It appears that affordable housing may be coming to Apopka - on land that is part of the City Center project.
The Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Orange County ruled in favor of Southwick Commons in its lawsuit against the City of Apopka, finding that the City violated state statutes in the case of developing an affordable housing project on land that is part of the City Center project.
The Court cited three conclusions of law in its decision:
1. It is unlawful to discriminate in land use decisions or the permitting of development based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, religion, or, except otherwise provided by law, the source of financing of development or proposed development.
2. "Legislative intent is the polestar that guides [a court's] analysis regarding the construction and application of [a] statute." Diamond Aircraft Industries, Inc. v. Horowitch,107 So. 3d 362,367 (Fla. 2013). Legislative intent is primarily derived from the text of the statute applying the plain meaning of the language used therein. Id. "If statutory language is 'clear and unambiguous and conveys a clear and definite meaning, there is no occasion for resorting to the rules of statutory interpretation and construction; the statute must be given its plain and obvious meaning."' 1d. (quoted citations omitted). In instances of ambiguity, a court may examine the legislative history to aid its determination of the legislative intent. The Parties have not proffered legislative history or appellate court guidance which alters the plain language of the statute.
3. In relevant part, the Statute does not permit consideration of the "source of financing of a ... proposed development" as a basis for the City's "land use decisions or in the permitting of development.
Based on those citations, the Court made the following determinations:
l. The Court finds that the Restriction is a restriction on the development of the Property based upon the source of financing of the development.
2. The Court declares that the City's enforcement of the Restriction is a violation of Section 760.26, Florida Statutes (2022). Pursuant to Section 760.35, Florida Statutes (2022),the Court hereby strikes the requirement that Residential Multi-Family be "non-subsidized, market rent" as set forth in Exhibit 'oG" to the Amended and Restated Development Agreemenl that was executed on July 15,2020. The City is permanently enjoined from requiring that the Property be developed as non-subsidized and rented at market rent.