Marion County accepts land donation for use by Animal Services

The Marion County Commission voted 4-0 Tuesday to accept 137 acres of donated land from the Roberts family through Golden Ocala Equestrian Lands LLC.

Commissioner Kathy Bryant was absent.

"The Roberts family have been strong supporters of Animal Services for decades," Interim Animal Services Director Stephanie Kash said in prepared remarks after the vote. "This donation will certainly enhance rehabilitation efforts for horses and other livestock in our care."

The original story: Golden Ocala Equestrian will donate 137 acres in north Marion. Will beneficiary accept?

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During Tuesday's commission meeting, Commissioner Carl Zalak said the Roberts family's "dedication to our community" has been "beyond exceptional." He cited the World Equestrian Center, its animal care operation, the Golden Ocala operation, the family trucking business and more.

The land is north of County Road 316 and south of Northwest 155th Street, between U.S. 441 to the west and U.S. 301 to the east. Golden Ocala Equestrian Land LLC bought the land for $3 million last year, according to a deed on file with the court clerk.

The idea is to provide a new area for Animal Services, which is outgrowing its current home near the landfill off Baseline Road in Ocala. Commission Chairman Craig Curry said during Tuesday's meeting that the county is "out of space" in that location.

"This donation will certainly enhance rehabilitation efforts for horses and other livestock in our care," Kash said in the prepared remarks.

Marion County must secure a special-use permit to allow for Animal Services operations on the new land. And the property can't be used for any other purpose; if it is, then the land would revert back to Golden Ocala Equestrian Land LLC.

This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Roberts family donates 137 acres to aid Marion County Animal Services