By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities Blog
Orange County homeowners that live adjacent to the Windermere Country Club are up in arms about proposed redevelopment of the golf course. The Club’s new owner, Bryan DeCunha, purchased the property in 2011. Since that time, the Country Club and playing course has been in decline, and, with only a handful of remaining golf members, DeCunha plans to close in April 2016. However, he has now approached Orange County elected officials with a proposed redevelopment plan to build 95 homes on 1/2 acre lots.
In this case, Orange County owns development rights to the land, which has been zoned as green space and operated as a golf course and country club since 1986. DeCunha hopes to convince Orange County to relinquish its development rights and allow construction of a gated community. (Yes, yet another homeowners association.) The proposal plans for separate road access and a minimum 50-foot land or pond buffer to separate the new community from existing Windermere homes.
There are 147 homes in Windermere, and 136 owners have signed a petition opposing redevelopment.
A few owners in the article are concerned about the environmental impact of 95 homes. There is great concern about the possibility of losing open space and views of nature, thus adversely affecting property values. You can read about additional remarks made at a recent Orange County meeting in this article:
Residents mobilize against redevelopment of Windermere Country Club golf course
What makes this golf course redevelopment different from some others is the fact that the golf course owner does not hold development rights.
It will be interesting to see if County Commission members will honor their original agreement to retain the land as green space, especially since the original developer relinquished his property rights in exchange for the County allowing homes to be built on small lots.
Or will the County decide that gaining 95 additional homes on the property tax rolls is more important than preserving green space?
The development review process is likely to take 4-6 months, and may end in some sort of compromise. One thing seems certain: the golf course will not continue to operate.
Additional reading – Environmental impact of Golf Courses: