A proposal to build an all-terrain vehicle recreation and entertainment complex, with included track, sales, service and an RV park at Flemington, has many in the rural community up in arms.

The 240-acre project, near the intersection of County Roads 329 and 318, lies on land designated as part of Marion County’s Secondary Springs Protection Zone, and the property includes wetland areas. The proposal to grant a special use permit for the land goes before the Marion County Commission during a special meeting on June 17.

The commission carved out the proposal for a special meeting so it could accommodate those interested in attending since COVID-19 distancing guidelines limit capacity in the commission’s auditorium.

On Wednesday, the commission will vote on sending the proposal to the state for its review.

County staff recommends approval for all but the RV park portion of the project. The Planning and Zoning Commission, however, voted 3-2 to deny the proposal mostly on the basis that the use is not compatible with the surrounding agricultural nature of the area. The zoning board’s vote is only a recommendation, and the commission is not bound by its decision.

The proposed site for the Double Gate ATV Park and Recreation is owned by John and Shirley Rudnianyn. John Rudnianyn is a well-known local developer.

Rudnianyn did not immediately return a message left for him on Friday.

The proposal calls for 40 RV spaces with electric hookup, an event facility available for rental, a motorcycle/ATV sales, rental and service area, an ATV track and several ATV and walking trails within the property. The plan also could include a paintball area and designated fishing areas.

In May, several ATV enthusiasts were invited to the property for a test ride.

Barbara Henry, who lives nearby, said the noise was awful.

“We couldn’t hear our TV with all doors and windows closed,” Henry wrote in an email to the county. “Please don’t spoil this beautiful peaceful area.”

Busy Shires Byerly of Horse Farms Forever, said the group is opposed to the project because of its location.

“It’s in the Farmland Preservation Area. We’re not against the activity, we’re against the location,” Shires Byerly said. “There are existing, currently zoned properties in the county that would allow an ATV racetrack. All this is for John (Rudnianyn) to sell his property to Double Gate.”

Dannie Reaves is the principal of Double Gate LLC, the Ocala-based company behind the proposed park. Attempts to contact Reaves on Friday were not successful.

The county staff’s report on the proposal does not mention the Farmland Preservation Area designation. It does list the property outside of the Urban Growth Boundary and only references the springs protection designation.

“I don’t know how they are going to stay below 65 decibels, which is normal conversation. Just one ATV is at 95 decibels, now imagine 750, which is the maximum number of vehicles they can have on the property,” Shires Byerly said.

The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the McPherson Governmental Campus Auditorium, 601 SE 25th Ave. Live video of the meeting is available online at www.marioncountyfl.org

— Contact Carlos E. Medina at 867-4157 or cmedina@starbanner.com

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