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United Voices Support the Farmland Preservation Area

United Voices Support the Farmland Preservation Area

Aerial view of the 10,125 square foot existing clubhouse at Ocala Jockey Club, which sits on the second highest elevation in Florida and features expansive views and spectacular sunsets. Photo: Sotheby’s

On June 21, the Marion County Commission approved Golden Ocala Equestrian Land’s (GOEL) plans for the World Equestrian Center Jockey Club (WEC-JC). Not everyone agrees with their decision, but important and passionate opinions emerged from the community-wide conversation about this matter: the Farmland Preservation Area is a top priority and one of the reasons why many people have chosen Marion County as their home.

While the Commission’s final vote was 3-2 in favor of GOEL’s plans for WEC-JC, their support of the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA) was unanimous. With that said, there were different opinions as to what protecting the Farmland Preservation Area means, especially when it comes to compatible and non-compatible uses. Over the past four years, Horse Farms Forever (HFF) has been focused on our mission to inspire the conservation of horse farms through education, awareness and idea exchange so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats.

We believe that the continuation of the Ocala Jockey Club (OJC) as an equestrian event facility under the stewardship of the Roberts family will do more to protect horse farms in that region of the FPA because it is the right type of development to help keep horse farms, as horse farms. And for the most part, the WEC-JC plans aligned with the current use of the property and the former owner’s plans for the property, which included a boutique hotel, retail village, and upscale residential development. The continued use of clustered home sites allows almost half of the WEC-JC property to be reserved for equestrian activities.

You can read our position statement about the plans for WEC-JC here.

You may or may not agree with our position or the Commission’s vote, but of the two most likely current scenarios for the property detailed below, which one does more to protect horse farms in northwest Marion County?

  • Subdividing the entire 1,029 acres into a 10-acre lots?
    • The spectacular view and open spaces would be gone.
    • The 520-acre equestrian event facility and 4-star cross-country course would be gone.
    • The risk of Family Divisions could potentially triple the number of lots.
    • Hundreds of individual wells and septic systems.
  • Clustering 94 lots of 3-acres or more on 420 acres?
    • A higher density of residential areas allows for large, open common areas for equestrian uses.
    • Water and wastewater treatment facility to protect water quality.
    • The 520 acres for open space and the renovation of an existing equestrian event facility.
    • Developing 89 acres to allow for the continued use of the existing clubhouse, adding a RV park and 9 arenas and grand stands for equestrian events (with 9,000 seats total), commercial/retail space, and polo fields.

And there is a third potential future scenario that is most alarming. When a 1,000-acre parcel of open pasture right next to an interstate exit, 20 minutes south of one of the premier universities in the country, and directly next door to Regional Activity Center and designated Commerce/Employment overlay zones is up for sale, our biggest fear is that it will be targeted for commercial development.

If a high-profile company like Microsoft or Apple had partnered with the University of Florida to propose a technology complex there, the economic pressure on the commissioners from the state and the community could have been overwhelming. Especially as we face another potential economic recession.

Population Growth and Supporting the Equine Industry

Our position took into consideration the exponential population growth in Marion County, which is predicted to increase over the next 20 years with 150,000 new residents. This growth will create tremendous pressure on landowners in the FPA to subdivide horse farms and farmland into smaller and smaller parcels. How do horse farm owners resist the pressure to subdivide their land or sell to a developer? Their businesses depend on showcasing the horses they breed, raise, and train at equestrian event facilities.

What would Marion County be without H.I.T.S. and Live Oak International (both located in the FPA), and the World Equestrian Center, Ocala Breeders Sales Arena, the S.E. Livestock Pavilion, the Florida Horse Park, Majestic Oaks, Barnstaple South, and numerous other horse show facilities on private farms, many in the FPA. Now the WEC-JC will be added to this impressive list of facilities and help serve and sustain the growing equine industry in Marion County.

Setting a Precedent

Opening the door to future commercial development in the FPA is a concern shared by HFF, but the majority of the proposed improvements on the WEC-JC property will be to support equestrian events – horse barns, riding arenas, maintenance barns, and restoring the existing cross-country course. The RV parking and multiple arenas and grand stands, plus the addition of commercial space will support the economic viability of the equestrian events. Also, with the WEC-Rural Land Use (see page 4 of the document), this effectively limits the use of the property to equestrian uses only, so the facility cannot be used for rock concerts.

