SEMINOLE — Neighbors of a golf course have banded together to fight a threatened rezoning that could clear the way for houses and townhomes to be built on the property.
Their alarm centers on the Tides Golf Course, 11832 66th Ave. N, in the unincorporated county abutting the Intracoastal Waterway on the southwestern edge of Seminole.
Although still an active course, the 150-acre tract is bank-owned after Wachovia, now Wells Fargo, foreclosed on it in 2009. There was about $6.8 million owed on the mortgage and other costs when the case concluded in February. The Pinellas County Property Appraiser sets the assessed value at about $1.8 million.
Neighbors say they have heard rumors for the past two or three months that Arizona-based developer Taylor Morrison has offered to buy the acreage provided the county agrees to rezone the land. The rezoning would allow Taylor Morrison to build 167 single family homes and multifamily townhomes there. But the call to action came when surveyor's flags appeared on the course.
A group called Save the Tides was formed after a community meeting, said Ed Methfessel, president, as a proactive way to get the neighbors' concerns heard before it was too late to act.
"We felt it was important to get out there, tell our side of it and prevent it from happening," he said.
So far, they've concentrated on emailing Pinellas County commissioners and others about their concerns.
"I am writing this email to you all letting you know that to change the zoning on this property to allow it to be destroyed by a developer is a travesty of the highest kind," Ron Stephens wrote. Stephens' home is adjacent to the 18th tee.
"We are now in a county that is the most densely populated county in the state of Florida, as you all know, of course. Plus we are Number 5 in total population." Stephens wrote. "We cannot afford to lose green open space like this."
Connie Purdum wrote: The Tides' "value to our community as an area of green is immense as it offers a home to various types of wildlife (eagles, foxes, owls, osprey, and turtles). It is critical in replenishing the aquifer and filtering our water, and it offers a beautiful area on the Intracoastal for residents and tourists to view and golf.
"As a homeowner in this area, I am opposed to any change in zoning that would devalue my property and increase traffic as it takes away an area of beauty.''
If all else fails, Methfessel said, the community would explore the possibility of a large-scale, voluntary annexation into Seminole that would sweep the course with it. The hope would be that the city would be more restrictive on any development than the county.
It is unclear how serious the rezoning threat might be. Taylor Morrison could not be reached for comment. John Cueva, the county's zoning manager, conceded Taylor Morrison is one of two developers who have recently talked with the county about the possibility of developing the Tides. He was unable to confirm that Taylor Morrison plans to buy and develop the acreage if it is rezoned. But he said county officials expect a formal request for rezoning to be submitted sometime in early to mid January.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.