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Frame The Importance of

Commercial Truck Insurance in Lake Wales, FL

  • Let's face it - truckers in America have always been the backbone of our great country. They still are in modern times. On any given day, thousands of trucks traverse our highways and local roads, delivering goods and products on time so that businesses and consumers have what they need to live life. And while commercial trucking can be an incredibly lucrative way to make a living and put food on the table, it can also be risky and expensive.
  • Whether you're the owner of a fleet, an independent trucker, or have a business that uses big rigs to transport goods, you need commercial trucking insurance to protect you and your client's investments, shield you from liability, and more.
  • That's where working with a reliable truck insurance agency comes into play. Unfortunately, for many commercial truck insurance providers, serving the needs of truckers is low on the proverbial totem pole. At Independence Insurance Agency, nothing could be further from the truth.

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percent The Commercial Truck

Insurance Agency in Lake Wales, FL You Can Trust

Much like you pride yourself on running a successful trucking business, Independence Insurance Agency prides itself on its years of experience providing truck insurance for hardworking men and women across the country. And in our experience, insurance rates for truckers are just too high - so high, in fact, that they eat away at their bottom line, making it more difficult to run a business and make a profit. Fortunately, at Independence Insurance Agency, we provide truckers the freedom they need from astronomically high insurance rates so they can stay on the road and keep driving America forward.

As one of the most trusted commercial trucking insurance agencies in the U.S., we understand the challenges that you face daily as a trucker. We also know how important it is to protect your business. That's why we go above and beyond to find you the best-priced coverage available, whether you're an operator, own a small fleet, a large fleet, or something in between.

Commercial Truck Insurance Lake Wales, FL

We Put Truckers First Because Others Don't

 Truck Insurance Lake Wales, FL

Truckers across the country choose to work with Independence Insurance Agency because we put their needs first before anything else. As experts in transportation insurance, we proudly offer a range of quality insurance products that are both practical and affordable for them. Our industry-leading carriers provide coverage that caters to the unique challenges faced by the trucking industry, ensuring that your business is protected at all times.

At our core, we are committed to finding the best possible price for your coverage without compromising the quality of service you deserve. The truth is, we understand how essential truckers are to the United States and take pride in making their insurance experience more streamlined and affordable.

One way we do so is by simplifying the insurance process. Our transportation specialists take the time to understand your specific needs and budget to tailor a comprehensive plan that works for you. You won't ever have to worry about cookie-cutter plans or uninterested agents when you work with our commercial trucking insurance agency. We take an educational approach to ensure that the entire big rig insurance process is quick, painless, and easy to understand. If there's something you don't understand, we're happy to take the time to explain. After all, the success and safety of your business are on the line.

Looking to the future, we are committed to providing innovative new products that cater to the ever-changing needs of truck drivers. As your one-stop shop for commercial trucking insurance, we are dedicated to your success, one policy at a time.

If you're a commercial trucker looking to ensure your rig, you can rest easy knowing that Independence Insurance Agency provides:

  • Affordable Trucking Insurance Plans for Any Budget
  • Exemplary Customer Service
  • Seasoned Transportation Specialists Who Customize Plans to Your Needs
  • A+ Carriers Across the Country
  • Simple, Easy Quote and Bind Process
  • Multiple Insurance Carriers Quoted to Find You the Best Rates
  • Truck Insurance for New Ventures

Call us or send us a message today to learn more about the best 18-wheeler insurance options for your trucking business.

chart The Commercial Truck

Common Types of Big Rig Truck Insurance in Lake Wales, FL

At Independence Insurance Agency, we offer several types of insurance coverage for local, intermediate, and long-haul trucking needs. Here are just a few categories of trucking insurance coverage that our agency offers.

As the foundation of your insurance policy, liability coverage is required by law in most states in the U.S. It provides coverage for damage or injuries caused to properties or other people if your 18-wheeler is responsible for the crash. Without liability coverage, it's almost impossible to drive a truck or run a trucking business without major legal consequences.

