Council approves retail development plan on Maricamp

A sign advertising divisible parcels that will be available for sale in fall 2021 is shown on a vacant 16 acre parcel of land east of the current location of ARC Marion structures on Southeast Maricamp Road in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. ARC seeks to change zoning on a portion of land. Fifty-six years after Marion County gave 16-acres to the Advocacy Resource Center of Marion County (ARC), the group wants to sell a part of it for commercial development. The proposal is proving easier said than done. While a rezoning decision to change the use of four acres of the property is in the hands of the Ocala City Council, a stipulation in the 1964 deal may give the Marion County Board of County Commissioners the right to take back the entire property. The original deed states that the group would use the land, located at 2800 SE Maricamp Road, for “the care, maintenance, teaching and training of mentally retarded children.” If those services were to cease for six months or more, the land would return to the county. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

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Posted May 20, 2021 | By Ainslie Lee,

A sign advertises land recently approved for commercial development on part of the property owned by the Advocacy Resource Center of Marion County.  The property located near 2800 SE Maricamp Road was the subject of months of discussion. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

After months of behind-the-scenes wrangling, the Ocala City Council on Tuesday finally considered a rezoning request to allow commercial development on a portion of the Advocacy Resource Center of Marion County’s property along Southeast Maricamp Road.

The council voted 5-0 to allow ARC to develop the four-acre southeastern portion of their 16-acre parcel for retail use.

The plan will carve out five parcels for retail use. The Albright Family Trust, which owns adjacent property to ARC, opposed the change in zoning. It argued the development would impact its plans to develop a 320-unit multifamily residential community. It feared the retail development would bring too much traffic to the proposed entrance of the planned community.

As part of the back and forth, an attorney for the trust discovered that the 56-year-old deed covering the gift of the land from Marion County to ARC, at one time, included a claw-back provision.

The deed states that if ARC, which offers services to the developmentally disabled, ever ceased to provide those services for six months or more, the land would return to the county.

But according to attorney Fred Roberts, who represents the ARC proposal, the right of reverter in favor of the county terminated in 2001.

The two parties eventually reached an agreement, and the claw-back clause is no longer an issue, Tye Chighizola, the city’s growth management director, told the council on Tuesday.

However, traffic concerns still exist.

According to Chighizola, the retail development will run along Southeast Maricamp Road and include entrances from Southeast 30th Avenue and Southeast 24th Street.

The use of Southeast 30th Avenue, the road that runs between TypTap Insurance and the Maricamp ER, was the most concerning to the council.

“We all know that section of Maricamp is just tremendously busy,” Councilman Jay Musleh said. “You’re not going to propose that people cross 30th Avenue… over six busy lanes without a signal, correct?”

But, Chighizola said Maricamp is under the authority of the Department of Transportation, and the state agency had no plans of adding a traffic signal to the intersection. Instead, the DOT proposed deceleration lanes to help with traffic flow.

“I’m shocked that they’ll let you make a left-hand turn out of there, to be quite honest,” Musleh continued.

According to Chighizola, they suggested a traffic light at the intersection, but the DOT felt the signal was too close to the light at Southeast 24th Street.

Roberts told the council that he felt developing the area would apply pressure on the DOT.

“It also will help create further emphasis on that particular intersection for DOT to stand up and take notice of what is needed in that segment,” Roberts said. “That segment needs attention. And this is one more reason for DOT to take notice.”

Other council business

On Tuesday, the council also unanimously approved a developer’s agreement with Lamplight Legacy, LLC, a developer slated to bring 102 apartments to downtown Ocala.

Lamplighter Legacy will build at Southeast Eighth Street and Southeast Third Avenue. The city identified the site for development in its 2035 vision plan.

According to Pete Lee, planning director with the city, the Lamplighter project will help alleviate some of the need for more housing in the downtown area. However, it will come at a price for the city.

While the developer is required to invest no less than $13 million on the project, the developer’s agreement included more than $800,000 in incentives from the city – most of which are in the form of waived city fees and infrastructure improvements.

According to Lee, the development should open by the fall of 2024.

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