Field of hopes

What is now just a big, open field on U.S. 41 in Holder could one day be an industrial park. Citrus County commissioners gave tentative backing to the plan on Monday.

When the idea for a large-scale industrial park on farmland in Holder was first pitched in 2017, Citrus County commissioners were divided.

Some liked the idea because it presented a great opportunity for jobs. Others, however, said the plan was too vague and lacked a transportation plan that made sense.

Commissioners eventually voted it down.

Rather than give up, though, backers of the plan said they listened to the concerns raised by commissioners and the public, and the second version of the plan received a universal yes vote on Monday.

“This is a great project. All the questions have been answered,” Commissioner Scott Carnahan said. “This is going to be one of a kind. It’s going to be a success.”

Scott Carnahan mug

County Commissioner Scott Carnahan.

A Duke Energy study of available industrial park sites in its service area identified the 557-acre property, owned by Citrus Springs developer Deltona Corp., as perhaps Citrus County’s best potential for large-scale industrial development.

The plan offers “subareas” that are limited to a specific type of development and prohibit others, such as a gun range or refinery. It sets aside land for light-industrial, heavy-industrial, general -commercial use and about 400 workforce homes.

“This site offers a significant opportunity,” planning consultant Avis Craig said.

Josh Wooten, president and chief executive officer of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, said the project has strong backing in the county’s business community.

“This is a big deal,” he said.

Homosassa Springs resident Jim Loos said the service economy is spreading in the form of new gas stations and fast-food restaurants.

“We’ve seen a lot of shiny new buildings in Citrus County,” he said. “What we don’t have is a well-planned industrial park so businesses can build things.”

Not everyone was on board, though.

Brett Sapp, who said he was born and raised in Holder, noted the traffic that already exists on County Road 491 and U.S. 41.

“The traffic around this site is ridiculous,” he said.

Inverness resident P.J. Auffhammer said roads cannot handle the additional traffic.

“It’s a hellhole,” she said. “When it gets to (S.R.) 200, it’s a death trap.”

Monday’s vote sends the plan to the Department of Economic Opportunity for review by state agencies. Commissioners will have it for a final vote in about three months.

Unlimited digital access offer

To continue with unlimited access to Chronicle Online after this limited time trial click the button below. Offer expires September 30, 2019.

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.

(2) comments

commonsense

Agree with LDOUGLAS plenty of GNC land available for sale along with Citrus Springs residential properties for the work force. Keep making more than you need will just drive the property values down. With less value comes less taxes. Location seems odd with no major roads in that area would that be feasible. Maybe again the public is kept inthe dark regarding Dot plans. Obivious question is what Duke Energy has plans for.

LDouglas

How fair to landowners who have been paying greater taxes for land already zoned industrial and probably paid a premium for it because of that zoning too. Some states at least enact a roll back tax on land converted from ag to another use. For instance in NY, if you want to change from ag to residential, they'll calculate what you would have paid in taxes on residential zoning for 5 years back. That's a way of being fairer to other landowners, making it less attractive to convert ag land, while also defraying the costs of infrastructure needed for the zoning change. Anyway, I think we need to figure out just how much agricultural land we'd like to have at the end of the day- so to speak before it's all paved over one zoning change at a time.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.