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Applications Withdrawn for 500-Vehicle Storage Lot Abutting the Greenway

Applications Withdrawn for 500-Vehicle Storage Lot Abutting the Greenway

Site Plan from the applications. The proposed parking lot had more vehicle storage capacity than the Gainesville Airport. 

On Tuesday, May 21, just about an hour before the start of the Marion County Commission zoning hearing, the applicant, 1415 Brothers Holdings, LLC withdrew all three applications to allow for storage of 500 vehicles on a 15-acre parcel located directly north of the Cross Florida Greenway. This announcement, made as people were arriving to the hearing, did not deter residents and concerned citizens as they filled the County Commission Auditorium. 

All the seats were full on May 21 for the County Commission Hearing.

County Attorney Guy Minter said that by withdrawing the applications, the applicant could re-apply at any time. While the applications were withdrawn, Horse Farms Forever will continue to monitor this property for any potential future applications.

The three applications from 1415 Brothers Holdings, LLC on a 15-acre parcel located on SW Highway 484 adjacent to the Cross Florida Greenway requested to: 1) amend the Future Land Use from Rural Land to Commercial, 2) change the Zoning from General Agriculture (A-1) to Neighborhood Business (B-1) and 3) request a Special Use Permit to allow for outside storage of up to 500 boats, recreational vehicles, and trailers.

Marion County’s Growth Services Staff recommended denial, with their report stating: “The Urban Growth Boundary is approximately a mile east of this property and this is not a designated Planned Service Area. This application does not meet any of the requirements provided above and is, by definition, sprawl.”

The Growth Services Staff report also stated that the applications were not compatible with the surrounding properties, inconsistent with nine provisions of the Comprehensive Plan, and adverse to the public interest.

In addition, the Marion County Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously at their April 29 meeting to recommend denial of all three applications. HFF attended the P & Z Commission meeting and spoke in support of the Growth Services Staff recommendation of denial.

Horse Farms Forever’s Pave Paradise campaign to oppose the applications, was based on our position that the Growth Services Staff Report accurately identified the issues with the applications and correctly recommended that they should be denied. To quote one of our members, “These applications should have never seen the light of day. And when they were exposed to it, they quickly moved back into the shadows.”

The campaign also addressed the reality that in rural areas, the County’s policy to only notify neighbors within 300 feet of a parcel is ineffective.  In addition, the placement of a small paper sign in front of a parcel on a busy roadway is not conducive to widespread notification of significant land use and zoning changes. Perhaps this is a matter the County will consider reviewing.

HFF Watchdog Role

Part of the Horse Farms Forever mission is to be watchful of government and others to preserve and protect horse farms and farmland for future generations, especially in the Farmland Preservation Area.  Thus, we regularly review all applications for land use and zoning change, and special use permits. 

It was during our regular review that the applications from 1415 Brothers Holdings, LLC were flagged for further investigation.  As we have many members and supporters in the general vicinity of this parcel, we studied the aerial maps and put “boots on the ground” driving the area and surrounding neighborhoods. 

While this parcel was not in the Farmland Preservation Area, it was also not in the Urban Growth Boundary; instead, it was in the Rural Area surrounded by rural land with extensive equestrian and agricultural activity.  And as our mission statement makes clear, while we are especially focused on the Farmland Preservation Area, we are not exclusively focused on it. 

Upon further review of the applications, we deemed these changes would set a precedent for urbanization and commercial development of this rural area. The Horse Farms Forever Board of Directors deemed these applications to be firmly in the strike zone of our mission and authorized a campaign to notify the surrounding property owners and our members and supporters of the applications and advocate in support of the Growth Services recommendations of denial. 

We believe that horses create the character and culture that make Marion County unique and special. For there to be horses, there must be horse farms. In Marion County, there is about one horse for every four people. The equine industry contributes about one-fifth of the economy and one-fifth of the jobs. In addition, rural farmland creates open spaces that act as filtration for the Floridian aquifer which is at the source of all life in Florida. Further, the Farmland Preservation Area acts as a protective umbrella for the primary and secondary protection zones for Rainbow Springs and Silver Springs.

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.

