A Resident’s View: Another ‘Golf Course’ Green Space Under Developer Siege

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There has been much discussion of the proposal that the former Ocean Breeze Golf Course in North Boca be purchased and maintained as a golf course. It has been described by some as a potential “jewel” in the City’s collection of parks, and supporters say it will enable Boca Teeca residents to continue living with the same conditions they had previously when the course was active.

Not so well known is a smaller parcel of land just up the road from Boca Teeca that is also a closed golf course and is currently creating controversy among area residents.

The Hidden Valley Executive Golf Course closed in 2006. Almost immediately a developer proposed a development with single family homes and townhomes, which would require the city to rezone the land. Nearby residents fought the proposal and it was turned down. Fast forward to 2015, and a sixth developer, Brian Tuttle, is fighting to get the land rezoned.

In November of 2016 Tuttle held a meeting in the parking lot of the former course and presented a drawing of what he said would be a 101 single home development. Tuttle insisted that he would buy the land by June 2017 “no matter what” and pointed out that if the rezoning didn’t go through, there were other purposes the land could be used for that residents would not like, such as a cemetery or school. He provided a sheet of paper for residents to put their name and email address on, so that he could keep them updated as to his progress on his proposal, and approximately 42 residents did so.

The P&Z Board heard Tuttle’s proposal on Jan. 4, 2018. There were a large number of residents in attendance and they brought forward several objections. Tuttle’s proposal stated that many neighbors enthusiastically supported his proposal and presented as proof the list of residents who had signed up for updates. When confronted about the discrepancy, he bumbled his way through an “explanation”.  He still has not purchased the land as promised, and it can be assumed that he has an option on the land, which only has value if the land is rezoned.

Residents pointed out that schools in Boca Raton are very crowded, and in 2016 the School District had proposed rezoning area students to Delray schools. Adding more students did not make sense. Tuttle’s proposal stated that the School District agreed to accept approximately $210,000 dollars  and would not object to the new development. Families in the new development would be told that they could be assigned to schools in Delray Beach, and Tuttle’s sales staff would publicize this fact. City staff recommended that this be put in a deed restriction when a home was purchased in the development. Residents pointed out that the District would be accepting money that they could spend wherever they want, and area residents would be left with the problem of overcrowded schools. They also pointed out that it was unlikely that the School District had the political courage to deny students living in Boca Raton the opportunity to attend Boca students.

Residents also objected to the traffic conditions which will become worse if more residences are added. Tuttle’s proposal “failed” the traffic study. City staff recommended against approval due to the already intensive traffic on Second Ave. Tuttle’s proposal offered to mitigate the traffic issues by paying the City $250,000 dollars. Initially a multi-use trail from the development entrance to Clint Moore road was discussed, but the developer felt it would be too difficult to build and went with a cash payment. Residents again objected that a cash payment did nothing to improve traffic in the area. Much of the traffic comes from out of the area, and a small payment towards the building of a multi-use trail did nothing to resolve this issue.

The cost of such a trail was seen as millions, and the contribution was a small fraction of this cost. Again, the underlying issue was left to residents to resolve. One solution that was discussed by the P&Z Board was that of widening Second Ave., which is a “no go” for all the residents. The P&Z Board rejected the five part component proposal (4 to 1 on four parts, and 5 to 0 on the fifth).

Tuttle’s proposal asked for many deviations, exceptions and variances from City Building requirements. Lot sizes, how green space was measured (it proposes that private property be used as green space), flood zone construction and more. But it’s clear from other sources that Tuttle has no intention of ever building this development on the site. His past history and his business model stated in news articles and his own Linkedin web page tell the real story:

Tuttle land Investment Looks for Real Estate Investment Opportunities in South and Central Florida where the property is either: under zoned, or has environmental problems, or is small and fragmented, or has difficult sellers, or difficult neighbors, or difficult county/city commissions, it then purchases the property and undertakes the process of correcting all the land challenges getting it ready to sell to a end user.

