Log in

Is Southern Apopka Becoming an Industrial Park for the Sake of Jobs? Part 3


Part 3 of a 3 Part Series

The Property and the angst of Apopka residents south of 441

About this series – This is the third 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 focus the 10-acre property itself and how the residents and leaders in Southern Apopka feel about it and other industrial projects in the area. Yesterday we looked at 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. On Monday Part One reviewed the contentious City Council meeting that ultimately tabled consideration of the ordinance until January 20th.

* * *

If you drive south on Clarcona Road, turn left and head east on Cleveland Street you will pass the Leroy F. Gilliam (Firefighting) Training Center on the left, the City of Apopka Public Services/Waste Management Complex on the right before approaching a dirt road on the north side of Cleveland Street. If you take that road, you will see a “No Dumping” sign, several abandoned buildings, and a “No Trespassing” sign. A little further north leads to three houses on the left, and about 10 acres of non-descript vacant land on the right. Some of this land is fenced-off; most of it is open and widespread.

But it’s what is in the middle of this land that is surprising.

Until recently, there were hundreds of tires stacked somewhat orderly in the middle of the property. Those tires were removed, but cement blocks; piles of wood and remains of abandoned fiberglass boats are still on the property. The top photo on the left was taken in 2009. The second in February 2015. The last two in December 2015. (bottom).


This is the 10-acre parcel of land that is being proposed for re-zoning that caused an unexpected uproar at the December 16th City Council Meeting. This is the property that sits in a Small Business Administration (SBA) HUBZone, and has an Orlando business interested in a land swap that would bring a light industrial business to Apopka and create 100 jobs for the residents of Southern Apopka. This is the land associated with Ordinance #2469.

But it was never supposed to be a secret junkyard, or a light industrial business when the City of Apopka originally purchased it in 1980, according to an iconic city councilman who was in office at the time of the sale.

“The reason they bought that property was to build a baseball field for one of the teams that lost their place to play,” said Alonzo Williams, the first black City Councilman in Apopka. Williams was on the Commission from 1970-1994. “And they played some (baseball) games out there. But over the years it became a property with no use.”

The Alonzo Williams Park was named after Williams because of his work with the Parks and Recreation Department. He was the first City

Commissioner to be over that Department, he said.

“I always worked with the City of Apopka for the betterment of Apopka,” he said.

Others see the treatment of this property as symbolic of the issues facing the Apopka residents south of 441.

“It is unfair that we want to put an industrial plant in some neighborhoods,” said Dr. Ray Shackelford. “But we don’t want to allow that same plant in other neighborhoods. Be fair to all people as we proceed in this process.”

Isadora Dean, an Apopka resident, likes the idea of jobs, but would like to see an alternative location.

“The Mayor should be applauded for having a desire to bring jobs to the area, but, I feel that there are other areas within the "hub" where light manufacturing may be more appropriate” she said. "The land is zoned recreation. I feel that green space and parks or even affordable housing would be a more appropriate use of city owned properties. The opinions of the area residents should be taken into consideration and respected.”

The discussion between Mayor Kilsheimer and Councilman Billy Dean at the December 16 Council meeting sums up this issue.

“Why does everything manufacturing have to be on the south side of the city?” Dean asked.

“The only reason that we’re doing anything with this idea in this location is because it’s in an SBA HUBZone,” said Kilsheimer. "You’ve talked more than once about looking for government programs that advantage minorities and that is what this is about.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want those kinds of jobs in those people’s community,” said Dean.

“When you say those kinds of jobs, what kind of jobs are you talking about?” Kilsheimer asked.

“I'm talking about jobs that aren’t manufacturing jobs,” said Dean.

Read about a possible solution next: Jobs or Recreation? Can We Have Both?


Reggie Connell is the Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice. He can be reached at reggieconnell@theapopkavoice.com



No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here