Greenway Trojan Horse – Updated

Greenway Trojan Horse – Updated

Tillman and Associates should have played Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi while they rode their Trojan Horse into the Planning and Zoning meeting this week. Not only are they applying to pave 15-acres of paradise with a 500-vehicle parking lot, but it turns out that companies apparently affiliated with On Top of the World have recently bought two adjacent parcels: the 122-acre pasture across the street and the 12-acre horse farm next door to this subject parcel.

Smoke & Mirrors?

Why would companies apparently affiliated with OTOW want to buy a 122-acre pasture on the north side of Highway 484 under the name of SAGE AMICUS LLC and a 12-acre horse farm across the street on the south side of Highway 484 under the name of HORSING AROUND OCALA LLC? Perhaps they are going to become Horse Farms Forever’s newest member? Probably not.

On Top of the World already owns the 5,454-acres of land to the north and west with a flag-access to Highway 484. This massive parcel is part of a legacy Development of Regional Impact approval (“DRI”) with vested development rights. The 122-acre Sage Amicus parcel has a much larger presence on Highway 484 and a Rural Land use and Agricultural zoning, like the surrounding properties. It is not part of the legacy DRI. The 12-acre horse farm, which adjoins the Cross Florida Greenway, also has a Rural Land use and Agricultural zoning.

Is it a coincidence that Tillman & Associates has applied to change the land use on the 15-acre parcel from Rural to Commercial and the zoning from Agricultural to Business on a parcel next door to the 12-acre horse farm? Maybe. Tillman & Associates represents the Brothers Holdings on this application and OTOW on other applications. At the Planning and Zoning public hearing, the Tillman representative stated:

“Also, what we are asking for is the accessibility to the Greenway, an opportunity for citizens through OTOW to be able to come down and utilize the Greenway, the resources that we have that is always being spoken of and encouraged to utilize and what better way to access it through a golf cart, or walking trail, or multimodal trail down to that particular location. So that way we can get the full effect of what the Greenway trails was meant to be for.”

The Application calls for 502 paved stalls for boat and RV storage covering the 15 acre site. That’s more parking than Gainesville Airport. Source: Application for Rezoning.

Westward, Ho!

What would be the implications of changing the land use on the 15-acre parcel to commercial? HUGE! It would set a precedent for all future applications on adjoining parcels to change Rural Land use to Commercial. With a quick look at the map, you don’t need a crystal ball to wonder if there will be a Westward, Ho expansion creating a commercial hub on Highway 484. 

Don’t Know What You’ve Got ’til It’s Gone

The neighbors and the community need to answer the questions:

  • Is this application to change the land use on the 15-acre Brothers Holdings parcel from Rural Land to Commercial part of a Trojan Horse strategy?  
  • Is this application a strategy for a westward commercial expansion on 484? 

The location of this proposed 500-vehicle parking lot is adjacent to the Cross Florida Greenway, a treasured public resource. The parcel is in a FEMA flood zone and in the Secondary Springs Protection Zone.

The professionals at Marion County Growth Services Staff have reviewed the application and recommended denial as it is not compatible with the surrounding properties, is inconsistent with 9 provisions of the comprehensive plan, and is adverse to the public interest.  In addition, the Marion County Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously voted to recommend denial.

Hearing May 21

Horse Farms Forever agrees with the recommendations from Growth Services and the Planning & Zoning Commission that this application should be denied. 

That decision will be made on Tuesday, May 21, at 2:00 pm when the County Commission meets to consider the application. 

If this subject is of interest to you, please join us.  There’s no closer form of democratic governance that attending a public hearing.

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.

Cowboys, Cattle and Conservation

Cowboys, Cattle and Conservation

Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson and rancher Jim Strickland spoke to a packed house at Horse Farms Forever’s Spring Speaker Series Event held at Golden Ocala on April 24. Photos by Sean Dowie Photography

Wilton Simpson, Commissioner of Agriculture, Inspires at Spring Speaker Series

Wilton Simpson, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture gave an inspiring speech at Horse Farms Forever’s third annual Spring Speaker Series event held on Wednesday, April 24 at Golden Ocala. Jim Strickland, legendary Florida cowboy and rancher, also spoke passionately about his love of ranching at the event.

Over 125 guests joined us to celebrate Farmland Preservation Month and to create more awareness about conservation programs to promote agriculture and protect farms. Our Presenting Sponsor was Lugano Diamonds and our Program Sponsor was Tasha Osbourne of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. Many thanks for their generous support!

