LARGO - Evatone, Largo's largest manufacturing corporation may relocate due to the city annexing the land at its present location. The corporation moved from Chicago to Largo in 1979.
Earlier this month, the Largo city commission approved annexation of 90 acres in the industrial area where Evatone is located along the northern section of Ulmerton Road and 49th Street North. Twenty-six of the acres are state owned.
Of the 25 property owners involved, 13 agreed to the proposition which allowed the city to proceed with annexing the entire parcel. The other 12 property owners are now forced to accept the council's decision.
The city selected the 90 acres which are zoned commercial-industrial. No referendum was needed to determine annexation as there are no registered voters in that district. Had there been, the matter would be put to a vote.
Bill Babcock, Evatone's vice president of administrative services said, "We never got a chance to vote."
He said, "They utilized 26 acres of state owned property in their favor, so they had the majority and knew it."
Babcock said, "Largo's city attorney, Alan Zimmit, said that the matter may not have been entirely ethical but was done according to the letter of the law."
Babcock feels the state should be neutral when municipalities create annexations. "They should not be for or against. That's what needs to change. We're working with the state legislature. It isn't right for the city of Largo to use state land in a calculation against other property owners," said Babcock.
Evatone is a family owned business that recently celebrated their 80th anniversary. Their 125,000 square foot fulfillment center is in the area the Largo City Commission approved for annexation. Because of the annexation Evatone will incur an estimated $100,000 plus increase in taxes and other fees.
Evatone began innovating the rubber stamp industry in the 1920s, and later invented the Evatone Soundsheet, a flexible phonograph record. The corporation presently offers web-based content management and print-on-demand services.
Evatone employees number around 320, many of whom relocated from their Chicago facility. The corporation averages over $40 million in yearly revenue.
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