Having physical damage coverage is an essential component that shouldn't be overlooked. This insurance is responsible for covering the expenses related to repairing or replacing your truck in situations such as accidents, theft, vandalism, and other damaging events. By having this coverage, you can rest assured that your business won't be affected significantly by unexpected incidents, and you can continue running your operations smoothly even in challenging times.

For trucking companies, the goods they transport are crucial to their operations. To protect these goods from damage, loss, or theft while in transit, cargo insurance is essential. This coverage provides much-needed peace of mind for both you and your clients, allowing you to reimburse clients for any losses sustained while protecting your reputation and brand identity.

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance is designed to cover property damage or bodily injury that may occur during personal time when the driver/truck is not under dispatch. This coverage can be applied with or without a trailer and is added to a commercial policy as an endorsement.

While Independence Insurance Agency has built a reputation of excellence in serving the needs of truckers, we also offer general liability. Also known as Truckers General Liability, this coverage insures for bodily injuries or property damage that happen due to business activities that are NOT the cause of operating a truck. It covers accidents that occur in parking lots, rest stops, also while loading or unloading. General liability can also cover losses related to theft and vandalism. Most brokers and shippers will require this coverage to work with you.

Bobtail insurance is a type of coverage that is comparable to non-trucking liability, which is designed to offer protection when driving a truck without a trailer attached. This is commonly referred to as "bobtailing." With bobtail insurance, the tractor is covered at all times, even when it is not attached to a trailer, regardless of whether or not the truck is under dispatch.

Trailer interchange insurance is a must-have if you're involved in a trailer interchange agreement. This essential coverage offers protection for trailers owned by other parties that you're using under a contractual agreement. It covers damages caused by collisions, fire, theft, and vandalism, providing assurance to all parties involved.

Curious whether our commercial truck insurance agency in cityname, state offers additional coverage? The following options can be bound in your insurance policy:

  • Business Interruption Insurance
  • Reefer Breakdown Insurance
  • Occupational Accident with Contract Liability Insurance
  • Rental Reimbursement Insurance
  • Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance
  • Towing Insurance
  • Electronics Insurance
  • Much More

Three plus 3 Safe Driving Tips to

Lower the Cost of Truck Insurance in Lake Wales, FL

Keeping your drivers safe on the road is crucial not only for their own well-being but also for the safety of other motorists and the financial stability of your business. The Department of Labor has identified the trucking industry as one of the most hazardous sectors in the U.S. In fact, trucking and logistics fleets are known for their high injury and fatality rates. By improving how safely your truckers drive, you can help reduce expenses related to claim payouts, accidents, and insurance premium hikes.

Whether you own a large fleet or you're the owner and operator of a single rig, keep these safe driving tips in mind to help lower your insurance costs.

Implement Preventative Maintenance Plans

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

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 Trucking Insurance Lake Wales, FL

Practice Defensive Driving

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
phone Call Now
 Commercial Liability Insurance For Truckers Lake Wales, FL

Find Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

phone Call Now
 Commercial Truck Insurance Quote Lake Wales, FL

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

 Low Priced Commercial Truck Insurance Lake Wales, FL phone Call Now

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
Commercial Truck Insurance Lake Wales, FL phone Call Now

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

 Truck Insurance Lake Wales, FL phone Call Now

check light FAQs About

Independence Insurance Agency

If you're looking for a commercial trucking insurance agency for your business, chances are you have some questions - and we've got answers. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most commonly asked questions we hear from truckers like you.

Why go with a "jack of all trades" when you can work with specialists who focus exclusively on transportation insurance? We have excellent relationships with major trucking insurance carriers and, as such, can provide the best assistance and reasonable rates.

Typically, companies will look at claims that date back three years or less.

We proudly work with more than 20 carriers to provide our clients with the most advantageous options at competitive prices, catering to the needs of owner-operators and big fleets alike.

