Many have voiced concern about the rapid development of Ocala residential projects. Some have even sought to turn the clock back and return to city and county development plans of the past. However, clearly that ship has sailed. When planners approved the building of the World Equestrian Center, they committed to an expanded rate of development which cannot be reversed. Over the coming decades, the essence of our city will evolve. The opening of the W.E.C. has already seen annual tourist tax revenue more than double over a period of seven months. Roads have become stressed when W.E.C. events are underway. Additionally, real estate values have grown at an extraordinary pace as demand for housing has surged.
The Coming Of The W.E.C Brings An Exciting Future & Stresses Infrastructure
The World Equestrian Center is the largest facility of its kind in the United States. Its twenty one arenas have made Ocala a global destination overnight. As a result, the facility is expected to quickly cause the revenue generated by the local equestrian industry to increase. In fact, the industry’s contribution to our economy is projected to rise to over ten billion dollars annually over the next few years. Of course, the rapid growth of the industry brings with it high paying jobs and exciting economic opportunities. However, it also stresses infrastructure.
Demand for Ocala housing is skyrocketing and builders are rushing to develop projects to accommodate it. But in our view, rushing to approve housing projects without ensuring that the building of needed infrastructure keeps pace would lead to chaos. We realize that if the promise of the W.E.C. is to come to fruition, an economically viable infrastructure plan must evolve to support it. Retail, medical, entertainment and service businesses must open or expand. As they do, they will create thousands of new jobs, and their workers will require housing. However, our civic planners must not put the cart before the horse. They must ensure that water & sewer services, utilities, roads, schools and other infrastructure are in place. Only then can they approve the development of much needed housing projects.
Deferring Approval Of Ocala Residential Projects: Let’s Get This Right!
We salute our local governments for putting the breaks on the mad rush to approve the development of housing projects. They have wisely chosen to analyze to what extent the needed infrastructure is in place. Next they must plan and budget for needed infrastructure yet to be built. Only then will they be in a position to wisely approve projects, and to approve only those for which needed infrastructure will be available.
Below are three articles which provide more information about the deliberations our civic planners are engaging in. We encourage you to read them, become educated as to the issue of infrastructure, and support our City and County governments in their efforts to get this right!
The Marion County Board of County Commissioners are pumping the brakes on a proposed development that would add over 500 homes to the crowded southwest portion of the county after … Continue reading on Ocala Gazette
The air in McPherson Complex Auditorium in Ocala, once stale with bureaucracy, surged with something much more urgent upon the introduction of Item 7. Items 1-6 on the Marion County Commission planning and zoning agenda – ensnared in traps of technical jargon and dusted with mundane details – didn’t hold much interest, but Item 7, … Continue reading on WUFT News.
At a Dec. 21 special meeting of the Marion County Board of County Commissioners, Commissioner Kathy Bryant asked that the board set a time to discuss pumping the brakes on … Continue reading on Ocala Gazette.
“Show me a healthy community with a healthy economy and I will show you a community that has its infrastructure in order and understands the relationship between the built and the unbuilt environment.“
Problem solving is a key skill which serves all government officials well. But the wise ones plan well, and in so doing, minimize the number of problems that must be solved in the future!
Andrew Kruglanski, MBA, ABD, Broker