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Friday, June 14, 2024

Growth in Ocala needs to have minimal impact on wildlife and trees

To the Editor:

We moved to Ocala in July 1977. There was no I-75, yet. Highway 200 was just a road and there was no Paddock Mall, 17th Street was just being 4-laned, the Brahma Restaurant was a landmark.

Ocala was pristine and the most wonderful place to shop was Rheinauers, with its Tea Room and fashion shows every Tuesday and The Cascades! Anyone remember the Foxfire Restaurant in the bottom of the Cascades, with waterfall? How about the Lamplighter restaurant, or being able to visit Silver Springs Attraction, enjoying the glass bottom boats and jungle cruise? All are gone and I’m at a loss.

Then came the mall, the widening of Highway 200, fast foods after fast foods, businesses coming and going. Heathbrook shopping, very well laid out so that I rarely go to the mall. When Sears moved from its Silver Springs Blvd. location to the mall, it left a void on the boulevard. Sears is gone from the mall and has sat empty for years and is now going to be a mall indoor farmer’s market, I’ve heard.

Although I don’t mind growth, please don’t rape the land! Ocala/Marion County, please take a lesson from Gainesville! Stop tearing down gigantic live oak trees and clear cutting the land. I’ve watched them push trees, shoving them into piles while squirrels, birds and wildlife run in circles trying to save themselves and their nests and babies! Build around our trees and you can still landscape beneath. Trees clean our air, squirrels plant acorns for more trees. So drive along SW 60th Avenue, aka Airport Road, aka I-60, as there doesn’t seem to be an enforceable speed limit, and witness the enormous apartment complex that has risen out of clear cut land that was once a forest very near Walgreen’s/HWY 200.

And now a developer from North Carolina wants to build 97 apartments on 10 pristine acres that is at the entrance to The Hunt Club at Foxpoint, a gated, HOA community of 42 homes, with homes ranging up to $1,000,000, surrounded by Fore Ranch, off SW 60th Avenue. The Hunt Club is landlocked, and residents will have to exit through an apartment complex. And across the road (SW 60 th Avenue), an estimated 5,500 homes are planned! Am I living in The Twilight Zone? Is this not overgrowth and development gone wild? SW 60th Avenue is the dividing line of county and city. Someone with common sense and respect for wildlife, human life and love for Ocala and Marion county, please come forward and stop this madness.

Rosemarie Permenter