This time, there’s a plan.
And there’s an attorney to help sell the plan to county commissioners.
“This is what I call the Holder industrial park version 2.0,” said Clark Stillwell, who was hired by the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Citrus County to help draft a revised application for development of a 557-acre industrial park on farmland along U.S. 41 at County Road 491 near Holder.
The EDA submitted a plan for the site a year ago, but county commissioners voted 3-2 to reject a zoning change to industrial because they said the plan lacked specifics.
Stillwell said this latest application — submitted late Monday — answers previous concerns and better defines what can and what cannot go on the property. It also spells out development standards.
The applicants are the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Citrus County and the Deltona Corp., which owns the property.
The new plan specifies that the industrial park will set aside certain percentages of space for light industrial, industrial and commercial. A residential component includes plans for workplace or affordable housing, such as multifamily housing and apartments. It lays out dedicated open space and primary roads on the property.
The plan also lists several types of developments that will not be allowed at the site. Those no-nos include cemeteries, restaurants, single-family housing, slaughterhouses, taverns and hotels.
Proponents said development of the park is a golden opportunity for large-scale and long-term economic development in Citrus County.
“From an economic standpoint, we believe it’s the right thing to do,” Stillwell said. “We just need to convince the county commissioners and folks in Tallahassee.”
Duke Energy, which would partner with the EDA to develop the site, said the property has ample acreage for large-scale light-industrial manufacturing. The Sabal Trail pipelines runs along the property.
County Commissioner Scott Carnahan, who voted against last year’s comprehensive plan change to accommodate the park, said he can support this new plan because it is more detailed and not so open-ended.
“They’re going to do it right this time,” Carnahan said.
The revised application answers many of the questions about use of the property, he said.
“I won’t have any issues with it this time,” Carnahan said.
Commission Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. said he didn't support the first effort because there were no specific plans. And even with a new plan coming, he still questions the location being far removed from a transportation network.
Kitchen said he doesn't understand the urgency for an industrial park on the site when the county is planning to develop a business park at the Inverness Airport that has easy four-lane access to the interstate via State Road 44.
"I want to know what it is and who it's going to benefit," he said. "People are pushing awfully hard to have this piece of property done. My question is, why?"
Proponents say the property provides easy truck access to Interstate 75 via U.S. 41, C.R. 491 and State Road 200 to Ocala.
The Florida Department of Transportation noted in its previous review that the potential for significant industrial growth may add too much traffic to both U.S. 41 and S.R. 200, which are now two lanes.
But Stillwell said the project would be developed over the next 15 to 25 years and road improvements to U.S. 41 should be done.
The new application should make surrounding landholders more comfortable, Stillwell said.
“This won’t compete with other local industrial parks,” he said.
EDA President Don Taylor said the Holder park would not affect marketing for smaller industrial sites in the county because this would be marketed to large-site investors.
“Conversely, businesses that would be attracted to a large area site could provide a multiplier effect to smaller business to support the larger businesses in the Holder industrial park who could set up their businesses in the smaller industrial parks,” Taylor said.
Now that the application is submitted, Stillwell said the earliest it could go before the Citrus County Planning and Development Commission is in December. That board’s recommendation would go before county commissioners — the final authority — for review maybe in January. Depending on how that public hearing goes, commissioners would then vote to transfer the application to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for review. Then it’s back to the planning board and again county commissioners.
“The goal is maybe April 2019 to have a final vote,” Stillwell said.