The owner of the Naples, Fla. property, who says he’s losing $600,000 a year because of declining membership, is asking for a rezoning to be able to build condos. The county’s decision could set a precedent for ten other club properties that might want to request similar changes.
Residents who bought into a retirement dream of a condo overlooking the golf course at Golden Gate Country Club in Naples, Fla. are preparing for a legal battle, as the owner of that golf course seeks to rezone for residential use, reported WZVN ABC-7 of Fort Myers/Naples/Port Charlotte.
The owner of the Golden Gate Country Club, which WZVN did not name, says he’s losing $600,000 each year with declining membership and admits he’s been lax on maintenance on the greens, the station said. Membership has dropped from a high of 240 to just 50, the owner said,
The owner is asking the county to rezone the property, WZVN reported, so he can build condos and homes there in the future. That would replace the golf course view for existing residents such as Bryan Joyce, who is one of more than 900 people that own abutting units.
“Living on a golf course as a golfer is that retirement dream,” Joyce told WZVN. “[This] takes away from what I thought I was going to have for the next 20 years of living here. You know, of sitting down at the dining-room table, sitting down at the living-room table having people come to my home and looking at the view and seeing golfers out there.”
Resident Ron Ortlieb shared that sentiment about the possibility of tall buildings replacing his grassy view. “I wouldn’t be too happy about that. I wish I would have known that when I just bought,” Ortlieb told WZVN.
Joyce told the station that he didn’t know if rezoning the land would prompt him to move. But if it did, he said, he’s afraid he wouldn’t be able to sell his unit for what he paid for it. “I think my property values will go down if that’s not there now [and] if I try to sell it,” he said.
Frank Cocco, the property’s homeowners’ association manager, told WZVN he’s organizing residents—or actually getting “ready to go to war,” as Cocco described it.
Cocco told the station that he’s looking ahead to a number of meetings that have yet to be scheduled with the different parties involved. “We have legal representation,” Cocco said. “This place was deeded a golf course to be a golf course. People bought their properties with that in mind.”
Donna Fiala, a county commissioner, told WZVN that she agrees that whatever goes into the Golden Gate space needs to fit in with the rest of the community. “They certainly didn’t pay to have a three-story condominium or three stories of low-income housing in their backyard,” Fiala said of existing residents.
County commissioners would have to approve a zoning change, and whatever they decide could lead to an even bigger battle, WZVN reported. The decision could set a precedent, Fiala said, and the county has identified 10 other golf courses with the same zoning that are the most likely to request zoning changes, although most of them say they have no such plans.
Those golf courses, WZVN reported, include the Country Club of Naples, Glades Golf & Country Club, Hibiscus Golf Club, Imperial Golf Club, Lakewood Country Club, Palm River Country Club, Quail Creek Country Club, Quail Run Golf Club, the Quality Inn & Suites Golf Resort, and Riviera Golf Club.