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Old golf course: Land use change on P&Z agenda

By Staff | Jun 1, 2017

The Planning and Zoning meeting Wednesday is likely to draw a crowd as the commission will consider and likely vote on large scale future land use map amendment regarding the old golf course property from recreation to single family residential.

The commission can expect to hear quite a bit in public comment from opponents, who are mobilizing with T-shirts, signs and their voices.

The group, called “Save Our Recreation” is expected to arrive for the 9 a.m. meeting at 8:30 a.m. with a rally outside City Hall, to include signs and protests regarding the proposed change.

Center to the issue is a proposed 500-single-family-home project on the 175.25 acres that was once a city golf course. The FLUMA request was made by developer D.R. Horton, which would officially own the property if the change goes through, and build homes there.

The site is currently zoned for single family residential. The change would match up the allowable land use.

Once inside, the public can speak at the meeting. SOR representatives, including an attorney and land use expert, will be speaking.

Barth Wolf, president of SOR, said the organization was formed last year especially for the Golf Course property when it became apparent that a land use change was being considered.

“We’re not a formal membership organization, but we are getting petitions signed. We have 11,000 signatures from people saying don’t change it,” Wolf said. “It was a parks and rec amenity when Cape Coral was founded and it should stay that way. Putting 500 modest homes in there is not a great way use of that property.”

Wolf said it’s hard to predict how many people will attend, as some residents are already north for the summer and others will have to work. But he said he hopes to pack council chambers.

“We thought this would happen sooner. Now, it’s the summer and many of the people who have been very active in this are back north,” said Wolf, who is among those who are now gone.

Even if the commission makes a recommendation to change the land use, the City Council will have the last word. The current plan is for the first of two public hearings to take place during the Aug. 7 meeting.

Councilmember Jessica Cosden said she understands the concerns and she hopes there can be a solution that benefits everyone.

“I want to find a solution that keeps everyone happy. No matter what happens there will be people disappointed, but there is probably a way,” Cosden said. “Our Parks Master Plan says we don’t have enough parks so that’s a concern. I understand why people are rallying behind that cause.”

City staff has recommended approval of the land use change, saying that it would be in character with the outside neighborhoods, which are also zoned single-family residential, and that recreational use is no longer feasible, especially golf.

The course was sold to Florida Gulf Ventures, a division of Ryan Companies U.S., in 2006, which closed the course, saying it couldn’t make money on golf and pursued alternative development that led to a 2009 lawsuit brought against the city.

Florida Gulf Ventures wanted to change the “open space/parks and recreation” land use to a mixed-use development. The lawsuit was defeated because the mixed use did not match the property’s “R-1” zoning.

The city has talked about a proposed land swap for 300 acres of city-owned land between Burnt Store and Old Burnt Store roads. No progress with D.R. Horton has been announced.

No progress has been announced.

City Hall is at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.