Killearn CC Ask Members to Close North Course, Give Up Rights to Save Club

Killearn CC Ask Members to Close North Course, Give Up Rights to Save Club

The process to determine what direction the owner of the Killearn Country Club will head given recent developments have taken another step forward.

Barton Tuck, the current owner of the struggling Killearn Country Club, has sent a ballot to members asking them to allow him to close the North course and to give up their right to purchase the club. The exact language is:

I hereby waive the Right to Purchase contained within the Special Restrictive Covenants and authorize the owner to close the North Course provided the closure occurs by April 17, 2015. This vote is contingent upon the owner being bound by the above-referenced agreement. This waiver and permission will be void if the North Course is not closed by April 17th, 2015.

The ballot “package” was sent to members of the Killearn Country Club this week and also included a “Frequently Asked Questions” flyer which can be seen here.

The answers to the “posed” questions address a number of issues.

First, the owner promises to sign a binding agreement “when the vote passes” that will protect the remaining golf course with amendments to convents through 2061. The binding agreement will also require that proceeds from any property sale will be reinvested into club infrastructure.

Second, the owner is clear in assessing the recent lawsuit by residents on the North course as unfriendly, and goes on to say the suit “is an attempt by non-members to control KCC.”

And third, the owner makes the argument that the downturn in the economy and the state of the golf industry requires drastic measure to ensure the clubs long-term viability and adds “the owner develops and operates golf course. The owner wants to own and operate KCC; it does not want to see it wither a slow death on the vine.”

The vote is scheduled for December 18, 2014 at the club.

2 Responses to "Killearn CC Ask Members to Close North Course, Give Up Rights to Save Club"

  1. The promises Mr. Tuck makes to “bind” himself are meaningless when subject to examination. If golf is in serious decline as an industry, that economic reality will assert itself sooner rather than later, regardless of whether promises are made for 2061, 3061 or 4061.

    Mr. Tuck’s property is heavily mortgaged, so there is no guarantee he will derive any net proceeds from selling a portion of the course, let alone anything approaching the amount necessary to invest in the promised renovations.

    Mr Tuck cannot be bound to spend money that he will not have in hand or, ultimately, that he decides he doesn’t wish to spend. It is much, much easier to make a promise to spend money at some future time than it is to force an individual to do so by any practically available legal means.

    Although the article doesn’t mention conservation easements, that is another illusory promise freely made by Mr Tuck, and mentioned in his FAQs. Conservation easements can only be granted by a property owner in favor of a governmental entity or qualified charitable conservation organization; neither such entity has expressed any interest in taking on an easement for the property at issue.

    Also, conservation easement agreements can typically evaporate at the will of the parties. Killearn homeowners would not be parties and would have no say and no control over a hypothetical easement’s duration.

    As for Mr Tuck’s development plans, and as for the issue raised by the previous poster, the details of development on the property that Mr. Tuck proposes to sell would obviously be subject to the plans of whoever might ultimately buy the property. All that we know for sure is that Mr Tuck has expressed a desire to change the land use and zoning designations for the property (prior to sale) so as to allow the construction of 400-plus multi-family units.

    Mr Tuck cannot even apply for the land use/zoning amendment process until next fall’s cycle and no decision could issue from the County Commission until May 2016.

    During the land use/zoning amendment process, every stakeholder would have an opportunity to comment on what should happen with the land, and potential court challenges could drag the process out well beyond even the May 2016 date. And only at that point would Mr. Tuck likely be able to market the land to its ultimate developer, whose own plans would then drive the development permit process.

    In light of these facts, Mr. Tuck’s promise in his FAQs that he will have a detailed development plan firmly in place by April 2015 borders on the bizarre.

    As a bottom line, I agree with the previous poster’s concerns about the type of housing that would ultimately be built. Multi-family housing on a substantial scale has the greatest detrimental impact on quality of life for surrounding single family homeowners.

    Killearn homeowners have both political influence and, as adjacent property owners, potential court standing under the Comprehensive Plan to prevent this worst case outcome. Homeowners should not give up their influence or their rights in return for so-called “binding” promises that are in fact entirely illusory.

  2. The issue involves, and the concern of Killearn homeowners (not just on the golf course) is how the property will be developed if relinquished to Mr. Tuck. There is discussion among homeowners (“rumors”, if you will) that low(er) cost housing will be built. With due respect to residents of Tallahassee who require that kind of housing, the Killearm area was not designed nor is suited for it, if only due to the changes in infrastructure needed to accommodate it. Mr. Tuck is likely to get a far more favorable reception if he honestly and candidly explains in writing that which he intends to do if permitted.

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