In addition, any future landowner would have to submit an application to change the Land Use to WEC Rural and an application for a Comprehensive Plan Text Amendment to use the WEC Rural Land Use designation for that specific location. Both the Planning & Zoning Commission and the County Commission would evaluate both applications as presented.

The amount and type of commercial uses are consistent with large equestrian event facilities. For example, the Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) covers 1,229 acres and provides space for several tourist attractions and museums, competition facilities, a 5-star cross-country course, 260 RV spaces with a general store and recreational facilities, and office space for more than 30 national and regional equine organizations. KHP also has a 7,400 seat-arena, (Rolex Stadium, main grandstand.)

Let’s look at some of the other issues brought forth, such as the 10-acre lot size requirement for the FPA, the recently adopted HFF Comprehensive Plan Text Amendment, and the existing B-2 Zoning at WEC-JC:

Ten-acre Lots in the Farmland Preservation Area

In the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA), the minimum lot size is 10 acres. While Horse Farms Forever strongly favors maintaining 10-acre or larger parcels within the FPA, there are numerous areas within the FPA where smaller lots exist. For example, there are over 1,000 existing 3-acre lots in the area surrounding the OJC property.

While 10-acre lots are required in the FPA, unless the property is located in a Rural Activity Center (RAC), which allows up to two dwelling units per acre, there is a waiver process in Marion County’s Land Development Code that allows for a Family Division. For example, this waiver enables landowners to divide a single 10-acre lot into 3 smaller lots for the use of immediate family members as their primary residence.

With the Family Division waiver available for landowners, if 10-acre lots were platted on the OJC property, a single 10-acre lot could potentially be further divided into a 4-acre lot, a 3-acre lot and a 3-acre lot, thereby tripling the number of homes. In contrast, the 94 three-acre lots proposed by WEC-JC cannot be further divided, thus ensuring the number of homesites will never be more than 94 lots. In addition, the proposed lots are required to have central water and sewer, which helps protect water quality and spring sheds.

The 94 lots proposed at WEC-JC are consistent with the density allowed on the 1,029-acre property, but instead of being spread out over the entire landscape, they are clustered on 420 acres. This leaves about 520 acres for open space and an equestrian event facility. The OJC property already has 34 existing clustered townhouses, so there is consistency in this planning.

Horse Farms Forever® Comprehensive Plan Text Amendment

The Horse Farms Forever® Amendment, which requires that all Zoning Requests and Special Use Permits be consistent with the goals of the Farmland Preservation Area, became effective on April 30, 2022. The WEC-JC application was submitted before the HFF Amendment became effective, therefore, while all future applications will have to meet this standard, it does not apply to the WEC-JC application.

Nine Arenas with 9,000 Seats TOTAL

The WEC-JC application includes a Development Uses chart with the proposed uses. See page 5 here. There are 9,000 Seats for the: Arena & Event Facilities at WEC with accessory concessionary uses (snack bars, limited retail, etc.) The 9,000 seats will be dispersed at 9 different arenas and several event facilities, and with the WEC Rural Land Use category, the use is limited to equestrian events only. See page 4 and 5 here for the list of proposed arenas at WEC-JC and here for a list of existing arenas at WEC Ocala.

Existing B-2 Zoning at the Jockey Club

It’s important to remember that the WEC-JC has a designated zoning that gives the owner the right to use those property rights. On the WEC-JC property, there is a pre-existing commercial site of 5.84 acres with B-2 Zoning for the clubhouse and surrounding area. B-2 Zoning allows for commercial uses including hotels, nightclubs and RV rentals.

Process and Next Steps

GOEL will submit a Master Plan for approval by the County Commission and a Developer’s Agreement for the water and wastewater treatment plant and the roadway improvements within 6 months. GOEL is responsible for their proportionate share of the roadway improvements.

As part of the state’s review of the WEC-JC application, while there were no objections, several state agencies provided comments and made recommendations including the Division of Historical Resources and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Any potential historic resources or endangered wildlife will be addressed by each respective agency. Also, the addition of a water and the wastewater treatment plant will help protect water quality.

What Makes This Slice of the Farmland Preservation Area Unique?

What makes the OJC’s location in the Farmland Preservation Area unique is threefold:

  1. It is already approved as an equestrian event facility, which includes almost 6 acres zoned B-2 for commercial use and 34 townhouses on clustered residential lots.
  2. It is bordered on 3 sides by existing commercial uses: a teaching veterinary college with dormitory, an active lime rock mine and a 400-lot recreational vehicle park.
  3. It is bordered on the east by overlay zones including a Regional Activity Center and two Future Land Use designations of Employment Center and Commerce District, all slated for high density commercial development.

