As we have previously reported, the Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Commission voted 3-2 to deny the rezoning application submitted by Barton Tuck, the owner of the Killearn Golf and Country Club.
The rezoning proposal has been a source of controversy and has faced several court challenges, some of which remain unresolved.
TR has published a number or articles providing different perspectives on the issue.
Sharon Mears: In Defense of Killearn Golf Course Redevelopment
My View – The Killearn Debacle
My View: Killearn Country Club
Killearn Country Club Members Provide Alternative Approach To Closing North Course
Now that the Planning Commission has made their recommendation, the decision moves to the City Commission.
TR has attended a number meetings and talked to people on all sides of the issue. What would a compromise solution look like? To get the answer, you must understand the competing positions.
First, Tuck claims that the economy has made it impossible to save the club without selling the “North Nine” land for monies to re-invest in the club. This number needed seems to be approximately $3 million.
Mr. Tuck has solidified his position by threatening to close the club if the rezoning is not approved. Based on discussions, this threat has been effective and is a concern for the Killearn Homeowners Association and government officials.
Those who will suffer the most with the rezoning are the homeowners on the “North Nine.”
There position is they bought homes on a golf course and Tuck should not be able to improve an investment at a cost to them just because he has grossly mismanaged the golf course.
From a planning perspective, the rezoning appears not to be consistent with the comprehensive plan. However, the issue now becomes political and elected officials will seek a compromise.
What are some possible solutions?
Tuck claims he needs approximately $3 million to improve the club. What if he could get the money without developing the land?
One solution would be to charge an assessment on the group that would benefit the most from the upgrade -club members.
A $40 a month assessment on 300 members for 20 years could secure approximately $1.5 million.
All homeowners in Killearn Estates (approximately, 3,700) would benefit from an improved golf course. A $20 annual assessment on homes in Killearn Estates over 20 years would generate another $1.5 million.
Has this approach been considered?
People tell TR that Tuck does not want to talk about any options other than the rezoning and the development of the “North Nine.”
TR’s report attempts to help readers understand the issues pertaining to Mr. Tuck’s plan to develop the now closed North Course at Killearn Country Club (KCC). Glad to see someone highlighted TR’s math error. Such an error is emblamatic of the shallow research and reporting on a matter that is very important to the entire Killearn community.
A basic understanding of the “state of the golf industry” would help TR better explain why investment/borrowed money intended for golf course renovation is not easily available from the typical sources. When investors won’t invest and lenders won’t lend then a business must find other sources of money for renovations. In this case, Mr. Tuck is attempting to sell HIS land so he can invest HIS money into KCC.
If current and future members experience an assessment or increased dues, so be it. They will have the choice to leave or stay. I’ve belonged to other clubs and even in its current state, the dues and food minimum at KCC is a bargain. New facilities and course improvements will make KCC the premier club in Tallahassee and this will benefit all Killearn homeowners.
TR’s reporting that Mr. Tuck has “threatened’ to close KCC sounds biased to me. I’ve attended meetings with Mr. Tuck and I’ve never heard him THREATEN to close KCC. However, closing KCC is a practical reality if it consistently cost more money to operate than it generates from dues, food sales, etc. Who in their right mind believes Tuck should continuously fund a golf club that looses money?
TR reports, without any supporting facts, that those living on the North Course will “suffer the most” if the property is rezoned. The North Course is now closed and not maintained. Yet, I’ve heard (not verified) that some on the North Course who have sold their home are selling them for asking price after only a brief time on the market. Further, according to the City’s Planning Commission Staff, the Tuck plan is requesting a rezoning density that is less than the existing zoning density of adjacent and surrounding property. Is TR able to inform readers who suffers the most if KCC closes entirely?
It would be helpful to the debate if TR would eliminate the red herrings and provide useful facts.
I appreciate comments on our stories. Feedback helps the process of trying to get at the truth.
However, your comments were a bit personal and, in many instances, were factually incorrect.
My response is below.
“When investors won’t invest and lenders won’t lend then a business must find other sources of money for renovations.”
Are you aware in 2014 a bank gave Tuck a $3.6 million credit line using KCC as collateral? Why was that money not used to improve the club? Where did it go?
“TR’s reporting that Mr. Tuck has “threatened’ to close KCC sounds biased to me. I’ve attended meetings with Mr. Tuck and I’ve never heard him THREATEN to close KCC.”
This is not biased – ask KHA and a number of City Commissioners. Privately, this is the narrative Tuck is promoting and it is working – no one wants a closed course.
