(Photo by Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times)
All but 12 of the 77 acres occupied by The Landings GC in Clearwater, Fla. would be converted into a light manufacturing complex through a proposal that would require voter approval. In New Hampshire, Pine Grove Springs GC got the OK to carve out five new housing lots that its owner says are needed to keep the course operating, and in Kentucky, a zone change was approved to build more than 300 houses on the property currently occupied by Lone Oak GC, despite concerns about sewer and stormwater capacity.
A Tampa, Fla. developer wants to convert most of The Landings Golf Club’s 77 acres of open space bordering the Clearwater (Fla.) Airpark into a light manufacturing complex, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The City Council was expected to vote May 21st on whether to begin negotiations with Harrod Properties to lease the city-owned property, the Times reported. The deal would require voter approval in November, as the City Charter requires the lease of public open space to go to referendum.
The proposal is at least the fourth instance in recent years of a developer seeking to build on a golf course in densely populated Pinellas County, where available land for housing and commercial space is becoming more scarce, the Times reported.
In one of those cases, a developer’s pending application to build 273 homes on the former Tides Golf Course in Seminole has drawn concerns from neighbors and Pinellas County planning staff about the environmental impacts. The course borders a 187-acre nature preserve.
But with The Landings site already located in an industrial area, Clearwater officials praised the proposal for its potential, the Times reported. They said it could boost Pinellas County’s industrial sector, which is held back by a lack of available land and outdated existing stock that is expensive to redevelop.
The North Pinellas market has about 13.8 million square feet of industrial space, according to a Pinellas County market assessment completed in December. County consultants projected a demand for 10 million more square feet for industrial development over the next 20 years, the Times reported.
“We’re competing with these other communities that still have cows in pastures and they are able to put up similar facilities for far less expense,” said Denise Sanderson, the city’s economic development and housing director. “We want to remain competitive and attract the kinds of businesses our residents need, these quality jobs where you can grow and advance your skills.”
The proposal for a $131 million development at The Landings does not specify any secured tenants, but it would be built to accommodate medical manufacturing and other light industry as opposed to heavier production like automotive, according to Harrod senior partner Rob Webster.
The golf course’s current operator pays the city $1,000 a month in rent, according to Sanderson. A city staff analysis estimates a light industrial complex could generate $11 million in net benefits over 10 years, the Times reported. The analysis estimates the complex could create 3,783 direct and spinoff jobs at average salaries of $47,076. And its location would put the manufacturing park in the city’s existing industrial section, not bordering sensitive lands or heavy residential areas.
“The physical location of it is the best place for this type of development, and light industrial development in 2020 is so much different than the light industrial area that was developed 60 years ago,” council member Hoyt Hamilton said during a recent work session.
Council member Kathleen Beckman raised concerns about the loss of green space with the project, the Times reported.
“If we’re going to put this up for lease, we have to understand the context of what we’re losing,” Beckman said. “I am pro higher-paying jobs. I want to see our economy grow. I know we need to build up our coffers, especially in light of COVID-19. But I want to do it in an informed and very transparent way that respects our voters and allows them to digest the information before they cast their vote.”
According to Parks and Recreation Director Art Kader, the city has 14.6 acres of park land per 1,000 residents, well above the standard of 4 acres per 1,000 residents, the Times reported. That calculation includes 643 acres of ball fields and golf courses, 52 acres of open space parks, 754 acres of environmental parks and preserves, 162 acres of neighborhood parks and 96 acres of recreation and aquatic centers.
If council members move forward on negotiations with Harrod Properties, they would likely vote next month on the ballot language for the referendum, the Times reported. Voters would be asked in November to decide whether to approve a 65-year lease with three 10-year renewal options. The agreement would keep 12 of the 77 acres as a golf course.
Harrod Properties owns and manages 3.5 million sq. ft. of property in Tampa Bay, specializing in industrial, medical manufacturing and office products, Webster said. The firm is in the final stages of constructing three other industrial complexes in Pasco County, Largo and Lakewood Ranch.
“We’ve been looking for north of 15 years now for good, quality land to develop in Clearwater,” Webster told the council. “There’s a lack of quality, Class A industrial manufacturing buildings in the city.”
Sanderson said The Landings property was identified in 2011 as a potential site for light industrial development, the Times reported. By adding to the industrial sector, the project would also help the city’s goal of shifting the tax burden from residents to commercial property owners, she noted.
Today, about 68 percent of property taxes collected in the city are paid by residents, as opposed to commercial property owners.
“We’d prefer to see a flip of that to some extent,” Sanderson said.
In a close vote on May 18, the Chesterfield (N.H.) Planning Board approved the plan of Pine Grove Springs Golf Course in Spofford, N.H. to carve out five new housing lots near Spofford Lake, The Keene (N.H.) Sentinel reported.
The approval came with 12 separate conditions, many of which have to do with stormwater management and wetlands, The Sentinel reported. Some local residents, in opposing the subdivision, had raised concerns about environmental impacts on the lake.
Bob Maibusch, owner of the golf course, is planning to create five new lots of about two acres each, The Sentinelreported. Four lots between New Hampshire Route 9A and the lake would replace the driving range, and the fifth would be south of 9A on the edge of the golf course.
The income from selling the lots would help him keep the golf course open, Maibusch has said.
The proposal had been under review since September, The Sentinel reported, and after hours of additional discussion on May 18th, the board approved the plan, 4-3.
