Applications Still Accepted for Land Development Regulation Commission

Applications Still Accepted for Land Development Regulation Commission

Marion County is still accepting applications for the vacancy on the Land Development Regulation Commission (LDRC) until Monday, November 27 at 5:00 PM. The County Commission will make the appointment at the regularly scheduled Commission meeting on Tuesday, December 19.

While the website with the application link has not been updated yet, the County staff confirmed that the vacancy is still open.

In addition, the County accepts applications for all Advisory Boards at any time of the year, even if there is not a vacancy for an Advisory Board. The County holds submitted applications for 365 days and, if there is a vacancy, the County reaches out to applicants when vacancies occur to make sure they are still interested in serving on the board.

Residents who want to learn about Marion County’s citizen advisory boards may contact the commission office at 352-438-2323 for more information.

Land Development Regulation Commission (1 Full Member – Unexpired Term 11/2024)

Members shall be qualified electors in Marion County, and should be representative of the technical fields related to land development regulations, including the ability to evaluate & recommend specific regulatory standards & criteria. Preferably familiar with the areas of planning, environmental science, agriculture and the development industry.

John and Shirley Rudnianyn Honored with the Acorn Conservation Award

John and Shirley Rudnianyn Honored with the Acorn Conservation Award

Horse Farms Forever® is honored to announce John and Shirley Rudnianyn, as the recipients of the 2023 Acorn Conservation Award, which will be presented at the upcoming Conservation Summit on November 16th at Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.

The Acorn Conservation Award is given to an individual or family who has made a significant contribution to the preservation of land and horse farms in Marion County.

Horse Farms Forever chose John and Shirley as this year’s honorees because of their lifelong love and stewardship of land in Marion County. Their homestead is located at Blitch Plantation, a 4,500-acre farm utilized for timber, cattle, and wildlife.

John and Shirley are deeply connected to their natural surroundings and are dedicated to preserving the beauty and integrity of the land. Visitors who journey through Blitch Plantation often leave with a renewed connection to the environment and a profound understanding of the need for conservation. Their hands-on approach includes reforestation, wildlife habitat restoration, and hosting educational programs aimed at helping others and the next generation of environmental advocates.

They were recently involved in the acquisition of approximately 18,000 acres in the Fort McCoy area and have assembled a team of land specialists to assist in the restoration of the Ft McCoy properties which include foresters, soil and wetland scientists, the Saint Johns River Water Management District, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Ducks Unlimited, and Quail Forever. Management plans include timber, cattle, and variety land enhancements to benefit wildlife which will include sustainable harvesting opportunities for hunters and their families.

“The Ft McCoy properties are really cool. We’ve admired them for over 50 years,” said John. “There is so much wildlife with nearly every major Florida species represented except Florida panthers!”

The Ft McCoy Forest properties are key parcels of land in the Florida Wildlife Corridor which could help connect the Ocala National Forest to Paynes Prairie State Preserve and the Osceola National Forest. John is currently working to try to conserve a large portion of the Ft McCoy properties through several Florida conservation programs

John was also instrumental in protecting the 465-acre Silver Springs Sandhill near Silver Springs State Park, as his family along with the Albright family were landowners of the property. Jim Couillard on behalf of Marion County and Conservation Florida managed a public/private partnership to protect the property in 2017.

“This was the last, large undeveloped property located in Silver Springs and it was entitled for over 1,800 homes. The landowners felt the benefit to Silver Springs and the recreational opportunities for Marion County residents far outweighed the allure of developing homes less than a mile from the main spring,” said John in a Conservation Florida press release.

While John, Shirley, and their family are large landowners in Marion County, they see themselves as land stewards. “In the scheme of things, we’re only here for a short period of time,” he said. “Both Shirley and I love the land and the opportunity to share it with others.”

John and Shirley’s influence reaches far and wide, as they advocate for responsible land management, sustainable practices, and the protection of natural resources. For the Rudnianyn family, working the land is a family tradition, which includes three sons, who are all deeply involved with the family land business as either real estate investment managers, brokers, contractors, or developers.

Please join us in honoring John and Shirley Rudnianyn with the 2023 Acorn Conservation Award.

About John Rudnianyn

John’s parents were Ukrainian immigrants and he grew up on a chicken farm in Summerfield. John attended Lake Weir High School, College of Central Florida, Florida State University, and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Real Estate and Urban Planning. One of his first jobs was working on a muck farm. This experience of “working the land” set the seeds for a lifelong love of owning land.

He is a Certified Commercial Investment Member, Accredited Land Consultant, and owns International Property Services. John has structured virtually every type of real estate transaction conceivable in his 55-year career. He specializes in land acquisition, entitlement, marketing and development and has worked with thousands of properties including many within the Farmland Preservation area.

Photos courtesy of Sean M. Dowie

Save the Dates: 10/26 and 10/27 for Two Events about the County’s Transfer of Development Rights Program

Save the Dates: 10/26 and 10/27 for Two Events about the County’s Transfer of Development Rights Program

Join Horse Farms Forever for two events in October to discuss how Marion County’s Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program can help protect the Farmland Preservation Area and other rural lands in the County. 

TDR Roundtable, Phase 2

Thursday, October 26th from 10AM to 12PM

Auditorium at the S.E. Livestock Pavilion

Marion County’s Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program is a key component in protecting the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA) and other rural lands. In 2022, Horse Farms Forever hired Rick Pruetz, an FAICP professional planner and nationally known expert on TDR programs to evaluate the TDR program to determine why the program is underutilized. Rick compiled his research into a Draft Findings Report, which will be presented at the October 26th TDR Roundtable.

The Roundtable will be facilitated by Horse Farms Forever Founder Member Elisabeth Brinton, who is a former Corporate Vice President of Sustainability at Microsoft, and also owns a horse farm in the FPA.

