A controversial plan for a residential development on the Westpark Golf Club property is entering the public review phase this week.
The Leesburg Planning Commission has scheduled its first public hearing on a Town Plan amendment for the golf course property which, if approved, would convert just under 14 acres designated for community office development and open space to allow for medium-density residential development. Also proposed is an amendment to convert 4.39 acres from community office designation to open space.
Lennar, the contract purchaser for the entire 142-acre property, plans to construct 96 townhouses on the property. According to a staff report, the applicant intends to retain the remaining acreage as open space by restricting future development, and transfer that open space to the town. In previous community meetings, Lennar representatives suggested the town could use the open space for a new town park, or at least to preserve the remaining vista of the golf course property.
In its justification for the Town Plan amendment, the homebuilder points to the Town Plan’s call for a “high quality housing stock that accommodates future population and workforce” and said the proposed development would achieve exactly that. It also points to the current state of the golf course property and clubhouse, which the report admits has seen better days, and “in some measure stick[s] out like a sore thumb in these residential neighborhoods.”
“If the open space is maintained, which is the applicant’s intention, then additional homes would complement, rather than detract from, the area,” the report states.
Those who live near the Westpark property have been vocal since news that the property was for sale broke in late 2017. CalAtlantic Homes, which would later merge with Lennar, has been under contract to purchase the property since shortly after it was listed for sale and has held several community meetings with updates on proposed development. What they have largely heard is an outcry from the public to preserve as much of the golf course property as possible, with many nearby residents bemoaning the fact that their golf course views could soon make way for more housing. They’ve also continually highlighted the flooding often experienced on the property and questioned how that could impact or impede any development.
The Town Council has been just as involved as the months have passed since the property’s sale was announced. Initially, council members questioned whether the town could purchase the property and continue to operate it as a municipal golf course. However, a feasibility analysis conducted by the town staff shed doubt that the golf course could be a revenue-generating operation after the cost of needed improvements, potential debt service obligations and ongoing maintenance were taken into account,
Thursday’s public hearing is set for 7 p.m. in Town Hall Council Chambers. Once the commission issues its recommendation, the Town Council will have final approval authority on whether to sign off on the Town Plan amendment.