Without the covenant, isn’t this development a “done deal”?
Absolutely NOT! Yes, the covenant protected the land by providing restrictions on acceptable land use. We are disappointed it was released. However, it is still zoned as Parks and Recreation in the CDMP, and currently only 32 homes are approved. The new application submitted in February 2021, must go through the entire zoning process and includes opportunity for residents to provide public comment. At the Oct 2020 hearing, Commissioners stated they wouldn’t support a large-scale development in Calusa, and we intend to hold them to that decision! Since the last hearing, residents have confirmed the presence of the endangered Florida bonneted bat, a rare and unique active multi-species rookery, where at least one bird identified as State Threatened, the tricolored heron, has been nesting. We need residents to spread the word, that we are continuing to fight to protect this wildlife habitat and our community, and that with strong community support WE CAN WIN!
Wait, I thought this fight was over and we won in 2017? What happened?
So did we! Then in January 2020 we received a hearing notice for a public hearing to release the covenant because more than 75% of the ring owners agreed/signed a release. We don’t know the exact details because they are bound by an NDA (Non-disclosure Agreement). However, based on some neighbors that were presented with offers and declined, and some that have shared the details privately or anonymously with other neighbors, we believe each ring owner was offered between 50,000 and 300,000 (yes each!) for their agreement to release the covenant. The Board of County Commissioners voted on Oct 29th, 2020 to release to covenant. However, the application didn’t include their development plan in that application. So we expect the owner/developer will submit a separate development plan in 2021 with the development details subject to another full zoning process and public hearing.
When is the commissioners hearing?
The public hearing is currently scheduled for October 20, 2021.
What does the owner/developer want to build?
The Z2021000031 application submitted Feb 18, 2021 includes a site plan for 550 single family homes in a private gated community with no public community benefits.
I don’t live in Calusa, or golf, how does this affect me?
If you are in any neighboring community, such as Kendall, West Kendall, Kendale Lakes, Sugarwood, Devon Aire, Sunset, Winston Park, Sabal Chase, Arvida, Killian Pines, The Hammocks, The Crossings & more, this DOES AFFECT YOU! This affects communities across at least 5 different commission districts. We need to protect one of the last large green spaces left in West Kendall. We need to fight against years of increased traffic due to demolition & construction. We need to fight against thousands of additional vehicles on congested roadways fight and against the increased burden on our infrastructure that wasn’t meant to handle this kind of development.
Where can I see the application and other documents submitted to the county?
The County Website information can be found using the following plan numbers:
Z2017000338 Application for the release of covenant
Z2020P00230 Pre-application for 550 single family home development
Z2021000031 Application for 550 homes
What about the Save Calusa Trust? Didn’t they fight this in court and win?
We are NOT members of the Save Calusa Trust. The Trust was formed in 2012, by around 99 ring owners, to raise funds for the legal defense to protect the covenant. Non-ring homeowners were not permitted to join the Trust. The entire community fought together, collecting petition signatures, putting up lawn signs, and showing up at County hearings. After winning in court, the Trust used our community strength as leverage and “flipped” from protecting/saving the golf course to accepting personal financial settlements in exchange for signing a waiver to release the covenant. The Trust misrepresented their intentions, acted in their own self-interest, and excluded the surrounding community that would be severely impacted by this development. The Trust led the initiative for some neighbors to sign releases in exchange for financial compensation/additional land, without regard to the rest of the community or ring owners.
Please explain the covenant to me, I’m not familiar with it.
Basically, a covenant existed requiring the Calusa Golf Course to remain a golf course for 99 years. It was signed in 1968 and was valid until 2067! The owner of the golf course requested to release the covenant in order to develop the land and build a largescale residential development. This covenant was meant to protect the land, and gave the owners within 150 feet of the golf course, also called “ring owners”, the responsibility to protect the covenant, the land, and their community. This is something they should take very seriously! To remove the covenant, 75% of the ring owners would need to agree and give consent to remove it, AND the commissioners also need to agree. The covenant was released October 29, 2020 by the Board of County Commissions at a public hearing with signed released on record for 123/146 “ring” homes.