AZ Ocala Ranch wants to build a city on 3,400 acres in a beautiful rural section of Marion County, sucking out hundreds of millions of gallons of water from an already declining aquifer, destroying forever that peaceful pastoral region. They have been told “no” so they are now suing to the tune of over $20 million.
We urge you to email the commissioners thanking them for their past support and encouraging them to stand fast to protect their county from this ill-conceived project, designed to make the owner and developer rich, which destroying forever the rural lifestyle of the area.
Please go to this link and you can email all the commissioners at one address.
The very last thing north central Florida needs is another urban sprawl of thousands of new residents and millions more gallons sucked from our impaired aquifer. We do not need more development in Florida, as our water resources and infrastructure are already taxed. New infrastructure can be built, but our declining springs, rivers and aquifer cannot be restored except by withdrawing less water, not more.
You can read the original article here which gives the latest update on this horrible plan by AZ Ocala Ranch.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
By Jim Ross
Amended complaint filed, seeks $20M plus in damages
A year has passed since the County Commission rejected Ocala Ranch’s plan to develop a 3,400-acre site in Southwest Marion.
Now, after two failed attempts at mediation, the parties are headed back to court.
Ocala Ranch this week filed an amended lawsuit seeking more than $20.28 million in damages. That’s how much in property value the owner says it will lose as a result of what it calls the commission’s arbitrary and unfair restrictions.
Ocala Ranch would be off State Road 200 and just south of the Florida Highlands. Developers seek 5,400 single-family detached homes, recreation areas, commercial parcels, up to two golf courses and lots of open space.
Last July, county commissioners denied the comprehensive plan amendment and zoning change that Ocala Ranch needed, arguing that the development was not in the public interest and was not compatible with surrounding land uses.
The commission did so even though county government staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended approval. All relevant state agencies had given the project the green light, as well.
Florida’s Bert Harris Act allows land owners to recoup losses they suffer because of improper government action. Ocala Ranch commissioned an appraisal showing the property’s market value would drop from $39.37 million (if used as proposed) to $19.09 million (if restricted to rural uses.) It says the county should pay the difference.
The Seldin family has owned the land since the 1970s. In 2010, land owner AZ Ocala Ranch, whose president is Scott Seldin, paid $7.66 million to buy out its partners.
Ocala Ranch filed its initial lawsuit in August. Two attempts at mediation were unsuccessful.
“We very much wanted to resolve this without litigation, but unfortunately the county left us no other choice. The county forced us to file this lawsuit. We’ve spent the past six months trying to resolve matters, all to no avail,” Scott Seldin said in prepared remarks.
Marion County government declined to comment on the mediation efforts, noting that such proceedings are required by law to remain confidential.
As for the latest legal move: “The plaintiff has already filed its second amended complaint for determination by the court — and that is the appropriate forum for such determination,” county government said in prepared remarks. “The county maintains its position that the county’s decisions with respect to Ocala Ranch were fully consistent with applicable Florida law. The county will soon file its response to the second amended complaint in the same, appropriate forum.”
In a related matter, Ocala Ranch is asking the court to view its request in light of the county comprehensive plan that was in effect in July 2017, when the commission issued its ruling.
In January 2018, in the wake of its Ocala Ranch denial, the commission amended the Future Land Use Element of the comprehensive plan to eliminate the Rural Community Land Use designation. That’s the designation that Ocala Ranch — rightly, in its view — was trying to secure.
“This designation has the potential to have the unintended consequence of promoting urban sprawl, and is in conflict with numerous objectives within the comprehensive plan describing the desire to preserve our rural areas,” a county summary of the change says.