We've often been asked why the closing of the golf course is a big deal. Hasn't it been closed before? The answer is yes. When it was bought in 2002 by the current owner, it had been closed for sometime and the course had not been maintained for several years. It remained closed until 2003. Why is this time different? This time is different because the owner plans to develop the land and pave over much of what is now green and open space. The loss of this undeveloped land in the heart of our community will have significant ramifications.
These Are Our Concerns
1. Impact on Property Values
A common question that is asked by homeowners is: "will this new development really hurt my property values?"
The simple and truthful answer is YES.
Any home that is built on a golf course currently holds a special designation that is used to assess value by the county's property appraiser. While it can vary from location to location, if a new house or apartment was built on that space that is currently a golf course, the house that now holds the golf course frontage designation would automatically lose it. The loss of this designation would mean, at the very minimum, your property value would instantly decrease by several thousand dollars.
Additionally, depending on what type of housing tracts are built, apartment complexes could further devalue your home's worth.
Don't believe us? Just ask the residents of the Sabal Point subdivision in Longwood.
Sabal Point Golf Course was built in 1981 when it was known as the Trophy Club of Orlando. It closed in 2005. The owners of Sabal Point Country Club were not the same owners as the Country Club at Deer Run. However, like Mr. Dello Russo, those owners wanted to develop the land, a total of 133 acres, with a tremendous number of single and multi-family homes stacked almost on top of one another.
The residents of Sabal Point fought the developer's plans in a protracted legal battle. It had negative consequences for everyone. First, from 2005 to 2011, homes in Sabal Point dropped in value. $300,000 and $400,000 homes lost as much as half their value in less than five years’ time. Second, the owner of the golf course failed to maintain the property during this time. For safety's sake, many residents had to pay out of their own pockets to simply make sure the grass was cut and that retention ponds were unclogged and in working order. Third, a significant amount of legal fees was expended by both sides in a battle that lasted more than a decade.
In the end, Sabal Point residents reached a compromise that saw a portion of the golf course developed while the rest was turned into recreational areas and park land. But it took a lot of time and a lot of money to achieve this.
2. Impact on Local Transportation (Our Roads)
Eagle Circle is a one-lane road in each direction. It is highly traveled by both residents who are trying to get home and neighbors who use it as a cut through to destinations in Casselberry and Winter Springs.
Speeders are already a significant problem, which is why speed bumps were installed on part of the road in the 1990s.
An increase in traffic may require Eagle Circle to be widened from one-lane in each direction to two-lanes. It is likely if the roads expanded that the speed limit might also increase. Imagine if Eagle Circle was a two-lane high way in each direction (four-lanes in total) like Lockwood Boulevard in Oviedo. There would be such an increase in traffic, it's a possibility that traffic lights might even be needed at intersections like Eagle Circle and Eagle Circle South, Eagle Circle and Eagle Boulevard, and Eagle Boulevard and Dodd Road. This is to say nothing of what it might be like if drag-racers started treating Eagle Circle like their own personal race track.
More traffic? More accidents? More speeders? No thank you!
3. Environmental Impact
Right now, the land where the golf course sits in Deer Run is a large open space.
This land has ponds and lakes, grass and trees, and a substantial population of wild life. Deer Run is home to Ducks, Rabbits, Possum, Armadillos, Wood Storks, Egrets, Spoonbill Roseatte, Sandhill Cranes, Owls, Bald Eagles, Turtles, Raccoons, Osprey, Woodpeckers, Sandpipers, Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Terns, Gulls, Moscovi Ducks, Anhinga. foxes, squirrels, and wild peacocks. If it is built over, where will these animals go?
Also, how will usage increase with the new demand for water and sewer accessibility? Stormwater run-off and other drainage issues will likely develop with the reduction of green space and the addition of large paved-over cement areas.
In a word, can we deal with more FLOODING in Deer Run? No!
4. Educational Impact
Right now, the homes in the Deer Run subdivision are zoned for the following schools: Sterling Park Elementary, South Seminole Middle School, and Lake Howell High School.
Capacity at these schools has always been an issue. For example, currently Sterling Park Elementary has a little less than 900 students enrolled. As of early 2019, Sterling Park is just under its capacity limits. However, what will happen if several hundred new homes and/or apartments are built? People will move into these new houses and bring their children with them.
Another point to consider. Potential development of Deer Run isn't the only nearby building project going on that will affect these schools. In March 2018, the City of Casselberry approved the rezoning of what is currently vacant pasture land on a lot directly across the street from the entrance to the Deer Run subdivision on Red Bug Lake Road. The apartment complex is expected to break ground sometime in the next year.
When you combine the new students who will live in that apartment complex being built across the street from the entrance to Deer Run with possible new student populations created in Deer Run as a result of new construction, what does that mean?
One word: REDISTRICTING.
All these new students will have to go to school somewhere. It is just a question of where. At the very least, an elementary school rezoning of nearby schools (like Casselberry Elementary, Red Bug Lake Elementary, and Keeth Elementary) could be required. A redistricting of the middle schools would also be possibility (potentially affecting both Indian Trails Middle and Tuskawilla Middle).
And as everyone knows, redistricting of schools is never a fun, easy, or cheap process.
5. Safety Impact
It is a sad fact: abandoned spaces like closed golf courses tend to attract transient populations. Research has shown a similar increase in crime rates in these areas. The golf course is near all our homes and our elementary school. Do we really want to put our families and children at risk?
We have one answer for this: NO!
Sandhill cranes, mother & baby, on the golf course near Fairway Oaks. Photo by Dotti Dennis.
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