new opportunities and I think that’s the purpose – to pursue new opportunity.”

Lamar Hughley, was a vocal opponent of the project a month ago, but now is in support, despite having the light industrial business next door to his residence.

“I’m one of the homeowners who was against this petition,” he said. “The homeowners didn’t hear anything about this situation. All we heard was industrial. Progress is bought with a price. And hopefully the homeowners are sacrificing for something great.”

Pastor Richard King of St. James AME Church and a member of the South Apopka Ministerial Alliance, had praise for the City Council, and appreciation for the time given to further research the project.

“I want to thank Commissioners (Bill) Arrowsmith and Commissioner (Billie) Dean for their wisdom in tabling this issue until the people most effected could get more information,” said King. “Thank you for hearing us. While we are not lining up to be the manufacturing capitol of Apopka, we are willing to sacrifice for the greater good that will bring clean jobs to our communities.”



Commissioner, Commissioner Billie Dean, Diane Velazquez, HUBZone, Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, south apopka


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