The first TDR Roundtable was held on April 14th at Golden Ocala with a diverse group of 25 community stakeholders including land use attorneys, engineers, planners as well as Growth Services staff, and elected officials.

RSVP to busy.shires@horsefarmsforever.com and to receive a copy of the Draft Findings Report on Marion County’s TDR Program.

Ocala CEP Friday Talks

Friday, October 27th from 8:15 AM to 9:30 AM

Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership – Upstairs Douglas P. Cone Boardroom

Hear from nationally recognized expert, Rick Pruetz, FAICP and Ray Mazzie, Managing Partner, Southern Waters Capital on Marion County’s Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program and the recent utilization of 72 TDR credits to increase the density of a residential development by 72 units.

Friday Talks, sponsored by TD Bank, features speakers sharing their knowledge on a variety of business education and financial literacy topics. The sessions are held at the CEP in the Douglas P. Cone Boardroom beginning with networking at 8:15am. A light breakfast is served.

RSVP to Andrea@OcalaCEP.com

Membership Roundup

Membership Roundup

We are so thankful for our members and sponsors, new and renewing, who enable us to keep inspiring CONVERSATIONS about CONSERVATION of our precious farmland. Together, we can turn our concerns into smart planning for a future that both grows our economy and protects our horse farms.

New to the Herd

We welcome you!

Alice Sasnett – Friend

Barbara Meister – Friend


Charlotte Weber

Individual Founder – RENEWING

Owner of Live Oak Stud, located just west of Ocala, Florida.


David & Anne Quanbeck

Individual Founder – RENEWING

Owners of Northwood Farm, located in the Farmland Preservation area.

Cone Distributing

Corporate Founder – RENEWING

Cone Distributing is a distributor of craft beer, hard seltzer, and other beers and beverages

Tri-Eagle Sales

Corporate Founder – RENEWING

Tri-Eagle Sales has been the leading beverage wholesaler in the North and North Central Florida area since 1996

Showcase Properties of Central Florida

Corporate Founder – RENEWING

Valerie Dailey specializes in the listing and selling of equine properties, as well as residential, commercial, and agricultural properties in Central Florida.

Neighborhood Storage

Corporate Founder – RENEWING

Serving Ocala, Belleview & other areas in Marion County with quality storage space.

UF Health

Corporate Founder – RENEWING

Promoting health through outstanding and high-quality patient care in Florida.

Rona & Kent Mitchell

Individual Founder – RENEWING

Owners of Long Creek Farms in Ocala, Florida.

Bill Kearns

Individual Founder – RENEWING

Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club

Corporate Founder – RENEWING

Enjoy championship golf and tennis, a world-class equestrian center, luxury living, and more in this one-of-a-kind, gated community.

World Equestrian Center

Corporate Founder – RENEWING

The largest equestrian complex in the United States, located in Ocala, Florida.

Conservation Summit Sponsor Highlight

The community, like a herd of horses, has come together to show their support, and the herd keeps growing! This year over 40 Sponsors have stepped up to support the Conservation Summit. Their generous support makes this event possible and helps build a broad base of support to help protect Marion County’s high quality of life.

We are honored to have Brook Ledge Horse Transportation as the Title Sponsor for the fourth year in a row

Title Sponsor


Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors


Media Partners





Special Guests


Horse Farms Forever® Welcomes Bill Kearns as a Founder Member

Horse Farms Forever® Welcomes Bill Kearns as a Founder Member

Like many people that moved to Ocala, Bill Kearns was also drawn to the area by horses. He recently joined Horse Farms Forever® (HFF) as a new Founder Member and Gold Sponsor of the Conservation Summit to help protect horse farms in the county.

While Kearns has a successful career as a commercial real estate developer, he chose Ocala over 27 years ago to fulfill a lifelong dream of living on a horse farm.

“As a child, I was introduced to horses by my mother and that evolved into a lifelong love of horses. At the time, we did not have our own horses, but I always dreamed of living on a horse farm. By the time I was in my 20’s and serving in the Army, I was able to accomplish that dream in 1995 by purchasing a farm on CR 225A,” stated Kearns. “While I am a developer, I certainly don’t want the farmland to be impacted in the name of progress.”

In early 2000, he was fortunate enough to become associated with the Morse family, developers of The Villages. He built a new farm in the center of The Villages, in the Lakes and Live Oaks Community, which has a 40-acre minimum lot size. This allows for the best of both worlds, an equestrian homestead, but in close proximity to shopping and restaurants.

HFF is grateful for Kearns’ support and for the support from a broad spectrum of the community, including large and small horse farm owners, realtors, developers, and business owners. This collective strength of our members creates a “seat at the table” for HFF to help influence land use decisions and to inspire the conservation of horse farms.

Over the next 20 years, the land use decisions will determine Marion County’s future. To protect the community’s high quality of life, both preservation and growth have to coexist strategically or neither succeeds.

Maintaining this balance between growth and preservation will take a cooperative effort from both sides of the table. Finding this balance, and giving back to the community, is also important for Kearns.

“I have always loved Ocala and have several business interests in Marion County which permits me the opportunity to appreciate the challenges we face, and it also offers the opportunity to contribute to the City and County in a positive manner,” stated Kearns.

“As a career commercial real estate developer, I know all too well the issues facing us with the growth in our area, and I join with Horse Farms Forever to vigilantly monitor encroachment into our wonderful farmland,” stated Kearns. “I’m hopeful that with the leadership of our City and

County officials, the business community and citizens, we will be successful in preserving the wonderful area we all call home.”

Horse Farms Forever is honored to have Bill Kearns as a Founder Member to help bring our collective vision – to protect horse farms, Marion County’s most valuable natural asset, and our global brand as the Horse Capital of the World™ – to fruition.