The 50-year-old club in the Lucerne Lakes community of Lake Worth, Fla. is under contract to be sold for $15 million from Grillo Golf Management to Canadian homebuilder Mattamy Homes. Before voting to support the development, county officials considered petitions with more than 700 signatures and another 200 separate e-mails stating opposition to the plan, as well as more than 100 letters of support. Grillo Golf’s Vincent Grillo said the golf operation just couldn’t “make a go of it anymore” in competition with public facilities, noting that where as many as 100 community residents used to golf at Forest Lakes regularly, today that number is fewer than 10.
The Palm Beach (Fla.) County Zoning Commission has voted to support another golf course conversion in coastal southeast Florida, The Palm Beach Post reported—this one west of Lake Worth Beach that would result in a 450-unit residential development replacing the 50-year-old Forest Oaks Golf Club at Lucerne Lakes in Lake Worth, Fla.
Zoning commissioners heard more than two hours of testimony in support and in opposition to the plans of Canadian homebuilder Mattamy Homes, which is under contract to buy the 79-acre course for $15 million from Grillo Golf Management, The Post reported.
County planners received petitions with more than 700 signatures opposed to the project and another 200 unique e-mails in opposition as well, The Post reported. They also received more than 100 letters in support of the plans.
Land-use attorney Lisa Reves of West Palm Beach, Fla., representing disgruntled homeowners at Lucerne Lakes, spoke in opposition, The Post reported. A restriction included in the documents when the planned-unit development was built in the 1970s prevents the golf course from being converted into a development, she argued, and require that the golf course be maintained as recreation in perpetuity.
Mattamy’s own title insurance company has refused to insure the title to the property if objections are raised citing the restriction that allegedly bars development of the golf course, Reves added.
“People purchased these homes based on the reliance that the recreation area would always be there,” she noted.
County land-use attorney Robert Banks advised that the issue of the covenant was not within the purview of the Zoning Commission to address, The Post reported, explaining that the issue is something for homeowners at Lucerne Lakes and Mattamy to resolve.
Residents voicing opposition said they were upset over the loss of their golf-course views and also concerned over the amount of dust that would be generated as result of the conversion, The Post reported. But the county staff concluded that the project is consistent with county zoning and recommended approval.
Vincent Grillo and his business partner, Nick Pisano, said they cannot compete with county-owned golf facilities, The Post reported. “We cannot make a go of it anymore,” Grillo said, noting that very few Lucerne Lakes residents golf at the course. Where in the 1990s, he added, as many as 100 residents would golf on a daily basis, today that number is fewer than 10.
“The residents do not support the course,” Grillo said.
The golf course, in an unincorporated area under county jurisdiction, is on a 79-acre tract, and nearly half of the property would be left as open space if the development takes place, The Post reported.
If approved, the development would be the latest in a series of golf-course conversions in South Florida, The Post noted, with Palm Beach County by itself seeing more than 10 conversions in the past five years.
Grillo has agreed to keep the course open until permits are obtained, so that it will not go fallow and become “a nuisance to existing surrounding communities,” The Post reported.
The agent for Mattamy Homes said the builder has gone out of its way to address concerns raised by residents of Lucerne Lakes, The Post reported. A number of adjustments have been made, he said, noting that buffers have been extended and setbacks increased to accommodate the residents. And at one time, it was noted, Mattamy had planned to build 600 homes.