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Residents split on plan for golf course canals

Residents who live along the Apollo Beach Golf Course might be trading in their golf carts for boats, if a developer gets its way.

Newland Communities has announced plans to build up to 238 homes northwest of Eagle Lane and Golf and Sea Boulevard, where the golf course is now. The developer would dig a canal around the golf course, making it accessible from some existing homes on Golf and Sea Boulevard and the new homes.

To make it happen, the developer needs to modify its planned development zoning established in 1979. Thomas Doozan owns the 121-acre golf course, which is open to the public.

Newland intends to buy the property if the company gets the zoning and permitting approvals. The company has not decided whether to identify the new development as a part of Mira Bay, an adjacent Newland community, regional president Don White said.

The proposal is sparking controversy among neighbors. Mark Lechleidner, president of the Golf and Sea Village Homeowners Association of Apollo Beach, said the association has endorsed the canals, and that most residents with homes along the golf course favor the plan.

"Obviously, if your property value is going to go up $200,000 to $250,000, it's not such a bad thing," Lechleidner said.

Christine Young, who already lives on a canal on Bunker View Drive, likes the golf course and opposes the plan. "This development is being forced on me," said Young, who initially lobbied neighbors door to door against the canals, with mixed results.

Young said she has collected 68 letters of opposition.

If Newland wins its zoning request, several government agencies must sign off before anyone can dig canals.

The request goes to a zoning hearing master at 6 p.m. Dec. 18 at the County Center, 601 E Kennedy Blvd.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at 661-2431 or