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Sharon Mears: In Defense of Killearn Golf Course Redevelopment

Posted on February 21, 2017

Sharon Mears: In Defense of Killearn Golf Course Redevelopment

It’s hard to believe that it has been over two years since Barton Tuck first proposed his plans for the future of Killearn Golf and Country Club.  His initial meeting with members in October of 2014 was met with concern, outrage, enthusiasm and uncertainty.  No one likes change, particularly in their own lives.  At first it was the dues paying members of KCC.  It quickly spread to the Killearn HOA and to the general populace of Killearn Estates.

What was proposed was a business decision by a business owner to hopefully refurbish and revitalize an entity that was in desperate need of an infusion of energy and cash.  Closing down a portion of the business (the North course) in order to have the capital to invest in the infrastructure and amenities of KCC as a whole has been met with a myriad of lawsuits, legal wrangling, judgments,  meetings and, unfortunately, neighbors against neighbors.

The judicial ruling that the North be allowed to close is done.  There is no going back.  While a minority of people, whether Killearn residents and/or Killearn CC members have sought many means with which to block Mr. Tuck’s plans.The vast majority of those same constituents approve of the plans and want them to be implemented.  This has been demonstrated by surveys and polls taken since 2014.

There have been many mailers from a group known as Preserve Killearn that have had demonstrably false and inflammatory statements especially relating to home values.  Home values have not gone down in Killearn Estates but very well may if this matter is not settled and soon.  This same very vocal minority, with cheering and booing, persuaded the City Planning Commission to vote 3-2 against the rezoning necessary for Mr. Tuck to proceed; whether this will influence the City Commissioners is unknown.

If Mr. Tuck is not able to go forward, what will happen to KCC and the whole of Killearn Estates?  Anyone who understands simple business practices can readily see that it is not in Mr. Tuck’s interest to pour more revenue into KCC for the next 4 years until his financial obligation ends.  At that time it will no longer be a matter of what is best for KCC or Killearn Estates as a whole, but what will be the best business decision.  after all, this is a business.  The opponents of Mr. Tuck need to be thinking of the big picture and how it will affect the community as a whole; not merely of their own personal issues.

When looking at a map of Tallahassee, it is apparent KCC is the crown jewel of Killearn Estates. It is the centerpiece of the neighborhood.  If it no longer exists, there will be streets instead of fairways and traffic that will make today’s concerns seem small.  With the opening of Welaunee to the east of Killearn, residents need to be aware of competing with new construction when selling their homes.  There is no contest.  New homes win every time.  However, since Welaunee does not have a golf course in its plan, Killearn can be a magnet for revitalization.

A part of Mr. Tuck’s plan includes a gated community for mature adults.  There is a desperate need for this type of neighborhood in Tallahassee. Killearn Estates in general would benefit and this infusion of new neighbors would be a positive and much needed step forward for Tallahassee.

This does not need to be a win or lose proposition.  Everyone can benefit from a plan that means Killearn Golf and Country Club has new and better amenities. It is disheartening, however, to see the vast amount of time, energy and money that has been utilized by both the opponents and the proponents in this matter, especially the time factor.  What a waste.

Sharon Mears has been a full-time realtor in Tallahassee for over 13 years.

37 Responses to Sharon Mears: In Defense of Killearn Golf Course Redevelopment

  1. JohnnieD Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Sharon, I would appreciate it if you would do an article in “TallahasseeReports” and tell us more about the gated community for mature adults. My husband and I are very interested. Yes, there is definitely a need in Tallahassee for nice, new, gated communities for retirees. Has Mr. Tuck stated WHEN he intends to do this?

    Thank you for the information.

  2. Brooks Brandewie Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    The City Commissioners should be all for keeping this course, creating additional revenue streams that stay in Tallahassee and also having an upgraded KCC that is inviting to all ages.

    If Killearn home values are not affected to the “Magnitude” in which the North course homeowners say, which has wasted time and money for all parties, then let the man do what he wants to do. The North is closed, move on and move out if you don’t like the verdict.

