SEMINOLE — It's what neighbors have expected and dreaded for months: A developer has officially asked the county to clear the way for building up to 170 homes on the Tides golf course.
Neighbors have been organizing for months to oppose any redevelopment to the 150-acre course at 11832 66th Ave. N in the unincorporated Seminole area. It's bounded on the west by the Intracoastal Waterway. A portion of the course's northern border abuts Boca Ciega Millennium Park. The rest is surrounded by subdivisions with single-family homes.
Opponents have complained that development will, among other things, increase traffic through the neighborhood, eliminate green space, and destroy vital habitat for native and endangered wildlife.
The approximately 8-inch-thick proposal containing hundreds of pages, filed late Wednesday, attempts to minimize those objections. The proposal envisions a plan that "provides an environmentally sensitive residential community, designed to complement the larger neighborhoods, significantly improve the environment, and provide a substantial expansion of the open, green space available to the public."
Details of the project, to be called the Estuary at Boca Ciega Bay, include:
• Up to 170 single-family and townhomes, or less than two housing units per acre, which is less dense than surrounding subdivisions.
• A main entry on 66th Avenue N between Evergreen and 67th avenues.
• A gated emergency and pedestrian access point at Irving Avenue.
• Pedestrian entries at Oxford and Laurel streets.
• A clubhouse, swimming pool and tennis courts for residents. The clubhouse will also act as a hurricane shelter for residents.
• About 18 acres of open space and a trail system open to the public. This would also provide access to Millennium Park.
• An expanded tidal wetland preservation area and removal of invasive vegetation in favor of native species.
The development would take up about 96 acres of the property. The remaining 54 acres is underwater and cannot be developed.
Ed Methfessel, president of Save the Tides, said he has not had time to study the proposal but said nothing he has seen or heard has changed his group's position.
"We don't think it makes good sense for the town of Seminole or the county of Pinellas," Methfessel said. "It's way overbuilt as it is."
The development, he said, will change the dynamics of the community around the course.
"The roads can't handle the additional traffic," Methfessel said.
Wachovia, now Wells Fargo, foreclosed on the Tides in 2009. The case concluded in February 2012 with about $6.8 million owed on the mortgage, and other costs. The Pinellas County Property Appraiser sets the assessed value at about $1.8 million.
Arizona developer Taylor Morrison has agreed to buy the property contingent on being able to redevelop it.
The bank has continued to operate the Tides as an active course but Pinellas County records show that at least as early as last June, developers ran a conceptual plan for redevelopment by county officials. Since then, county officials and developers' representatives have met to discuss concerns.
Late last year, rumors began in surrounding neighborhoods that Taylor Morrison wanted to redevelop the property. When surveyors' flags popped up, the neighbors organized.
Since then, they have sought support from other activist groups, passed around petitions and bombarded county commissioners with emails, letters and calls opposing any redevelopment. They've established a website, savethetides.com.
The battle has a long way to go with multiple agencies and boards hearing the proposal before it could become final, likely in mid December.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.