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Battle over Dollar General coming to a close: Alachua County places conservation easement on Micanopy land

Alachua County Commission placed a conservation easement on this parcel of land. This sight is believed to be a native burial site and the location of the Battle of Micanopy during the Second Seminole War. (Courtesy of Aaron Weber)
Alachua County Commission placed a conservation easement on this parcel of land. This sight is believed to be a native burial site and the location of the Battle of Micanopy during the Second Seminole War. (Courtesy of Aaron Weber)

Since December 2020, there has been a quiet controversy stirring in Micanopy, a controversy that is finally nearing its end.

Aaron Weber, a Micanopy resident, lives one block away from a parcel of land heavy with history.

The land is believed to be a native burial site and the location of the Battle of Micanopy from the Second Seminole War. But that is not all.

The land was almost converted to commercial use, and the city considered plans to build a Dollar General there. However, residents and indigenous people from all over Florida protested the building of the convenience store at the location.

After over two years of controversy and conflict over the use of the land, the Alachua County Commission unanimously voted to put a conservation easement on sacred Native American land in Micanopy on Apr. 11.

Alachua County’s permanent easement means the land can only be used for conservation and not commercially. This will ensure that this area will remain protected for future generations, something Weber, 49, is relieved to hear.

He has seen and felt the impact of this nearly 22-acre site, and has fought for its conservation since first hearing about the possible construction of the Dollar General in 2020.

It's been a long process to get here and we just want to thank everybody involved,” Weber said. “All the citizens, everybody that came to these meetings and wrote a letter, it made a difference in the end.”

Another person grateful for this easement is Robert Rosa. Rosa is of Taino descent and part of several Native American and indigenous organizations including the American Indian Movement and the Florida Indigenous Alliance.

Like Weber, he has stood by the movement to conserve the land since the beginning. As a member of the indigenous community, he knows how important these sites are.

“These are ancestors of the indigenous communities of Florida, and they need to be left in the ground,” he said. “They need to be honored just as they would in Arlington Cemetery. They wouldn't go bulldoze that, so why do they feel the need to do it here?”

Previously in October 2022, the county refused to plan any further development of the site until a public workshop was held. At the workshop on Nov. 17, commissioners were able to talk to community members to determine the best course of action. Following the workshop, Micanopy also held several joint town halls with the county to further discuss plans for the site.

At the county commission meeting on April 11, Sara Owen, Micanopy Town Administrator presented the plan to the rest of the county commission.

Though she only joined the project in June 2021, she felt honored to bring the updated plan forward.

“I'm excited because I saw how hard the citizens fought for this land,” she said. “They just put up a tremendous fight to see the land preserved, and to put it into conservation. I feel privileged to come in on the tail end of that and being a part of achieving that process and bringing fruition to their vision for the property.”

Some of the plans include a possible restroom and more signs to inform visitors of the significance of the site.

However, some residents believed that the land should remain mostly untouched, County Commissioner Ken Cornell reminded the rest of the commission.

He supported the idea that the land should remain as undeveloped as possible. There should be a sign to warn visitors not to leave paths, but make sure it’s not disruptive.

“Keep it passive,” he said.

Community members still welcome Dollar General and other types of commercial development, but they want to make sure they are built in appropriate locations.

Homer Jack Moore, 77, played an active role in informing the community about this issue since the beginning. He believes commercial development would be a service to the community but encouraged Dollar General and other commercial companies to check out other locations.

“Unfortunately the place that they wanted to develop was very sensitive ecologically and historically as well as culturally so the community was dead set against that,” he said.

Now that the Dollar General will no longer be built on the land and the conservation easement is moving forward, the city of Micanopy plans to buy and annex this land. After that, they will work on turning it into an educational conservation area.

The management and update of the land will be funded by Wild Spaces and Public Places.

Now that two battles have been fought over the land, the Micanopy community and indigenous people can rest knowing the site is protected.

“It's protected in 2023,” Weber said. “If this goes through, hopefully it'll be protected in 2073 beyond, so that our kids and grandkids can see what 1700s Florida was like. I'm happy. Really happy.”

Aubrey is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing