The Truth About the Proposed Woodmont Country Club Redevelopment

Woodmont

By Richard N. Robbins

Recently the Tamarac City Commission moved to send the application from the Woodmont Country Club along to the Broward County Commission for their consideration.  This is the second step of a long process of consideration for the redevelopment of The Pines Golf Course at Woodmont.

When the meeting opened the Mayor commented upon the sea of green shirts in the audience that all read “Vote Yes for Woodmont’s future.” In my estimation the vast majority of the audience was wearing these shirts.  However by the time the public comments portion of the meeting was opened, many wearing the shirts had to go to work the next morning and had left.  In fact, most of those remaining after 11:00 p.m. were the opposition to the plan.

About the Redevelopment

This complex plan calls for the redevelopment of the currently closed 18-hole golf course into a new nine hole golf course with private single family homes surrounding the course.  These homes will all be buffered from the existing homes by either the golf course or water.  It is anticipated that these buffers will be 150 feet or more in most cases.  In addition, a small portion of currently non-useable space will be set aside as open space, as will another parcel of land at the corner of Pine Island Road and Southgate Boulevard will be rezoned as commercial.

A new clubhouse will be completed within 18 months of the start of construction of the first homes as will the new nine hole golf course, a new resort style pool, and other improvements.  When the new clubhouse is completed, the existing clubhouse and mechanical buildings will be removed to make room for a portion of the housing.  There will be a maximum total of 152 single family homes (actual engineering and subdivision plats may reduce this number) selling at market value well above the average values of the homes currently within Woodmont.  The purchasers of these homes will be required to be members of the country club.  The commercial space will be limited to just 30,000 square feet and may not contain any restaurant with a drive through thus eliminating Burger King, Arby’s, Wendy’s, etc.

The Objections

These changes have inspired vociferous objections from a small group of people who, by the way, were never members of Woodmont Country Club.  One of these has received TV coverage on WPLG for his objections as well as coverage in Tamarac Talk.  Richard Brown is Vice President of Pines III, a 61 home community abutting the Pines Golf Course.  He claims to speak for 90% to 95% of the residents of Pines III which accounts for 58 of the homeowners should we accept his 95% figure.  I have yet to hear of an actual vote of the residents, but accepting his claim, I wish to point out that only 10 of the homes in this development “will have a view modified from existing open space (golf course) to proposed development.”

This means that these 10 homes will no longer face the burnt out tall grass and unkempt areas of the closed golf course, but will instead “will be buffered with either a water body, a redeveloped portion of the 9-hole golf course, an existing roadway or a landscape buffer.”*

There are approximately 2,300 homes in all of Woodmont and Mr. Brown is objecting on behalf of 58 of them.  Only a total of 180 other homes will be affected in the same manner.  In addition, a privacy wall, along with required landscaping” is being proposed on a 50 foot buffer zone. This will buffer the commercial development from the southeastern existing residential development.

Supporter or Woodmont employee?  Photo by George Stroker.

Supporter or Woodmont employee? Photo by George Stroker.

At the hearing Mr. Richard Brown and Mr. Neal Karmen, CO-President, of the Woodmont Property Owners Association, Inc., which represents a small number of the homeowners in the area, including myself, spoke to the problem of students leaving J. P. Taravella High School crossing Southgate at Pine Island and congregating at the new commercial property. First of all, there are approximately 3,000 students at J.P. Taravella High School.  This new development will add an additional 26 students according to the Board of Education.  In addition many students are bussed or go home in different directions.  So, presumably the same number of students plus 26 will be crossing Southgate Boulevard at about 2:42 to 2:50 p.m. each week day.  Since both my wife and I work at the school we drive through that intersection daily and have for nearly seven years.  We have no knowledge of serious accidents with student during that period.  Plus since most of the kids gravitate to McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and Publix, with no fast food to draw them to the commercial property what will be the attraction?  In fact, for years kids have created a problem crossing the golf course at that corner.  While I served on the Board of Woodmont Country Club, as well as President and interim General Manager, and first Vice President, kids crossing the golf course and being in danger of being hit by a golf ball was a constant problem that required a BSO deputy.  Since the golf course is now closed, they cross at will.  The wall behind the commercial property will inhibit that action.

Mr. Brown has gone on to say that the current owner of Woodmont Country Club has not made a financial success of the former 36 holes of golf at Woodmont.  There are many reasons for this failure; some of which were out his control. He faced two hurricanes and made some serious mistakes in the recovery.  He has recently made the mistake of not making his last payment to the former equity owners who are due $427,000.  The golf industry as a whole has suffered dramatic losses of players since his purchase.  When Woodmont Country Club became a member-owned club 33 years ago, the surrounding residential areas were made up predominantly of retirees and snowbirds.  Today, Woodmont’s prime marketing areas are rapidly becoming young communities.  The majority of the older members have left due to financial setbacks, failing health and death, plus a general drift north to Boca and Boynton Beach.  Meanwhile, the current owner has not been able to keep up with the social needs of the remaining members.