“TR reports, without any supporting facts, that those living on the North Course will “suffer the most” if the property is rezoned.”
This statement comes from the meetings held by those on the “North Nine.” It is clear they are the most impacted by the development.
“according to the City’s Planning Commission Staff, the Tuck plan is requesting a rezoning density that is less than the existing zoning density of adjacent and surrounding property.”
Tuck is seeking a density of 10 units per acres. Talking to developers and policymakers this will never happen. In fact, the planning commission recommended denial based on the fact that this density was not consistent with surrounding areas.
I live on #17. I want the golf course to survive. There are concerns from all sides about how this process should move forward. To think any one person has a monopoly on the right answer is shortsighted.
Also, TR has been fair in giving a voice to all sides and to imply anything else is incorrect.
Thank you for your reply. I apologize for any tone or tenor within my comments that you believe to be personal. I tried to formulate my thoughts and comments on your article solely on what I know, its content and without regard to the author.
While your reply attempts to show the “many instances” where I am factually incorrect, I just don’t see where you did.
Regarding Tuck’s line of credit. Your questions are valid. However, do you know the terms and conditions of this LOC? Was the LOC raised for purposes other than Killearn? It’s not uncommon to use one property as collateral to fund the purchase or operation of another property. Did the LOC adjust based on changing market/assessed values. Was KCC still under contract with the previous management company when the LOC was put in place? These questions directly relate to how Tuck may have used the LOC funds.
Words and phrasing are important. They have impact on people’s perceptions. In my opinion, using the word “threatened” to describe what Mr. Tuck would do if his plan is not approved unfairly made him appear to be the villain. You did not attribute the word to other sources. So, while It may have been unintentional, it appears as though it is your word and it creates the appearance of biased journalism. I believe my comments presented a more balanced or real-world assessment. A business man cannot sustain losses forever. The decision to close a business is always painful and almost always involves substantial lost investment. Projecting the closure of the KCC is not a threat, it is a consequence of circumstances and priorities.
You are correct in that, based on the current plans, the homeowners on the former North Course will be “impacted” the most. However, in your article, you say they “will suffer the most”. Big difference. What do you know factually to support this statement? Just because a North Course homeowner says it, it doesn’t make it so. Are you aware of recent North Course home sales? It would be very interesting to see an article on this to learn if there has been any real impact on home sales and/or values.
I attended the March 7 meeting at City Hall and listened intently to the Planning Commission Staff’s recommendation to approve Tuck’s plan. The Staff specifically stated that Tuck’s plan requested a density per acre LESS THAN the adjacent and surrounding area. They also supported Tuck’s plan as being entirely consistent with the Original Killearn Development Plan. You say the Planning Commission denied Tuck’s application based on the proposed density. However, at that same meeting, Commissioner Miller requested the Staff to provide the specific reasons why the Planning Commission denied Tuck’s application. I suggest you go to preservekillearn.org and view the video of Planning Commission volunteer Bob Deyle. In his words, he made the motion to deny Tuck’s application because it’s not his job to bale out a failing business. How dumb is that! And, no reason was given related to density issues.
You and I can agree completely that it would be a disaster for the Killearn community to loose KCC. However, it is my opinion that those apposed to Tuck’s plan are prepared to deal with the consequences of such an outcome.
Thank you for providing the forum to discuss this and other important issues.
Laurie Davis talks too much.
Since this area is so significant to Tallahassee and so many families are impacted, I wonder if COT should consider a CR buy out with the members and a scheduled pay-back like suggested above?
I don’t get the math here. Sell the property for $3M. Pay off the due-on-sale note for $1.7M. Do other unspecified improvements to the South and East courses. Where’s the money for a clubhouse going to come from? Sounds like the members are going to wind up getting assessed anyway. This whole thing smells fishy. Why isn’t anyone demanding DETAILS???
Unfortunately, KCC is in a dying process. The club is no longer a viable option for social events and the restaurant, pool, and tennis courts are empty. The club is going out of business regardless of the outcome of the current political process, probably by design
If the $3 million needed now, collecting it over 20 years probably doesn’t work.
“One solution would be to charge an assessment on the group that would benefit the most from the upgrade -club members.
A $40 a month assessment on 300 members for 20 years could secure approximately $1.5 million.” I don’t think the math is correct here. Looks more like $2,880,000.
“All homeowners in Killearn Estates (approximately, 3,700) would benefit from an improved golf course.” Do they? In proportion to their proposed contribution?
Given the amount of new construction in town, why wouldn’t someone want to jump in while the timing is right…
I have a bad feeling about this thing going to the City Commission.