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Is Southern Apopka Becoming an Industrial Park for the Sake of Jobs? Part 1


A routine re-zoning proposal becomes "the shot heard 'round Apopka"

About this series – This is the first of a three-part series about Ordinance #2469. At a December 16th City Council meeting, this ordinance caused quite a stir. The proposal is to change the zoning of a 10 acre parcel in Southern Apopka from Parks and Recreation to Light Industrial (I1 Industrial). The Apopka Voice will take a close look at all sides of this issue over the next three days. What made this simple re-zoning ordinance such a hot-button issue?

Today, we look at the contentious meeting that ultimately tabled the ordinance until January 20th. Part two (tomorrow) focuses on the actual business which triggered the proposal; the explanation of what a Small Business Administration (SBA) HUB Zone is; and why it is important to that business and to Apopka. Part three (Wednesday) will feature the property itself and how the residents and leaders of Southern Apopka feel about it and other industrial projects in the area.


It started off as any other City Council meeting. A giant check was issued to an academic group. The Apopka High School Bowling team was honored for winning the State Championship for the third time. The Council reviewed proposed improvements at Alonzo Williams Park. They approved minutes from the previous City Council meeting. Eventually they got to Ordinance #2469.

Then everything unraveled.

The plan for Ordinance #2469 is to re-zone a 10-acre parcel of land just off of Cleveland Street between the Apopka Fire Department Training Center and Sheeler Avenue. Currently the undeveloped parcel is zoned as Parks and Recreation. While it is a somewhat remote property, it is in proximity to three houses and a residential development. It is also located in a Small Business Administration HUB Zone (more on the HUB Zone in tomorrow’s article).

The ordinance sailed through its first reading at the December 2nd City Council meeting with very little criticism or concern by the public or the City Council.

But on the second reading, things changed.

“I’m appalled at this,” said Rev. Richard King, who earlier praised the City Council for the Alonzo Williams Park project. “I strongly disagree with selling the land and re-zoning it to manufacturing. I don’t think anyone sitting up there (the city council) would want to walk out their front door and into a manufacturing project.”

The public remarks only got more scathing.

“What we have here is what we’re going to be dealing with for the next 25 years,” said Apopka resident Francine Boykin. “With all the development of this particular area better known to people as South Apopka… the little carved out section I refer to as the anus of the city. It’s conducive to various ill gains like landfills and sewage treatment plants. ”

“Jobs for the sake of jobs may not be in our (Apopka’s) best interest,” said Dr. Ray Shackleford. “Be fair to all people. We appreciate your desire and commitment to bring jobs to Apopka, but respect the people south of 441.”

Despite the pushback from the public, Mayor Joe Kilsheimer defended the project.

“This is not heavy industrial, it’s what’s called light manufacturing” said Kilsheimer. “It’s jobs for South Apopka in a very clean environment.”

Commissioner Billie Dean was not swayed by Kilsheimer’s support.

“I have a problem with this project,” said Dean. “A serious problem. It’s a known fact that anything not worth a damn is put on the south side in a community where it is totally African American.”

Despite Kilsheimer’s efforts to defend the re-zoning effort, Councilman Dean did not relent.

“Joe, when you walk out into your front yard would you want to see this?” Dean asked Mayor Kilsheimer.

“My backyard is vacant,” said Kilsheimer. “If it was in my backyard, I’d be happy to have it.”

“I didn’t say your backyard,” Dean shot back. “I said your front door.”

“I’d be happy to have this in my front door,” said Kilsheimer.

“Well we’ll put it in Joe’s neighborhood,” said Dean. “Since you would be happy.”

“I’d be happy,” Kilsheimer said.

Councilman Bill Arrowsmith seemed to be working on an alternative plan during the contentious exchange.

“Is there another property that isn’t up against residential property?” he asked. “The other question is do they need all 10 acres?”

“Before we do this let’s make sure this business wouldn’t infringe on the residents,” said Arrowsmith, who suggested tabling the measure until the January 20th City Council meeting. “With more concerned citizens than ever before, we can vote tonight or table it and look for other properties.”

“I kind of agree,” said Councilwoman Diane Velazquez. “We’re having a lot of our residents come out against this proposition. Maybe we should revisit this and see if we have another option.”

“We can revisit this in January,” she said.

The issue was tabled until the January 20th City Council meeting.

Part 2 Tomorrow: The business in question: Light industrial or Heavy Manufacturing?

Online Extra: Listen to the Council's discussion here: Ordinance #2469 - 12/16/2015

apopka, city council, hub zone, south apopka


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