Friday, July 13, 2007


Hi All,

I have emailed the current candidates running for city council seats in the upcoming election and asked them to share their position on the issue of the application made by the investor/developers for a change of Land Use from Parks and Rec to Mixed Use (Commercial, Retail and Multi-Family) of the former Golf Club property. I will post their views under their names below as I receive them.

Regards, Mary

Thomas Hair

Hi Mary,

This past Wednesday the Planning and Zoning Commission gave their endorsement to an ordinance that will make it possible to create a golf resort on the grounds of the former Golf Club. I asked our Department of Community Development in coordination with our City Attorney to create this ordinance to answer the concerns of surrounding property owners. The ordinance is written in such a way that it would guarantee the continuation of a golf course on the current site given a willing buyer, but it will also allow a building of up to ten stories on the site of the former club house. This was done to make the property as economically viable as possible while maintaining the golf course aspect of the property. In short, the property needs a buyer, and this will help make that possible. I have asked the city manager to have someone from staff provide a brief explanation to your organization on the proposed ordinance.

Beyond that, I have seen the proposal from the current owners for the property. A linear park with residential and upscale mixed use is a viable plan B if we cannot find a buyer and are willing to allow those who have failed at one business venture to profit off of another. My thoughts are that the property and surrounding community would best be served by a golf resort given the statements of surrounding property owners. My concerns are that if we cannot find a willing buyer, what happens next?

Thomas W. Hair
Councilmember, District One
City of Cape Coral, Florida

James D. Burch


Thank you for inquiring as to my opinion on this matter. I am opposed to rezoning this property and I believe that the Golf Club was a valuable part of what little historical significance remains in this great city. I spoke at the meeting held at the Realtors Building in Club Square several months ago as a concerned citizen.As you probably know, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite, two very good golfers from the PGA tour in the past, tied for the NCAA championship that was held at the Club over 30 years ago. Many actions have taken place on this parcel including the fact that the club house has recently been demolished for whatever reason as obstacles to revitalizing this wonderful championship golf course layout, but it remains my hope that this property will continue to be looked at as the venue for an 18 hole regulation course and I am hoping that the City officials can look into solutions to help facilitate that, if possible. This city is geographically large enough to facilitate two championship courses and the locations of Coral Oaks in the extreme North and the Club in the extreme South are perfectly aligned for co-existence now and as the City grows. We may never have the opportunity to realize this usage again as the prospect of acquiring or consolidating 175 acre parcels seems to be difficult at best. I also question the wisdom of placing that type of development in that area, nestled inside of the existing community. That would not be the worst use of the property but I believe the best use is what as it began, maybe hotel, as it began originally, but definitely golf course.


Jim Burch


Peter Brandt


First, let me apologize for not responding to your first request.

Second, let me state that I have two basic premises concerning this property. The first is, that the city should not buy it. That's not to say that I would preclude consideration of some public/private venture in the future, depending, of course on the terms of such a venture. My second premise is that the interest of the area's property owners/residents need to be protected.

Whether or not what I understand your goal to be of returning this property to a golf course, potentially coupled with a convention center can be realised depends on several things. One is the economy of our area. That must be revitalized before anything can be expected to be done with this property. Even when that is accomplished (something to which I'm dedicated), a second requirement is to find the right developer/promoter to actually implement such a complex.

At this point in time, I hope that P and Z will turn down the request for a land use change for this area from Parks and Recreation to Mixed Use, and if they don't, I hope the current council will.

The investor/developer's estimates of disposable income in this area (the so called GAP study) may be flawed. With four of Cape Coral's Zip codes being in the top ten list of foreclosure properties in the US, their estimates could be way off. Also, with what the local real estate industry reports as over a ten year supply of condos, based on available units and current demand, anyone proposing to build more condos, in my mind, is nuts.

Finally, let me suggest that it is my understanding that golf course communities where the surrounding property owners have an equity interest in the golf course are generally successful.
As I understand it, that is not the case here, and it is something that might be worthy of pursuit.

