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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

City denies request from developer seeking 13-unit complex on 1.2-acre site in northwest Ocala

A developer’s request to rezone a 1.2-acre lot in northwest Ocala to build a 13-unit, multi-family building, was denied by city officials who questioned the zoning’s compatibility with the surrounding area.

The rezoning ordinance for the property, which is located in the 2300 block of U.S. Hwy 27, was denied by the Ocala City Council during its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 18.

The owner of the property, A-Deniv Corp., sought to rezone it from B-4, General Business, to R-3 Multi-Family Residential.

During a discussion about the request, council members questioned why the owner was seeking to rezone the property, as the current zoning allows for multi-family residential development in conjunction with a special exception approved by the city.

According to city records, the property held an R-3 Multi-Family Residential zoning from 1991 until June 2008, when it was designated to B-4, General Business.

According to city staff, Tuesday’s rezoning request was sought largely because of the property’s “strange” shape. Although a formal plan was not submitted for the development, the developer conveyed to city staff that it intends to construct one building with 13 units.

During the meeting, Councilmember James Hilty, Sr. questioned who might want to live at the property. Hilty, who represents District 5, was confused as to why the request was being made.

“I’m just trying to make sense out of this thing,” said Hilty.

Councilmember Ire Bethea, Sr. described the lot as a “small piece of property” that he didn’t think was “safe” for development. Bethea, who represents District 2, expressed concerns over traffic and said that the space wasn’t big enough to accommodate the request.

Councilmember and President Pro-Tem Kristen Dreyer expressed similar concerns over the size of the property.

The owners of a property in the 2300 block of U.S. Hwy 27 in Ocala are seeking rezoning of the plot to build a multi-family development. (Photo: Google)
The owners of a property in the 2300 block of U.S. Hwy 27 in Ocala are seeking rezoning of the plot to build a multi-family development. (Photo: Google)

“How are you getting thirteen units in this?” questioned Dreyer. Dreyer went on to later suggest that the requested zoning was “not compatible” with the area.

“It doesn’t make sense,” said Dreyer.

Although the council originally started their discussion with a motion to approve the request, that motion was denied and a new motion to deny the request passed unanimously.

The denial comes less than a month after the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval in a 5-1 vote. Despite ultimately recommending approval, that advisory board also expressed concerns over “neighboring commercial uses and the compatibility between multi-family and commercial uses along the U.S. Highway 27 corridor.”

With the request denied, now, a special exception will have to be obtained in order for the developer to move forward with any plans. That special exception will come with a time restriction in which the planned development must be constructed, according to city staff.

Under the current zoning, any future development at the site would have to adhere to a minimum density of 3 dwelling units per gross acre and a maximum density of 18 dwelling units per acre.

Any future development would also have to include runoff to match pre-development conditions, as the property is not located within a Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Zone, according to the city.