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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Resident shares thoughts on transportation and development in Ocala/Marion County

To the Editor:

Reading the comments of others on here, I am compelled to add my observations.
The current leadership of Ocala/Marion County seems determined to change what has kept lifelong residents here, and they have brought thousands more from congested areas to move here.

A story that was posted speaks of the recent record tourist tax. Notice that the events listed were horse or agricultural (rural)? There is no Atlantic Ocean here. There is no Gulf of Mexico here. What brings people to this area is the horse farms, rural atmosphere with granddaddy oaks filled with moss, the clear cool beautiful springs, the wildlife, and a more laid-back way of life. We are quickly losing all of that with the building of warehouses that can’t find enough help to fill positions because those jobs don’t pay enough for a young family to afford to buy or rent a place to live, and they aren’t building enough of that type of housing to fill the void.

Also, many of those jobs are eventually going to be automated. Then what? Our Board of County Commissioners and Chamber and Economic Partnership keep trying to tell us that the people coming to Ocala are moving to the ‘urban’ areas. Really? Last time I looked, Highway 318 was not urban. Top of The World and the new developments on SW 80th basically surround the Brahma herd of cattle on the ranch that has been there for decades. There are car dealerships on 200 in places that were farms since the 1950’s. So, they can’t tell me everyone is moving to the urban areas.

What happened is that they just change the zoning without caring what happens to those who live here because we are here for a quieter, more natural way of life. We like being the Horse Capital Of The World. We don’t want to be the Warehouse Capital of the World. Then they wonder: why is all this horrible traffic happening? Why is I-75 such a mess? Why are there so many 18-wheelers everywhere?

So, what are the brains behind the planning proposing to do to fix it? Let’s build more warehouses and subdivisions on SW 60th Avenue where there is already a severe backup in the left turn lane to SR 40, and then make Ocala International Airport a commercial airport even though there are already four airports within less than 80 miles. Then we can build a new toll road west of Ocala, cutting through Marion Oaks, across our aquifer, greenways, and protected wildlife areas, and then roughly along U.S. 19 to I-10 or beyond. That is their idea of fixing the traffic on I-75? Really?

I have a suggestion. If these ‘elected representatives’ won’t represent the will of the people and use common sense instead of lining the pockets of their donors, how about putting these important issues on the November ballot and letting ‘We The People’ decide.

Carol Demme
Ocala resident

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