The sport of golf is on the decline in the United States, with 1,400 courses closing the last decade, including 7 here in Orange County. On Tuesday afternoon, county commissioners explored options for keeping the costs of maintenance for the large stretches of land off the backs of taxpayers.
Many of these failing golf courses exist on residential properties, which has left homeowners to deal with the problems involved, while property owners jockey for redevelopment deals.
Orange County currently gives owners 15 days to fix any code problems including overgrown grass, then sends contractors to cut the area. If the owners fail to respond to the notice, liens are imposed against the owners.
Seminole County has been hit harder than some other areas in Central Florida, and amended their code to allow them to better enforce the problem including violations for overgrowth within 75 feet of a residence.
Last year, 1,100 Orange county residents rushed a community meeting, to protest plans to redevelop the Eastwood Golf Course into a mixed-use development, that would have added 300 homes and 70,000 square feet of commercial space. This angered many residents who purchased homes in the area to live in quiet golf course communities.
Commissioner Jennifer Thompson voiced concerns that there was no reason for the property owners of failing courses like Eastwood to maintain the land when redevelopment is an option. “There keeping it just well enough to prevent code violations but at the same time, they’ve got people frustrated with grass that looks bad, litter, and lets the say it would be better to redevelop the whole thing.”
Solutions for the problem were scant. A municipal service benefit unit or non ad-valorem assessment was considered but still a long way from becoming a possible fix.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said a group could be formed to explore the MSBU, would continue to examine what other communities were doing to solve the problem