Controversy surrounds construction of OCPS fueling station in Apopka

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APOPKA, Fla. - 9 Investigates is trying to find out why the Orange County School District started construction on a fueling station when there was a less-expensive alternative.

Channel 9 learned of the dispute when the city of Apopka ordered construction to stop immediately due to environmental concerns.

Now, OCPS has agreed to not put fuel tanks next to Apopka Memorial Middle School.
Channel 9's Lori Brown found OCPS spent $186,000 on the would-be fueling station and bus depot before Apopka put on the brakes with a stop-work order.

Construction equipment sat idle for days after crews were asked to leave amid threats of arrest.

Apopka said expanding the bus depot violates its zoning requirements for the area. The city also says it poses an environmental concern with its proximity to the Wekiva River basin.

"Dream Lake, just to the west of the site, drains across the property and eventually drains into the Wekiva River," said city engineer Jay Davoll.

OCPS sent Channel 9 a permit from St. John's River Water Management District to show proper documentation for the fueling site.

But as 9 Investigates read through the permit, we learned there was no reference to fuel storage.

As it turned out, the district's only requirement for fuel storage is to give 30 days notice to the Orange County Environmental Protection division.

The school district made that call the day Channel 9 started asking questions.

Late Tuesday, city and school leaders agreed to a compromise. There will be no fuel storage on the site, and the district can continue to use the site as a bus depot while it looks for permanent location.

One possible location for the fuel is the city's own compound.

OCPS said a fueling station in Apopka would save the district an estimated $7,000 per day.