Proposed ARC property changes at center of development tussle

Proceeds from a land deal would go to developmentally disabled programs

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. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

Fifty-six years after Marion County gave 16-acres to the Advocacy Resource Center of Marion County (ARC), the group wants to use a part of it for commercial development.

However, the proposal is proving easier said than done. While a rezoning decision to change the use of more than four acres of the property is in the hands of the Ocala City Council, a stipulation in the original 1964 deal giving ARC the land may trigger a clause sending the property back to Marion County.

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 the developmentally disabled. If those services were to cease for six months or more, the land would return to the county. 

Fifty-six years ago, the property sat on the outskirts of Ocala in largely rural surroundings. Today, Maricamp Road is a major thoroughfare. Shortly after the county gave ARC the land, development of the 22,000-acre Silver Springs Shores community started. Businesses now line the seven-mile stretch between Silver Springs Shores and Ocala.

The proposed change would rezone four acres along Maricamp Road from institutional to B-2, community business, and could trigger the half-century claw-back clause.

“I would say a rezoning certainly gives the appearance that they’re changing the planned use of the property,” said Matthew Minter, the county’s attorney during the Feb. 16 Marion County Commission meeting.

Minter also pointed out that $3 million in Community Development Block Grants to ARC use the land as backing and does not allow a change in land use.

The revert clause was brought up by an attorney for the Albright Family Trust, which owns a tract of land behind ARC and has a pending land use change of its own to develop 180 single-family homes to 320 multi-family units.

According to Fred Roberts, an attorney representing ARC, the CDBG issue was already discussed, but the revert clause in the original deed was a new development.

The Albrights are concerned ARC’s requested zoning change could cause a traffic conflict with their plans for residential development of their land.

Roberts said a traffic study had been conducted and the impacts would be minimal. There are no specific plans for the property, but The Ferber Company, a retail development company, is marketing the land. A sign on the property said the site can be divided into as many as five parcels. The company has offices in Florida and New Jersey.

According to Minter, loan documents, mortgage documents and the promissory note on the property would allow the county to waive the revert clause. The commission decided to table the issue to allow for more research.

The ARC hoped development of the property would help support its programs.

“The reality of it is ARC is in a very difficult time and that was the reason for this to even be explored as a possibility,” Roberts said.

According to Roberts, ARC saw 20 cases of coronavirus wreak havoc at the facility and claimed the lives of three residents in group homes it operates.

“This was considered and really intended to be a potential lifeline to the organization if this was to go through,” he said.

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