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.
The environment where we work and live is important. Our local businesses, whether they serve the equine industry or not, know that the unique character of Ocala/Marion County expressed in its farmland and open space makes it an appealing place to be. Without it, we are just another Florida boom town. We welcome several new Corporate Members this month, and heartily thank those who have renewed their memberships, many jumping up a level or two. Yes, we have work to do, but we are getting it done together as a strong voice for farmland preservation.
The road improvement project is 10.5 miles long and extends from just north of SR 200 to about one quarter to one half-mile north of US 27. Due to the existing businesses, houses, and Westport High School, the width and design of the road will be modified to accommodate the existing uses. Most of the road widening will occur on the west side of the existing road. At the widest point, the road and multiuse paths will be 120’. The multiuse paths vary from 10’ to 14’ wide and they also include a designated bike path. Other potential sections of the road will be 100’ with a 5’ sidewalk and 4’ bike lane next to the 12’ travel lane for cars. The designs presented were preliminary design of the road will be approved after further input is received.
Those who love our open spaces and beautiful places can no longer ignore the growth coming to Ocala/Marion County. We are so thankful for our members, 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.
One of the largest road projects is a new interchange on the east side of I-75 at NW 49th St/NW 35th St. This new interchange will travel over I-75 to connect into the existing road at NW 49th St./NW 44th Ave. on the west side. A new intersection will also be built at NW 49th St./NW 44th Ave. From this new intersection, a new two-lane road will be built to connect to CR 225A north of the intersection at US 27.
Along with the growth of the horse industry, Marion County was one of only six counties in the nation that had positive job growth during the pandemic. Projects are underway to add 5 million square feet of industrial and warehouse space over the next few years. And where there are jobs, there must be housing to support the growing workforce. Over the next 20 years, Marion County’s population is projected to reach about 500,000 residents. That’s an increase of 150,000 residents.
Cost of Community Services studies conducted over the last 30 years show working lands generate more public revenues than they receive back in public services. Their impact on community coffers is similar to that of other commercial and industrial land uses. On average, because residential land uses do not cover their costs, they must be subsidized by other community land uses. Converting agricultural land to residential land use should not be seen as a way to balance local budgets.
Spring is the season of promise. Meet the new and renewing members who have recently aligned with our mission to preserve and protect Marion County’s precious farmland: Richard Helms, College of Central Florida, HDG Hotel Development and Management Group, Naples Luxury Homes, Phys Assist and many more!
So many of Marion County’s iconic local businesses have chosen to align with our mission of farmland preservation, year after year. We recognize together that a bright future for horse farms is a bright future for us all.
As the year turns over, Horse Farms Forever celebrates the growth of our membership at the grass roots. Although 2020 was a challenging year in many ways, the economy in Ocala/Marion County remained strong. Threats to the integrity of the Farmland Preservation Area did not abate, and there’s no sign that they will in the future. More and more farm owners, concerned citizens and businesses have joined us, publicly aligning with our mission to preserve the character and culture that horses and horse farms bring to Ocala/Marion County and protect the Farmland Preservation Area. Here are the latest: