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Monday, November 22, 2021

Residents voice concerns on road improvement projects approved by Marion County officials

During the regular Marion County Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, October 19, board members voted to move forward with two neighborhood road improvement projects.

Board members approved proceeding to the engineering and design phase for road improvements in the following neighborhoods: Quail Creek in Ocala, and Belleview Heights Estates Unit 9 – SE 131st Place (“Belleview Heights Estates”) in Belleview.

The Quail Creek subdivision was platted in 1984, and the roads are currently maintained by the county. During inspection of those roads, the asphalt was said to be in poor condition with alligator cracking, potholes, patches, and asphalt worn thin in many areas.

The proposed road project looks to improve and repair these roads.

There are 48 parcels within the road improvement project area. All 48 owners were petitioned regarding the proposed road improvements, and 39 responded. In total, 19 owners voted ‘yes’ in favor of improvements, and 18 owners voted ‘no’. Two responses were invalid: one was illegible due to water damage, and the other was signed without a ‘yes/no’ selection being made.

The estimated repair cost for road improvements at Quail Creek is around $235,700.

The Belleview Heights Estates subdivision was platted in 1959, and the unpaved roads are currently maintained by the county. The proposed road improvement project will lead to the construction of asphalt roads to replace the dirt roads.

There are 24 parcels within the road improvement project area, with a total of 22 owners. Each owner was petitioned regarding the proposed road improvement. In total, half of the owners responded, with 5 voting ‘yes’ for improvements and 4 voting ‘no’. There were two invalid responses: one was signed by someone else on behalf of a deceased owner, and the other was signed without a ‘yes/no’ selection being made.

The estimated construction cost for road improvements at Belleview Heights Estates is around $271,400.

During the open forum for public comments, a few residents took to the podium and voiced their concerns.

“The Quail Creek proposal could be a devastating financial burden, and please have some consideration for others. Quail Creek roads are public roads. No vehicle is restricted from our subdivision, nor is Quail Creek allowed to have gates to slow down traffic or limit vehicle access. Suddenly, the resurfacing of these same public roads shifts to the 48 private property owners’ financial responsibility,” said Sue Markferding, a Quail Creek resident.

Board of County Commissioners meeting (10-19-21)
Sue Markferding speaks at Tuesday’s meeting

Daniel Jacobs, a current owner of a Quail Creek residence, told the board that he is leaving Marion County and his property is currently up for sale. The home is set to sell shortly, and the current buyers asked Jacobs to come to the meeting to voice that they do not want the proposal to go through.

Mary Burns, another Quail Creek resident, was unable to attend, but wrote an email that was read during the meeting. In her email, she mentioned, “I voted yes. I have a young family and obviously would like a better road. On a more practical note, I cannot figure out what the end plan is for those residents that voted no. The roads are bad.”

Joe Brown, a Belleview Heights Estates resident, said, “I can appreciate the five people that want a paved road. They live there, they drive their vehicles up and down that road, they have the wear and tear. But at the same time, you have the other 17 people that may not want that.” He continued by saying, “They could have just well bought on a paved road. It was a choice they bought into, so why should everyone else have to foot the bill?”

Board of County Commissioners Meeting (10-19-21)
Joe Brown speaks at Tuesday’s meeting

After discussion, the board members voted unanimously in favor of moving forward with the engineering and design phase for the road improvement projects in both neighborhoods.