ECONOMIC PROGRESS

THE ISSUE: County commission unanimously approves zoning change for industrial park.

OUR OPINION: The right decision, but it took too long to reach it.


Six years after the site was located as a possible industrial park, four years after a Duke-retained consultant included it in a site readiness program to help develop industrial sites, and two years after it was first formally presented for rezoning, the county commission has approved rezoning property for the Holder industrial park.

The approximately 550-acre property located east of U.S. 41 and south of County Road 491 in Holder was targeted in 2013 as one of nine sites to watch in the Five Year Strategic Plan developed by the Citrus County Industrial Council, forerunner of the Economic Development Authority (EDA).

Two years later, an economic consultant hired by Duke Energy targeted the property as a possible site to develop an industrial park, and Duke worked with the EDA and the landowner to develop a plan for private development of the property into an industrial park with a potential for between

6.2 million and 7.5 million square feet of manufacturing space.

In February of 2017, the county Planning and Development Commission approved the rezoning request and sent it to the county commission. In March of 2017, the county commission gave tentative approval to the plan, and sent it to the state for review. But in October of 2017, the commission reversed itself and voted 3-2 to deny the zoning request, saying the plan lacked specifics.

At the time, the decision was somewhat surprising and disappointing, given the verbal support the commission gives for economic

development, and we felt this sent the wrong signal to any company considering relocating to Citrus County.

Fortunately, instead of just walking away, the supporters of the Holder industrial park stepped back and

reworked their application, including numerous specifics and fixes for issues that led to the plan’s original defeat. So far, the Economic Development Authority for Citrus County has spent about $100,000 in private funds on the project.

The revised plan specifies that certain percentages of the industrial park will be set aside for light industrial, industrial and commercial. There are specifications for buffering to separate the park from nearby properties, and a list of several types of developments that will not be allowed.

This time, when the plan got to a commission vote, it was a unanimous approval, so the site is now ripe for development, which we hope will come sooner rather than later.

Citrus County is in need of employment opportunities for its residents that are better than minimum wage jobs. One only need to look at highways leading out of Citrus County in the early morning to see the number of residents who go out of county to find employment.

People want jobs that provide good wages and opportunities for growth. Companies locating in the industrial park have the potential to provide these.

We are glad the commission has finally approved the zoning changes that allow this project to proceed. It has been a long road to get to this point. We hope as development is moving forward, the path will be smoother for companies wishing to locate in the new industrial park.

Six years after the site was located as a possible industrial park, four years after a Duke-retained consultant included it in a site readiness program to help develop industrial sites, and two years after it was first formally presented for rezoning, the county commission has approved rezoning property for the Holder industrial park.

The approximately 550-acre property located east of U.S. 41 and south of County Road 491 in Holder was targeted in 2013 as one of nine sites to watch in the Five Year Strategic Plan developed by the Citrus County Industrial Council, forerunner of the Economic Development Authority (EDA).

Two years later, an economic consultant hired by Duke Energy targeted the property as a possible site to develop an industrial park, and Duke worked with the EDA and the landowner to develop a plan for private development of the property into an industrial park with a potential for between

6.2 million and 7.5 million square feet of manufacturing space.

In February of 2017, the county Planning and Development Commission approved the rezoning request and sent it to the county commission. In March of 2017, the county commission gave tentative approval to the plan, and sent it to the state for review. But in October of 2017, the commission reversed itself and voted 3-2 to deny the zoning request, saying the plan lacked specifics.

At the time, the decision was somewhat surprising and disappointing, given the verbal support the commission gives for economic

development, and we felt this sent the wrong signal to any company considering relocating to Citrus County.

Fortunately, instead of just walking away, the supporters of the Holder industrial park stepped back and

reworked their application, including numerous specifics and fixes for issues that led to the plan’s original defeat. So far, the Economic Development Authority for Citrus County has spent about $100,000 in private funds on the project.

The revised plan specifies that certain percentages of the industrial park will be set aside for light industrial, industrial and commercial. There are specifications for buffering to separate the park from nearby properties, and a list of several types of developments that will not be allowed.

This time, when the plan got to a commission vote, it was a unanimous approval, so the site is now ripe for development, which we hope will come sooner rather than later.

Citrus County is in need of employment opportunities for its residents that are better than minimum wage jobs. One only need to look at highways leading out of Citrus County in the early morning to see the number of residents who go out of county to find employment.

People want jobs that provide good wages and opportunities for growth. Companies locating in the industrial park have the potential to provide these.

We are glad the commission has finally approved the zoning changes that allow this project to proceed. It has been a long road to get to this point. We hope as development is moving forward, the path will be smoother for companies wishing to locate in the new industrial park.

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