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The Flemington Store, at the corner of W Hwy 318 and N Hwy 329, in the heart of the Farmland Preservation Area. Soon there will be a new Dollar General across the street.

The new Dollar General store will be a modern building located on about four acres at the intersection of W Hwy 318 and N Hwy 329, in the sleepy village of Flemington. The tiny Flemington Store across the street, with its white clapboard siding and rusting metal roof has been a part of the community and rural landscape for over 50 years.

There is an approved Major Site Plan for the Dollar General, which allows the applicant to start moving dirt. As of May 27th, a building permit has been submitted, but it hasn’t been approved. On the permit, Concept Development is listed as the owner and Concept Construction of North Florida as the contractor. According to the Marion County Property Appraiser’s website, the 39-acre parcel where the store will be built is owned by Blitch Plantation (John and Shirley Rudnianyn).

You may be wondering why a Dollar General store is being built in the Farmland Preservation Area? Marion County’s comprehensive plan allows for limited commercial and residential development in designated Rural Activity Centers (RAC) (Policy 2.1.21) The new Dollar General store is located in the Flemington RAC.

Groceries, Gas, Baling Twine… 

Marion County’s rural area is vast. Just the Farmland Preservation Area is 193,000 acres. The RAC future land use designation allows for mixed use nodes of residential and commercial uses, including agricultural-related commercial uses. These commercial islands within the rural areas are beneficial because they help residents and businesses meet some of their daily needs and also reduce trips to the urban areas.

Some of the commercial uses allowed in RACs include hardware stores like Gilbert’s Hardware at the intersection of Hwy 225A and CR 326, gas stations, post offices, and grocery stores. In the Blitchton area, on US 27 near H.I.T.S. and many of the sport horse farms, there are 3 feed stores and 2 restaurants – Berrettini Feed Specialists, Larsen Hay and United Hay for horses and The Beach and Yum Yum Kitchen for riders and trainers – important services conveniently-located for hard working equestrians.

In addition to the commercial development, the RAC allows for higher density residential development. In the RAC, up to two dwelling units per acre are permitted. Even in the FPA, the residential density can be up to two dwelling units per acre inside the RAC.  Outside of the RAC, to help protect the rural character of the FPA, the zoning is one dwelling unit per 10 acres.

The development standards for RACs – the distance from the intersection, the allowed uses, the set backs and the building heights – are the same no matter where they are located, even if the RAC is located inside the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA).

For commercial uses, the floor area ratio is 35% – that means that the buildings can only occupy 35% of each parcel.

For properties that are not located in the RAC and are zoned Agriculture (A-1), landowners are permitted to set up a roadside stand to sell hay or vegetables that are grown on the same property.

The RAC Pack

There are 10 RACs dispersed throughout the FPA that average about 54 acres each. When you combine the acreage, that is about 540 acres. However, the size of any RAC can be expanded to a maximum of 96 acres, if it meets the criteria:

  • No greater than ¼ mile or 1,320 feet from the center of the intersection;
  • 85% developed; and
  • at least 5 miles from another RAC.

These 10 RACs all have a Future Land Use designation of RAC, but for some parcels, the Zoning is not RAC.

Marion County has two RAC classifications: a land use designation and a zoning classification. The Future Land Use (FLU) designation is a generalized classification and sets the development densities. The Zoning specifies which exact uses are allowed versus prohibited on that parcel. This is important to distinguish because a parcel could be designated with a FLU RAC, but have a Zoning of A-1 for agricultural use instead of commercial use. In order for the FLU RAC parcel to be used for commercial purposes, the Zoning would have to be changed. There are some “grandfathered in” exceptions for historically-zoned commercial properties with RAC Land Use that are treated as if they also have RAC Zoning.

A Chance to Change

For potential applicants to build a commercial or residential building on any parcel with a FLU RAC that is not already zoned RAC, the zoning has to be changed. Through this zoning change process, there is an opportunity to submit public comments to the Planning & Zoning Commission and to the Board of County Commissioners. As part of Horse Farms Forever’s role in protecting the character and culture of the Farmland Preservation Area, we are actively monitoring all applications that are submitted for consideration. Watch our posts and blogs for updates and opportunities to make comment as RAC’s come up for zoning changes. Please join us as a member and support our efforts to uphold Marion County’s rural lifestyle and brand as the Horse Capital of the World®.

Click on each of the RAC’s below to see a detailed map provided courtesy of Marion County’s Interactive Map:

The maps were created using Marion County’s online map. The maps show the the size and location of parcels designated with a FLU of RAC in each of the 10 areas within the FPA. The online map viewer is not intended to be a legal document but rather for reference. We thank the County for providing this helpful resource.

1. N Hwy 329/W Hwy 318 - Flemington

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2. NW 193rd Street/N US Hwy 441 - Orange Lake

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3. W Hwy 318/N US Hwy 441

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4. W Hwy 316/NW Hwy 225 - Fairfield

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5. W Hwy 329/NW Gainesville Road - Lowell

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6. CR 326/NW Hwy 225A - Gilbert's Hardware

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7. W Hwy 326/US 27 Blitchton

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8. NW Hwy 464B/US 27 - Fellowship

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9. FL 40/NW 110th Avenue

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10. FL 40/SW 140th Avenue

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Commercial uses on World Equestrian Center (“WEC”) designated lands in the Rural Area

For land located in the Rural Area that is also part of the World Equestrian Center (WEC) Planned Unit Development, there is a different land use classification called World Equestrian Center (WEC). (Policy 2.1.28.) The WEC designation allows for commercial uses, recreational uses, residential uses, recreational vehicle parks (“RVP”) and mixed uses. Any commercial uses on World Equestrian Center (“WEC”) designated lands in the Rural Area (i.e., outside the Urban Growth Boundary) are limited to equestrian-related uses associated with the World Equestrian Center.

Examples of equestrian-related uses include polo fields, equestrian arenas, equestrian instruction facilities, veterinary clinics, farriers (non-mobile), stables and barns, and feed stores and tack shops. Any and all accessory uses to equestrian-related uses are ancillary and incidental to such equestrian related use and are located on the same lot or parcel as the principal equestrian-related use. The maximum density for residential uses within the WEC Rural Area is (1) dwelling unit per ten (10) gross acres.

Questions About Conservation?

Contact Busy Shires, our Director of Conservation Strategies, by email or by phone 352-234-7175.

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.

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