A question for your Wednesday:
If I build my house along a golf course, should I have an expectation it’ll stay a golf course forever?
Asked another way: If I own a golf course and it goes under, am I stuck with links and greens even though the market provides other opportunities?
We’ll get an answer to both questions in the coming months.
In what is becoming a common theme, Pine Ridge residents are beginning to flood the email inboxes of county commissioners urging them to vote no on a plan to turn the closed Pine Ridge Golf Club into a housing development.
Their argument is similar to what we’ve heard in Sugarmill Woods, Ozello and Meadowcrest — compatibility.
Not just the ordinary issue of zoning compatibility but also historic compatibility. Put another way: Do current residents have a reasonable expectation that their neighborhood dynamics won’t change, based on the development master plan?
Floral City is a good example. It has a zoning overlay specific to Floral City meant to protect its heritage. When county commissioners hear requests for zoning changes in Floral City, they take that into account.
Developments such as Sugarmill Woods, Meadowcrest and Pine Ridge have master plans that act as mini-zoning overlays. The county commission approves these master plans and major changes.
Whereas zoning can be a little vague, a master plan isn’t. The 126-acre Pine Ridge Golf Club is designated recreation on the master plan. A new owner is asking the county to redesignate it for residential so he can build 85 single-family homes.
And homeowners aren’t happy about it. We haven’t had the first planning commission meeting about it and already county commissioners are getting an earful. I read several in this week’s email batch and this is my favorite:
“A whole new community inside of our established community is just unthinkable and unnecessary. There are still plenty of empty lots here in Pine Ridge and Citrus Springs. The developer saw a bargain…and the chance to make a fortune. We should send a message to future buyers that if you buy it, you get to keep the zoning. Right now, we have way too many companies buying properties with the assurance that a zoning change is a done deal. In this particular case, it does not make sense to stick a new neighborhood inside another well-known community.”
I could spend an entire blog breaking down that comment for its many salient points. Briefly:
— There ARE plenty of empty lots for homes but developers want a blank canvas. That’s the way it is.
— “The developer saw a bargain…and the chance to make a fortune.” Sounds about right. Not a reason to say no, though. Not sure why we’re critical of people who want to make money off the land. The issue is whether his plan fits the community. The owner shouldn’t be criticized for wanting to turn investment into profit.
— “We should send a message to future buyers that if you buy it, you get to keep the zoning.” Based on what I’ve seen from this county commission, buyers are starting to get that message.
And a quick word so we understand each other. As property owner, I have reasonable use of my land within the rules as they’re laid out. I do NOT have the right to upzone. Politicians who say they had no choice but to approve a zoning change are misinformed at best.
— “Right now, we have way too many companies buying properties with the assurance that a zoning change is a done deal.” I’d have to agree with that to a point.
It used to be that new property owners wouldn’t close on a sale until after the zoning was approved. With this latest market boom of the last two years, we’re seeing companies buying large tracts of vacant land under, I guess, the assumption that locals will approve the rezoning. Until this year and the proliferation of growth, that was probably a safe bet.
This board…I’m not saying it’s anti-growth, but it sure is cautious. EXTREMELY cautious. The rubber stamping is a memory of yesteryear. Developers have a right to be nervous if they expect to steamroll Citrus County.
Should Pine Ridge residents have a reasonable expectation that the golf course would stay green forever? Or does a new investor who sunk $850,000 buying 126 acres of dead property have an expectation to develop it?
Good questions. Not a chipshot from any angle.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.