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City Commission Votes for Killearn Redevelopment Proposal

Posted on April 4, 2017

City Commission Votes for Killearn Redevelopment Proposal

After a contentious two years, the City Commission went against the Planning Commission recommendation and voted 5-0 to approve a rezoning application that will facilitate a proposed redevelopment on a portion of the “North Nine” holes of the Killearn Country Club.

The end product was very different than the original proposal pushed by Barton Tuck, the owner of the club.

What began as a proposal for 350 apartments with promises made by an out of town owner, ended up as an age restricted community with 147 residential units backed by the reputation of local businessman JT Burnette.

Despite the changes, those most affected by the development were not swayed.

Emotions ran high during the four hour meeting which featured public comments from both sides that became personal at times.

In short, those opposed to the redevelopment viewed the proposal as a government bail-out at their expense. They believed Tuck failed to invest in the maintenance of the club during is years of ownership and now was seeking the city commission to help him recover from bad business decisions.

Those in favor, feared a failure of the redevelopment plan would ultimately doom Killearn Estates as a desirable golf course community.

In the end this fear seemed to have an impact on the city commissioners.

However, as demonstrated in the closing comments of the elected officials, the involvement of JT Burnette appeared to also be a deciding factor.

Burnette’s involvement in the development, which we wrote about here, put a local face on a project that had been losing some credibility since the Planning Commission voted against the project.

Burnette’s relationship with the elected officials, his demonstrated successes (Hotel Duval), and his changes to the plan convinced the city commission his vision was worth their vote.

Check back for updates.

13 Responses to City Commission Votes for Killearn Redevelopment Proposal

  1. Claire Duchemin Reply

    April 5, 2017 at 7:04 am

    The city commission made the most pro-business and anti-homeowner decision ever in the history of the City of Tallahassee…all because they allowed their decision-making process to be high-jacked by the empty threat of the South Carolina “slum lord” of the golf industry. The fairy tale notion that the owner would close the remaining 18 holes of the course while trying to pay off $2.6 million in debt, for which Mr. Tuck is legally personally responsible as the general partner of the owner, is laughable. But we all have learned now that a rezoning request does not need to be rooted in the law of proper land use planning and can be merely based upon the following fool-proof plan: run your business and its infrastructure into the ground, never Investing a single dime of your millions in profits back into the business. Then, when it inevitably begins a downward spiral, threaten to close it if rezoning is not granted. Under the precedent set by our city commission, you will have their unanimous consent to a zoning change, no matter how unfounded in fact or law, even when our local land planning commission recommends against the deleterious land use change. Congrats to the city commission for hosing all of the tax-paying citizens on the North course to the benefit of your re-election campaign contributors/local developers.

    Aside to Mr. Willis whose item was on the agenda ahead of Killearn’s: Your mistake Mr. Willis, was that you did not follow the above formula. Instead you invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in your infrastructure to restore a historic site and facilities, and employed many locals for your business. Had you allowed the buildings and facilities to deteriorate and ignored them for 20 years, and then partnered with a local politically connected developer for a last minute plan change, you would have sailed through on a 5-0 vote.

  2. Steven Hougland Reply

    April 5, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Once again, the largest neighborhood in the City, which generates the most tax dollars, goes without representation. Even Commissioner Miller, who lives in Killearn Estates, voted against her community. That’s why I favor districts for the Commission. Until a Commissioner can be held singularly accountable by a small body of like-minded voters, this will continue. Killearn, Frenchtown, Myers Park, Southwood…next?

    • Luther Reply

      April 5, 2017 at 10:49 am

      Agreed. Arbitrary districting is pointless. I’m not even sure why they aren’t all labeled as “At-large” since that’s what they are. If they’re going to be commissioners of districts, why not make it meaningful?

  3. Ron Tolliver Reply

    April 5, 2017 at 10:02 am

    More of same overly opinionated and factless diatribe from the same sources. Since this controversial and highly emotional issue began some two and half years ago, the so called leader(s) of the ‘preserve Killearn” group have taken the lowest of low roads as a strategy in an attempt to have their way.

    Having failed at every step in the process, it is sad, but not surprising, that they again revert to their low-road hostile tactics of name calling, mocking, and blaming everyone else for not seeing things their way.

    I am thankful that we have representatives on the Killearn Homeowners Association and City Commission who can see through all the noise and make decisions based on fact, the law/regulations and what is best for the community.

    Having been an entrapaneur myself for many years, I am also thankful that J.T. Burnette will be overseeing the new development. He understands the formula for success and I believe he is sincerely concerned about the fears of those opposing the North Course development.

