RaceTrac has applied to build a truck stop deep inside the Farmland Preservation Area. The County says truck stops are not compatible on agricultural land, so RaceTrac has applied to change the zoning and made some modifications to the plan, calling it a gas station and convenience store with Extended Diesel Offering (EDO).
EDO is RaceTrac’s code word for truck stop. It’s a shenanigan! But more critically, it is an inappropriate use of rural land and is located in a traffic hot zone that is already dangerous.
In June of 2022, the Site Plan had parking spaces for 19 tractor-trailer rigs. Take a good look at this location and the entrance/exits onto US Highway 441 and W Highway 329. Can you picture tractor trailers entering and exiting in multiple places in that already busy location?
Here’s a bird’s eye view of the traffic hot zone, close to schools and surrounded by rural land. Could you pick a worse spot for multiple tractor-trailer entrances and exits?
Here is a revised site plan dated November 11, 2022, with parking spaces for 18 tractor-trailer rigs. The truck parking is condensed into a smaller area but the traffic impacts are unchanged.
Here is the “Oops, You Caught Us” revised site plan dated November 09, 2023, with parking spaces for ZERO tractor-trailer rigs. Why the change? Tractor-trailer parking is not allowed in Rural Commercial zoning and the only way to get this application approved is to change the zoning from agricultural to Rural Commercial. EDO is RaceTrac’s code word for truck stop. The EDO fueling pumps are still there, and the site is still designed for tractor-trailer rigs to enter and exit on 329 and 441.
Truckers: Please Stop In
What’s more, RaceTrac is actively encouraging truck drivers to use the facilities, as seen here in their own promotion from September of this year:
“As a business, RaceTrac relies on truck drivers not only to supply our store with fuel and products, but also as valued customers who stop in to fill up with us. We believe it’s important to show thanks for the hard work these drivers give, day in and day out,” said Mark Reese, vice president of operations, maintenance, and store support at RaceTrac.
“RaceTrac Travel Centers and EDO stores are specifically designed with truck drivers in mind. Travel center amenities include plenty of interior store space, an outdoor patio, extended canopies for high-flow diesel with bulk diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), free Wi-Fi and a seating area.”
A Traffic Nightmare
The tractor-trailer drivers are going to park to visit the store, use the Wifi and outdoor seating area, and that begs the question, WHERE are they going to park?
Along the road?
How about in the open field behind the fuel pumps where the original spaces were located? Who could blame them for pulling over there just to get out of the way? Who will stop them?
And if there is no parking, what will happen when all 5 EDO lanes are occupied? Will they be lined up along 441 or 329?
Surely not. That’s a safety issue. How long will it be until RaceTrac applies for A SPECIAL USE PERMIT to add the parking spaces they originally planned, for the sake of safety and the public good? How then will the County be able to deny their request?
This is not RaceTrac’s first rodeo. They have stated in their application their opinion that the location near the 441/301 split is ideal for development. The truck stop will trigger safety and environmental issues that will require further development, blowing the lid off that quiet rural area.
Attend the Hearing
RaceTrac’s application for zoning will face a public hearing on March 19th, 2pm, at the McPherson Complex. We urge you to show up along with us and exercise your right to public comment. Please also reach out to your County Commissioners to thank them for their longstanding support for farmland preservation and ask them to continue to uphold the Comprehensive Plan’s protections for the Farmland Preservation Area. Your voice matters and it makes a difference.
It is the vision and mission of Horse Farms Forever to inspire conservation of horse farms through education, awareness and idea exchange so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats, to protect soil and water on which they depend, and minimize land use conflicts
in Marion County, Florida.
We are watchful of government and others to preserve and protect horse farms and farmland for future generations - especially in the Farmland Preservation Area. We are neither anti-growth nor anti-development; we encourage urban growth to remain inside the Urban Growth Boundary.
Horse Farms Forever® is a Florida not-for-profit corporation registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a charitable organization and approved as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation by the Internal Revenue Service. Horse Farms Forever® does not have a political mission. Our status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization does not allow us to participate or intervene in political activities. The organization will neither advocate on behalf of political candidates nor advocate for the passage of legislation.