Permit filings are typically done by insurance companies on the next business day. Federal (FMCSA) filings are completed online and updated immediately, while some states may take up to three weeks to process.

Independence Insurance Agency: Committed to the Trucking Industry

There's no question about it - you've got to protect your staff, your rig, and your trucking business with insurance. But choosing the right insurance partner isn't always easy. Thankfully, with Independence Insurance Agency by your side, you can rest easy knowing you're covered no matter where the road takes you. If you're in need of a commercial truck insurance agency in Lake Wales, FL that caters to truckers like you, pick up the phone and contact one of our transportation specialists today. That way, you can get back on the road with confidence tomorrow.

 Trucking Insurance Lake Wales, FL

Latest News in Lake Wales, FL

City's Growth Management Efforts Get New Leadership

Brian Herrmann Will Take the Reins of Former "Development Services Division"Robert ConnorsAs the City of Lake Wales faces an onslaught of development proposals totaling more than 14,000 residential units, a responsive city government is making the needed adjustments to meet the challenge.veteran planner Brian Herrmann has...

Brian Herrmann Will Take the Reins of Former "Development Services Division"

Robert Connors

As the City of Lake Wales faces an onslaught of development proposals totaling more than 14,000 residential units, a responsive city government is making the needed adjustments to meet the challenge.

veteran planner Brian Herrmann has recently been hired to head the city's Growth Management division, a department formerly known as "Development Services."

The department name change is reflection of the determination of city leadership to cope and direct the unstoppable pressures coming the area surges to the top of growth rates nationwide.

"Growth Management is more reflective of what the city is doing to ensure that future development doesn't outpace our ability to provide services," City Manager James Slaton told Lake Wales News.net, "especially in the rapid-growth environment here in Polk County."

Herrmann describes his task as "overseeing growth in a responsible way." He admits that he's never worked in a city facing such rapid growth.

His educational background includes degrees in historic preservation and planning from the College of Charleston, and a graduate degree in community planning from Florida Atlantic University in boca Raton.

He is relocating from Crystal River, a town he has helped guide since 2018. While there he helped a "civic master plan" that will continue to guide the town's development after his departure.

His experience includes work in Beaufort, South Carolina, and Thomasville, Georgia, where he previously worked with the city's lead planning firm of Dover, Kohl & Partners. That effort has led to the creation of what he describes as a "thriving downtown."

Victor Dover of DK&P described Herrmann as "a fine choice. We've seen his work in Thomasville and Crystal River," he said, adding that Herrmann "understands what a critical time this is for Lake Wales."

Herrmann and his wife Cindy Vibar, a physical therapist, came to town after researching the area online, a process he said included reading numerous stories on Lake Wales News.net. The couple have a son who is a Junior at South Carolina's Clemson University.

In a sign of his serious commitment to redeveloping the commercial heart of the city, the couple quickly made an offer to purchase a downtown condominium unit within walking distance of the city administration building.

"It's a traditional downtown, and it feels like a traditional downtown. I really love that," Herrmann said of Lake Wales, comparing it to Crystal River, that didn't really have a downtown area.

Herrmann says he is a believer in "form-based" standards that are less rigid than long-used zoning codes, using community charrettes to produce outcomes that are more desirable in a process that's simpler and faster.

"Form-based standards allow a developer to fly through the process quicker," he said, adding that "we want to be as friendly to the development community as we can, but sustain our standards."

Herrmann admitted that he has become "attached to the New Urbanist way of doing things," which include the traditional neighborhood designs (TND) being advocated by DK&P in the development of the Lake Wales Envisioned plan.

The LWE process is developing proposals that will eliminate the now-disfavored walled communities such as those lining Burns Avenue in favor of TND designs.

"There's a lot of talk about TND," Herrmann said, "but the neighborhood between downtown and the lake fits that," where rear garages and front porches, sidewalks and street trees create attractive, walkable neighborhoods. "It's a great example to hold up" to developers as they come to town, he said.