Pete Brandt
Candidate for Cape Coral City Council, District 2

Walter G. Fluegel


Karyn forwarded your email to me, thanks for reaching out to her. Please let me know if I can come and speak to your group.

Although I can't entirely prejudge it because of my role on planning and zoning board and the fact that I'm supposed to hear all of the evidence at public hearing before making a decision, I can tell you that my position on golf course conversions is fairly straight forward, I am generally opposed to the conversion of open space to other more intensive uses. In fact, the City, a few months back had requested a Fire Station be located on a City park over off Pelican and I voted to deny it! Further, I have some history with golf course conversions, as a planner for the City of Plantation I was involved in preparing the City's defense for two lawsuits against the City, where the owner of the Golf Club in Plantation had attempted to convert a portion of the golf course to residential and was denied by the City. Having said that, in this particular instance, should the homeowners around the Golf Club find some common ground with the developer, to provide some limited type of development on the Golf Club while providing for a meaningful dedication of lands to the City for Park purposes, I would keep an open mind, so long as the neighbors are in agreement.

Please feel free to call me to discuss or set up a meeting with your group.

Walter G. Fluegel, AICP Candidate District 2
Director of Planning
Heidt & Associates, Inc.
3800 Colonial Boulevard
Fort Myers, FL 33966-1075
Phone: 239-482-7275
Cell: 239-470-3965


William Deile

Dear Ms Neilson:

In 2000 my wife and I moved to Cape Coral from New Jersey . New Jersey, last time I looked is the only state where all of its counties are classified as metropolitan areas, has the densest system of highways in the U.S., has the highest cost of living, highest cost of auto insurance, has the highest property taxes in the nation and North Jersey has the most shopping malls of any area in the world! We escaped that and do not want to see it replicated here.

I do not believe it is in the best interest of our city to change the zoning of the “Golf Club” area so it can fill up with condos and other high density housing, car washes, pizza places, gas stations, pharmacies etc. To do so will stress the environment, the city infrastructure and create congestion as well as other undesirable conditions. I believe it should retain as much green space as possible and yet remain on the tax rolls. I would like to see it become a mini-resort with a pool, golf course and club with associated boutique shops and a small perimeter park serving the resort as well as the community. All of this should be operated by private enterprise. It should generate not only tax revenue to reduce the burden on home owners but serve to attract visitors who spend money here as well as providing amenities for the community as it did in the past.

I believe this may possible if the city and the chamber as well as normal market forces work in concert. We can make the “Golf Club” an attractive investment while preserving the character of the area. I believe it was so in the past and would like to see it become so again.


William P. Deile

Candidate for City Council, Dist 3

M. Lynn Rosko

We have a unique opportunity before us in keeping the Golf Club land use Parks and Recreation. Cape Coral's growth is expected to max out at some 400,000 residents. With that type of growth one has to be cognizant of the future needs for parks and recreation for our residents both present and future. Quality of life in Cape Coral requires as much park land and recreational as possible. This being especially so in the south area of Cape Coral. I will be following this issue closely to insure that this land is put to the best use for Cape Coral residents and not a squandered opportunity.

Lynn Rosko
Candidate Cape Coral Council District 3


Eric D. Grill

Hi Mary,
I have not reviewed the application for the change yet. When it comes before
P&Z, I will be able to give it a complete review. Without having the
application, it is hard to make a definite decision. I will state that I do
not believe the infrastructure will support increased density at that site.
Obviously, something needs to be done about the property, I am still hopeful
that something can be worked out that protects the surrounding residents yet
still brings a quality project to the City.
Thank you for taking the time to request all of our opinions.
Eric D. Grill

Gloria Z. Baron


Thank you for requesting my input on the application to change the current Land Use of the golf course property from Parks and Recreation to Mixed Use.

I really would like to see the golf course remain as a recreational site. I sympathize with existing property owners whose homes are adjacent to the golf course. The decision to purchase their homes was probably based on the fact that they would always be on the golf course and would be able to enjoy the beauty and spaciousness of the area. However, since the property is privately owned, the owners have the right to apply for the zoning change. In all sincerity, I hope that the City can find a way to negotiate with the golf course property owners to allow the site to remain as a recreational area.

