The Woodlands Country Club.

By: Saraana Jamraj

A group of Woodlands Country Club homeowners against new home development has united to fight for the preservation of their golf courses.

The Woodlands Defense Fund comes as a response to the planned rezoning of the land to allow developer, 13th Floor Homes, to build 423 homes where the two 18-hole golf courses are currently located.  

According to member Jose Spena, their goal is to gain solidarity to oppose the rezoning and influence the governmental authorities to protect its open green space and the prospering wildlife.

He will not disclose how much money has been raised but said that it is used to fund representation by an attorney and the writ of prohibition filed against the city of Tamarac. 

They also use the money for campaigns to move ahead as they plan their next steps. 

The group formed in late June, and during their September meeting, 25 homeowners attended. There are approximately 900 homes in the Woodlands. 

In July, after ten hours of public comments and deliberation, the mayor and commission ultimately decided to vote in favor of the land usage change, automatically allowing the application for development to go to Broward County, with Mayor Michelle Gomez, Vice Mayor Debra Placko, and Commissioner Julie Fishman voting for it, and Commissioner Marlon Bolton and Commissioner Mike Gelin voting in opposition.

Spena said while the group was grateful for the support of Commissioner Gelin and Commissioner Bolton, they were still disappointed by the outcome.

Though he aims to keep a constructive dialogue with Mayor Gomez, he also expressed concerns about her failure to align with the will of the people who will be affected by her decisions.  

“The mayor had no second thoughts to approve and to send the application to the Broward County. This undermines the stewardship of the Woodlands that its constituents afforded to her,” said Spena. “I think she put us in a position of weakness.”

The group has several concerns about the new development: safety hazards, an increase in crime rate, more traffic congestion, environmental concerns, and increased residential density that they believe is incompatible with the character of their neighborhood.

Although the city passed the land-use change, the Woodlands Defense Fund is still trying to stop the development from happening.

“The ideal outcome is the rejection of the application for the rezoning and the land use amendment, so the two golf courses, the ecosystem that they host, and the access to recreation will continue to be protected by the ordinance,” said Spena.  

The group hopes that in the future, the commissioners will align with the residents more often. 

“They are supposed to be on our side, and they must remember the importance of upholding good character.”

As they move forward, their next step is preparing to level the field for the confrontation at the Broward County planning and zoning meeting that is scheduled for January 23, at 10 a.m, where they plan to rally hundreds of people to attend the meeting.

Spena clarified that the group is not opposed to all urban development, but believes that the city has created opportunities for real estate investors as opposed to its population.

“We need to build a network of relationships between our communities. The larger the network, the better the resilience to face change and the capacity to develop intersecting areas of opportunity.”

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