In 2002 while I was interim General Manager of the club we had an overall membership of just under 800.  We were no longer able to keep the Pines Golf Course busy so we made “off season” arrangements with a Canadian Company to use our course. By the following year with a change in philosophy the club slipped to 639.  Today the club has a little over 100 members.  This made necessary the closing  of The Pines Course one year ago and allowing it to go fallow.  Course maintenance is very expensive. It also required turning the Cypress Course into a public golf course.  Due to the large loss in income and failure to invest in maintaining the club house, it too has deteriorated past the point of rehabilitation.  However, we were told that the current owner operating as a golf club, as opposed to a country club, has been successful in maintaining the status quo.  This new plan will help the management move forward, or backward so to speak, and bring back a country club to Woodmont.

What is in it for Woodmont?

Today we are moribund.  Yes, houses are selling, but that is because the prices are low.  We need the new vitality that these 152 homes may bring to the Woodmont marketplace and the new revitalized Woodmont Country Club to bring interest and excitement to the area.  Most of us who moved here in the last 15 years would love to have a real country club, not a golf club, with all the activities that make up a country club.

Yes, there is fear of change.  We cannot fear change so much that we just stand still.  We must move forward.  This may not be the panacea but it certainly will be a step toward the future of Woodmont.  There are many more steps to approval.  The next major step, if approved by the county and state, is the site plan, and then the most important document, the Developers Agreement.

The devil is in the details.  It is here where our city development department and members of the city commission must pay special attention.  There is an existing agreement with the company building the homes that has set requirements and timetables.  The City’s agreement should match those requirements and timetables and go one step further to guarantee that the owner of Woodmont Country Club, Inc., abides by those requirements with set penalty clauses. There were attempts to discuss this agreement at the recent meeting. However, City Attorney, Sam Goren, pointed out that subject was not up for discussion at that point, but will be the subject of two city commission meetings later in the process.

One final issue that has been brought to the forefront, is the existence of a covenant.  This issue has prompted two attorneys to enter the fray.  However, they were told by City Attorney, Sam Goren, that the issue of any covenant is for the courts to decide, not the city commission.

Yes, I am a “green shirter” and support this forward step.  But, I will be watching the Developer’s agreement carefully since that is the way the city commission can protect itself and the residents of the entire City of Tamarac.

About Richard Robbins

Richard Robbins has been a resident of Palm Ridge in Woodmont since 1999. His only financial interest in Woodmont is his and his neighbor's homes.  He strongly believes that they can bring the vitality back to the Woodmont community that existed when they moved there with a functioning country club. It will elevate the home values and will be a much better place to live, with a social life once again revolving around Woodmont Country Club where they all had so much fun.

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  • Dick Brown

    Richard Robbins writes very eloquently. I would take issue towards the people wearing green shirts. Who paid for those shirts? I was told many of them worked for Schmidt. And there were about 15 children wearing those shirts. And there was no sea of green. They were greatly outnumbered. Nothing was mentioned of the many people opposed to the land change and building that also had to leave.
    The other issue I would have is, even though we only have about 20 homes directly affected the rest of us would also be affected, adversely. And even if we weren’t, as long as our friends and neighbors are affected, so are we.
    Then the biggest issue, THE COVENANT. The covenant exists. It is real and shame on them for trying to skirt it.
    The prices of homes in our community have been steadily moving up.
    No real attempt was ever made to reach out to the community to join the club. With 2200 homes in Woodmont, even if half would’ve been offered social membership at reduced rates, it would’ve brought people into the club many of which would have taken advantage of other amenities in the club. But instead, he ended up driving people away.
    Facts are that Schmidt allowed the Pines to fall into ruin, we think intentionally. By not watering it turned brown. But a good rain turned it green. They mow only when forced to. Mr Scmidt couldn’t run the 36 holes

    • Dick Brown

      There is no reason for us to believe that Mr. Schmidt can run 27 holes successfully. He’s proposing forced membership in the club when people purchase homes. 152 homes to support the club, I doubt it. That won’t even immediately bring in money enough to start paying the $427,000.00 that Mr Robbins has alluded too. The money is supposed to be paid by the HOA but we all know to change that all it needs is a vote. The original equity members put up $20,000.00 each. So let’s get real.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Brown. I can see from your posts that you dislike the owners of Woodmont and you like to accuse them of various nefarious plots to ruin Woodmont. Can I ask if you have ever ONCE spoken with Mr. Schmidt in person? Have you ever been a member of the club? Were you aware of the club’s financial condition before he acquired the club?

