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East County Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020 4 months ago

Lakewood Ranch's Legacy Golf Club development gets green light

Although some Country Club residents say adding 48 homes will cause traffic congestion, commissioners approve project unanimously
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

Manatee County Commissioners on Dec. 10 unanimously approved a plan by Legacy Golf Holdings LLC to build 48 homes on a 5.7-acre parcel they own adjacent to the Legacy Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch.

Jon Whittemore, a partner in Legacy Golf Holdings, said the development would allow his company to produce income that will be put back into golf course improvements, securing the club's financial future.

Legacy Golf Holdings Inc. purchased the golf course in November, 2015 for $3.4 million and have spent another $2 million bringing it back to its original condition as when it opened in 1997. Previous owners had allowed the course conditions to deteriorate.

Schroeder-Manatee Ranch attorney Caleb Grimes, who represented Legacy Golf Holdings before the commission, said SMR was hoping the commissioners would support the plan.

“Communities that are developed with golf courses within them gain a lot of their value and their reputation because they are on a golf course,” Grimes said. “They command a higher price historically. And therefore, a successful golf course is very important to the homes that are on and around it.”

The units, not specified as to what design they might take, could accommodate from two to four households each according to Grimes. The wetlands surrounding the parcel will not be affected by the project, according to Grimes. Grimes also said the units will not be visible from the Legacy Boulevard entrance to Country Club.

A few Country Club residents who live near Legacy voiced opposition to the project, most notably Michael Smith, a Country Club resident who represented a task force called VISION2020 that is composed of 100 Lakewood Ranch residents. The task force’s concerns about the project include its impact on traffic, height of the units and the units' style and color.

Smith asked the commissioners to consider postponing the decision until a March 4 land use meeting. He said nearby residents were not given enough time to evaluate the project, noting most residents found out about the project one day before the county’s planning commission discussed it Nov. 19.

“I just wanted an open discussion,” Smith said. “I wanted facts. We weren’t even saying that we would shut it down and oppose it. We simply wanted to gather more information in an open and transparent (manner).”

Commissioner Carol Whitmore said the information presented to them Dec. 10 was enough to make a decision that day rather than waiting until March. Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who lives in Country Club, noted there was no obligation to inform all Country Club residents but only those living within 500 feet of the parcel. Lakewood Ranch Communities issued a notice to those residents Oct. 30.

"If Legacy fails, it reflects on the Country Club as a whole," Baugh said.

Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

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