    We who appreciate all the hard working employees of KCC and enjoy the game of golf look forward to this revitalization. New facilities for golfers, swimmers and dining sounds pretty great. If you stem in favor of change because you live on the North, please don’t be the fly in the tea because you didn’t get your way. We have too many damn cry baby Millenials already…

  3. Will Messer Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    I was a member of Preserve Killearn. I lived on Kilmartin Drive before I sold my house and moved to Southwood. I loved my neighbors, many who also participated in Preserve Killearn. We met at the end of our street when news broke of Mr. Tuck’s desire to close the North course. We had significant investments in our homes so it was valid for all of us to be concerned. Mr. Tuck viewed us, like many, as the opposition. I grew up in Killearn, stayed in Tallahassee and wanted to extend the Killearn I knew to my children as well. I think the biggest disappointment came from those that made all of us feel as though we shouldn’t try to defend our homes. We simply felt different. We believed that there might be other solutions. The KOA didn’t back us, nor did the City Commission so our only defense was to file suit. We found out a great deal from that even though the courts ruled against us. It also gave those of us being affected the opportunity to choose whether to leave or not. Most of us believe in private property rights. It’s just that we bought those houses, invested in those streets in good faith that there would be a golf course behind us. Times change and none of us believe you can tell a business man to lose money. It would have been nice to have been supported better by the HOA and the rest of our community. I know now that was not the reality. I think that the city commission will over rule the planning commission and give Mr. Tuck clearance to move forward. It is true Killearn needs a real boost. I hope this will be the answer. I think it will require more. As for the value of the homes affected; well, time will tell.

  4. Vernon Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    It’s a no brainer to allow the owner to redevelop the North property, but with some further negotiations. Killearn is by and large a single family home community with only a small number of multi family units. The proposed Urban Residential section will allow 10 units per acre and change the original make up of the neighborhood, and needs to be changed to no more than 6 units per acre. I think this would minimize the adverse affects many are afraid of while allowing Mr. Tuck to upgrade his property, get a return on his money and improve home values in the years ahead. Those that have homes adjacent to, or across from this site will never be happy, but this upgrade should be done for the benefit of the entire community.

  5. BEC Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    So, if you sold your house, did you give Mr. Tuck any of the profits? He has no obligation to someone who buys a home located next to his golf course. His obligation is to the members.

    • Will Messer Reply

      February 21, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      I paid Killearn dues most of my life. I decided not to pay dues when the course and club house got to a point of disrepair especially when for nearly 20 years little if any profit was reinvested in the club. The people on the golf course kept their homes up while the facilities and course continued to decline. Will Barton compensate the homeowners who have to sell at a loss? If so, where do I sign up? I had a lot more money invested in my house than what I sold it for. What about the members who played golf, tennis, used the dining facilities, etc. and walked back to their houses (on the North course)?

      • BEC Reply

        February 21, 2017 at 9:51 pm

        His priority is to you since you were paying dues to his club. How is it his responsibility for someone who bought a home next to his course?

  6. Pat Waterman Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    This has gone on far too long and at too great expense. All of these nonsense law suits and road blocks have had such a detrimental affect to the neighborhoods and families and friends. When it began supporters of Mr Tuck seemed hesitant to be vocal, due to not wanting to rub salt in the wounds of neighbors who were suddenly left with a different landscape in their backyard. This complacency may have sent the wrong message to the Killearn HOA and the Planning Commission who obviously heard only the angry snarling of the minority.
    Now it is time to be vocal about your support. No one can seriously want the Killearn Country Club to fail, we all lose if that were to happen. Golf courses are closing at an alarming rate all over the country. Don’t let this happen to ours. Write your commissioners and tell them you support this plan and want them to approve it! Enough bitterness.

  7. Flash Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    I’m amazed that people think homeowners on the North Nine should be some kind of sacrificial lambs for the good of the community. Any of you proponents who want to put your money where your mouths are, including Sharon, and come purchase my used-to-be golf front house for what I paid for it, then your rhetoric will more than the hot air it is on these pages. http://Www.preservekilkearn.org.

    • Paul Forshay Reply

      February 22, 2017 at 11:25 am

      OK, FLASH! News flash – You would have the whole course close and do even more damage to everyone else that lives on the rest of the course? What short sightedness. You will sacrifice all of them? This is a business not a toy for you to play with.