The 453-acre Irvine/Sunny Oaks Regional Activity Center (RGAC) is adjacent to the Highway 318 interchange on I-75. This interchange includes a Future Land Use Element designation in the Comprehensive Plan that includes an Employment Center, a Commerce District and a Regional Activity Center (RGAC). While this parcel is within the Farmland Preservation Area boundaries, these Future Land Use designations overlay and override the Farmland Preservation Area regulations and restrictions.

As a result of the above designations and classifications, the owner of this I/SO parcel inside the RGAC has a legal right to rezone this parcel from agriculture to an implementing zoning district for the specific Future Land Use designation. This legal right was established in 2012 when the RGAC was created and revised in 2014. While the requested zoning change is to Planned Unit Development, there are other options that would satisfy the legal obligation of the County to rezone the property to an implementing zoning district. Nonetheless, they all allow significant retail, commercial and industrial development.

Regrettably, the fate of the Irvine/Sunny Oaks area was sealed a decade ago by these Future Land Use designations. At that time, Marion County was coming out of a recession and faced with high unemployment.

Finding the Balance

Growth is here in Marion County. With the growth pressures, it’s important to support responsible growth and to find the balance between our urban and rural areas. When there are different opinions on such a divisive issue, a collaborative approach can help find the middle ground and areas that we can agree on, and then, move forward as a community. One of the most significant outcomes of the June 21 meeting is the level of community wide engagement about protecting the Farmland Preservation Area – from the Marion County Commission, to the Ocala Metro Chamber of Economic Partnership, and to environmental groups and landowners.

Every speaker at the June 21 meeting spoke passionately about protecting the FPA. This same strong sentiment was also ranked as the most important issue facing Marion County by over 90 percent of the people who responded, in the recently conducted county-wide Quality of Life Survey, organized by HFF.

Conservation Easements Protect Land from Development

We also hope that landowners who are concerned about future development, will take this opportunity to explore land conservation options to protect their land for future generations. The only way to protect private land from development, in perpetuity, is with a conservation easement. If the previous owners of the OJC had placed a conservation easement on the property, they could have permanently controlled its future development and use.

When a landowner places a conservation easement on their property, they make the decisions about what will happen to their property in the future – not the government or elected officials. We are happy to help facilitate this conversation and provide resources to interested landowners.

In the long term, the community may come to embrace the WEC-JC and see it as positively impacting the FPA and further cementing our brand as Horse Capital of the World®, making Marion County a unique destination unlike any other.

 

HFF will be holding our Third Annual Conservation Summit this fall on Tuesday, November 22 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Arena. The theme will be Transportation. We will release further details as the event nears, and we hope you will mark your calendar and join us as we continue this very important conversation to help protect what we love most about Marion County – the open spaces and beautiful places.

We hope you will join Horse Farms Forever and support our mission.

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.

 

CR 318/I-75 Interchange Slated for High Density Development –  Includes Sunny Oaks RGAC

CR 318/I-75 Interchange Slated for High Density Development – Includes Sunny Oaks RGAC

On the map, the blue areas have a Future Land Use designation of Employment Center (includes residential and commercial/industrial) and the purple is Commerce District (limited to industrial and commercial uses.) The 453-acre Sunny Oaks Regional Activity Center (RGAC) border is designated by the yellow and black hash marks.

What We’re Watching in Irvine

The Irvine/Sunny Oaks Regional Activity Center is on the March 1, 2022, Marion County Commission agenda to request a change in zoning from Agriculture (A-1) to Planned Unit Development (PUD).

The PUD zoning classification is intended to provide a process for the evaluation of unique individually planned residential, commercial, industrial, and mixed-use developments, which may not otherwise be permitted in the standard zoning classifications established by this Division.

The proposed 453-acre Sunny Oaks PUD is a catalyst project that will forever change the rural and scenic character of the intersection at CR 318 and I-75 in Irvine. The community and local residents are justly concerned about the long-term impacts of the proposed 4 million square feet of commercial and warehouse space on traffic and their quality of life.

Because this project is located within the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA), Horse Farms Forever has recently spent hundreds of hours researching the proposed Sunny Oaks Zoning Request. We consulted with our land use attorney, key stakeholders and land use planners to better understand the complex legal issues and the scope of the previous development agreements and determine if there was a role for HFF. This is a summary of what we found.

