A proposal to build 96 townhomes on the site of the former Westpark Golf Course failed after Leesburg Town Council voted against it 5-2 Tuesday night.
The vote followed public comments by more than a dozen neighbors of the property over two council meetings. The majority opposed the development.
“All of us would like to keep this land … parkland,” Mayor Kelly Burk said. “But that may come from another application.”
Westpark Golf Course was sold in late 2017 to developer CalAtlantic Homes, later merged with Lennar Corporation. This September, the course officially closed.
The 141-acre property’s zoning currently allows for 27 detached homes.
Lennar’s latest rezoning proposal would have turned a portion of the land into 96 townhomes and potentially donated the remaining 130 acres to the town as a park.
Town staff said that while any potential park would have to go through a master planning process, it would likely cost $1-2 million to develop and about $250,000-300,000 annually to maintain.
Residents who came to council’s public hearing seemed divided over the promise of saving a large portion of open space versus uncertainties about how the townhomes and park would affect their community. Several said they would prefer a motel, a by-right use since an old hotel is currently on the property.
However, detractors said that any commercial use would not be viable since the property does not have road frontage and would be far from other commercial establishments.
“I think the certainty that this application represents … is an opportunity the council shouldn’t pass up on,” resident Dan Williams said.
Many residents who opposed the development were angered by a flyer they found tucked under their mailbox flags that promised a beautiful park if the development were approved and unmaintained, fenced-in land if it were not. Another part of the flyer also suggested, residents said, that Lennar would develop the entire property, including the golf course, if this development were not approved.
“The developer has continually used smoke-and-mirror tactics to intimidate residents and council into accepting,” resident Cindy Boyce said.
Vice Mayor Fernando “Marty” Martinez and Councilman Ron Campbell were the lone council members who opposed outright denial of the development.
“I was not happy with the density … but I also know the value of open space and park property,” Martinez said. “I personally would love the applicant to go back to the Planning Commission.”
Councilman Tom Dunn forwarded a motion to deny the development, saying that he wished the town still allowed proffers so it might be possible for the town to negotiate with the developer.
Other council members cited the Leesburg Planning Commission’s and citizens’ opposition: Councilwoman Suzanne Fox said she tallied constituent emails and found them against the development four to one.
“I don’t think that this is an application that’s airtight,” she said.
The final fate of Westpark is not decided. Lennar could come back with another proposal or build the by-right homes. For now, the golf course land will remain—unmaintained and closed to the public.