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Approved annexations pave way for Republic equestrian center

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Republic City Council unanimously approved 15 separate annexation bills for more than 900 acres of agricultural land to allow plans to move forward for a $350 million equestrian center.

The land is under contract with private developers, known collectively as Eclipse Event Center LLC, who want to build a hotel with more than 300 rooms, a 15,000-seat arena, 60 cottages, manmade lakes with 64 lakefront cabins, 30 condos, an RV park, a spa, a fitness center and an 11-mile cross-country course on roughly 1,200 acres near Interstate 44 and Missouri Highway 60.

Republic Mayor Brian Buckner allowed for public comment on the bills’ second readings last night before the votes were tallied, though the public hearing officially was held Jan. 9. Two members of the public expressed concerns.

“Our creek is low ever since McLane went in,” said Cindy Moore, a landowner who lives near the proposed development area north of Republic. McLane Co., a food service supply company, recently completed construction of a $30 million distribution facility located south of the proposed development area. Moore said even if developers aren’t planning on pulling from the water table to build the manmade lakes, the bodies of water would capture rainwater that would otherwise seep into the ground. “Our well is 100 feet deep, and it’s not going to be deep enough," she added.

Landowner John Moore said he was worried that if zoning changes were approved with the annexation, the land could be used for other purposes if the equestrian center plans fall through.

The only zoning change made in conjunction with the annexation was that a 26-acre lot was rezoned to Commercial II use from a lighter commercial standard. Buckner said the remainder of the land would be zoned for agricultural uses within the city limits until developers come back with a plan for consideration. The work to draw plans for the development wouldn’t begin until the properties were annexed, Buckner noted.

“There are a lot of questions that people have about the plans … and there are a lot of details we don’t know yet,” Buckner said, adding that it could take months or years for developers to come back to the city to ask for a zoning change.

Republic Planning and Development Director Gail Noggle said previously that plans could be submitted for council approval as soon as late February.

The council members voted unanimously for the land annexations and offered no comment about their votes at the meeting.

Carl Scott, a representative of the developers since Day 1, has said there are three groups of investors representing more than 50 individuals from as far away as Arizona and Detroit backing the project.

Scott, a former vice president of Springfield-based JKC Contractors LLC, was facing a felony charge in Taney County for writing a bad check, but that charge was recently dismissed.

The investors had planned to build the center on 477 acres south of Rogersville in Christian County but scrapped those plans in April due to infrastructure challenges. Noggle said she approached the group about finding a suitable location near Republic after she became aware that the plans in Christian County were being dropped.[[In-content Ad]]

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