  8. KathyC Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Do the residents of Killearn Estates realize that Mr. Tuck wants to give the land from the North 1-6 to the Killearn HOA? This means the Killearn HOA will be responsible for the maintenance of the conservation area. The cost could be over $100,000 a year. Are the residents ready for a large increase in their dues?

  9. Flash Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Fact check for the author: the lawsuits are not over and won’t be settled for quite a while given the likelihood of appeals.

    • Paul Forshay Reply

      February 27, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      True, and what will be accomplised by all of that?

  10. Randy Ray Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    This article frames the issue very well. The club is outdated and unable to attract new members as needed. The course is in very good shape and needs complimentary facilities. If the city says no Killearn will go, a loss to everyone concerned.

  11. PW Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    End these ridiculous nusence lawsuits and roadblocks. Golf courses around the country are closing daily. This plan gives Killlearn CC a chance to rebuild and be a more valuable asset to our community. Without it, we all lose.
    Don’t sit back and let your complacency determine the outcome, write the city commissioners and ask them to approve this plan.

  12. Lisa Greene Ross Reply

    February 22, 2017 at 8:04 am

    I worked with Sharon Mears for many years in the real estate field and I respect her opinion. Before she offers an opinion, you can be sure that she’s thought about all of angles that the subject has to offer.
    It’s nice to hear your measured voice, Sharon!

  13. Paul Forshay Reply

    February 22, 2017 at 11:16 am

    It is clear that the Commision should overrule the Planning Commision. I have no idea what they must have been thinking to vote the plan down. Increaed traffice would be a minimum at best. Mr. Tuck has already closed the Inn which drew traffice that is no longer there, Had the Inn stayed open, there would be more traffic than we have today. So this minor addition to traffic from what the Inn drew is, indeed, minimal. What are all those folks that are fighting him going to do when tha whold course closes? It WILL happen if they continuing this blocking manuever. How short sighted.

  14. Phillip McCrack Reply

    February 22, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Killearn has bigger problems than Barton Tuck. The development is now approaching 50 years. Even if Tuck does what is proposed, Killearn residents can drive through the neighborhood and see for themselves that the homes are outdated with many not even being kept well. When homes are being sold in the $150,000 range because they are falling apart–a bigger problem exist. Is this the type of community Killearn homeowners want? Now the two streets with the most, updated and modern homes stare into a closed golf course. All of the residents of Killearn deserve what the get if they don’t take collective ownership here. The solution should be multi-faceted. Tuck, HOA, City/ County should all come together with a revitalization plan. HOA dues should increase to $500/ year and HOA should take ownership of KCC, re-open North course and work hard to market young families back into neighborhood. Otherwise Killearn will become another outdated version of Westminister Oaks, only worse. I hope we don’t look back at Killearn years from now as missed opportunity.

  15. NoName Reply

    February 22, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    And this is why I didn’t buy in Killearn.

    • Paul Forshay Reply

      February 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      No wonder you are nameless. You don’t know what you are missing. It’s a great community and not as bad as the person you were responding to said.

  16. Glenn Henderson Reply

    February 22, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Not sure whether Mr McCrack is a resident of Killearn Estates but the young families are buying and renovating homes everywhere in efforts to get “more for their money.”
    In regards to the HOA taking ownership of the golf course; is Mr Tuck going to just give it to them? What would purchasing the golf course cost? What would be the cost of reopening the North course ? What would the cost of new facilities be? Does anyone on HOA have any experience managing a golf course? What is the cost per month to run a golf course? The cost of doing what you proposed would be astronomical.
    The whole reason the North was closed was to cut costs and provide funds for new facilities. The North course was dreadfully under utilized. The number of rounds played on the North were extremely lower than the South/East courses. Very few members voluntarily played the North.
    Since Killearn C.C. was built there have been three other golf courses built. Tallahassee can support only so many holes of golf. We at Killearn CC are better off with 18 holes of championship golf with new facilities.
    Killearn Estates as a whole is better off with an 18 hole golf course with new facilities than as a neighborhood with no golf course.

