County Commissioners Should Respect the Will of the Most Impacted Calusa Residents

Letter to the editor,

The former Calusa Golf Course has been closed for nine years and sits vacant and inaccessible to the public – a casualty of golf’s decline. In fact, there has been a net decline of nearly 200 U.S. golf courses per year for the last three years and course closings have exceeded openings for 13 straight years.

While Calusa will never be revived as a functioning golf course, the owners of the former golf course envision reactivating the 170-acre site. To do so, a restriction allowing only golf course and ancillary uses – but, not requiring such uses – on the site must be removed by the Miami-Dade County Commission. The County requires that 75% of owners with homes adjacent to the property agree to remove the restriction. As of today, 82% have agreed to that removal.

The former Calusa Golf Course has a history of conflict. Nearly eight years ago, its owners challenged the restriction’s validity in court. A group of homeowners living adjacent to the course – members of the Save Calusa Trust – have actively fought this litigation, which is still ongoing. Throughout the course of this litigation, the trial judge has urged the parties to reach a settlement.

In 2017, the former golf course owners sought a land use change for the property. The Save Calusa Trust opposed this request because the validity of the restriction was still pending in court. County Commissioners responded by encouraging both sides to work things out. They stressed that either party could lose in court and end up with nothing.

After several years of working together, the Save Calusa Trust and the owners of the property reached an agreement that addresses the needs of both parties and only allows a reduced number of detached single-family homes to be built on the former course.

Removal of the restriction will finally end the nearly 8 years of litigation and provide protections related to development impacts and assurances on development limitations.

On March 19, the former golf course owners and adjacent homeowners supporting the release of the restriction will return to the County Commission to request that the restriction be removed.

The message to Commissioners will be straightforward: the restriction in place was written to protect the homeowners whose properties encircle the former golf course. A total of 82% of those adjacent homeowners have approved the removal of the restriction, well exceeding the required 75% threshold. Now it is time to remove the restriction.

After the restriction is removed, the next step would involve the larger community. Only after the owners of the former golf course submit an application to develop their property, will a comprehensive zoning process proceed. At that time, Commissioners, County staff and the community will have the opportunity to evaluate all the details of the proposed development. 

Failure to remove the restriction will continue the current uncertainty as to what will be developed in these adjacent homeowners’ backyards. This would effectively disregard years of work by the parties in reaching a compromise on enforceable limitations and mitigation of impacts of future development. Even worse, the parties will be forced to continue litigation that they want to settle. Continued litigation could make it more likely that the owners of the property will eventually be able to develop the former golf course with none of the restrictions, limitations and benefits that the Save Calusa Trust worked so hard to achieve.

The Save Calusa Trust whose members own homes facing this shuttered golf course, will urge County Commissioners to respect the will of the great majority of adjacent homeowners by removing the restriction on the former golf course.

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  1. This article is completely false and misleading. The trust ring members used and betrayed the community. They turned on all of us for “private back door deals”. We the majority of Calusa residents are not in any way represented by this handful of people. It would be a great idea to fact check articles before they are published.

    • That is a letter to the editor, which was written by the attorney for the Trust. Feel free to continue sending in your own comments.

      Michael Miller
      Community Newspapers

  2. Bottom line is a very important piece of land-green-space that is so significant to all Calusa Estates for “moderating-balancing” what has been long-term in Kendall an unplanned-rampant-development occurrence….Now, in the building-sights of the present owner of the ex-Golf Course is to do exactly that (that has gravely overdeveloped us already), by means of paying a certain number of encircling-Golf Course-homes to sign against respecting the 99yr Covenant: result is a wipe out for the entire neighborhood of our so-scarce-nowadays green-space (168 acres)…by adding 500 to 1000 houses to the Calusa neighborhood, with obvious crowding-congestion-traffic-school-lifestyle-environmental consequences,etc.
    Sometimes in a community we must be able to discern & value what is crucial & what we can live without.For the environment, a green-space alternative in Calusa is CRUCIAL, & therefore benefiting all of Kendall & not just Calusa homeowners….contrary, just additional rampant-developing in what is already a crowded-saturated area, we can live 100% without ,because it will just add major congestion to an area and neighborhood that really can’t support it without it having grave lifestyle & environment negative consequences for all residences in Calusa & nearby.
    I really hope the Commissioners can see the importance we in Calusa give to the environment (green space…168 acres) for all reasons detailed…these are the scarce & so necessary “environmental-spaces” today & so necessary for homeowners to have nearby….especially when for decades we have done the “unplanned thing” of over-developing everywhere, without really ever looking at what is quality of environment?…& how how important is to have green-spaces because of their positive impact on entire neighborhoods/families & nearby neighborhoods?.
    When reading Mr Gibbs thoughts, it in summary says let’s just get over this & forget the Covenant, let’s move on for the sake of moving-on, because it’s time to do so (!!!).That’s unacceptable when we are talking about 168 acres that have a tremendous environmental-lifestyle impact on the entire Calusa Estates residents, obviously meaning the inclusion of all non-Golf course-homes as well.
    We are ONE community in Calusa, not two….so building on that acreage hundreds of homes, impacts all of us directly, not indirectly.
    I really hope the Commission sees this & can weigh the negative impact of allowing the over-developing of this green-site , versus seeing the importance of those 168 acres re. the environment/lifestyle etc and their significance to all residents ( & nearby neighborhoods), not just the few Golf Course “encircling” ones.
    When one protects the environment as a significant & crucial goal, there are always alternatives instead of building & more building…and more cars,etc.
    In Kendall the scarce & necessary factor is green-spaces to protect & benefit the environment, not more developments where there is already major congestion…such as in Calusa.


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