Gloria Baron


Chris Berardi

This property is perfectly viable as a golf course. The owners of The
Golf Club simply are not marketing the property at a number that the
private sector is willing to pay.

An analogy for this land change would be that if I over-priced my home
and could find no buyer willing to pay my price then I should be able to
have it rezoned to commercial so that the market would meet my price.
That scenario is as illogical as the attempted rezoning of The Golf


Chris Berardi
Cape Coral City Council

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cape Coral Landmark demolished

By Nadia Ramdass, WINK News

Cape Coral - There is a been a battle brewing for some time regarding the
next step for The Golf Club in Cape Coral. At one point the Lee County
School Board attempted to buy the course to develop it into a multi-school
campus.... but was met with opposition from residents. Now developers are
looking to use the land for commercial and residential use, but residents
say they do not need new development, they just want more green.

Carol Sue Gonzalez is sad to see the one of Cape Coral's crown jewels turn
into a pile of rubble. Especially since the clubhouse of The Golf Club was
the very place her son got married.

"Our kids are now celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary this month and
I took pictures last week to show them the demolition of the building they
got married and it's kind of sad," said Gonzalez.

The Golf Club open it's doors back in 1967 to attract new residents to the
growing city. Now that the golf club is closed for good, developers have
asked the city to change the future land use of the club from residential to
mixed use. This would allow developers to sell the property as retail,
office or multi-family living space.

"We oppose it and we will go to every meeting and try to stop it," said Mary
Neilson of Save Our Recreation, a group opposing the plan.

Neilson, who serves as president for the non-profit group is trying to stop
developers in their tracks. Neilson says the land would be best suited for
parks and recreation use even adding a new course or a resort. She says
using the plot of land for commercial use would be her worse nightmare.

"We have a 175 acres of beautiful green space in a growing area and the
traffic issues would be bad and I think it's just time to save some green
space," said Neilson.

If the city approves the developer's plans for the land, it will then go to
the State. Public hearings are set for this fall. Neighbors say hundreds are
planning to show up to protest.

Proposed ordinance changes criteria for constructing resorts; Targeted properties can be zoned R-3, but must meet certain conditions for eligibility

By MATT BLUMENFELD, Cape Coral Breeze
An ordinance that would adjust requirements for the creation of resorts in CapeCoral met with opposition at Monday’s City Council meeting by the citizens’ group pushingto ensure the property at the old The Golf Club has a course in the future.
The measure, proposed by District 1 Councilmember Tom Hair, gives developers the ability to create a resort on R-3 zoned areas provided they meet certain conditions. Though it would allow such developments across the city, Hair acknowledged the fact that he crafted the bill to try and end the impasse that has left The Golf Club land vacant and unkempt for the past year.
“My motivation in doing this is simply to preserve this as a golf course,” Hair toldthe chamber. “I feel that (the ordinance) will help to make this piece of property more appealing to a buyer.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended council pass the ordinance by a 5-0 vote on July 11. Last night’s meeting set a final hearing date for the ordinance, which is scheduled for Aug. 20.
Any site that would apply for the resort status under the proposed ordinance would have to be at least 75 acres in size, have a parks and recreation future land use classification and could only develop on 25 percent of the property. The rest of the land would have to be utilized for outdoor recreational activities.
Resident Neil Smith, of Southeast 41st Street, told council that there are only seven properties in the city that could actually fulfill the measure’s requirements.
Joe Mazurkiewicz, a consultant for the citizens’ group Save Our Recreation, said Hair’s proposal was not a good plan.
“I believe his purpose is honorable, but the fix has too many unknowns,” he said, after delivering his remarks during the public input segment.
Mazurkiewicz, and a half dozen residents who came to support the Save Our Recreation cause, said the ordinance did “not make any sense.”
“Why would you increase density when the idea is open space?” asked Mazurkiewicz.
Mazurkiewicz said his group believes that a resort could be built on the land where the clubhouse and other buildings once stood at The Golf Club, which was much smaller than the 25 percent allowed by the proposal.
The bottom line for members of Save Our Recreation is the ordinance proposed by Hair is simply unnecessary and potentially dangerous, especially with a possible re-zoning of the property to R-3.
“City staff have concurred that our plans are doable within the existing laws. If that is still the case, we see no reason for this legislation,” Mazurkiewicz said during the meeting.
Councilmember Dolores Bertolini of District 4, which contains the old The Golf Club property, disputed Mazurkiewicz’s claim that the Save Our Recreation group had presented a tangible plan for future use.
“There has been no proposal made,” she said. “There is no official proposal for that land at all.”
Smith saw other issues with the legislation Hair sponsored. He told council that resorts and other hotels should be kept away from homes.
“A resort hotel is a commercial enterprise, it does not belong in a residential district.”
City planner Rick Sosnowski acknowledged Smith’s point that resorts could be built on commercial property, but said the ordinance could also benefit future annexed land or areas currently serving as country clubs.
“We feel that the use of those could be enhanced by the possibility of developing a resort. It might make them open to a broader audience.”
Smith also came back to the history of The Golf Club, pointing out the fact that a private resort would not be as accessible to the public as the land’s previous facilities.
“The permitted uses do not allow a stand alone restaurant,” he said. “The only one that could be allowed on this property would have to be within the resort.”
Mazurkiewicz was more passionate in his remarks against the ordinance, saying that it could jeopardize the future of a golf course at The Golf Club property. He added that the failure to protect the land would break a promise made by the city’s original developers to keep it as a golf course.
Mazurkiewicz and the rest of the Save Our Homes members who attended the meeting said they plan to “bring in the troops” at the second public hearing in two weeks.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Clubhouse demolition highlights past, future of Cape Coral


