West End homeowners lawyer-up to fight development of golf course

 A community of homeowners that paid top dollar to live adjacent to a golf course are not backing down from the fight against a developer who plans to erase the green space.
Friends of West End is a group of hundreds of homeowners who live adjacent to West End Golf on Newberry Road across from Tioga Town Center.
Developer Sayed Moukhtara hired Gainesville civil engineering firm JBrown Professional Group to draw up plans for “Tara Club West End,” a proposed development that includes 40, 50, and 60-foot wide residential lots, a 20-foot wide single family townhouse lot, and a multi-family residential building.
The homeowners say they have everything to lose from the value of their homes, to quiet streets, to the view of grand daddy oak trees and wildlife that calls the golf course home.
They have suggested that Alachua County purchase the property to use as a health and wellness park for residents, especially on the west side of the county, to stay healthy.
On July 16th the following idea was sent to BOCC Chair Hutchinson by two West End homeowners Masuma Downie and Linda Block. The proposal is for a wellness park that will not only address the current COVID-19 health crisis in Alachua County, but offers a recreational space for the public to get exercise outdoors and a space to host events for health causes.
“We suggest a two part use of the recreational area. One part would be commercial and the other would be a Health Park. The commercial section could be a 9-hole golf course, putt-putt golf and a restaurant managed by a professional golf course owner (Example: Meadowbrook golf which had earlier requested to lease West End Golf course).
 
“The other part would be a Health and Wellness Park. This could be used by the Institute on Aging for their various mobility studies. Covered pavilions for chair exercise, yoga, TaiChi, dance would provide both safe outdoor distancing and fresh air.  Walking paths, biking trails for young and old with access for wheelchairs, and walkers for those with mobility issues.
Until two weeks ago, the same developer who started plans for a new development to fill in the golf course as early as June 16th was advertising to potential buyers of condos in the Tara West End development located at 12528 NW 7th Place across from Tioga Town Center the townhouse community as “For the golf enthusiast, Tara West End is adjacent to The West End Golf Course, a 60 par course built by John O’Connor, which is open from 7am – 12am, offering night golf.”
That description has since been removed after a story appeared about it on August 15th.
 
In the required neighborhood workshop meeting on July 23rd between Moukhtara, JBrown representatives and about 100 West End homeowners more than 300 comments were made against the development and zero in favor.
On August 7th, the homeowners met again. This time they secured Attorney Jeff Braswell, of Braswell Law, PLLC and announced that Braswell, “has been hired to represent the homeowners in opposition to the change of land use of West End Golf Course before the Alachua Planning Board, and if necessary the County Commissioners.”
According to the notice, the group points to the fact that the current owner of the golf course has paid property taxes on the 75 acres based on the recreational zoned property purchased for a fifth of the asking price more than 50 years ago. West End homeowners are asking, how can that same property be sold for the asking price of $6.25 million allowing the current owner discounted property tax payments? 
The letter states, “Homeowners bought their homes adjoining recreational property. There is no disservice to the owner to maintain as a recreational property, but homeowners will lose property value from $20,000-$30,000 each.”
In the latest meeting held by the West End homeowners on August 16th, Attorney Braswell said he is no stranger in handling land use cases. “In the most dense areas of Alachua County those recreational opportunities become a treasure.”
Meanwhile the GoFundMe account set up to pay the West End homeowners legal fees has reached $5,965 as of Noon on Aug. 17th.
 
Several donors have given $500 each to the cause, others donated $20, $30, $50, $100, $200 and increments in between.
According to the description of the fundraiser set up by resident Stephanie Phillips, “With the already existing residential developments along Newberry Road, the conversion of West End Golf Course to another high density development would destroy this recreational green space and the quality of life for the surrounding communities besides adding to the Newberry Road traffic and congestion.” 
Also noted on the site is that “On September 16, 2020, our attorney and the developer will meet with Alachua County Planning and Zoning.”
Alachua County is not the only county in Florida dealing with application for development of the local golf course. 
According to an article published by the Tampa Bay Times, Pinellas County purchased the 42-acre Baypointe Golf Course in January sparing it from becoming a housing development and retaining it as a recreational park and stormwater management area.
And in April 2020, the Tampa Bay Times reported that a Tampa development group plans to build 273 homes on the former Tide Golf Club. 

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