Woodlands Country Club Golf Course
Woodlands Country Club. Photo by Adam Baron,

By: Anne Geggis

It took nearly five hours, but the developer who wants to turn the golf greens at the Woodlands into hundreds of new homes sank its first swing in front of county-level development decision-makers.

That approval was the warm-up round before the proposal tees off in front of the Broward County Commission. However, dozens of residents pitched against the plan for new homes like it was the final round.

The Broward County Planning Council voted 10-4 at its Jan. 23 meeting to change the use allowed on two, 18-hole golf courses at the Woodlands so that 423 homes can be built there. Next up, the Broward County Commission will review the change. However, no date has been set. If it gets approved there, it will go for state agencies’ review and then get passed to the Tamarac City Commission for final approval.

The sinking allure of the sport is changing golf courses into swaths of homes around the state and the country, and this is just the latest, the majority of council members agreed. Golf courses in Tamarac, Deerfield, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, and others have all sprouted plans for homes in recent years. Now developer 13th Floor wants to do the same at the Woodlands.

Most on the Planning Council agreed it was inevitable — in spite of the passionate sentiment against it.

“This golf course is going to close,” said Planning Council member Robert Breslau. “I don’t think there is any hope that if this isn’t approved, the [golf course] owner is going to say, ‘Let’s just keep losing money.”

But residents who turned out en masse for the daytime meeting in almost unanimous opposition – all but one Woodland resident – decried the Planning Council approval and vowed to fight on.

“I was incredibly disappointed … all the testimony that was expressed … It didn’t make any difference,” said David Pesch, who has lived in the Woodlands for a year. “The minds were already made up. We need to have a better organized counterpoint.”

Planning Council members, made up of leaders from around the county, listened as 52 speakers were called up to raise objections to the plans for the mammoth association that currently has nearly 900 homes.

All but one Woodlands resident raised objections that ran the gamut from individuals’ allergies to construction dust to traffic. In between, there were burrowing owls, coyotes, drainage, and, overall, the need to preserve the area’s disappearing green space.

“Here we have a fix, and there is nothing broken,” said Ron Coles, a Woodlands resident. “I am very much opposed to changing from recreational to residential [use]. If this council really wants to do us right, it will protect its land and its people. Does Tamarac really want to be a warm Newark, N.J?”

Tamarac Mayor Michele Gomez, who was one of the Planning Council members, was called out for her support of the change in the community where she lives, and some made veiled references to a conflict of interest.

“You have a house here,” said William Goffinet, a resident. “You have been spoiled – you got to enjoy the Woodlands for all these years, and now you are going to sell us out.”

Before Gomez reviewed the proposal for the city, a legal opinion was produced that she would get no special benefit from her votes on the project. Gomez was the first among the council members to offer comments.

“The Woodlands Country Club community was a country club in memory only,” she said, pointing out that only nine residents of the Woodlands are currently members. “It was never a truly successful country club.”

Karen Malkoff stood alone as a Woodlands resident in favor of the proposal. She pointed out that the developer could be worse – Tamarac’s zoning could put as many as 843 homes here if the maximum number allowed were built on this acreage. Or, the golf course could fall into disrepair.

“If not developed by 13th Floor, then who?” she said.

8 Responses to "Developer Plan for Homes on Woodlands Golf Greens Sails Forward Despite Public Outcry"

  1. This is such a sad commentary upon the Broward Planning Council. I hope that you all read the article last week in the SunSentiel regarding the loss of Florida’s green lands. Do you want to destroy our state. You, so far, are doing an excellent job of doing just that! Let’s look at how well you have planned for Broward County thus far! It is in a state of deterioration! Look at the skyline, paying particular attention to all of the “ building cranes”! When was the last time a population density study was compiled in Broward County? The need for more housing or the need for more greedy unethical business men and governmental omnipotent leaders leading the way to an imploding Broward County? As a citizen of this county for the past 40 years, and a true Native Floridian, I am appalled by the lack of future planning for the quality of life for our residents and not by the cities in Broward looking for each little of vacant land or pre dug lakes that they plan to fill in increasing future building space. As for the golf courses within The Woodlands they are not failing, they certainly are not! I have lived on the East course for past 11 years and observed the increase of golfers each year. Golf is increasing, not decreasing as the studies of 20 years ago have shown. If Club Link, who now owns the course has shown, the club is making money or they would have already sold the club house and the courses. This past year they sold 26 courses in the US for not making money. They could present this property for sale to a hotel as a resort community on this beautiful price of pristine land teeming with wildlife and Happy Residents. The gentleman that chaired the Planing Council Meeting on January 23, 2020 insulated the attendees by saying, “Just get used to it!”, meaning that this the new norm! You maybe correct, however your citizens of Broward have and will continue to defend their environment! Please pay attention to the infrastructure of this county and preserve its environment, as God had indended.

