Interesting Opinion Article about Apopka’s Fast Food

Here is an interesting article I found at the Orlando Sentinel written by Beth Kassab about the Apopka fast food topic:

Fast food ban just what Apopka needs

As I meandered through the new — and very crowded — Plant Street Market in Winter Garden on Saturday night, I found my new favorite T-shirt:

A black V-neck with an outline of the state of Florida and a dot near the center labeled, “Home.”

They were flying off the racks.

Places like Winter Garden, with its charming downtown and mix of old and new houses, make people proud to call Florida home.

I could say the same thing about Lake Mary, Winter Park, Sanford, Oviedo and DeLand.

These cities have made big strides to be more than a place where people sleep at night.

Nowadays, more people are choosing to spend as many waking hours in these places as they can.

But not a single one happened by accident.

None of those towns sat back and waited for good fortune to rain down. They went after it.

Then you have Apopka, where a proposed moratorium on fast-food restaurants has prompted some elected officials to preach a “free-market” approach instead.

Just take whatever comes, they say.

If Apopka is overrun with Taco Bells and dollar stores and check-cashing shops, who cares?

Hello, Apopka? I’ve got 1975 on the line, and it wants its growth strategy back.

Here’s a not-so-well-kept secret: Every city I mentioned above has, in some form or fashion, limited fast food.

And these local governments have taken other steps — big and small — to encourage the kind of development that makes people want to hang around longer than it takes to roll up to the window, grab a Big Mac and stuff your face as you drive out of town.

This has nothing to do with political leanings or eschewing the free-market and everything to do with taking control of a city’s future.

Winter Park is a Republican stronghold. But the capitalists on Park Avenue just about choked on their cigars and cappuccinos when a Firehouse Subs sign went up next to the white tablecloths at Cafe de France.

The City Council quickly voted in 2013 to ban any new fast food restaurants along the avenue. Firehouse Subs later closed.

This isn’t a rich vs. poor issue, either.

On Saturday morning, Oviedo will cut the ribbon at Oviedo on the Park. I live in Oviedo and watched the amphitheater, lake, splash pad, playground and veterans’ memorial grow out of an old citrus grove.

The new park is within walking distance of new upscale apartments, houses that sell for more than $400,000 and an older apartment complex that includes units with reduced rent based on income.

“It takes a mix of uses in order to achieve the best outcome,” said Oviedo Mayor Dominic Persampiere. “You have to be able to serve the entire community.”

When Oviedo on the Park was first imagined 15 years ago, Persampiere said drive-throughs were expressly prohibited.

Since then, the city eased up on that rule to allow Panera Bread and, soon, a Starbucks.

“What didn’t exist back then was a change in lifestyle toward fast-casual dining,” he said.

Oviedo voters approved a $10 million bond referendum to build the park and surrounding roads.

Persampiere credits a strong vision that was bigger than any one member on the City Council with pushing the project forward after false starts.

A defined vision was also the key in Winter Garden — Central Florida’s biggest success story.

Today, Plant Street is a destination and is dotted with independent eateries.

The Plant Street Market and Crooked Can Brewing Company are the latest additions. The city invested $250,000 in impact-fee credits to help make it happen.

The results, so far, speak for themselves.

When I was at the market, it was packed with adults sampling microbrews while kids played Connect Four and bean-bag toss under a canopy of old oak trees.

There wasn’t anything fast about it. And that was very much on purpose.

Here is the link to the original article

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