His intention is clearly to get the land rezoned, exercise his option to buy the land and then sell it. This means that the residents and City will have to deal once again with another developer who may not even want to build single family homes. Once the land is rezoned, a developer may come along and propose an entirely different type of housing, and with the land rezoned it will be that much easier to get approval.

Residents have proposed a different plan. They view this as a potential “jewel”, somewhat different than Ocean Breeze. There has been substantial growth in North Boca, but there has not been any substantial increase in recreational land. (Ocean Breeze was already a golf course). Residents see the land as a City or Beach District owned park, and the field is wide open for a creative and innovative world class idea.  The City will be receiving $65 million dollars for the golf course on Glades next to the turnpike so it has the money.

Rezoning would only benefit the owners (only one of whom is a Boca resident) and the developer (who is also from out of town). A park would benefit the whole city, and provide a permanent solution to a problem that will continue to rear its head every few years, when a new developer thinks that he can convince the City Council and residents in a weak moment that a housing development on this land is a good idea.

Since residents favor a park over another development in North Boca, now is the time to act!

City Council will vote on an ordinance that will make this development possible on February 27th.  Email and phone in your objection to the City Council members now and attend plan to attend the meeting at City Hall at 6:00 pm!!

Have your voice heard then or, in the alternative, at the ballot box in March.

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A Boca Raton and Hidden Valley resident for 22 years, worked at Boca Raton High School for 17 years, 14 of them as Assistant Principal. SABR Soccer coach for 9 years. Worked with young people in various settings for 37 years. Now retired and working to make Boca a better place. Rob has banded together with other residents to fight against development of the Former Hidden Valley Executive Golf Course. A Facebook page has been created to explain the residents’ position; their position for fighting overdevelopment in Boca Raton and the preservation of the residents’ ‘quality of life’ in Boca Raton.

9 COMMENTS

  1. The only reason that this issue is continuing on to the city council is that Mr. Tuttle and his attorneys have seen the city council make so many variances and rezonings to accommodate past development that these precedents will make it possible for him to sue the city and force them to accept his proposal. But, during the P&Z hearing he indicated that he would accept the same price (per acre) that the Beach & Park District was paying for the Ocean Breeze property – that would amount to approximately 10% of the $65 million proceeds that the city is receiving for their western golf course. Seems like a no-brainer/the CITY to buy the property and make it a park which is consistent with some city leaders who wanted a passive park on a portion of the ocean breeze property.

  2. What to do with the old Boca Raton Executive Golf Course property?

    I would like to suggest “Boca Raton National Executive Golf Course”.

    The current Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course has a nine hole Executive course. I don’t know if there are plans for an Executive course on the new Boca National property or not, but having an Executive course put back on the Boca Executive property has several benefits.

    The Boca Executive property is already designed as a golf course, including water features. This would reduce the cost of renovation. A renovation could also include solving the water drainage issues on the property, and some updates in design to be more eco-friendly could reduce water usage and reduce operational costs. A golf course will not effect our overcrowded schools, keep green space, and doesn’t require any rezoning. The South end of the Boca Executive property is less than half a mile from the North end of the future Boca National property, close enough to transit by golf cart if so desired.

    Top Destination Golf facilities should have an Executive course. Executive courses help promote the future of golf by bringing in younger people and beginners to the game. Beginners, young golfers, and seniors can be intimidated by a full length course and can also slow down the pace of play for seasoned golfers. Many of the retiring “Baby Boomers” prefer to play on shorter courses which can be more rewarding and enjoyable.

    As I am sure you all are aware, when you google ” The City of Boca Raton”, the first site that appears is http://www.myboca.us, with the first line of the description stating: “Boca Raton is a city on Florida’s southeastern coast, known for it’s golf courses, parks, and beaches”.