"I'm excited about what the city is doing downtown," he said, a reference to the $20 million "Lake Wales Connected" street redesign now under construction. "It's likely to be a five-year process from beginning to end," he said, but will result in "a significant transformation" of the historic heart of the city.

"You are going to see these vacant lots bought up as more and more residential comes to the downtown area," Herrmann said.

Robert Connors

He "looks forward to the Northwest Neighborhood taking off too." That area is also undergoing a planned transformation, with new sidewalks and street trees following the completion of extensive utility work now underway.

Returning to the topic of form-based codes, Hermann used the example of building height restrictions, currently a fixed 45 feet. He explained that a mixed-use building, which might have retail on the ground floor, may need a few more feet to be financially viable. Deciding what fits by form, rather than rigid numbers, allows "giving the developer more flexibility, and getting a better result."

A building that may have five stories can "taper down to three," he said, and the forms can be applied by street designations.

The six-foot tall Hermann grew up in the Rockville and Silver Spring area of Maryland and attended high school at St. John's in Washington DC, where he played as a shooting guard for the school's powerhouse basketball team.

New growth management director Brian Herrmann guides Lake Wales' plans

As Lake Wales seeks to preserve its historic character, the person largely responsible for implementing the strategy is a newcomer to the city.Brian Herrmann joined Lake Wales in September to lead the Growth Management Division, the department previously called Development Services. Herrmann, 50, had worked in development planning for the Citrus County town of Crystal River since 2018.Before that, Herrmann held planning roles in Thomasville, Georgia, and Beaufort County in South Carolina. He holds degrees in hist...

As Lake Wales seeks to preserve its historic character, the person largely responsible for implementing the strategy is a newcomer to the city.

Brian Herrmann joined Lake Wales in September to lead the Growth Management Division, the department previously called Development Services. Herrmann, 50, had worked in development planning for the Citrus County town of Crystal River since 2018.

Before that, Herrmann held planning roles in Thomasville, Georgia, and Beaufort County in South Carolina. He holds degrees in historic preservation and planning from the College of Charleston and a master’s in community planning from Florida Atlantic University.

Mark Bennett, Lake Wales’ director for development services, left in February for a position with Polk County.

Upon learning of the opening in Lake Wales, Herrmann and his wife drove down to the city on a Sunday afternoon.

“I loved driving around the downtown,” Herrmann said. “I feel like the bones of our downtown are really good, and the very traditional pattern. It’s not something where there’s nothing there and you've got to kind of build new buildings. It’s already there, it just sort of needs some life and energy pumped back into it.”

The Lake Wales Envisioned Plan emphasizes Traditional Neighborhood Development, a concept Herrmann said he fully embraces. That approach emphasizes walkability over neighborhoods designed around convenience for driving, with buildings facing streets and parking areas to the side or rear.

The concept also promotes tree-lined streets and a mix of land use and housing types and sizes.

“There’s two kinds of tools in the toolbox that the city is looking at,” Herrmann said. “One is just improving its overall neighborhood design, and the other would be the actual TND, or traditional neighborhood development, which is a very specific type of development. It’s really important to do the same thing we did with our downtown, to come in and just raise our standards for overall neighborhood development in general.”

Herrmann is enthusiastic about the emphasis on land preservation in the Lake Wales Envisioned plan, which calls for establishing a Big Green Network.

“It’s almost like establishing an urban growth boundary, in a way,” he said. “It’s not so much just because we don't want to grow. It's more of, these are environmentally sensitive lands, and we want to make sure that we don't just trample all over them. We can protect them and actually highlight them.”

Lake Wales has also hired Kevin Polk as landscape designer and arborist for the Parks and Recreation Department. Polk will oversee plans to revive the landscapes in the city’s historic core, based on a design from the 1930s created by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and the Olmsted Brothers and commissioned by Edward Bok, the city said in a news release.

Polk previously worked for the city of Lakeland, supervising the landscape design plans at Hollis Gardens. He later managed landscape initiatives for Lakeland’s parks and streetscapes.

