Marion County residents react to commissioners approving WEC’s Ocala Jockey Club plans

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:34 PM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - Residents packed the Marion County commission chambers to voice their opinions on the World Equestrian Center’s plans to develop the Ocala Jockey Club property.

“From 20 million to 60 million it’s going to cost developers and it’s going to cost Marion County taxpayers a million dollars. I don’t know why we’re subsidizing developers, especially billionaires,” said resident Brian Donnelly.

But commissioners voted 3-2 to approve plans to build 94 homes, an RV park, a clubhouse, and a 9,000-seat arena on the property.

“That’s the size that’s larger than UF’s baseball stadium to give you the enormity of that. No equestrian event besides the world games but then again these facilities can be put up on a temporary basis as well,” said Ira Stern.

Developers agreed that additional barns will be moved from the entrance of the property towards the back, the signage will be smaller and there won’t be a 200-room hotel.

Residents voiced concerns about traffic, water and sewer provisions, and the environmental impact of the project.

“There were a lot of concerns over traffic keep in mind that 318, I-75 is a 1960′s exchange. Now with the insertion of WEC and possibly sunny oaks a lot of issues now come to the service,” said Gail Stern.

Stern said residents want to have an open conversation with representatives from World Equestrian Center.

“That door has opened to more work that we have to really move toward and make sure that the community is heard.”

The developers have 180 days to follow up and have their master plan approved by commissioners.

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