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Residents ask Rep. Spencer Roach for Lehigh growth plan

October 16, 2019
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Inquisitive residents filled the Oct. 7 Lehigh Acres Community Council meeting, which featured guest speaker state Rep. Spencer Roach.

During his talk, Roach addressed the uniqueness of District 79, as being a diversified section of Florida, made up of largely of unincorporated areas.

Many of those in attendance, including resident Vanessa Ouimette, wanted to know what plans the representative had in regards to improving Lehigh's business diversity and the creation of local job opportunities.

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A room packed with inquisitive residents filled a recent Lehigh Acres Community Council meeting, which featured guest speaker start Rep. Spencer Roach on Monday, Oct. 7.


"I'm a 13-year Lehigh resident, a mom, and small business owner. In the last few years, we've noticed a trend here in Lehigh. Mile after mile, the new buildings going up follow the same pattern: dollar store, storage facility, carwash. These businesses employ few, don't engage with the community, and take up prime real estate," Quimette said.

Quimette also stressed the diversity of the community, of over 100,000 with a larger foot print than Fort Myers.

"The biggest segment of the population is 0-14 years old. Approximately half of the population is under 35. We need stuff to do, and places to shop, and eat, locally. We need and want to keep our money in our community. Doing so drives further development. The more appealing our area is, the more home builders will build, the community grows, and the shops will come.

In response, Roach pointed to a lack of infrastructure in Lehigh and how that's hurting the unincorporated area in its ability to attract more affluent businesses.

"You have some real problems with the FGUA water delivery and reliable high-spread internet in eastern part of the county. Those infrastructure investments need to happen in order to attract businesses to come invest their dollars here and return those dollars to Lehigh Acres," Roach said.

"It's important to have civic associations like this. I applaud you all for getting involved and I hope you continue to advocate for Lehigh Acres, I certainly tend to do so."

Roach then spoke about his transition period since being elected into office in 2018, and a few of his legislative accomplishments.

"I was proud to work on a couple of legislative bills, but I'm just going to tell you about a few. I grew up in a fourth generation family of plumbers. I spent my summers working in the family business. My family always said that if we had a family code of arms. That our motto would be "their poop is our bread and butter." They made a good living as plumbers, put food on the table and clothes on our backs. Working with them left me with a profound respect for the value of learning a trade," Roach said.

"That respect I have for the trades and the growing need for more trained individuals in the workforce led me to work on House Bill 7071, which brings back shop class to the high schools," Roach said.

Roach also spoke briefly about additional legislation including: HB 421, a bill that expedites the process of finding permanent homes for abused or neglected children; and a controversial bill called Ban Sanctuary Cities in Florida, which removes elected officials who grant sanctuary to immigrants who have entered the country illegally and allows citizens injured by those individuals to sue local government.

"I also worked on the Guardian Program this year. This is part of the School Safety Act, and allows for teachers to carry concealed weapons in classrooms after going through extensive training," Roach said.

According to Roach, while some Florida school boards have implemented the program, Lee County will not be participating.

Prior to Roach's public discourse, council members approved a rezoning request on two properties located near Bethe Stacey. The parcels are currently zoned multi-family and the owner is asking to be rezoned as C2 (a mixed use overlay).

According to the owner of the land, this is the first step in an attempt to bring better shops and restaurants to the area.

The Lehigh Acres Community Council's next meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 4, at 6 p.m. in the meeting room at the LCSO East District substation, at 1301 Homestead Road N.



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