Zoning Change

The Irvine/Sunny Oaks RGAC is adjacent to the Highway 318 interchange on I-75.  This interchange includes a Future Land Use Element designation in the Comprehensive Plan that includes an Employment Center, a Commerce District and a Regional Activity Center.  While this parcel is within the Farmland Preservation Area boundaries, these Future Land Use designations overlay and override the Farmland Preservation Area regulations and restrictions.

As a result of the above designations and classifications, the owner of this parcel has a legal right to rezone this parcel from agriculture to an implementing zoning district for the specific Future Land Use designation. This legal right was established in 2012 when the RGAC was created and revised in 2014.

While the requested zoning change is to Planned Unit Development, there are other options that would satisfy the legal obligation of the County to rezone the property to an implementing zoning district. Nonetheless, they all allow significant retail, commercial and industrial development.

The Marion County Growth Services Staff has done an excellent job in their report detailing the very complicated history and facts surrounding this parcel and the zoning change request.  In addition, the Growth Services report contains recommendations of significant conditions.  Most importantly, while the developer has provided a Conceptual Plan for the development, a Master Plan for the Planned Unit Development has not been provided, which is a required critical element in establishing the scope, scale and other details of the project.

Traffic Concerns

Traffic capacity and safety of the intersection at I-75 and CR 318 was also addressed in the staff report. The interchange has not been updated from the original 1964 design and CR 318 is a winding two-lane road with limited visibility on the east side of the interstate. The Growth Service’s staff report states: “Prior to obtaining final PUD Master Plan approval, completion and review of the project’s formal traffic study will be required with the resolution of any level of service and/or design deficiencies identified being addressed consistent with the applicable Land Development Code (LDC) provisions.”

If the Commissioners approve the zoning request to PUD, then a PUD Master Plan of the parcel is required. The Growth Services staff report states: “The final PUD Master Plan, or equivalent shall require review and approval by the Marion County Board of County Commissioners.”

Learn More About Sunny Oaks

A User-Friendly Guide to Zoning Jargon

Future Land Use (FLU) Designation: a classification of a property that explains what types of development can be built on that property in the future.

Future Land Use Map: The future land use map is a community’s visual guide to future planning. The future land use map should bring together most if not all of the elements of the comprehensive plan such as natural resources, economic development, housing and transportation.

Zoning: A method of urban planning in which a municipality or other tier of government divides land into areas called zones, each of which has a set of regulations for new development that differs from other zones.

What is the Difference Between Future Land Use (FLU) and Zoning?
Future Land Use FLU designations indicate the intended use and development density for a particular area, while zoning districts specifically define allowable uses and contain the design and development guidelines for those intended uses.

Planned Unit Development (PUD): A type of flexible zoning device that redefines the land uses allowed within a stated land area. PUDs consist of site plans that promote the creation of open spaces, mixed-use housing and land uses, environmental preservation and sustainability, and development flexibility.

Overlay Zone: A zoning district which is applied over one or more previously established zoning districts, establishing additional or stricter standards and criteria for covered properties in addition to those of the underlying zoning district.

Regional Activity Center (RGAC) in Marion County’s Comprehensive Plan: The purpose of a RGAC is: “To allow for compact, high intensity, high density multi-use development which may include a mix of the following uses: retail, office, housing, cultural, recreational and entertainment facilities, hospitality facilities (hotels and motels), and industrial uses that serve a regional area.”

Always Watching

We work hard to keep you informed, and to represent our members' interests in preserving our horse farms, farmland and the unique character and culture of Marion County's 193,000 acre Farmland Preservation Area.

Join the herd. Every voice matters.

Questions About Conservation?

Contact Busy Shires, our Director of Conservation Strategies, by email or by phone 386-853-4437.

Classic Mile RAC Reconfiguration

Classic Mile RAC Reconfiguration

Classic Mile Farm and Training Center Rural Activity Center

In 1994, about 15 acres of the overall 540-acre property was designated Rural Activity Center (RAC), which allows for limited commercial development in the rural area. The owner of Classic Mile, Mr. Domenic Martelli, has requested that about five acres of the RAC be moved to front along W. Hwy 40, since the current RAC backs up to one of the horse barns and covers over one of the entrances to the farm on SW 140th Avenue.

According to the July 26, 2021, Marion County’s Planning and Zoning Agenda item, the shift of the RAC’s location will create a net increase of about 1.5 acres to result in an overall 15.13-acre RAC. This change to the Future Land Use Designation from Rural Land to RAC is about 5.2 acres. There is a subsequent decrease of RAC back to Rural Land of about 3.7 acres to create a net increase of 1.5 acres designated as RAC. The requested change in the RAC boundary will continue to comply with the RAC designation standards.

If there are no objections, this item will go on the consent agenda for the Marion County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on August 17th and be approved.

Here’s a link to the Marion County Calendar. As of August 6, the agenda for the BOCC meeting has not been posted.

https://marionfl.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx

Here’s a link to contact the Marion County Board of County Commissioners:

https://www.marionfl.org/our-county/board-of-county-commissioners

Questions About Conservation?

Contact Busy Shires, our Director of Conservation Strategies, by email or by phone 386-853-4437.

Golden Ocala Equestrian Land Proposals

Golden Ocala Equestrian Land Proposals

HFF Position: Golden Ocala Equestrian Land Proposals: Crupi, Plumley and the Jockey Club

February 2022

Horse Farms Forever, Inc. entered negotiations last year with the Golden Ocala Equestrian Land organization (GOEL) regarding their proposal for the Ocala Jockey Club.  In September, we reached a multi-layered agreement with GOEL for them to replace the B-2 zoning on two very high-profile properties, the 256-acre Crupi parcel and the 247-acre Plumley parcel, with A-1 zoning and to develop these properties into farms of 10-acres or larger.  In return, Horse Farms Forever agreed to support the GOEL proposal to develop the 1,000+ acre Jockey Club complex into less than 100 farm parcels of 3-acres or more, thus reserving over 60% of the remaining acreage for equestrian activities including polo, eventing, driving, rodeo, and other equine activities.  The development of this property would include a hotel and RV park contained within the complex which will significantly reduce the in/out traffic.  

While Horse Farms Forever strongly favors maintaining 10-acre or larger parcels within the Farmland Preservation Area, the GOEL agreement to replace the Business zoning with Agricultural zoning on the high-profile Crupi and Plumley parcels in return for HFF’s support of clustering the Jockey Club farm sites into 3-acre or larger tracts and thus allow a much larger common area for equine activities was smart planning.   The fact that for all 3 of these properties, Crupi, Plumley and the Jockey Club, the total acreage divided by the number of farm sites results in a 10-acre or greater average was impactful in the unanimous decision of support for the agreement from our Board of Directors. 

The Golden Ocala Equestrian Land organization and the Roberts family are to be complimented for the tremendous investment they have made in the Marion County equestrian industry.

The mission of Horse Farms Forever is to inspire conservation of horse farms through education, awareness and idea exchange so as to preserve the character and culture that horses and the Farmland Preservation Area make unique to Marion County.  We are watchful of government and others to preserve horse farms and farmland for future generations, especially in the Farmland Preservation Area. 

Horse Farms Forever is 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.

The County Commissioners say YES to the Farmland Preservation Area, and NO to the ATV Racetrack!

The County Commissioners say YES to the Farmland Preservation Area, and NO to the ATV Racetrack!

Proposal is Denied on All Three Counts

At their meeting on June 17th, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted as follows:

  1. To deny Comprehensive Plan Amendment 20-L05 submitted by Blitch Plantation, LTD to amend the future land use designation from Rural Land to Rural Activity Center for 18.2 acres.
  2. To deny Application 200507Z to rezone 18.2 acres from Rural Land to Rural Activity Center; but to approve the rezoning for 5 acres within that parcel with land use already designated as Rural Activity Center. This means that the 5 acres with the future land use designation of Rural Activity Center now has the zoning to match, and development that is allowed within a Rural Activity Center can now take place there.
  3. To deny Application 200508SU to permit ATV racetrack with ancillary recreational uses, limited ATV sales and repair, RV Park, and event venue requested as a Special Use Permit in RAC and A-1 Zoning Districts.

What Does This Mean? 

It means that the developer, Blitch Plantation, and the applicant, Double Gate, did not convince the Commissioners that these three applications were in the best interest of the community, compatible with the other uses in the area, or consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. Blitch Plantation will have to find another use for the 235-acre property, and Double Gate will have to find another location for their ATV racetrack. There will be a 5-acre portion of the property that will receive the zoning for Rural Activity Center, consistent with other properties on that corner. Any use consistent with Rural Activity Center zoning, such as a general store, gas station, or grocery, will be allowed on that 5-acre parcel.

While we are grateful for this action by the County Commission, we are especially thankful for their professional conduct during the meeting. The Commissioners patiently and intently listened to each and every public comment for over 3 hours. We thank them for listening, for reading hundreds of letters, for maintaining order and offering gracious respect to everyone who spoke. Because of their commitment to civil public discourse, the consensus of the community was allowed to emerge.