Wilton Simpson, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, has been a champion of agriculture since his election to the Florida Senate in 2012. He spoke about securing the future of farming in the state of Florida by protecting farms and ranches through the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program with conservation easements.

Food is National Security

Commissioner Simpson is a fifth-generation Floridian and he has been a champion of agriculture since his election to the Florida Senate in 2012, where he served for 10 years. He spoke about securing the future of farming in the state of Florida, with programs such as the updated Right to Farm Act, the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program to help protect agricultural land from urban sprawl, the Florida Wildlife Corridor, and the Fresh from Florida program to encourage Florida-grown food.


The most important issue facing agriculture, he said, is to define food and agriculture as a national security issue. 

“We think about oil as a national security issue and our country has strategic supplies of oil just in case there’s a major disruption somewhere in the world,” he said. “But, imagine one week of no food in the grocery stores, or no food for just seven days. There would be total chaos in this country. Now imagine 30 days of no food in the stores and there would be people starving.”

Simpson also said that agriculture is the number-two driver of Florida’s economy, but during the pandemic because tourism was limited, agriculture became the number-one driver of the economy. 

“Agriculture has more than a $130 billion economic impact across our state while providing 2.2 million jobs and local sources of food,” he said.

Rural and Family Lands Protection Program

As a lifelong farmer, who grew up working on his family’s large-scale egg farm, he understands the development pressure that landowners face. He has championed the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program (RFLPP) that protects important agricultural lands through the acquisition of permanent agricultural land conservation easements. 

He successfully secured $300 million in funding for the RFLPP the 2022-2023 fiscal year and he has requested an additional $300 million in funding for the 2024 fiscal year. 

Florida Wildlife Corridor

In 2021, Commissioner Simpson also championed the successful passage of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, which helps protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor. The Corridor stretches over 18 million acres and generates more than $30 billion in revenue annually and stimulates roughly 100,000 jobs in the state of Florida. Since 2021, more than 160,000 acres have been approved for protection through the RFLPP and the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act. 

He has also supported several agriculture-focused policies in the Florida Senate, including reducing the tax burden on farmers by strengthening Florida’s greenbelt laws and expanding Agritourism throughout Florida.

After the Spring Speaker Series, Wilton Simpson posted on his personal Facebook page, stating:

“Great to be in Ocala last night with my friend Jim Strickland and Horse Farms Forever. They’re working to conserve horse farms to preserve natural pasture land. The horse industry defines so much of the areas character and I’m grateful for the work being done to protect it.” 

 

 

Bernie Little, HFF Founder and President, Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, CEO, Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, Traci Deen, Esq., President and CEO of Conservation Florida, Sara Powell Fennessy, HFF Executive Director, Wilton Simpson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Jonathon Rees, Firm Member, Smith, Bryan & Myers

Craig Curry, Marion County Commissioner, Mary Jane Hunt, HFF Founder and Sara Powell Fennessy, HFF Executive Director

Michelle Stone, Marion County Commissioner (center) with Lonny Powell- CEO Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association and Wilton Simpson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture

Tasha and Michael Osbourne – Many thanks to our Presenting Sponsor Lugano Diamonds and to our Program Sponsor Tasha Osbourne of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty for their generous support!

Rubbish and Debrie, mascots for Marion County’s No Horsin’ Around Campaign to help prevent litter.  

Mary Jane Hunt, Director of the Saint Bernard Foundation, presents gifts of $25,000 each to Sam Smidt, Director of Land Use and Protection Research for the American Farmland Trust, Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, CEO, Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, (standing with Wilton Simpson and Sara Fennessy), and Traci Deen, Esq., President and CEO of Conservation Florida

Jim Strickland and John S. Rudnianyn, CCIM, ALC. International Property Services Corp

Jason Reynolds, Executive Director, Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park and Sara Powell Fennessy, HFF Executive Director

Jim Strickland, legendary Florida rancher spoke passionately about the importance of protecting working cattle ranches.

Cattle and Conservation Cowboy – Jim Strickland

Jim Strickland is the Owner of Strickland Ranch and Managing Partner of Blackbeard’s Ranch a 4,530-acre cattle ranch near Myakka River State Park. He has six decades of ranching experience and comes from a family that has been ranching in Florida since 1860. When his father died in the 1970’s, Jim took over the family cattle operations at the age of 17, primarily leasing land for cattle. 