    Sincerely,

    Charles G. Boyd
    186 N. Country Club Blvd.
    Boca Raton, FL 33487

    I have lived on the former Boca Raton Executive Golf Course for over 21 years. I purchased my home there because I wanted to live on a golf course and I wanted to teach my son to play golf. I played golf on the Boca Raton Executive golf course before it closed with both my father and my son, three generations!

  3. Since we are losing the 9 hole Municipal course off Glades Road, why not at least replace it with 9 holes( of the 18) at the former Boca Raton Executive Golf Course at Hidden Valley. The remaining land may be used for single family housing or a park. I agree with the previous writer that costs for the golf part would be modest due to the existing golf course topography. I too spent many happy hours there with my family and friends and was sad to see the Hidden Valley course close.

  4. Finally some common sense has been exhibited regarding the disposition of the Hidden Valley Exec GC property. I would like to applaud both Ms. Gold and Mr. Boyd for offering reasonable and viable options to the continuing challenges by “developers” to seek re-zoning of an area which is more conducive for preservation than for personal gain. Both provided alternatives which would both enhance the property and involve a lot less political and judicial involvement and just might settle this issue once and for all.
    I have been a resident of Boca Teeca for more than ten years. Unfortunately I moved here just about the same time the exec course closed and was not able to view any of its amenities. Having spoken to many people that had, however, I heard many compliments regarding the golf course and what a fun place it was to play. As a regional park I’m sure it would also provide the same enjoyment.
    After living the past few years watching the Ocean Breeze golf course, in my back yard, go from a profitable venture to foreclosure to an attempt at re-zoning for residential development isn’t it time to follow the most logical path to closure? This may only be a small piece of land in the total context of Boca yet it is an important consideration for the residents and neighborhood it will affect. It’s about time the city put an end or at least a small hold on the con jobs many of these “developers” have been perpetrating upon us. Let’s use this parcel for for what it was intended…preservation not profit.

  5. These venues do not affect me since I don’t live in those neighborhoods. However, I totally agree with the above – keep it open for parks, etc. Residents bought their place because they don’t want to look at buildings or homes – just open space. My backyard is a golf course, not another apartment building/house facing my unit. If I want to face concrete, I would move back to L.A. or New York. Hopefully the City will develop the land into a park area with bird friendly native trees and plants and “Purple Martin birdhouses” :).

  6. To: TINA Gold:
    re: “…have seen the city council make so many variances and rezonings to accommodate past development….”
    You have put it perfectly, you’ve nailed it!
    Why have a zoning code if you grant variances without hardships for example ?!?! It’s absurd. It’s crazy.

  7. I have lived on NW 2nd since 1999. The Executive Golf Course was in full swing. It was a nice area and a nice thing to see when driving past. There was a driving range and there was a building where catered events were held. It was all very old and outdated. Why not just build an updated version of same? It worked well for that location.

  8. Question is – will the council have the backbone to stand up to easy short term financial gain and do the right thing by upholding “recreation in perpetuity”, or will they just take the easy way out and accept the current developer du-jour’s pipe dreams and bribes.

  9. We need to save as much green space as possible, once developed it’s gone forever . The old Ocean Breeze golf course, which will be purchased partly by the City and the BRB&PD will be renovated and will become a jewel to the city. There are many concepts to what it should look like, some are spectacular and others are out in space. This is what I think we should do: leave the golf course 27 holes just like the report from the golf association recommended; we have a executive golf course at Red Reef which is under used and just spectacular; build a restaurant and pro shop; and also a facility for the community and residents of Boca to enjoy simmiler to what the residents off St Andrews have at the Boca Raton Swim and Tennis Center – WHY NOT. The BRB&PD wants to have a learning center on the east course, building a Taj Mahal for Greg Norman, who will make lots of money off our tax dollars, and we will receive pennies on the dollar and risk of failure – not a good idea. If Greg Norman wants to build a learning center in Boca, he should invest his own money and purchase the Hidden Valley Golf Course and put his learning center there. It’s a perfect place for a learning center and wouldn’t restrict golf time on the Boca National Golf Club.

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