    You have made very serious accusations but you have no personal knowledge of any of the matters surrounding the club. Mr. Robbins was involved with the management of the club BEFORE Mr. Schmidt acquired it. He actually DOES have personal knowledge.

    In your posts you often say “I was told” or “I have heard”. You acknowledge that you are only repeating what you have been told by others, yet you have no hesitation about spreading these lies and gossip about ownership intentionally running the club into the ground.

    Since Woodmont was acquired, nearly every golf course in the area has suffered major financial hardship. Colony West went belly up and was bought by the City. Woodlands, on the verge of defaulting on their loans, was sold to a foreign company. Eagle Trace, Heron Bay, etc. etc. etc.

    Yet even though EVERY OTHER GOLF COURSE in the area has struggled, for some reason you believe that Mr. Schmidt INTENTIONALLY ran Woodmont into the ground. Did the owner’s and members of these other clubs ALSO intentionally run their club into the ground? What is your personally vendetta against a man you have never even met? Why do you spread rumors and gossip about someone you don’t even know?

    • Dic Brown. Not Anonymous

      Anonymous? Anonymous, I always own up to what I say.
      Yes, I knew about what the financial position of the club was before Scmidt bought it. It was diar. They couldn’t pay their bills. I dare say, so did Schmidt.
      Fact, I am not and never was a member of the club. Fact, I was never approached to become a member. Fact, neither were any of the new people in our development. Fact, I tried to use the facility to cater a party for 300 plus people. Fact, I was never phoned back and never received a quote. Fact, I followed it up with several phone calls trying to get a quote. Not only did I not get one, the last call that I made, I was told that when they had it put together they would phone me. That call never came. That showed me they really weren’t interested in the business. Fact, the owners of the club not only stopped watering and caring for the course but scalped the greens. Fact, if my neighbor next door kept up his property in similar fashion as the owner of the club, I would consider him a bad neighbor as well. Fact, Mr Schmidt promised after Hurricane Wilma, that he would repair all the signs and marquees that were damaged. He said it would be done within two months. It’s never been done by him. Fact, there is a covenant. Fact it reads that the grounds are to be used for Golf Course and club only and yes I’ve seen a copy of it.
      This Mr. Anonymous is what I know first hand. And no Mr Anonymous, I have no personal Vendetta against Mr. Schmidt or anyone else. It’s a matter of trust. I don’t know who you are or what your relationship is to Mr Schmidt, but I wish you well.

      • Anonymous

        I think it is ridiculous for you to suggest that because you had a bad experience with an employee at the club that didn’t return your call, who was probably an outside caterer who had nothing at all to do with Woodmont, that you would go around saying Mr.Schmidt never wanted his business to succeed. Its obvious you do not know Mr. Schmidt. He is very well respected throughout the community for his extensive charitable work. He is a past recipient of the JCC Humanitarian of the Year award. He is past president and long time board member of both the JCC and the Federation. Yet you, “who owns up to what you say” would disparage a man who you have never once spoken with or met?? I know Mr.Schmidt and have been a friend of his for many years. He is a very honest man. You say he “promised” to repair Woodmont signs that he doesn’t own and that have nothing to do with the club after the hurricane? I don’t know where you are getting such misinformation, but that is a lie. Unlike you, I was a member of the club at that time. Go ask the city if that is true or not and they will tell you the truth. You continue to repeat things you have been told without any personal knowledge. Instead of continuing your campaign of spreading malicious rumors and gossip, why don’t you meet with Mr. Schmidt and speak with him about the club and his plans to return Woodmont to successful club again? How can you criticize the man or his plan if you have never spoken with the man or even understand his plan?

        • Dick Brown

          Anonymous, Name should be ABSURD. What I didn’t mention was that I also phoned and spoke to your Mr. Schmidt at the time that I didn’t get a call back when trying to book the club for the affair. He was going to see to it that I got a call back. So, no Ms. or Mr. Absurd, it was not just his employees.
          When Mr. Scmidt and his Partner promised us at a W.P.O.A. meeeting that they would have the signs and marquees all repaired or replaced in two months, he never disclaimed or claimed ownership of them.
          Then too Ms. or Mr. What about the Covenant? The one that clearly states, that the land must be used for Golf Courses and Golf club only? But of course you being a PAST club member and good friend of Mr Schmidt’s you probably knew or know all of the facts. We have been told that the Covenant will have to be decided by the courts.
          Have you ever asked Mr. Schmidt what his intention was when he bought the property? Was it to develope the land or to run a golf course business?

          In any event I commend you for defending your friend.