Polk will help implement the Lake Wales Connected plan, a framework for revitalizing downtown and the Northwest neighborhood.

“The history of landscape architecture in Lake Wales is unique,” Polk said in the release. “I plan to make each landscape unique and aesthetically beautiful while keeping the historical charm of Lake Wales.”

Polk holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of South Florida and a certification in public administration from Florida State University. He is certified as a horticulture professional by the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association.

Gary White can be reached at gary.white@theledger.com or 863-802-7518. Follow on X @garywhite13.

The history of the now-extinct Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales

What do Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford, Johnny Carson, and Kevin Costner have in common? They all dined at Chalet Suzanne, a Lake Wales restaurant and inn that served up lavish French cuisine on one woman’s eclectic china from 1931-2014.Bertha Hinshaw opened Chalet Suzanne in the wake of her husband Carl&r...

What do Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford, Johnny Carson, and Kevin Costner have in common? They all dined at Chalet Suzanne, a Lake Wales restaurant and inn that served up lavish French cuisine on one woman’s eclectic china from 1931-2014.

Bertha Hinshaw opened Chalet Suzanne in the wake of her husband Carl’s passing in 1931, and it quickly became a quintessential landmark of Lake Wales. A newly widowed mother of two young children, Bertha resolved to support her family by capitalizing on her hobby of gourmet cooking.

After opening the restaurant from her home, she routinely convinced guests to stay for their vacations and honeymoons, resulting in some of the most popular accommodations in Central Florida.

Sitting on 100 acres, Chalet Suzanne was not only a restaurant, but also a successful inn, soup cannery, vineyard, shooting range, and public airport and runway — convenient for its many high-rolling patrons.

In 1943, the chalet was nearly ravaged by a kitchen fire but was rebuilt by Bertha’s son, Carl Jr., who used salvaged stable wood and materials from other buildings on the property. This remodel resulted in an unusual layout with 14 different levels.

Some might say that Chalet Suzanne’s finest hour came in 1971, when astronaut and regular patron James Irwin requested some of the chalet’s “Soup Romaine” be sent to the moon with him on Apollo 15.

When faced with the changing times and a booming housing market, the restaurant’s signature clientele and exclusive atmosphere dwindled. In 2014, Carl Jr.’s son and daughter-in-law, Eric and Dee Hinshaw, announced that Chalet Suzanne would be closing its doors.

Today, the Hinshaws retain most of the property with the exception of some parcels that were sold at auction in 2014. The former chalet is now known as Refuge on the Ridge, a drug + alcohol rehabilitation center.

Locals still remember Chalet Suzanne as a beloved staple of the Polk County community.

Do you have a memory of Chalet Suzanne? Share it with uswe love living history.

Company plans town hall in Lake Wales to discuss plans for pipe manufacturing plant

For months, a proposed pipe-manufacturing facility has dominated discussions in Lake Wales.On Wednesday, executives from Advanced Drainage Systems, the company seeking to build the plant, will address citizens for the first time. ADS has scheduled a “town hall and community conversation” for 6 p.m. at the Lake Wales Arts Center.Five leaders of the Ohio-based company are scheduled to attend the meeting, and they hope to allay concerns about the safety of the facility and its proximity to current and po...

For months, a proposed pipe-manufacturing facility has dominated discussions in Lake Wales.

On Wednesday, executives from Advanced Drainage Systems, the company seeking to build the plant, will address citizens for the first time. ADS has scheduled a “town hall and community conversation” for 6 p.m. at the Lake Wales Arts Center.

Five leaders of the Ohio-based company are scheduled to attend the meeting, and they hope to allay concerns about the safety of the facility and its proximity to current and potential future homes.

Darin Harvey, the company’s executive vice president of supply chain, said he understands the questions some Lake Wales residents have raised about the plant that would make corrugated plastic pipes.

“I am not surprised at all,” Harvey said by phone. “If I lived in Lake Wales and I didn't have the information and this came across my doorstep, I would have the same reaction, to be honest. I would have the same concerns that the community has.”

