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Despite multiple offers on city-owned Harmon Road properties, workshop on RSR golf course lands still scheduled for Tuesday

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By Reggie Connell, Managing Editor

Last week, the City of Apopka received a $6.5 million offer for the two city-owned properties on Harmon Road from Tony Benge, acting as a broker for Standard Investments and Holdings, LLC. This week, Apopka realtor Nick Nesta sent another offer for the property from Phillips Development and Realty for $6.55 million - $50,000 over the bid by Standard.

It was the fourth offer made on the property in the last two weeks - ranging from $5 million to $6.55 million. And although the properties are not officially up for sale, they have garnered enough attention to merit a city-sponsored workshop on Tuesday, November 2nd.

Another bidder that will be a major subject at that workshop despite only bidding $2.5 million for the properties is the Rock Springs Ridge Homeowners Association. Its attempt to work a three-way-swap with the City and the Golf Group - who owns the golf course lands they are pursuing, seemed dead last week after Benge's offer.

But one week later, and even after a higher bid, the workshop is still on, according to Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson.

"Yes, we are going forward with it," Nelson said in a text message to The Apopka Voice on Thursday.

After months of speculation, mystery, drama, and unknowns, the City of Apopka announced a workshop on its website scheduled for November 2nd, 6-8 pm at the Apopka Amphitheater to discuss the details related to the RSR Homeowners Association's attempt to purchase the RSR golf course lands. Among those details will be the city-owned Harmon Road property, the communication tower that currently sits on that parcel, and the 51-acre property on Kelly Park Road also known as the gopher tortoise conservation area.

Its concise announcement reads:

"The Apopka City Council will hold a workshop to discuss the purchase and sale of the Rock Springs Ridge Golf Course, the Kelly Park property, and the Harmon Road property.

Please Note: There will be no official action taken at this workshop."

There are a lot of questions to be answered in this two-hour workshop. Among them:

Should the City of Apopka sell the Harmon Road property to the RSR HOA, to the highest bidder, or not sell at all?

How much will it cost to move the communication tower, or to upgrade it at its current site?

Should the RSR HOA sell the gopher tortoise conservation area, or create a recreational district to raise the funds to purchase the golf course lands?

How difficult will it be to free itself from the multiple easements on that 51-acre parcel?

There are a lot of questions to be answered, and a lot of details to be clarified at the workshop, but it's an event many on the City Council have been calling for.

"I’ve advocated since last April for having a public meeting that’s open to everybody so they can share public comments for this specific piece of business," said Commissioner Kyle Becker."...putting all the facts on the table… is there even a deal yet for the 51 acres? Have they gone through the process of changing the conservation easement? What’s the cost of the communications tower moving away from Harmon? Should we sell Harmon for $2.5 million or $6 million? All of these things have to be discussed in an open forum.”

Commissioner Diane Velazquez is also looking forward to the workshop to bring clarity to this three-way land swap.

"For the great part of this year, the Rock Springs Home Owners Association has proposed a purchase of the defunct golf course to its residents from the current owner, the Golf Group. This proposal has been discussed with the residents, meetings have taken place, to include a vote, and to date, no formal presentation or application has been made to the City of Apopka. This is where I think the suggestion of a “Public Workshop” is a welcomed vehicle that can establish a solid path and a solution for the parties involved."

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