What was once the center for social gatherings and recreation in Cape Coral will become nothing but a pile of rubble in a few short weeks. Demolition of the clubhouse at The Golf Club began Thursday after crews finished gutting most of the interior. A backhoe took the first chunk out of the exterior at 10 a.m.

It should be only another three weeks before there is nothing left of a building that pre-dates the incorporation of the city, according to project superintendent Marc Arnett. Workers have been at the closed course for weeks, ripping out asbestos from the clubhouse and tearing down other structures.

Crews began ripping the cart barn and other small buildings apart last Monday. But the structure of the clubhouse remained intact, standing as one of the final remaining symbols of the Cape’s past.

City historian Paul Sanborn was the first general manager of the course and hosted the clubhouse opening. “Now when I see them tearing it down, I remember when we were building it,” he said.

He recalls fondly the time when the course and its clubhouse were “the most luxurious between Tampa and Miami — the jewels of Cape Coral.”

Gulf American Land Corporation, owned by the famous Rosen family, originally developed the property and opened both a golf course and a hotel on the land in 1961. Very few people lived in the Cape at that point, so the corporation build the course to attract new residents. In the mid 1960s one of the Rosens told Sanborn, “people think this is a country club, but it isn’t. It’s a sales tool.”

Construction of the clubhouse began in 1966, and it opened to the public on New Year’s Eve 1967. The club threw a party for its opening, which was just the start of annual tradition. Sanborn said that some rooms in the clubhouse were not even finished, but that he decided that they could not pass up an event like that.

Five years after the clubhouse was erected, golf legends Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite battled for the NCAA national championship on the links at The Golf Club. They would end up sharing the individual title after Crenshaw sunk a world-class distance putt on the final hole. His Texas Longhorns won the team competition that year.

New management would file in and out over the years, each with different philosophies. Wall tile was painted over and color schemes were changed to reflect a more “Florida” feel. The interior of the clubhouse was altered more than the course itself, which underwent several renovations. Eventually, the entire second floor would be closed, bringing an end to the various banquets, weddings and receptions that were once held in the halls. The pro shop, restaurant and bar on the first floor remained open until course operations shut down.

What was once a brilliantly manicured course is now gone. Residents have described the vacant property as a “wasteland.” What used to be a spectacular backyard view is now an eyesore, neighbors say.

