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Friday, August 20, 2021

Optimum RV granted rezoning request in first step towards new maintenance, service center

Optimum RV gained rezoning approval from Marion County Commissioners this week towards the creation of a new maintenance and service center along U.S. Highway 441.

David Knight, who represents Optimum Dealership Group, received approval for the request from the Marion County Board of County Commissioners during its regular meeting on Tuesday, August 17. 

The subject parcel, which is 2.8 acres in size and has approximately 2.03 acres currently zoned as B-2 (Community Business), is located at 7400 South U.S. 441, on the west side of the U.S. 441 corridor. Approximately 0.77 acres is zoned as A-1: General Agriculture. The approved request was to rezone the entire property to B-4: Regional Business in order to construct the RV maintenance and service center expansion. 

Knight says that Kimley-Horn, a planning and engineering consultation group, is currently working on the site plan for the service center, which may include “five or six bays” and will be accessible by U.S. Hwy 441. 

During public comment of the rezoning, local pastor D.J. Berry spoke on behalf of Calvary Baptist Church in objection of rezoning the parcel. With over 140 years of history in the area, Berry says the that traffic congestion along SE 73rd Street has created issues among the church’s elderly congregants who are “still capable and still confident drivers.” 

Berry suggested that the eventual construction of a service center would yield more traffic and would result in a “tragedy waiting to happen,” saying his congregation and neighbors were “nervous.” 

In response, Commissioner Kathy Bryant suggested that the area had seen marked improvements in recent years because of local businesses, including Optimum RV. She cited the addition of turn lanes for northbound and southbound traffic on U.S. Hwy 441 and a reduction in flooding on account of stormwater improvements. 

Marion County Commissioner Carl Zalak III was adamant that any future site plan should include a 20-foot buffer and a wall to accommodate the church’s congregants. 

According to city staff, the buffer for a project like this would typically be 15 to 20 feet.  Staff indicated that it will work with the applicant during planning on maintaining a 20-foot natural buffer with a 6-foot wall. 

Knight says the group has already submitted a traffic study to the Florida Department of Transportation and that FDOT has “a lot to say about the circulation out there.” 

Although the rezoning approval does not provide for a finalized site plan, county staff says they will take note of the buffer and wall requests while the site plan is being established and revised.