The eventual owners of the new housing lots will be bound by covenants requiring them to build and maintain stormwater-management systems, The Sentinel reported. They will also have to replace the culverts under Channel Road—a town-owned road running between the main part of the proposed lots and their lake frontage—if and when they fail.
Pine Grove Springs will be required to install granite markers to indicate where wetlands begin, The Sentinel reported.
The planning board discussed, but ultimately rejected, a requirement that Pine Grove Springs pay for an additional study to delineate the location of the site’s wetlands, The Sentinel reported.
Parisi said he wanted to confirm the information submitted by the applicant’s wetlands expert, given that there was much public discussion on that topic. He also said he noticed “substantial water” outside of the delineated wetlands during site visits.
However, the proposed condition was shot down, 4-3, The Sentinel reported. Some of the other board members said another wetlands study would be unnecessary and unfair to impose on Pine Grove Springs this late in the process.
The Nicholasville (Ky.) City Commission has approved a zone change that would allow construction of more than 300 houses on the property currently occupied by Lone Oak Golf Course, despite the city planning commission’s vote to deny the zone change twice in the past six months, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
In January, Lone Oak LLC applied for a zone change for Lone Oak Golf Course from largely agriculture to residential zones to allow for the construction of 316 homes, townhouses and apartments, the Herald-Leaderreported. The plans include 184 single-family homes, and the remaining units will be townhouses or apartments.
Bruce Smith, a lawyer for Lone Oak LLC, said the developers are looking forward to starting the development, the Herald-Leader reported.
“We are pleased with the vote in favor of the zone change and look forward to creating a first-rate development for this community,” Smith said.
But a lawyer who represents opponents of the proposed Lone Oak development, called the Enclave, said the fight over the development is not over, the Herald-Leader reported.
Neighbors of the development will file a lawsuit challenging the city commission’s approval of the zone change, said Bruce Simpson, a lawyer for neighbors opposed to the development. A key issue in the fight over Lone Oak’s zone change has been whether the city has enough sewer and stormwater capacity for the new development.
“Approving the development of 317 new houses in the middle of an existing neighborhood which is already overburdened with raw sewage being episodically dumped into its creek is unconscionable,” Simpson said. “The evidence is incontrovertible that Nicholasville’s dysfunctional wastewater treatment plant has been over capacity and out of compliance with mandatory federal and state law for years.”
Simpson filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in early March, alleging the city of Nicholasville stormwater treatment facility is inadequate, resulting in sewage back up in yards and into streams and creeks, the Herald-Leader reported. The city’s failure to fix those problems and the state’s failure to force the city to upgrade its stormwater systems is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act, Simpson wrote on behalf of Nicholasville residents.
Flooding and stormwater overflows into yards near the golf course have been problematic for a decade, residents close to the course say.
The city’s wastewater treatment plant went over its regulated capacity in January 2019, city officials have said. That happened in part because of higher-than-expected rainfall totals in 2018, the Herald-Leader reported.
But state documents show state regulators have dogged the city for an updated sewer and stormwater treatment plan for more than a decade, the Herald-Leader reported.
The complaint to the EPA alleges Nicholasville was required to update its facility plan —which shows its wastewater treatment systems—every ten years. Its last plan was updated in 2002. A letter from state Energy and Environmental Cabinet officials in 2014 asked for the updated plan by 2015. The city ignored the request. It wasn’t until February 2020 the city sent an updated plan, the Herald-Leader reported.
As part of that agreement with state regulators, Nicholasville has agreed to spend $20 million to expand its sewer capacity by 30 percent. But that project will not be completed until 2022, city officials said in March.
City officials have also said they are working on a separate project to determine why so much water is getting into the sewer system in the neighborhoods surrounding the golf course, which is causing the stormwater or manhole overflows. The city also maintains that it continues to receive awards from state regulators for its wastewater treatment plant, the Herald-Leader reported.
State officials have not yet signed off on the agreed order with the city of Nicholasville, Simpson said, and the EPA has not yet responded to the initial complaint despite repeated phone calls and letters. More than 100 Nicholasville residents have also filed complaints online with the EPA, demanding an investigation, he said.
Lone Oak developers have said the new housing on the now failed Lone Oak Golf Course will be built over several years and therefore won’t overtax the current sewer system, the Herald-Leader reported.
Lone Oak applied for a similar zone change last fall, the Herald-Leader reported.
In October, the Nicholasville Planning Commission voted 6-4 for 343 housing units on the golf course after hearing hours of testimony in two different meetings, the Herald-Leader reported. Lone Oak LLC ultimately withdrew its zone-change application before the city commission could consider it.
In January, Lone Oak LLC filed another request but decreased the number of housing units to 316. In late February, the Nicholasville Planning Commission voted 6-5 to deny the second zone change, the Herald-Leaderreported.
The proposed development has been one of the most controversial zone changes in recent years in Jessamine County, the Herald-Leader reported.
The city commission voted in July 2019 to annex the golf course, despite strenuous objections from neighbors and others opposed to the annexation, the Herald-Leader reported.
Annexation by the city allows Tall Oak LLC to get water and sewer lines extended into the property, the Herald-Leader reported. Developers typically make purchases of property contingent on zone change approval, but that’s not what happened with the Tall Oak LLC development. Tall Oak LLC investors Clay Corman and Bill Hayden purchased the 130 acres in May, three months before the July 2019 annexation vote, Jessamine County property records show.