“I’ve been ranching for 60 years and this is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Strickland. “There’s no illustrious history about Strickland Ranch, nor huge financial gains; what there is a love for the woods, cattle and Florida. I’ve been blessed to do what I love.”

His passion for cattle and conservation began at a young age, as he witnessed the development pressure first-hand and had to move his cattle out of many leased pastures and native ranges when they converted to housing developments. 

Jim is a strong advocate for Florida agriculture and land conservation. He is the Vice-Chairman of the Florida Conservation Group, a science-based organization that facilitated the protection of over 35,000 acres of ranches with conservation easements in 2023 and are currently working to protect another 40,000 acres in 2024.

“A ranch is as close to pristine wilderness as you’ll get. How do we compensate ranchers to maintain their land, stay in business and not sell to developers? We have to be able to tell the story of what dirt is worth – not from the standpoint of development rights – but what is the land worth to society, the 22 million people who live in Florida, who depend on that land to filter water, protect wetlands, store carbon, and provide animal habitat,” said Strickland. 

Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area

The Florida Conservation Group worked in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to establish a new 4 million-acre Conservation Area in southwest Florida as the Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area, which will allow USFWS to work with landowners to protect agricultural land with conservation easements.

He was also instrumental in protecting nearly 1,500 acres of Blackbeard’s Ranch with a conservation easement.

Jim has served as President of the Florida Cattleman’s Association, Past Chairman of the Florida Cattleman’s Foundation, and Chairman of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association PAC, the Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park and is Co-Chair of the Florida Climate Smart Agriculture Work Group.

Jim was named Audubon Florida’s Sustainable Rancher of the year in 2019 and recognized as one of Florida Trend’s 500 Most Influential Business Leaders for 2018 and 2019.

George Isaacs, General Manager, Bridlewood Farm and HFF Director, Sara Powell Fennessy, HFF Executive Director, Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, CEO, Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, Wilton Simpson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Mary Jane Hunt, HFF Founder, Jim Strickland, Florida rancher, Busy Shires, HFF Director of Conservation, Bernie Little, HFF Founder and President

Busy Shires, Director of Conservation, Horse Farms Forever high fives Jim Strickland

Nancy DiMaggio, Volunteer, Horse Farms Forever

Heather Traynham Wright, Ann Louise Drake, Holland and Barbara Drake

Debbie and Jorge Garcia-Bengochea from Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses and HFF Founder Mary Jane Hunt

Thank You To Our Sponsors!

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.

 

Spring Membership Roundup

Spring Membership Roundup

Spring showers bring new members!

New members are popping up all over the place this Spring. As a large herd, we can turn our concerns into smart planning for a future that both grows our economy and protects our horse farms.

What does it mean when a Marion County business aligns with Horse Farms Forever by joining as a member? Quite simply, it means that they care about our open spaces and beautiful places. It means that they are willing to support farmland preservation and our unique equestrian heritage. Thank you, new and renewing members!

This spotlight features our new & renewing donors at the $500 & up level as of April 1st, 2024.

New to the Herd


We welcome you!

Fresh Start Farm Therapy – Corporate Bronze

Dowman Family Foundation – Individual Leader

Renewing Organizations

Corporate Gold

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Ocala Stud – Corporate Gold

Imagine – Marne Fauber – Corporate Gold

Corporate Silver

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Southern Heritage Developers, LLC – Corporate Silver

Great American Insurance – Corporate Silver

Corporate Bronze

Advanced Myographic Technologies, LLC. – Corporate Bronze

Next Level Farm – Corporate Bronze

Renewing Individuals & Families

The Goodwin Family & James W. Goodwin, Esq.

Individual Leader – RENEWING

John S. Gaither

Individual Leader – RENEWING

Gary Bybee

Individual Leader – RENEWING

David & Aline Velez

Individual Patron – RENEWING

Nancy deCavaignac

Individual Patron – RENEWING

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.

Corporate Membership

Looking for a way to promote your business throughout the equine community? Becoming a Horse Farms Forever Corporate Member gives you access to our members in Ocala/Marion County and beyond.  Donating to Horse Farms Forever, a registered 501(c)3 with the IRS, reaches our members, friends, and subscribers though our newsletters, social media, advertising, and events.  To learn more or to join please contact our Executive Director,
Sara Fennessy 

Spring Founder Spotlight

Spring Founder Spotlight

The community, like a herd of horses, has come together to show their support, and the herd keeps growing!

More and more people are raising their hands and making a difference in Marion County to help protect horse farms for future generations. Our Founders demonstrate the pinnacle of commitment to the preservation of horse farms by investing in the mission of Horse Farms Forever®, year after year.


Founders who renew each year are demonstrating their iron clad commitment to continuing the work of preservation. New threats are appearing all the time, and the Founders are behind us all the way. We are beyond grateful.

We would like to thank the Founders who have renewed their 2024 membership with a gift (as of March 2024).

As a show of gratitude for those who wish to support Horse Farms Forever at the Founder level, an anonymous donor has agreed to match all gifts at the $5,000 during the second quarter of 2024. Please contact us to learn more about this exciting match opportunity in celebration of Horse Farms Forever’s sixth birthday!

 

 

horse-farms-forever-farmland-preservation-area-ocala-marion-county

The Green Group is an accounting, tax, consulting and advisory firm with a unique approach – out of the box, entrepreneurial thinking. With a team of seasoned, highly successful entrepreneurs, family business owners, real estate owners, investors and specialists in IRS audits and thoroughbred racing, we see the business world through a special lens and find solutions in ways our competition simply can not.

We go beyond the typical accounting firm-client relationship and invest ourselves into understanding the intricacies of your particular business and financial situation. Our cloud technologies allow us to be accessible to you wherever you may be. We are your trusted business advocates and advisors, and can help your business catch wave after wave of success.

New to the Herd


We welcome you!

Green Group

Renewing


Thanks for your continued support!

Elisabeth Brinton & Bob Utley

VanKampen Boyer Molinari Foundation

Phyllis & Patrick Harlow

Nicole Hornblower

JP Morgan Private Bank

Tash Osbourne, Sotheby’s International

Lugano Diamonds

St. Bernard Foundation

UF Health

The community, like a herd of horses, has come together to show their support, and the herd keeps growing!

More and more people are raising their hands and making a difference in Marion County to help protect horse farms for future generations. Our Founders demonstrate the pinnacle of commitment to the preservation of horse farms by investing in the mission of Horse Farms Forever®, year after year.

Founders who renew each year are demonstrating their iron clad commitment to continuing the work of preservation. New threats are appearing all the time, and the Founders are behind us all the way. We are beyond grateful.

We would like to thank the Founders who have renewed their 2024 membership with a gift (as of March 2024).

As a show of gratitude for those who wish to support Horse Farms Forever at the Founder level, an anonymous donor has agreed to match all gifts at the $5,000 during the second quarter of 2024. Please contact us to learn more about this exciting match opportunity in celebration of Horse Farms Forever’s sixth birthday!

horse-farms-forever-farmland-preservation-area-ocala-marion-county

The Green Group is an accounting, tax, consulting and advisory firm with a unique approach – out of the box, entrepreneurial thinking. With a team of seasoned, highly successful entrepreneurs, family business owners, real estate owners, investors and specialists in IRS audits and thoroughbred racing, we see the business world through a special lens and find solutions in ways our competition simply can not.

We go beyond the typical accounting firm-client relationship and invest ourselves into understanding the intricacies of your particular business and financial situation. Our cloud technologies allow us to be accessible to you wherever you may be. We are your trusted business advocates and advisors, and can help your business catch wave after wave of success.

horse-farms-forever-farmland-preservation-area-ocala-marion-county

Elisabeth Brinton and Bob Utley have lived abroad and traveled the world for most of their professional careers. They purchased a horse farm in the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA) and joined Horse Farms Forever as Founder Members.

Elisabeth is a competitive show jumper. She is also a global sustainability expert and successful builder of global businesses for strategic corporate investors and private capital. A few years before her retirement as a senior executive with Microsoft, she and Bob began searching for a U.S. based horse farm. They reached out to Matt Varney, a realtor and broker with Ocala Horse Properties, to find the perfect farm.

They could have chosen one of many equestrian areas around the world, but they chose to buy a farm in Marion County because of WEC. But most importantly, they wanted their farm to be located in the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA).

 

horse-farms-forever-farmland-preservation-area-ocala-marion-county

Individual Renewing Founder

In 2019, Kimberly Van Kampen moved her Hampton Green Farms from Wellington to Ocala. The move to Marion County was inspired by the opening of WEC; so much so, that in 2021 Hampton Green Farms and Discover Dressage became Founding Partners of WEC.

