By Agrippina Fadel
The upcoming Homeowners Association elections in the Woodlands community have split residents into those who support the 13th Floor Homes development of the former golf course and those who vehemently oppose it.
The opposing camp, called “Save the Woodlands,” says the current Woodlands Homeowners Association (WHOA) does not have the residents’ or the community’s best interests in mind; and accuses board members of having ulterior motives for supporting the development.
Purchased by ClubLink Corp in 2011, the new buyers, 13th Floor Homes, is proposing a change in the land use plan of the 165-acres and the designation of two 18-hole golf courses from “recreational” to “residential.” They first proposed 410 homes, then reduced the number to 335. The project also includes a new clubhouse and a “recreation” campus.
The development has divided residents from the start, with some saying it can be a saving grace to the 50-year-old community bringing much-needed upgrades, better infrastructure, and social life.
Opponents believe the project will create more traffic, raise the property taxes, and put residents’ health in danger when contractors start excavating the golf course land confirmed to have arsenic.
Chris Hodgkins, president of Save the Woodlands, says a document had recently come to light that shows agreement between the WHOA and the 13th Floor, outlining how the developer will pay the board $150,000 over time for their “support of the project.”
WHOA_ 13th FLoor Agreement
The agreement, signed in August 2019, does mention the sum in Parts 11 and 12 — but as “reimbursement for present fees and traffic review” ($50,000) and “future fees and monitoring expenses” ($100,000).
Future reimbursement is split in half, with the first part due after the approval of the Land Use Plan Amendment, rezoning, and the site plan, and the second after the 13th Floor Homes “closes on the property.”
Save the Woodlands has been reaching out to the residents to fill out the ballots with their picks, alleging the WHOA has candidates connected to the developer.
Hodgkins explained that when the WHOA board had sent a letter to the city commission saying they were in favor of the development, some residents of the Woodlands community had suspicions about the decision but had no proof of ulterior motives.
“When we questioned them, they denied it at first. Then, when they realized that the document outlining the agreement is out in the open, the board confirmed they took $25.000 from the developer,” said Hodgkins, adding that the WHOA still wasn’t truthful, as the total amount of the potential reimbursement, if 13th Floor plan gets approved, is much higher.
“We believe that the WHOA got paid for their support for the development to the detriment of all of us in the Woodlands,” said Hodgkins. He added that WHOA has been silent about the other residents’ issues with the plan.
“They never asked about arsenic and were never concerned about the traffic. The WHOA is supporting a development that to this day does not have a final site plan approved by the city,” he said.
According to the document, Part 1 promises 13th Floor Homes will “continue to meet with the WHOA and the individual homeowners regarding the land use, rezoning and site plan applications,” and take their notes on “concerns and feedback.” Part 13 of the document also outlines that the developer will work with WHOA to ensure “minimal disruption to the community during construction.”
Hodgkins added that, in his opinion, the current WHOA leadership lacks transparency and advocacy.
“It’s like a Seinfeld Condo episode. Their behavior is bizarre. This is also a group that does not allow public access to their meetings and does not share their activity with the community,” he said.
The fate of the 13th Floor Land Use Plan Amendment, rezoning, and development was slated for a public hearing last November, but the developer asked for another extension, citing problems with getting the application ready and other Covid-19 related issues. The Tamarac city commission denied the request, and the developer later sued the city for its handling of the project.
The hearing of the 13th Floor’s case in the trial court was scheduled for January 31; however, the City of Tamarac appealed the Order by Judge Keathan Frink, granting the developer’s request for a temporary injunction. Because of that, the hearing was canceled, and the case is now in front of the 4th District Court of Appeals and waiting for its ruling.
Tamarac Talk has made multiple attempts to reach WHOA president Kevin Borwick through his official email address and phone numbers but did not get a response.
The WHOA election is held on Monday, February 7, at 7 p.m. In the end, the only ones who can vote for or against the land use plan are the Tamarac City Commission.
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- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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