Local News

Lacey Hills votes 'no' to annexation

AVON PARK - The few Lacey Hills residents who voted on annexation Tuesday resoundingly said "no" to their neighborhood becoming part of the City of Avon Park. There were 15 votes "against" and only 1 vote "for" annexation or 93.75 percent "against" and 6.25 percent "for" the referendum. With 86 registered voters in the neighborhood, voter turnout was 18.6 percent. Deputy Mayor Brenda Giles and Councilman Terry Heston were on hand at the Highlands County Supervisor of Elections Office when the results were phoned in Tuesday evening from the sole voting location, Precinct 21 at South Florida State College.
Giles said she was surprised by the outcome because she thought residents wanted to be annexed into Avon Park. "We have done everything that we were supposed to do," she said. "So they don't want to be a part of the city limits, so be it." She didn't know why the annexation vote was a resounding no. "I don't know; I don't have the slightest idea, because I think that it would be the best thing for them," Giles said. "In my opinion, a lot better service." Heston said he agreed with Giles' comments. "I had no idea what to expect," from the referendum vote, he said. In a press release, City Manager Julian Deleon wrote: "I am disappointed with the outcome of the election. Lacey Hills will remain outside the city limits for now... ." The city went into "untested waters" in using the provisions of Florida Statute 171 for a referendum election to annex the subdivision, he said. "The chance of failure has never kept our team from pursuing what we have deemed to be a desired organizational objective for the city," Deleon said. Despite this setback, Deleon noted that in the past two years the city has annexed more than 2-square miles into the city limits of Avon Park, with the biggest annexation being the Highlands campus of South Florida State College. The city will continue with plans for continued growth, he said. At Monday's council meeting, the city council will consider annexing property for the newly proposed Florida Tire Terminal offices and shop to be located on U.S. 27 South, across from the city's Public Works Complex, Deleon said. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826