Van Kampen’s move to Marion County is big news for the dressage world, as she is one of the founders of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington and a member of Wellington Equestrian Partners. But after 20 years, she decided to move her investments to Ocala because of WEC.

Van Kampen is one of the most respected breeders of P.R.E. (Spanish) horses in the world and is the past president of the US P.R.E. Association. She is also one of the largest supporters of youth dressage, supporting Lendon Gray’s Dressage4Kids program and the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program through the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). Van Kampen’s sponsored rider Sophia Schults, had two big wins at the 2022 FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC). Schults and Conocido HGF, owned by Hampton Green Farms, won an Individual Bronze Medal (Freestyle) and were also part of the NAYC Team Gold Medal.

horse-farms-forever-farmland-preservation-area-ocala-marion-county
Phyllis & Patrick Harlow

Individual Renewing Founder

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Individual Renewing Founder

Horse Farms Forever is happy to have Nicole Hornblower and her husband James Denman as Founder Members. Their primary residence is in Massachusetts, but they fell in love with Marion County’s picturesque countryside after visiting Ocala for several years for horse shows. In 2017, Hornblower and her husband decided to buy their own horse farm.

“This is such a beautiful area and my husband, James and I, are very excited to be part of the Horse Farms Forever community to help make sure that there is land for horses,” she said.

In 2018, shortly after they purchased their property, now named Little Creek Farm, they learned about the proposed Coastal Connector toll road from their realtor, Matt Varney of Ocala Horse Properties. They are grateful that the road was stopped, but they became concerned again when the Northern Turnpike Extension was recently proposed.

 

the-yard-stop

Corporate Renewing Founder

A uniquely elevated private banking experience shaped around you, JP Morgan Private Bank offers:

  • Planning: bringing finances together into one comprehensive strategy
  • Investing: tailored guidance and access to unique investing opportunities from world-class specialists
  • Lending: working to strategically craft the right financing solutions for your goals
  • Banking: extensive personal and business banking resources
the-yard-stop

Corporate Renewing Founder

Everyone deserves the extraordinary, because luxury is not about price—rather it’s about an experience. And when it comes to real estate, experience matters. Sotheby’s is one of the world’s most recognized and respected luxury brands, having served discerning auction buyers and sellers since 1744.

Dedicated to building relationships & accomplishing the impossible for others right here in Ocala Florida, Horse Capital of the World, the Co-Founder for the Ocala’s Premier Sotheby’s International Realty location.

Put your home in the hands of an expert. Mastering the art of listing a home successfully & getting it sold.  Helping buyers with their dream homes, fully in my element being a part of the life they have worked so hard to achieve.

 

the-yard-stop

Corporate Renewing Founder

Located in The Equestrian Hotel at The World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida. This world-class facility is the largest equestrian complex in the United States and we are very proud to be a founding partner. Our newest salon can be found in the lobby of the hotel overlooking the VIP Terrace and Grand Prix arena.

 

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St. Bernard Foundation

Corporate Renewing Founder

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 Corportate Renewing Founder

University of Florida Health is a medical network associated with the University of Florida. It includes two academic hospitals – UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville and UF Health Jacksonville – and several other hospitals and facilities in North Florida. It used to be known as Shands Healthcare and UFShands.

UF Health encompasses the colleges of DentistryMedicineNursingPharmacyPublic Health and Health Professions and Veterinary Medicine; the UF Health Shands family of hospitals; hospitals in Leesburg and The Villages®; UF Health Jacksonville medical center; UF Health North; and an academic campus in Jacksonville that is home to the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville and includes degree programs offered by the colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy. It also includes primary care and specialty practices throughout Central, North Central and Northeast Florida, as well as Southeast Georgia.

Our mission is to promote health through outstanding and high-quality patient care; innovative and rigorous education in the health professions and biomedical sciences; and high-impact research across the spectrum of basic, translational and clinical investigation.

 

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.

 

Questions About Membership?

Sara Fennessy, Executive Director
859-553-5510

Call It What You Want. It’s a Truck Stop.

Call It What You Want. It’s a Truck Stop.

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. 

Original Plan

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?

Plan B

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.

Plan “OOPS”

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.