Sleepy Creek Requests To Modify Its Permit
MARION COUNTY - A ranch in North Central Florida that has been the focus of many water disputes has put a new request on the table. And it will be up to the county to decide. Since the ranch is located in the Silver Springs watershed and near the Ocklawaha River, some environmentalists are worried.
Sleepy Creek wants to add two new processing plants on their property. One would be for pet food production and the other a processing center for human food. However not everyone agrees with the idea.
Sleepy creek lands formerly known as Adena Springs is a cattle harvesting facility made up of nearly 30,000 acres in northeastern Marion County.
Sleepy Creek has a special use-permit on hand to pump 1.46 million gallons of water a day. But now they are asking the county to let them use 1.12 million gallons more. Some residents like Michael Jiaccio are indifferent to the plan. "I think it will probably increase the value of our properties," Jiaccio said.
Sleepy Creek wants permission to add a 7,500 square foot pet food plant and a 10,800 square foot processing and cooking facility for human food. "I believe he's going to get the permit because he has that much money," Jiaccio added.
Karen Ahlers with Florida Defenders of the Environment is among those suing to stop Sleepy Creek from using more water. "We are concerned about water quality violations from all the nutrient loading from both fertilizer and animal waste. We're also very concerned about water quality," Ahlers said.
Ahlers says this new request doesn't keep the environment in mind. Ahlers said, "We are kind of expecting another shoe to drop and for that human food consumption facility to turn out to be something more than what we've been told already.”
Staff from Marion County's planning and zoning will be recommending approval with some conditions during a meeting on Monday. "The public has very little opportunity to comment and sleepy creek has not been very forthcoming with information about what's going on in there," Ahlers said.
The modifications include, Sleepy Creek needs to submit a master site plan and a study on how this would impact the environment. Ahlers said, "This project has destroyed all that acreage that was wildlife habitat, that cleaned the air, purified the water... So the property has changed dramatically."
The Marion County Commission will hold a public hearing to discuss the recommendations from the planning and zoning on August 20th at 2pm in the McPherson Governmental Complex in Ocala.
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