Ocala, Fla. – Horse Farms Forever, a group of Marion County locals focused on the conservation of horse farms, today highlighted important protective policy updates to the Transportation Element of the Marion County Comprehensive Plan on behalf of the equine industry in Marion County.
At the Marion County Growth Services public meeting, held to gather input on its evaluation and appraisal report (EAR), Horse Farms Forever Executive Director Amy Agricola presented the following policies to be amended under the Transportation Element of the Marion County Comprehensive Plan:
Amend Policy 1.1.1, Marion County Transportation Planning Principles, by adding a new policy 7 to read:
“7. Protect the following areas from intrusion by new Expressways, Freeways, Turnpikes Toll Roads or Principle Arterial Highways:
(a) Farmland Preservation Area as shown on Future Land Use Map;
(b) Lands designated as “Preservation” on the Future Land Use Map;
(c) Environmentally Sensitive Overlay Zones;
(d) Primary Springs Protection Overlay Zones.
This policy constitutes a finding of fact that the construction of any new expressway, turnpike, toll road, or major arterial highway through the areas identified in (a) through (d) above by any agency of government or other entity does not serve a public purpose, and would be inconsistent with this adopted comprehensive plan.”
Amend Policy 2.1.2, Level of Service Standards, by adding a single asterisk (*) in the matrix boxes labeled: “Freeway”, “Principle Arterial”, and “Farmland Preservation Area (FPA)” and a subtext statement that reads: “*This Comprehensive Plan precludes the construction of new Expressways, Freeways, Turnpikes Toll Roads or Principle Arterial Highways within Farmland Preservation Area as shown on Future Land Use Map, Lands designated as Preservation on the Future Land Use Map, Environmentally Sensitive Overlay Zones, and Primary Springs Protection Overlay Zones.”
Amend policy 4.1.7, Eminent Domain, to read as follows:
“The County shall exercise the power of eminent domain as necessary to acquire right-of-way to implement the future roadway plan as adopted in the Comprehensive Plan; provided that the power of eminent domain shall not be used to acquire right of way for new Expressways, Freeways, Turnpikes Toll Roads or Principle Arterial Highways within protected areas identified in Policy 220.127.116.11 of this Comprehensive Plan. The adoption of this plan establishes a factual finding that the types of roadways enumerated in that policy, within the protected areas identified do not serve a public purpose.”
“It is no secret that Marion County has some of the most productive horse farms in the country,” said Agricola. “Our equine industry was developed here more than 80 years ago because of the unique characteristics of the year-round moderate climate, the mineral-rich soil and water specific to the region. And, just like the Florida Keys protects its coral reefs, we must do our job here in Marion County to protect our green space that is revered as the Horse Capital of the World.™”
“That is why on behalf of Horse Farms Forever, we are proposing these updates to our protective policies for Marion County that will go a long way in minimizing future land use conflicts,” said Agricola. “We are hopeful the Marion County Growth Services will include this important language going forward.”
Horse Farms Forever, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to inspire the conservation of horse farms through education and awareness so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats, and to protect the soil and water on which they depend, while minimizing land use conflicts in Marion County.
For more information on Horse Farms Forever, please visit HorseFarmsForever.com, follow @SaveOcalaFarmsor like FB.com/HorseFarmsForever.