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Golf course edges toward townhomes

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By AARON SHAROCKMAN Published April 20, 2005 CLEARWATER – Developers received the first of several needed approvals Tuesday to replace the Countryside Executive Golf Course with up to 280 townhomes. Clearwater’s Community Development Board unanimously agreed to move the project forward over the heavy concerns of some residents and business owners nearby. The City Council will weigh in on the proposal next. Beazer Homes, a national home builder based in Atlanta, wants to turn the 44-acre golf course into a 280-townhome community called Costa Verde. Residences in the development would sell for $200,000 to $300,000, Beazer officials have said. The building now occupied by the Dogwater Cafe, a popular restaurant, would also be demolished as part of the proposal, said Tim Johnson, a lawyer representing Beazer. Johnson said the par-58 golf course has not turned a profit in recent years. “They just aren’t making it economically, Johnson said. “There’s too much competition. It’s not a project that really works.” Built in 1977, Countryside Executive sits on land that was originally zoned commercial and owned by US Homes. A deed restriction prevented any development of the course before 1997. The site is bordered on the west by homes. Commercial properties are to the north and east. Countryside Boulevard is to the south. As many as 100 nearby residents and property owners attended Tuesday’s meeting to oppose the plan. More than a dozen spoke, while others wrote letters of protest. “We already have a large amount of development in Clearwater, and the proposed new development of the beach area will further impact the horrendous traffic problems,” wrote 67-year-old Vincent Grippo. “A pretty city is becoming ugly.” Frank Westerman said he moved to Florida for its recreation options, like golf courses. Westerman lives just off Countryside Executive. “Our neighborhood wants to stay the way it is,” Westerman told the Community Development Board. “You’re our safeguard.” As part of Tuesday’s approval, Beazer will be required to include some type of buffer along the western property line, where other residences now stand. Johnson said the company will also attempt to buffer the commercial areas to the east. Source:
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