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Victory for Ocala's Farmland Preservation Area
Saturday, April 30, 2022
On April 30, a large-scale Text Amendment to the Future Land Use Element was successfully adopted as part of Marion County’s Comprehensive Plan. This Amendment helps protect the Farmland Preservation Area from incompatible Zoning Requests and Special Use Permits.
Horse Farms Forever® worked diligently for over a year with community leaders, major land owners, developers, and other stakeholders to seek support for the Amendment to strengthen Future Land Use Objective 3.3 – Farmland Preservation Area. After 14 months, these efforts paid-off when the Growth Services staff recommended approval of the Amendment, the Planning and Zoning Commissioners voted unanimously for approval, and finally the County Commissioners voted unanimously at the two public hearings to approve the Amendment.
Comprehensive Plan Provides a Vision
The County’s Comprehensive Plan is similar to a company’s Mission Statement in that it lays out Goals, Objectives and Policies to provide a vision for sustainable urban, suburban and rural growth that supports a transportation network, a variety of land uses, natural and agricultural resources, and open space.
In the Comprehensive Plan, Objective 3.3 establishes the Farmland Preservation Area. Policy 3.3.1 defines the Elements of Rural Character.
Rural Character Further Defined
The Horse Farms Forever® Amendment enhances the definition of Rural Character and further requires that all applications for Zoning Requests and Special Use Permits “be consistent with and preserve, protect and support and enhance the rural, equestrian, and farmland character of the Farmland Preservation Area.”
Throughout the year-long process, HFF worked closely with the Growth Services and County Administration departments to develop a Text Amendment that would help protect the Farmland Preservation Area and also be compatible with the existing language and guidelines in the Comprehensive Plan. "We especially thank County Commissioner Michelle Stone and County Administrator Mounir Bouyounes for their leadership and guidance through this year-long process." HFF representative stated in their media release.
Busy Shires, Director of Conservation Strategies, Horse Farms Forever explains “This amendment is important because a Special Use Permit is requested when the proposed land use doesn’t meet the guidelines in the Comprehensive Plan. It will have a positive effect on the Farmland Preservation Area. This is the hard work of real land conservation and where the rubber meets the road.”Read the Amendment