Confusion reigns as Lake Wales delays vote on permit for pipe manufacturing facility

Lake Wales commissioners expected to vote on code revision, clearing way for pipe plant

Lake Wales City Commission leaves rules for public comments at meetings mostly unchanged

'A relationship with Lake Wales'

ADS seeks to construct the plant on a 97-acre property in south Lake Wales. The site, bordered by 11th Street (County Road 17B) to the west, Hunt Brothers Road to the south and the Florida Midland Railroad line to the east, contains former citrus groves.

The company plans to invest $250 million on the plant, which would be its largest in the country when fully constructed, Harvey said. The mill would use heat to mold pipes from plastic pellets delivered by rail.

Debate about the potential facility has swirled in Lake Wales for months, with some residents voicing opposition to the project at City Commission meetings. The objections have partly centered on questions of whether the plant would be able to operate under the site’s current land-use designation or would need a special permit from the city.

Amid the debate, it emerged that the city had inadvertently changed a description in its land-use code, negating a previous revision intended to allow light manufacturing with outdoor storage – the activity planned for the ADS site – without the need for a permit.

The city’s planning staff drafted a revision to city ordinance to correct what officials have labeled a “scrivener’s error.” The Planning and Zoning Committee voted 4-1 against recommending the change at its March 28 meeting, but the City Commission voted unanimously last week in favor of the revision.

The City Commission can formally adopt the change in ordinance during a second reading at its May 2 meeting.

Some residents have questioned why ADS has not previously held a meeting in Lake Wales to provide information and answer their questions. Harvey, a Florida native, said the company’s leaders have wanted to do so but were waiting for the city to resolve the uncertainty about the land-use designation.

“But we've now decided, given all of the talk in Lake Wales, we really need to come down and be able to be as transparent with the community and answer all these questions,” Harvey said. “We voluntarily decided to come and do this town hall to help get the factual information out into the community. That said, this isn't just about this town hall. We want to develop a relationship with Lake Wales for the future. We don't operate well unless we have a good partner with the community around us, and we think there's still plenty of time to do that.”

Harvey said ADS has not yet completed the purchase of the property from Hunt Bros., a prominent agriculture company.

As city officials have grappled with land-use questions, some residents have posted signs bearing such messages as “Stop Toxic Pipe Plant.”

Harvey said five ADS executives are scheduled to attend Wednesday’s meeting, including himself and the company’s vice president of health, safety and environment. He said they will welcome questions from Lake Wales residents.

'Our processes are environmentally friendly'

In advance of the town hall, Harvey sought to dispel some of the criticisms that have arisen. He described the ADS facilities as light manufacturing and said the melting of plastic produces no emissions and would not require a permit from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The only emissions would come from forklifts used inside the plant to move pipes, Harvey said.

“Our processes are very environmentally friendly,” Harvey said. “We're deeply invested in protecting the environment, and this facility will be the most state-of-the-art facility that we've ever built.”

ADS makes pipes from polypropylene, and polyethylene, Harvey said, material used in such products as milk jugs and detergent containers. The manufacturing process uses no hazardous materials, he said.

ADS operates plants in Sebring and Winter Garden and has distribution centers in Fort Lauderdale and Panama City. The company has facilities in Pennsylvania and North Carolina that are larger than the Lake Wales facility would be in its initial phase, he said.

“But the difference here is this one will be much more technologically advanced than the ones we have in these other areas,” he said.

Two existing neighborhoods lie within a half-mile of the plant site, and the village of Highland Park is just to the south. The village’s wellfield for drinking water is a few hundred yards from the property, former Mayor Blair Updike said.

Much of the area around the site is zoned for residential development, and some citizens have said the manufacturing plant is not compatible with nearby neighborhoods.

“We have 17 facilities today that are within half a mile of residential areas, and we've really partnered well with those communities and we expect to do the same here,” Harvey said.

