DADE CITY — A Wesley Chapel golf course can be bulldozed for 389 homes, Pasco County commissioners ruled Tuesday.
On a 4-1 vote, with Chairman Mike Moore dissenting, commissioners decided a long-delayed rezoning issue by allowing the owner of Quail Hollow Golf & Country Club to swap fairways for driveways.
The decision came as dozens of objecting neighbors sat wearing green shirts adorned with green stickers and yellow lettering that parroted the county's marketing slogan, "Open spaces, vibrant places.''
The issue required two public hearings before the Development Review Committee and multiple meetings before commissioners because of questions about land ownership, drainage and compatibility with the existing homes in the rural-flavored Quail Hollow Estates neighborhood.
The course, owned by Andre Carollo's Pasco Office Park LLC, is at 6225 Old Pasco Road, a mile north of Wesley Chapel Boulevard. Among the concessions to neighbors, Carollo eliminated proposed town homes, increased the buffering distance from his project to existing homes, bolstered planned drainage improvements and agreed to a binding conceptual plan to eliminate future alterations. Forty-nine percent of the 175-acre course will be left as open space for drainage, a linear trail and buffer space.
"We analyzed it, and we keep coming up with the same recommendation. This development is appropriate for the area,'' senior planner Corelynn Howell told commissioners. "They've done everything we've asked them to do.''
The course opened in 1965, a decade before the county adopted its zoning laws and before the surrounding Quail Hollow Estates neighborhood was developed. The land is not zoned as a golf course, but rather for residential use that would have allowed up to 283 homes. The rezoning allows more homes on smaller lots and space for an office building and day care center.
It's not the first time the golf course had been targeted for development. More than a dozen years ago, the course's owners converted the driving range into a high-density, 116-home neighborhood called Fairways of Quail Hollow.
A 2006 plan for 660 homes and town homes never advanced, and a year later the course shut down. Carollo reopened it in 2011 after extensive renovations to the course and clubhouse. However, his attorney, Barbara Wilhite, said previously the course is not profitable.