"Town Hall" Meeting on ADS Plant to Be Run By City
Representatives of Pipe Manufacturer Will Take Audience Questions Wednesday
Last updated 5/2/2023 at 10:13am
APRIL 25 - A public "town hall" meeting about the proposed ADS plastic pipe plant scheduled for Wednesday evening will be chaired by Lake Wales Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson, it was announced this week. The meeting will offer residents an opportunity to ask questions about the operations and impact of the facility.
"They asked the city to be in charge of things," Gibson told LakeWalesNews.net, and specifically suggested that Gibson should chair it. "I told them 'If you want that, here's the way it needs to happen."
Gibson said that audience members can submit questions on cards, and that they would then be called upon to stand and ask the question of the five representatives of Advanced Drainage Systems who plan to attend.
"We can't let it deteriorate into an argument back-and-forth," Gibson said.
Gibson has been very analytical in his approach to the controversial proposal, which has stirred opposition from a coalition of residents and neighborhood groups, as well as the Village of Highland Park.
Gibson authored a 16-point checklist to identify the positives and negatives of the plant, which would employ up to 200 workers on a 97-acre site when fully developed. According to information compiled by Gibson's research, the company projects an average salary across all positions of $55,000 to $60,000 per year plus overtime, incentive income, and benefits.
The meeting will be held at the Lake Wales Arts Center and is likely to draw an overflow crowd based upon attendance at recent city commission meetings relevant to the topic. Opponents have expressed concerns over a variety of issues, including the location along South 11th Street and Hunt Brothers Road, which in within a half-mile of both Highland Park and Highland Park Manor, residential communities.
Other concerns include fears of noise, odors, light pollution, and increased traffic congestion.
Advocates point out that the property was zoned for industrial uses more than 15 years ago, and believe the fears are greatly exaggerated. The site is adjacent to the Florida Midland Railroad and raw materials, in the form of plastic pellets,would be delivered to the facility by rail.
The site requires an adjustment of zoning status to accommodate 50 acres of outdoor storage of finished products. According to City of Lake Wales Interim Planning Director Autumn Cochella, the site plan still faces a number of review steps before final approval can be considered by the city commission. That process is expected to take several months.
If the project receives that approval, construction would be done in two or more phases. The manufacturing building and associated offices could eventually cover 400,000 square feet, and have a significant impact on the area's economy.