Residents, developer fight over new golf course homes

Developer wants to build homes on 9 holes of Woodmont Country Club

TAMARAC, Fla. – People living on Woodmont Country Club in Tamarac claim a developer who wants to build homes on one of the courses isn't following the city's rules.

In April, the Tamarac City Commission voted to give initial approval a plan to build 152 homes and commercial space to take the place of nine holes on one of the historic club's two courses. Residents have filed filed a lawsuit in a bid to stop it.

Attorney and Woodmont resident Tony Appel said a covenant protects the golf course through 2074 and a city ordinance demands 75 percent of residents must approve any changes. The city ordinance, passed in 1972, applies to golf course communities.

"They've gotten the permission of no one, they haven't even tried," said Appel. "Covenants aren't always broken."

Mark Schmidt, the developer of the project, said the covenant can be changed by a vote of the commission.

"Thousands of covenants are revised daily," he said. 

Schmidt said he didn't even believe the covenant was valid. Schmidt has repeatedly tried to get various development plans approved by the commission on the golf courses, including one to build condos and a 360-room "four-star hotel" that was defeated in 2006. The 152-home project is a scaled-down version of Schmidt's plans that he says will revitalize the country club, which will retain 36 holes and get a new clubhouse in the plan. 

"I'm confident that a majority of people in this community want this project," said Schmidt.

But Richard Brown, who lives near the course, said up to 95 percent of residents in his section of Woodmont are against building the homes. He said Schmidt, who acquired Woodmont in 2004, had been a "bad neighbor" who had poorly run the country club.

Brown, like many who are opposed to the project, claim Schmidt intentionally ran the golf course business into the ground and led one course, The Pines, to fall into disrepair in order to open the door for a development. Schmidt says that isn't true. 

"In 2074, come talk to me," said Brown. "... I won't even fight them then but right now, I don't want him doing what he's doing."

The plan still needs approval from the county and final approval from the city.