Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Suit by owners of former Cape Coral golf course site to go on

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Written by
Thomas Stewart

A lawsuit filed by the owners of a 175-acre former golf course in southeast Cape Coral will go ahead as planned after a motion for summary judgment was denied this week.

The motion hinged on whether the lawsuit had been filed prematurely, according to Michael Ciccarone, lawyer for Florida Gulf Venture LLC, which owns the property and filed suit in 2009.

The judge, Ciccarone said, rejected the city’s attempt to end the litigation and agreed the issues would have to be decided at trial, set to begin in late November.

In the suit, the owners of the former 18-hole course on Palm Tree Boulevard argue the city, in effect, condemned the property through restrictive regulations that prevented it from developing homes and shops on the property.
The city has argued the regulations were in place even before the owners purchased the property and that the suit fails on several legal grounds, including that the owners failed to pursue alternative uses of the land.
In its response to the lawsuit, the city noted a land use amendment such as the one requested years ago by the course owners could have allowed other unwanted elements.

Ciccarone said the owners are no longer seeking a land use amendment that would allow the property to be used for something other than recreational uses. He said it appears the city is serious about buying the property, but that it has yet to offer enough money.

“The parties are millions and millions of dollars apart in their opinion of fair market value,” he said. He said he was not allowed to divulge how much the city has offered or how much his client is seeking. The city attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The course opened in the early 1960s and closed in 2006 after the owners claimed it had been losing money for several years.