Hawks Run Residences on Golf Course Received ‘No’ From Venice Board

VENICE – Venice’s planning commission has voted against a developer’s proposal to reduce the Hawks Run golf course at Bird Bay Village from 18 to 12 holes and allow the addition of 45 villas, as well as construction a new clubhouse and restaurant.

Tuesday’s 7-0 decision came after more than four hours of public hearings and focused on the extent to which the city’s advisory board interpreted the use of a neighborhood open space protection strategy that was noted in the 2017 Venice growth plan, in a section relating to the Pinebrook district.

This strategy calls for the protection of open space within an existing residential development from redevelopment and infill development, and also notes that “the reduction or elimination of open space developed in accordance with the underlying ‘zoning’ shall not not be supported by the city”.

Related:Venice planning council to hear request to add 45 homes to golf course

Given that the decision was made in a court-like hearing, these legal grounds for the decision will be important both when the city council considers the development in two further public hearings, as well as if the matter lands before the circuit court.

Planning Commission Chairman Bill Willson pointed to this as a key; Board member Lissa MacDonald moved the motion to reject the proposed amendment to the proposed Bird Bay unit development.

Jeff Boone, the attorney for Hawks Run developer Jason Picciano, managing partner of Paradise Realty Holdings, had argued that the preservation strategy – which appears only once in the overall plan, in the Pinebrook section – does not should not apply to Bird Bay.

“Can we be okay with that or do we think it’s wrong?” Planning council chairman Bill Wilson asked the council.

All of the commissioners also said the application was not detailed enough to alter the binding master plan.

Boone had countered that Hawks Run would follow the same pattern that existed in current development.

Planning Commission member Jerry Jasper said residents may change their minds about their opposition to the development if more details become available.

More than two dozen people spoke about the development. Only four – including a potential buyer of a Hawks Run unit – were in favor.

Most spoke of the expectation that these lands would remain undeveloped and the potential loss of their views – as well as the previous developers’ promise to preserve the golf course.

“We are approaching our 50th anniversary as a community and we hope you will honor the promises that have been made to this community in previous documents,” said Anne McBridem who added that a redesign of the course – which fell into ruin – would be welcome.

Wil Brickner brought photos of the view from his room in Florida – a panoramic view of the adjacent course.

“I ask you not to take away my wife’s point of view,” he added.

Dwellings not built

Bird Bay Village, established in 1972, Pinebrook and Capri Isles are the three oldest planned unit developments in the city of Venice.

The 1,026-home resort-style development on the east side of the US 41 Bypass, south of Roberts Bay, is technically built.

Picciano bought the 33.3-acre Hawks Run golf course in February for $1.1 million. The course is the centerpiece of the 198.6 acre development and provides most of its open pace.

But according to the 1992 master plan, as many as 1,198 units could be built there, at a density of about six units per acre.

Not all were built on the available land, leaving as many as 172 approved unbuilt homes in Bird Bay – but no land available for them.

Picciano wants to use 5.28 acres of golf courses that would join the Legacy Trail or Bird Bay Plaza to build 45 villas and shorten the golf course from 18 holes to 12.

In addition to permission to build on the golf course, Picciano is requesting a change in setback requirements along the Legacy Trail.

The current rules for a structure are to set back from the property line a distance equivalent to twice its height.

The developer was requesting an amendment to allow the houses to be separated from the Legacy Trail by only 10 feet.

Planning Commission member Richard Hale was concerned that such a distance would create a “canyon effect” for cyclists on the trail.

Missing documents

Robert Lincoln, a lawyer for the Bird Bay Community Association, argued that in a 1977 amendment to the plan – which set the maximum number of units at 1,198 units – the developers’ agreement included a commitment to protect the golf course .

He also noted that in 1977 the planning board said they would not approve the amendment unless the golf course was preserved. This 1977 plan, he added, showed that all units were accounted for.

“It shows the layout of the golf course, but all the units that are there and approved on that plan, they’re assigned to specific development areas,” Lincoln said.

When the 1977 developer agreement was signed, the developer did not change the zoning of the land to a planned unit development classification, but rather agreed to develop it according to the planned unit development codes of the city.

Because the legal descriptions in the documents enshrining the golf course as open space were inconsistent, the city did not accept them at that time. The promoter never forwarded the proper documents – so there is no record of the golf course being declared open space.

Planning Commission member Shaun Graser didn’t think it mattered.

“It looks to me like the owner of this property bought a golf course, they didn’t buy developable land,” Graser said.

Although the commission did not recommend approval of the amendment to the planned unit’s binding development master plan, it will still be considered by the city council in two public hearings.

Even if eventually approved, that does not guarantee development, as Picciano, who owns the course through Hawks Run Development LLC, still has to go through public hearings with the Planning Commission and City Council on a site and plan. of development for the clubhouse and restaurant and a preliminary plateau for the dwellings.

Earle Kimel primarily covers southern Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at [email protected]. Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.

Denise W. Whigham