Developers have repeatedly stated their case for redevelopment of the land, but future plans are very much up in the air.

Battles over the property have been waged for the last two years, beginning with Lee County’s attempt to buy the course and develop it into a multi-school campus in 2005. After that plan was withdrawn, a new fight began when former course manager Scott Siler announced in June 2006 that the course would be permanently closed as of the start of August that year. It took 11 more months for contractors to roll in to demolish the long- abandoned buildings that stood on the once proud course.

While he understands the reasoning, Sanborn still decries the decision to demolish the clubhouse.

“I think its a loss for the city,” he said.

Still, the possibility of a new course with a resort complex of some kind built on the property does excite him.

Such a plan has been proposed by Save Our Recreation, a non-profit organization dedicated to retaining a golf course on the land.

“It’s sad to see it go,” Mary Neilson, the group’s president said about the clubhouse, “but it was deteriorated to the point where they had to do something.”

Partners for Florida Gulf Ventures LLC, the company which owns the Golf Club, have vehemently opposed such a proposal saying that it is simply not economically viable.

Sanborn remains skeptical.

“I find it difficult to believe in a city of 160,000 that they could not support (a golf course),” he said.

But because of the amount of money the owners lost during the last few years of operation, he understands why the course was closed and why current plans from Florida Gulf Ventures do not include one.

He was cautious to be very critical of the company’s plans for the space.

“It’s very easy to spend other people’s money,” Sanborn said.

Neilson said that the clubhouse was a landmark but it had fallen into disrepair so it had to be demolished since repair was simply not an option. The demolition may be a good first step to revamping the property and putting it to good use once again.

“I look forward to a resort and an 18-hole golf course. We’re working on it,” she said.

Response From City Planner Wyatt Daltry

Hi All,

Copied below please find my correspondence with Wyatt Daltry, Planner, Department of Community Development, City of Cape Coral. I hope you find this helpful as we move forward.

Please note....Question #4 - Opposition letters -. If you plan to write a letter. Please use the address to Answer #4 in your salutation but mail to me at my office or home. I will make a copy of each one, wait until I receive 50, then deliver to City Hall in person so I can get a receipt. Please be sure to have each person in your household write a separate letter.


1) How does the application process work (step by step in layman's

2) Date of all scheduled P & Z meetings when this property will be discussed?

3) Water, sewer, drainage, street flooding and traffic issue. Will that
be researched by the city staff?

4) To whom do we mail or email opposition letters?

5) Any additional information you may deem helpful in understanding the

Here are the answers to your questions:

