Members at the Boca Raton, Fla. property that has 586 single-family homes have been fighting proposed townhomes for more than a decade. A lawsuit brought after owner Mike Armel filed paperwork for an easement was settled to give residents the legal covenant to prevent development, in exchange for $90,000. “I settled because I think it’s a great opportunity to keep the [Joe Lee-designed] golf course and a great business model now, versus still fighting with the HOA,” said Armel, who now plans to revive the club’s tennis program and make clubhouse improvements.
The Boca Greens Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla. will be able to retain its 18-hole, Joe Lee-designed golf course and other amenities after members and residents finally reached a successful settlement for a fight they have waged against the property’s development for more than a decade, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
The battle at Boca Greens began in the early 2000s when townhomes were proposed at the privately owned club, which is open to the public, the Sun Sentinel reported. That created an uproar in the community of 586 single-family homes.
After members sold their interest about a decade later, the new owners proposed townhomes again and that effort also failed, the Sun Sentinel reported. But when owner Mike Armel moved toward development in 2017 by filing paperwork for an easement, residents pushed back with a lawsuit.
The suit was dropped in July in a settlement agreement that gives residents the legal covenant to prevent development, the Sun Sentinel reported. In exchange, Armel was freed from $90,000—just a portion of what was owed—for maintenance fees, legal fees and interest from a settlement from a previous lawsuit regarding plat restrictions, which are the blueprint for the community.
Armel, who also owns a golf course in the Orlando area, told the Sun Sentinel that he didn’t consent to the agreement to because of the $90,000. “I settled because I think it’s a great opportunity to keep the golf course and a great business model now, versus me still fighting with the HOA,” he said.
“I think both sides thought there was a pathway to victory, and you can’t keep throwing away money,” Armel added.
The plat contained the restrictions that were part of the original developer’s vision and were recorded with the county, Jonathan Butler, the lead attorney for the homeowners’ association, the Sun Sentinel reported. Those restrictions govern future development.
“There are many communities in the county and in South Florida that might not have the luxuries of those added protections, which renders them more susceptible to development,” Butler said.
Steve Weisenfeld, chairman of the Boca Greens Legal Committee, told the Sun Sentinel that the language of the original plat prevented the golf course from ever becoming anything other than a place for recreation. And that gave the community the legal right to stop development.
“It was the right quest for the community,” Bill Cuneo, President of the Boca Greens Homeowners Association, told the Sun Sentinel. “We’ve always believed in keeping the golf course open space. We’re getting less open space in Florida. It’s a wonderful victory.
“We spent a lot of time and money to fight [to keep] the golf course,” added Cuneo, whose backyard is on the 13th hole. “It takes perseverance. The home values, more than anything else, will remain stable and increase.”
Armel said he’ll make the best of the situation by renewing tennis at the country club, which had been closed for three years, and making clubhouse improvements, the Sun Sentinel reported.
“The end result is everybody wins, versus legal battles,” Armel said. “We’re going to bring the life back [to the club and] to golf.”
While the golf course was valued at $4 million, Armel added, it was the “perceived value that controls 586 homes.”