Thank you, Commissioners, for keeping the discussion civil and fair, and for respecting all who asked to be heard.

 

Civil Discourse

Everyone who spoke, no matter what your view, thank you. You were brilliant. Each of you had a perspective to share, and you expressed it so well. There were so many intelligent, well-thought out, and articulate views expressed in that four-hour meeting. While the public comments were overwhelmingly in opposition to the proposals, the voices of those in favor of the proposals were equally important to be heard.

Double Gate ATV proponents, thank you for your clear intentions to do something good and safe for ATV enthusiasts in the area, and for wanting to provide a service to the community. We wish you success as you adapt your business plan to another location and to the desires of the community so clearly expressed in the hearing. 

You Are The Forever

Finally, we express deep, deep gratitude to our members and supporters. It took considerable resources and effort to get the word out and gather the voices of the community. You were there, writing letters, making phone calls, cheering us on, helping and giving every step of the way. You are the FOREVER in Horse Farms Forever. You are the reason that the next generation will inherit the open spaces and beautiful places that create the character and culture that make Marion County the Horse Capital of the World.

One thing was abundantly clear from the testimony – the Farmland Preservation Area is well worth protecting – it is the essence of what makes Marion County unique and special. It was a beautiful thing to listen to so many supporters convey what the Farmland Preservation Area means to them.

The farmland preservation movement in Marion County is alive and well.

Always Watching

We work hard to keep you informed, and to represent our members’ interests in preserving our horse farms, farmland and the unique character and culture of Marion County.

Join the herd. Every voice matters.

Today is Hearing Day: Participation Options

Today is Hearing Day: Participation Options

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meets today, June 17th at 2pm at the McPherson Governmental Campus Auditorium, 601 SE 25th Ave., Ocala, to consider adoption of the Blitch Plantation (Rudianyn) proposal for Double Gate ATV Park and Recreation. Here is the agenda and full application.

How to Attend and Comment

 

 

Attend in Person:

The County will have social distancing practices in place. It would be wise to bring a face mask and expect seating to be limited and spaced out in the auditorium. There will be provision for those who are waiting to come in to watch the meeting outside on screen. As comments are made, speakers will be asked to leave the auditorium so that others wishing to speak can come in.

 

When public comment is opened, walk to the front of the auditorium and stand at either speaker’s lectern to be recognized by the board. The lecterns will be sanitized in between speakers. Give your name and address and indicate who you represent. If you are distributing additional back-up material, please provide the county administrator with 10 copies prior to the beginning of the commission meeting. You will have exactly 2 minutes to speak. Be prepared – you will not be given extra time unless the Board asks you a question. Make sure what you have to say adds a new perspective or new information to the Hearing – if you wish to echo another’s comments, simply say “I agree with…” and move on to something non-repetitive.

Watch the Meeting Online:

Go to this page. Today’s meeting is the first one on the list. You will see the Agenda link in blue. About 5 minutes before the meeting, a second link will appear next to the Agenda. Click that link to join the live stream video of the meeting via WebEx with your computer or mobile device.

This page provides further instructions on how to operate the live stream controls. If you wish to speak, you can use the raise hand icon in the participants panel on your screen and the moderator will call on you during the public comment period. When you speak, be sure to turn the volume down on your video player so that we can hear you free of feedback. Connectivity-related questions? Contact the IT Helpdesk, 352-671-8801.

Call In to Listen and Comment:

The number is 352-671-8808. If you wish to speak, press *9. The moderator will see your request and connect you when it is your turn. Please call from a quiet location and do not use speakerphone.

Public comment-related questions? Dawn Phelps, dawn.phelps@marioncountyfl.org, 352-438-2327.

Further assistance? Any person with a disability requiring assistance, auxiliary aids, and services county government meetings may notify the human resources director: Amanda Tart, amanda.tart@marioncountyfl.org, 352-438-2345.

 

It's Not About ATVs. It's About Location.

We at Horse Farms Forever like ATVs. Many of us own and enjoy them. We support family-oriented outdoor recreation, just like the Double Gate ATV Park applicants. Our concern continues to be about the location of the subject property:

  • in the Farmland Preservation Area;
  • in a flood zone and spring protection area;
  • in a peaceful residential area where noise will be a factor.

Our message continues to be the same as our mission:

We ask that the Farmland Preservation Area be respected and protected. Once it's erased, it can't be replaced.

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