1.) The application process for the land use change is a long and
involved process, particularly since this is referred to as a
large-scale land use amendment (over 10 acres), which requires greater
State review than a normal "small-scale" land use amendment, and
involves 2 sets of public hearings. I have also involved the State
review process for this large-scale process.
- First, the City receives the amendment application package,
and determines whether it is complete.
- If the package is complete, then the application is copied and
routed to various City review agencies, such as Planning, Engineering,
Transportation, Survey, etc.
- The various City review agencies review and comment. Planning
Division is the lead agency, and develops a case report, which
encompasses Staff's recommendations and makes a recommendation
(Usually "Approval" or "Denial") to the public hearing bodies, which
would be the Planning and Zoning Commission/Local Planning Agency
and the City Council. As this is a large-scale amendment, our
recommendation for the first set of public hearings will be
"Transmittal" or "Denial of Transmittal".
- Upon completion of Staff's recommendations, the City
Attorney's office develops an ordinance, identifies a Council sponsor of
the ordinance, and sets public hearing dates in cooperation with
Planning and Zoning staff.
- Public Notice is mailed to property owners within 300 feet of
the subject property, states both P&Z and Council meeting dates for the
transmittal hearings. A display ad is published in the Cape Coral
Daily Breeze no less than 10 days before the public hearing for the
Planning and Zoning Commission.
- Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing, makes
recommendation to Council as to whether the amendment should be
transmitted to the State for their review.
- Display ad is published in Cape Coral Daily Breeze no less
than 10 days before the public hearing for City Council.
- City Council public hearing, makes decision as to whether the
amendment will be transmitted to the State for their review. If Council
opts not to transmit the amendment to the State, the amendment is
effectively denied.
*NOTE* For a small-scale amendment, this is where the City process
would end (though the language would be "adoption" or "denial" instead
of "transmit"). For now, I will continue as though the case was
transmitted. *END NOTE*
- If transmitted, City staff develop an information package
("Transmittal package") including the case report, case maps, cover
letter, etc. and send it to 7 State and Regional agencies, who have a
60-day review period.
- At the end of the 60-day review period, the lead State review
agency - the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) developed an
"Objections, Recommendations, and Comments (ORC) report, which
identifies shortcomings and issues, if any, that these state and
regional agencies have identified. This report is mailed to the
City, who has 60 days to respond by a.) Adopting the amendments as
transmitted, b.) Adopting the amendment, but in a modified form through
the ORC comments, or c.) Not adopting the amendment.
- So, within 120 days after the State received the City's
transmittal, the City must undertake another public hearing process,
this time to adopt or deny the amendments.
- Public Notice is mailed to property owners within 300 feet of
the subject property, states both P&Z and Council meeting dates for the
adoption hearings. A display ad is published in the Cape Coral
Daily Breeze no less than 10 days before the public hearing for the
Planning and Zoning Commission.
- Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing, makes
recommendation to Council as to whether the amendment should be adopted.
- Display ad is published in Cape Coral Daily Breeze no less
than 10 days before the public hearing for City Council.
- City Council public hearing, makes decision as to whether the
amendment will be adopted or denied.
- If any amendments are adopted, City staff develop an
information package ("adoption package") including the case report, case
maps, cover letter, ordinances, etc. and send it to the state and
regional agencies, along with a formal response letter to the ORC
report. These agencies would be notified in any transmitted cases
were denied by Council, and they perform one last review to ensure that
their ORC comments were followed-through and that no other changes
were made.
- If these amendments are found to be compliant with the City's
Comprehensive Plan, then DCA develops a "Notice of Intent" statement,
finding the amendments in compliance. Upon posting of the NoI,
interested parties may appeal with 21 days of posting - if there are no
appeals, the amendments are effectuated.

2.) We don't know yet, since we are not anywhere near the public
hearing stage. This amendment will be part of a larger "window" of
large-scale amendments, of which there may be 15 or so cases. We may
know by August - we are anticipating a transmittal public hearing set in
November/December 2007.

3.) As this is a land use amendment, we are reviewing whether it is
appropriate to have Mixed Use development on the subject property.
Therefore, issues such as drainage, parking, etc. wouldn't necessarily
be reviewed since that is more of a site plan issue. However, issues
like water and sewer (i.e. "Do we have enough capacity?" "What kind of
upgrades are needed for this area?") and transportation ("Can the
existing road network handle the traffic estimated to be generated by
the amendment?" "Is this overly intrusive to a largely residential
neighborhood?") are legitimate concerns that will be discussed at this

4.) Mail your opposition letters to the Department of Community
Development. The mailing address is:

City of Cape Coral
Department of Community Development
P.O. Box 150027
Cape Coral, FL 33915-0027

5.) I think we hit most of those points in #1. I would say though,
that this land use amendment stage is used to determine the most
appropriate use or type of uses for the property. Therefore, we are
discussing whether Mixed Use is appropriate. We are not discussing
end-users -- for example, it wouldn't and shouldn't matter whether Saks
5th Avenue is a end-user of the eventual development or whether it's a
Kiwanis. It shouldn't matter whether some fast-food restaurant is a
vendor, or some ritzy French place. Doesn't matter if its apartments or
condos or town homes. In fact, drawings and sketchings of the possible
development, while helpful, are NOT set in stone at this stage.

However, if you have any other questions, feel free to contact me -
which is best done by email.

Wyatt Daltry, AICP
Planner III
Department of Community Development
City of Cape Coral
(239) 573-3160 (phone)
(239) 574-0594 (fax)