Thursday, October 01, 2009

CRA suspends plans to buy golf course

Negotiations temporarily on hold; site’s owners have filed suit against the city over denial of land use change


Florida Gulf Venture, the owner of the Golf Club of Cape Coral, has filed a lawsuit against the city over the municipality's refusal to approve a land use change.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, is based on the premise of inverse condemnation, or when government decision impacts private property but fails to compensate.

Florida Gulf Ventures is now seeking compensation from the city in the Circuit Court of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit.

"Their contention is that we aren't allowing them to use the property the way they think it should be used," said Mayor Jim Burch. "My position is simple: That the property had a land use on it for many years."

Burch couldn't go into too much detail on a pending lawsuit, but said in his opinion the lawsuit is a procedural move.

The Community Redevelopment Agency has been issued a copy of the complaint, even though they aren't party to the lawsuit. According to John Jacobsen, executive director of the CRA, the agency's plans to acquire the golf course will be suspended pending the next board meeting on Oct. 20.

Jacobsen said the suspension shouldn't affect the acquisition of the property.

"They announced this way back, that they would pursue litigation, this is no surprise," he said.

The first round of negotiations between Florida Gulf Venture and a CRA intermediary that was to be the actual purchaser of the site on the CRA's behalf, was unsuccessful when the entities could not agree on a purchase price.

The CRA said it would continue its efforts.

Meanwhile, the city council voted to add the golf course to the boundaries of the CRA in August.

During another meeting on Sept. 21, the city council amended the CRA's redevelopment plan to address the acquisition process and development of the course.