Plans to Develop Golf Greens into Home Sites Set to Officially Tee Off

Woodlands Country Club. Photo by Adam Baron.

By: Anne Geggis

Hundreds of homes will start sprouting on two longtime golf greens, according to plans set to debut in front of the city planning board Wednesday.

A prospective buyer of two, 18-hole golf courses at The Woodlands Country Club, a 890-home community in the southeastern part of the city, wants the development rules for the courses’ 165 acres changed to allow 425 new homes. Discussions between the buyer, 13th Floor Homes, and the golf course owner, ClubLink, started two years ago, but this will be the plan’s first, official public hearing, set for 9 a.m., at Tamarac City Hall.

The developer is promising that this will be a long-anticipated upgrade for the 50-year-old mammoth community. It will become gated, protected by walls and fewer entrances are proposed. New amenities include upgraded entrances and a clubhouse and pools. Property values will increase, according to a 13th Floor Homes website and presentations at the community’s subdivision meetings.

It’s the latest in a slew of area golf courses that have been converted from recreational use to home sites. Such a change, however, will require not only the approval of the city Planning and Zoning Board and the City Commission, but also a nod from the Broward County Commission. And, after it goes to the county level, it must come back to the City Commission for a second review. That’s likely to take a year.

Becky Noel Ford, 52, a resident of The Woodlands Country Club since 2017, said she’s hoping it gets stopped at some point along the way. The upgraded amenities are not enough to sell her, she said. She bought in believing this would remain a golf community, and a new pool is not worth trading the open space behind her house, she said.

“The things that they are trying to impress us with are not big draws,” she said.

A taxing district to beautify the aging neighborhood, west of Rock Island Road and south of West Commercial Boulevard, was approved in 2010, but it was disbanded without levying a tax in 2015 because of lawsuits and disagreements about the effort. Ford, however, says it’s still a beautiful place to live.

“We like the peacefulness of the golf course,” Ford said.

It’s clear, though, that golf courses are becoming less of draw for people spending the green. Deerfield Beach allowed two golf courses to convert to residential use in 2017. A development of homes is now under construction Tamarac’s Woodmont, replacing a closed golf course. Homes have also been built on the former Monterey and Sabal golf courses – by 13th Floor Homes.

The proposal slated for the planning board review Wednesday could be denser — city zoning rules could allow a potential of 827 new homes, according to city records. The current plans are 100 homes fewer than what was originally discussed, and the developer would preserve 109 acres of the existing country club acreage for recreational use, with walking paths and lakes, according to city records.

“We have proactively reached out to existing residents, consultants and city staff to ensure that our site plan enhances the area’s infrastructure and improves quality of life,” said spokeswoman Karina Castano, whose firm is handling public relations for 13th Floor Homes.

All homes will be separated by lakes or landscape buffers, according to the proposal to the city.

But Jeff Smoley, 71, a resident of the Woodlands Country Club for the last 13 years, said that not only will the small lots affect the character of the community, he doesn’t believe the development can handle what will be about a 45 percent increase in the number of homes. Even with the golf courses’ water-sucking surface, there was flooding in the neighborhood last year, he said.

More impermeable roads and house roofs are going to add to the drainage problems, said the retired engineer who worked in the real estate and construction business.

“They are treating us like idiots,” he said of 13th Floor Homes. “Some of the things they say they will do are impossible.”

He said he also fears the results of added pressure on the 50-year-old sewage system that’s been showing signs of age.

Castano said, however, that residents concerns have been heard, and will be addressed.

The Planning and Zoning  Board meeting will be held on May 1, 9:00 a.m. at City Hall. The City Commission will likely hear the case for allowing homes on the golf courses June 12. A site plan for the homesites will debut later, Castano said.

Anne Geggis

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Anne Geggis has been a newspaper reporter for 30 years, most recently at the Sun Sentinel. She graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., with a double major in journalism and sociology.