    • Laurie Davis Reply

      February 23, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      So the North course was closed to provide funds for new facilities. The North has been closed for how many months? The costs for maintaining it have been eliminated for how long? Where are the improvements to the South and East which were supposed to happen upon closure of the course? Oh. I forgot. We’re on the six-year plan.

      • Paul Forshay Reply

        February 27, 2017 at 3:37 pm

        If you’d stop blocking Mr. Tuck at every turn, Something would get done. What are you, dumb?

  17. Laurie Davis Reply

    February 22, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    The level of misinformation and lack of knowledge displayed in some of the above posts is alarming.

    First, the Planning Commissioners voted NOT TO RECOMMEND the application to the City Commission. They did not “vote against” anything except their recommendation. It is not their job to approve or disapprove the application – merely to weigh its merits and recommend, or in this case – not.

    The City Commissioners do the approving and use criteria outlined in their own set of “rules,” set forth in the Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map which state: NO SPOT ZONING. NO INFILL ON INTERIOR LAND. NO DEVELOPING WHERE THERE IS NO VIABLE ROAD ACCESS. NO HARM TO CURRENT PROPERTY OWNERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT. NO UPZONING TO PROFIT AN INDIVIDUAL AT THE EXPENSE OF SURROUNDING PROPERTY OWNERS.

    This is NOT about the survival of the golf course or the Killearn Estates Community. Those issues can be addressed in other ways WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE EXISTING LAND USE REGULATIONS AND GROWTH PLAN. Unfortunately, the “solution” Mr. Tuck has presented breaks those rules. That’s it . . . in black and white. Please read the Comp Plan. It can be easily found on the Talgov.com site.

    I keep hearing mention of the “minority” and “survey results.” There has been NO SCIENTIFIC survey with understandable, unbiased questions except the one the KHA mailed and received only just over 600 responses to. The survey did NOT address the matter of building on the golf course – just whether or not the KHA should go to court or mediate or purchase the course. There are 3800 +/- homes in Killearn Estates. I wouldn’t say that approximately 600 is a representative sample. I HAVE heard that the KHA, in good faith, entered nonbinding mediation and has not received the substantiating documents or information they requested Mr. Tuck provide. What does that say?

    I have personally noticed that whenever there are articles, posts, hearings, etc. the club members say the only way to “save” Killearn Estates and stave off the visible degradation of the neighborhood is to “save” the golf course they are unwilling to pay to save themselves. I don’t know where they are living, but with the exception of a few houses, I haven’t noticed any of this supposed degradation. This is a GORGEOUS neighborhood. What I have observed is they are ALWAYS outnumbered by VAST numbers of people who live EVERYWHERE in our beautiful neighborhood, and NOT just on the North Course. So this reference to the “few” and the “vocal minority” is a bunch of hogwash and regurgitated tripe.

    Lastly, the court case had its first ruling. Let’s see what happens on appeal. I have heard from several directly and indirectly involved that the case for protecting property rights is a strong one and the decision is likely to be reversed. I believe they are also waiting to hear about the appeal on the ruling for the class action determination which is still several months away. Lady Justice moves at her own pace, not the pace Mr. Tuck and the developers would like her to.

    So now that we have the FACTS and have been encouraged to READ AND RESEARCH, instead of parroting a bunch of nonsense, perhaps we will all try to stick to the facts and say a little prayer that good guidance will be visited upon those who are doing the actual deciding of the real issues.

    • Dave Haver Reply

      February 23, 2017 at 10:05 am

      I appreciate your lecture on the Comp Plan, but I do not see where Mr.Tuck’s plan violates any of those tenets. Throughout all of your dissertations as well as those from Preserve Killearn, there are never any positive solutions given, only negative remarks about Mr. Tuck or his plan. I would like to know what you and Preserve Killearn hope to have as an end result. It appears that delay and distract are your answers.

      • Laurie Davis Reply

        February 23, 2017 at 6:39 pm

        Well maybe if Mr. Tuck or the KHA would bother ASKING, we might be able to make suggestions which are viable solutions. No one has bothered to ask. Only one solution has been proposed and pursued, when in reality, there are others. Perpetuating the current business model is a lost cause. The club is bleeding, and only surgery will fix it. However, that DOES NOT mean building on the course. Just not necessary to hurt neighbors financially to satisfy one person’s pocket who continues to discourse on the imaginary clubhouse which may (or may not) be built.

