The Citrus County Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with the Ocala and Dunnellon chambers in asking the state to work with them on a northern turnpike extension route that addresses common environmental and other concerns.

“We seek to be your partners in assuring that if a turnpike extension is ultimately built, that it is the most beneficial to our communities,” read a letter signed jointly by the three entities.

Those concerns are:

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Farmland preservation areas, including the character and culture of the farmlands and horse farms and other things “that make our communities unique.”

Josh Wooten

Wooten

Existing conservation lands owned by the State of Florida and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Rainbow Springs, karst regions and other environmentally sensitive areas.

Wildlife habitat preservation and safe-access corridors.

Existing residential neighborhoods and schools.

Existing business/ industrial areas.

Local comprehensive and strategic plans.

“(We’ve) done much to listen to the concerns of our businesses and our residents and have already worked hard to help calm the rhetoric and correct the misinformation that has circulated,” said the letter, signed by Citrus Chamber President/CEO Josh Wooten and his counterparts at the Dunnellon Chamber & Business Association and the Ocala Metro County Chamber & Economic Partnership.

“By joining forces together on this turnpike issue, we believe we can be not only an asset to our communities, but also to (the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to help with accurate dissemination of information,” said the letter, addressed to FDOT Secretary Jared Perdue and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise Executive Director Nicola Liquori.

Michael D. Bates is a staff writer with the Citrus County Chronicle and can be reached at mbates@chronicleonline.com.