Proximity to rail

During comments at meetings, some residents have said they don’t oppose the ADS plant in itself but don’t think the location is right for it. They have suggested that it should be in an industrial park.

Harvey said the site suits the company’s needs for a large manufacturing plant because of its size and proximity to a railroad line.

“The rail prevents us having to drive more trucks in,” Harvey said. “So we need rail for delivering material, and we need acreage just for storage. So that’s why we can't be in what you call a regular industrial park, like you see with Amazon or Home Depot or some of those. That’s the reason for the selection of the property.”

Residents have voiced concerns about the traffic the pipe plant would generate. Harvey said ADS would have between 100 and 150 trucks arriving or departing on weekdays. He said trucks would leave between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. and return between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to avoid peak traffic.

Noting the area’s history of citrus growing, Harvey said the trucks carrying plastic pipes would have much lighter loads than trucks carrying oranges. He said the company would avoid sending trucks through central Lake Wales.

ADS expects to create more than 100 jobs for the first phase and over 200 when the plant is fully expanded, Harvey said. He estimated that the jobs would pay 15% to 20% above the median wage in Lake Wales.

“This would be a much more automated plant, which means it's going to require much more technical jobs, which is why it's going to be really important that we partner with the charter schools and the other schools that are in Lake Wales,” he said. “What we really want to do is create a career for people in Lake Wales.”

Gary White can be reached at gary.white@theledger.com or 863-802-7518. Follow on Twitter @garywhite13.

Richmond American Set to Build New Polk County Community

Seasons at Mabel Place will offer several exciting single- and two-story floor plansLAKE WALES, Fla., May 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Richmond American Homes of Florida, LP, a subsidiary of M.D.C. Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: MDC), is pleased to announce that it has recently purchased and closed on 71 homesites in Lake Wales. The land is set to become a new Polk County community, Seasons at Mabel Place (...

Seasons at Mabel Place will offer several exciting single- and two-story floor plans

LAKE WALES, Fla., May 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Richmond American Homes of Florida, LP, a subsidiary of M.D.C. Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: MDC), is pleased to announce that it has recently purchased and closed on 71 homesites in Lake Wales. The land is set to become a new Polk County community, Seasons at Mabel Place (RichmondAmerican.com/SeasonsAtMabelPlace). This notable neighborhood will offer eight single- and two-story floor plans from the builder's sought-after Seasons Collection (RichmondAmerican.com/Seasons), designed to put homeownership within reach for a variety of buyers.

The Amethyst, Azure, Coral, Olive, Pearl, Rosemary, Ruby and Slate floor plans are ideal for homebuyers seeking design flexibility and those looking to downsize without downgrading. They will also appeal to buyers relocating from Orange and Seminole Counties in search of more affordable housing options. Part of the Lakeland–Winter Haven metropolitan area, Seasons at Mabel Place will be a great option for Orlando commuters.

More about Seasons at Mabel Place:

Everyone who builds a brand-new Richmond American home from the ground up at Seasons at Mabel Place will have the opportunity to meet with a professional design consultant to choose colors, textures, finishes and fixtures for their new living spaces—a complimentary service!

Seasons at Mabel Place is located at 657 Hennepin Loop in Lake Wales. Call 407.287.6285 or visit RichmondAmerican.com for more information.

About M.D.C. Holdings, Inc.

M.D.C. Holdings, Inc. was founded in 1972. MDC's homebuilding subsidiaries, which operate under the name Richmond American Homes, have helped more than 230,000 homebuyers achieve the American Dream since 1977. One of the largest homebuilders in the nation, MDC is committed to quality and value that is reflected in each home its subsidiaries build. The Richmond American companies have operations in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Mortgage lending, insurance and title services are offered by the following MDC subsidiaries, respectively: HomeAmerican Mortgage Corporation, American Home Insurance Agency, Inc. and American Home Title and Escrow Company. M.D.C. Holdings, Inc. stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "MDC." For more information, visit MDCHoldings.com.

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