        • Paul Forshay Reply

          February 27, 2017 at 3:47 pm

          Mr. Haver was correct with you and the other dissenters and “activists”. Once again, you did not point to anything you wnat out of all of this. What is it you want? What are these “several alternatives” you say are available that will make Killearn Country Club a vialle business. You DO understand that that is the owners requirement? It has to be run as any business. Revenue has to be greater than costs. With all of the other clubs in the area, he needs to compete with adequate, well managed facilities. He needs to continue to have a swimming pol, tennis courts and a well-manicured golf course. Would you like to pay for any of his sortfall in order to keep it running as is and make NO changes? C’mon, use some common sense!

  18. Divided we fall Reply

    February 22, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Any chance Tuck is pitting neighbor against neighbor in a game of divide and conquer? Rezoning the North nine now just lays the groundwork for rezoning the rest.

    • Paul Forshay Reply

      February 27, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      Tuck isn’t pitting neighbor against neighbor. If that happens, don’t blame him. It’s because the folks on the North are just willing to do anything to see that his plan fails. Even at the expense of everyone else when he finally desides to give up the fight and just close the whole darn thing. What then?

  19. james anderson Reply

    February 23, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Mr. Tuck has made millions as the expense of the Killearn Estates homeowners. It is time that he pays up.

    • Paul Forshay Reply

      February 27, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      And you know that how? Millions? How did he make millions at the expense of the homeowneres? The only people that thet paid any money to Mr. Tuck were we members, and we have voted over 90% to approve of his plan. What have you contributed to him?

  20. Toby Reply

    February 24, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Is there a reason why the closed section of the golf course wouldn’t be zoned residential just like the rest of Killearn?

    Killearn can’t handle another 1000 cars on shamrock. You’d have to four lane centerville.

    The sensible thing to do would be to treat it like the other property in the subdivision and put in 30 or so high end single family dwellings.

    • Paul Forshay Reply

      February 27, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      You are like the rest of these “dissenters” that don’t have the facts. Where is there anything that says 1000 cars would be added to Shamrock? Is this over a 1 month, 1 year, 5 year, study, or what? That makes no sense.

  21. KathyC Reply

    February 25, 2017 at 9:57 am

    The most positive and viable option for a win -win solution for the Killearn Country Club situation is for the KHA to purchase the golf course. Arguably the picture today would be vastly different if the KHA had been the owner for the past 20 years. This is especially true given the fact that Mr. Tuck has obtained $50K a month without maintaining a proper capital improvement fund. The KHA purchase of the golf course would result in proper maintenance and operation by a professional golf course management company. Killearn would have a clubhouse and golf course that would be a centerpiece for the community and actually support property values.

    • Paul Forshay Reply

      February 27, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Your suggestion as crazy as closing it down completly. Neither should happen. Give the man a chance by letting him work his plan.

      The way to have insured that the North would not be closed, that no rezoning would be needed and for everyone to be happy id if just 25% of the kIllearn homeoenwers would become a member and support the facility. That would give hime the revenue to fulfil the need for enough revenue to offset costs so the man cab make a profit. This is a business, not a government handout.

    • Paul Forshay Reply

      February 27, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Your suggestion as crazy as closing it down completly. Neither should happen. Give the man a chance by letting him work his plan.

      The way to have insured that the North would not be closed, that no rezoning would be needed and for everyone to be happy is if just 25% of the kIllearn homeoenwers would become a member and support the facility. That would give hime the revenue to fulfil the need for enough revenue to offset costs so the man cab make a profit. This is a business, not a government handout.

    • Paul Forshay Reply

      February 27, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Your suggestion as crazy as closing it down completly. Neither should happen. Give the man a chance by letting him work his plan.

      The way to have insured that the North would not be closed, that no rezoning would be needed and for everyone to be happy is if just 25% of the kIllearn homeoenwers would become a member and support the facility. That would give hime the revenue to fulfil the need for enough revenue to offset costs so the man can make a profit. This is a business, not a government handout.

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