One step forward for equine center

Real Estate

State will review development near Golden Ocala

National trucking company magnate Larry Roberts has gotten a little closer to realizing his plans for a massive, upscale equestrian center and residential community now that the Marion County Commission has unanimously agreed to send his request for land-use changes to state agencies for review.

The matter will return to the commission in October, after the state has had a chance to make recommendations and/or ask questions about the proposal. The commission’s vote on Tuesday does not approve development of the community in west central Marion County; it just allowed the state part of the process to begin.

Commissioners took the vote despite a number of area neighbors voicing concerns that the new community – with eventually about 1,500 permanent residences and thousands more people who will attend horse shows – will cause traffic problems. The plan incorporates the southern portion of Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club into the Planned Unit Development, which includes the potential for another 924 homes.

County Growth Services Department staff recommended denial of parts of the plan because Roberts does not want to hook up to county water and sewer.

The staff also warned that traffic would be a problem, and that there is little opportunity to widen roads to accommodate the additional vehicles.

Commissioner Michelle Stone said the vote to pass the proposed land use changes on to the state for review is a far cry from approving the particulars of the proposal.

“This was not the finished (plan) being sent to the state, just on the land use side,” Stone said.

The issues of traffic and how the development will get water will be decided by the commission later, as more specifics about the community get nailed down, she said.

That is also about the time Roberts’ engineers will submit a traffic study that will show the development’s impact on area roads.

The proposed development and land use changes are complex, but essentially involve property north of State Road 40, west of Northwest 80th Avenue and south of U.S. 27. A 29-acre portion is west of Northwest 100th Avenue.

Part of the Developments of the Regional Impact change request is to add 1,276 acres of Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club to the project. That brings the total acreage for requested land use change to 3,145 acres.

This is some of what the developer hopes to do:

* Roberts hopes to remove 954 acres of rural land off the county’s Farmland Preservation Designation list and convert it to low-density residential property. The property in question makes up the west side of the proposed development. About 250 additional acres is already designated low-density residential. Roberts’ plan is to build single-family homes on three-acres lots. This area is called the Golden Ocala Equestrian Estates. Roberts is asking to move the county’s Urban Growth Boundary west to include this community.

* Roberts wants to build out the eastern portion of the project into what he is calling the World Equestrian Center. In the 669-acre center, he plans to build 340 homes and 835 condominium units. That is medium density. That is also where Roberts is building several equestrian show rings, an indoor ring, and several barns. He also plans to build a 385-room hotel, seating for 10,000 spectators, 200 RV pads, and about 525,000 square feet of commercial space.

Roberts’ engineers said that, preliminarily, the whole community would generate 46,518 daily traffic trips. Roberts’ lawyers said that, given what he is already allowed to build there under current land use regulations, that is actually fewer trips than what it could be otherwise.

Stone said she had confidence in Roberts, who enjoys a reputation for building quality communities, namely Golden Ocala.

“They have a history pf producing world class products and good developments,” she said.


By Fred Hiers June 21,2017 Ocala Star Banner,