Temporary ban on new fast-food eateries with drive-throughs fails in Apopka

story from the Orlando Sentinel

Apopka’s City Council decided Wednesday night that you can still have it your way.

After more than an hour of debate, council members rejected Mayor Joe Kilsheimer’s attempt to put a temporary halt to any new fast-food restaurants with drive-throughs until the city completed is long-term visioning plan.

The measure was rejected like cold french fries when council member Diane Velazquez’s motion to accept the ban was met with silence.

Kilsheimer’s idea for a moratorium had divided council members, some of whom argued that it infringed on property rights and unfairly singled out the fast-food industry.

Some city residents have complained that Apopka’s Main Street is defined by restaurants that serve burgers, chicken, tacos and doughnuts from drive-through windows.

Kilsheimer said he heard frequent complaints about the glut of fast-food joints when he was campaigning for mayor. Critics also have complained that Apopka is overrun by dollar stores and auto-part outlets.

During the council’s debate, Velazquez said the comments she saw on social media were generally supportive of a moratorium.

“We’re responding to what our community wants,” she said.

But those sentiments lost out to concerns about property rights.

“I’m not in favor of this because I’m pro-business,” said Commissioner Bill Arrowsmith, a banker.

Kilsheimer insisted he only wanted to give Orange County’s second-largest city a “breather” as Apopka’s massive new commercial and residential developments loom.

“It’s not a ban,” he said, suggesting the moratorium would last through the end of the year while city planners took a closer look at land-development rules that regulate businesses with drive-through service, particularly restaurants.

“We’re not putting any fast-food restaurants out of business,” he said.

But Denny Shiver, an Apopka Realtor, told the council that a moratorium would nix plans by developers who want to build fast-food eateries on two lots on Park Avenue, just off Main Street.

“These guys aren’t going to wait six months,” Shiver said.

Arrowsmith and Commissioner Billie Dean, the two longest-tenured members of the City Council, voiced opposition early. In addition to their property-rights concerns, they said the temporary ban would send a message that the city was anti-business.

Apopka Planning Manager David Moon has said the city needs to evaluate the impact of fast-food restaurants on traffic and public safety.

Communities in California, Maine, New York and Rhode Island have imposed restrictions on fast-food restaurants for a variety of reasons, but most commonly for aesthetics.

Keep checking back to http://apopka.net/agenda.html for the audio of the meeting. It will be posted soon.

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