    Reply
  2. sprtychk  

    Every day my Ring app notifies me of shootings and stabbings surrounding The Woodlands. Every day I wish for more security. Every day I drive through a golf course falling into disrepair. Browning greens, half dead trees, and homes that are not maintained. What was once a vibrant, teeming community has fallen from it’s desirable status. What were once million dollar homes occupied by the wealthiest and most influential are now average family homes. This former playground of the rich has come to a crossroads. It must move with the times or become just another run-down reminder of a glorious past. My sympathies to those individuals who benefited from the long view from the back of their home of seemingly endless green space. As a relatively new homeowner in The Woodlands, I have not been apprised of ANY plans by the community residents to take over the golf course, what it would cost, how the maintenance would be managed, and who would administrate? I would venture to say that of those 50+ opposing residents, not one has any answer to my questions, nor have they penned a counter offer to Club Link. As usual, it is the few creating dissent that gum up the wheels of progress, unable and/or unwilling to compromise.

    Reply
  3. Christina Campo  

    I don’t think anyone from the Planning Council that took donation money for their campaigns from the 13th Floor should have a vote. It’s appalling to that they voted for it with all the wrongs about it as Sue Despit points out. We need greenspace in Tamarac not more homes. The many parks in Tamarac are always being upgraded. Since Woodlands is open to the public why not turn it into a park instead of cement city. Don’t destroy what little that is left of our environment. How are they going to be able to pull out all the trees? There are laws against cutting down trees unless it is a hazard. It is against the law to just cut down trees according to :

    ALEX SCHORE, NATURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department
    ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING AND PERMITTING DIVISION
    1 North University Drive, Mailbox 201, Plantation, FL 33324-2038
    Office: (954) 519-1282 Fax: (954) 519-1412

    So how are they going to be allowed to cut down the trees to build? We need to save greenspace not demolish it!

    Reply
    • PaulaB  

      I’m all in support for keeping the greenery but the question that still remains is if Club Link does not do the up keep, who will? They want $$$$ so if we gave them an alternative, then maybe a park or greenspace can be had. Also….what if they only took one golf course, not the one on woodlands blvd, and filled the other green with houses? That is not what I want but we have to come up with a happy medium.

      Reply
  4. An applicant may be eligible to receive a tree removal license if one of the following considerations is present:

    a. Whether a proposed development cannot be located on the site without tree removal;
    b. Whether the applicant has made every reasonable effort to incorporate existing trees in the development project and to minimize the number of trees removed;
    c. Whether a tree proposed to be removed is of poor quality and condition;
    d. Whether a tree proposed to be removed is obstructing safe vehicular cross visibility;
    e. Whether a tree proposed to be removed is damaging existing improvements;
    f. Whether a tree proposed to be removed is creating ongoing safety problems for existing development;
    g. Whether a tree proposed to be removed is growing too close in proximity to another tree(s) to permit normal growth and development of the affected tree(s); or
    h. Whether a tree proposed to be removed is listed on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s List of Invasive Plant Species, as amended.

    Some trees qualify for an exemption from licensing requirements. If you have questions, you may review the County’s ordinance at https://library.municode.com/fl/broward_county/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICOOR_CH27POCO_ARTXIVTRPRABOR
    or contact the County at 954-519-1483 with questions.

    Reply
  5. Philip Daspit  

    In response to Christina’s suggestion making the Woodland into a park was discussed by one of the planning board members. But nobody on the board wanted to discuss it. I did notice last week there is a proposal to make a greenspace in the Sistrunk area. Why aren’t the alternatives discussed?

    Reply
  6. Ron Coles  

    It’s a shame and sad that the County of Broward has no respect for open spaces and the environment and animals.. The only people that would benefit from a recreational zoning to a residential zoning by the City of Tamarac are home developers, builders and cement mixers. The home developers are only in for profit. Forget about people. Forget about Florida. Forget the present and our our children and grandchildren. Greed, partisan politics, money, power, election contributions and disrespect for the present is the norm.

    Reply
  7. Alex  

    They need to put affordable housing on the golf course and the other have should be green space. Think about the middle class, working poor and the environment. Don’t just think about your rich country club and what your view will be like. People need to think of the poor who have nowhere to live. Broward county is so expensive, where do the working class live?

    Reply

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