    After consistently loosing in the courts and a 5-0 vote by the City Commission, it may be time for the opposition to adjust their strategy. Instead of continuing to fight the inevitable, why not try working with, rather than against, to assure the best possible outcome!

    • Claire Duchemin Reply

      April 5, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      Apparently you did not read any of the documentation we provided last night or you would not be calling the claims a faceless diatribe. Just curious but where do you think that mysterious $4.0 million will come from if Mr. Tuck passes away before the money goes to escrow? Keep drinking the kool aid and maybe someday soo you too will have little single family homes in your backyard.

      • Ron Tolliver Reply

        April 5, 2017 at 3:02 pm

        I guess the Commissioners didn’t read your documentation either. Or, maybe they did and it was the reason they voted 5-0. Either way, you and your allies apparently just don’t get it.

        Your team keeps doing and saying the same things and getting the same results. It may be time to rethink your approach.

        A good start might be to stop using ridiculous hypotheticals in an attempt to gain support for a loosing position. Palmetto LLC is now contractually committed to applying a minimum of $4 million for club improvements. The head of a corporation may leave, retire or pass but the corporation lives on. In this case, the KHA and developer are key stakeholders that have significant control over the money.

        • Claire Duchemin Reply

          April 5, 2017 at 10:26 pm

          Apparently the commissioners either did not read the materials submitted or did not care. Either way, the result goes against the recommendation of the planners who have the expertise on these matters, and the decision is not based on any rational land use change under the law. The sole justification offered was that the zoning had to change or Palmetto would close the club. This is an utterly irrational result considering the personal financial liabilities Tuck would have to satisfy, under the law, from his own personal assets, if he eliminated the sole revenue source for Palmetto by closing the club. The actual materials submitted in support of the application are riddled with inaccuracies and outright false statements. But why should you let the truth get in the way of your new clubhouse, right? I mean do you seriously really believe more then 150 new residences will have no impact on our already existing traffic woes, particularly when the baseline for the traffic study includes a hotel that no one has really stayed in for ten years? Also you clearly do not understand the difference between a limited partnership and a corporation. Again, why let real truth and facts get in the way of the political machine steamrolling the private rights of your neighbors?

          • Ron Tolliver

            April 6, 2017 at 9:55 am

            There’s a saying in tennis, every point scored makes somebody unhappy. The same can be said for decisions made by government officials. What matters is how the rest of the match is played.

            One can constantly complain about the referee’s call, the wind, the condition of the court or, one can focus on what is necessary to affect a positive outcome.

            Yes, I personally am looking forward to improvements in the Club’s facilities and the ripple effect it will have in our community, such as: growth in new and younger members, the increased demand for homes in Killearn, more homes being renovated, increased home values for everyone, including your’s.

            For those living near by, the new development will bring the opportunity to meet and make new friends. Surely you’re not opposed to that!

            There may, repeat may, be a few inconveniences such as traffic. However, I believe they will be minor. People adjust and life goes on. Give it a try.

            Finally, and on a personal level, please don’t assume you know me well enough to question my knowledge of corporations. I still own an S corp as well as an LLC. I’ve been the Chief Financial Officer of public companies and have retained some of the top corporate attorneys in the country.

            Thank you for the debate. It’s been fun. Wishing you the best. I’m headed for the first tee.

  4. James Anderson Reply

    April 5, 2017 at 11:00 am

    It is time to D-Annex from the City of Tallahassee.

  5. Suzanne Reply

    April 5, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    I agree with Mr Anderson. Is there to be a strip mall on every corner of Thomasville Rd? Really how many mattress stores does Tallahassee need?

  6. Doug Reply

    April 6, 2017 at 12:13 am

    I agree with James. What do we really get from city taxes that we couldn’t get from funding of our own. Rarely do you see TPD, I see LCSO more often so let them be the primary law enforcement agency and contract with the TFD station that is here.

    The Commission doesn’t reflect the values of Killearn but they love sending our tax dollars to the south side of town!

  7. John Reply

    April 10, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I passed a closed golf course in West Georgia this weekend…was not a pretty sight. Wonder how the folks living around that one feel?

  8. Regular Voter Reply

    April 11, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I seem to recall the mayor going out to meet with the homeowners a monrh or so ago. Some were favorably impressed that he would do that, that he would go listen to them. They were told by others then that he was faking support and that he was going to vote against them.
    ANY QUESTION WHERE HIS TRUE LOYALTIES LIE NOW??
    Did you really think a Soros Democrat was going to support a bunch of white Killearn homeowners?
    Did you really fall for his stated reason for meeting with you? Did he sucker you into believing he was there to listen to your concerns?
    Now, perhaps, you know the man better. Now, maybe, you have a better measure of the extent and form of his treachery.

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