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Derelict Matanzas Golf Course Overrun By More Questions Than Answers, Angering Residents

| April 21, 2015

matanzas golf course palm coast

What residents see from their homes around the Matanzas golf course: former greens overtaken by a ferocity of greens. Click on the image for larger view. (c FlaglerLive)

Mike Finnegan has been traveling for work for two years. When he got back to his home on Lake Charles Place in Palm Coast’s L Section he was confronted by neighboring residents “with a list of questions on the conditions and what’s going up there.” He was referring to the Matanzas Woods golf course, which has gone unused for almost a decade and an unruly spread of overgrown brush, clogged waterways and occasional refuse.

He submitted his questions to the Palm Coast City Council this morning, after he was invited to do so by council member Bill McGuire, but the most he got in return was the promise that the city will consider putting together a summit of sorts between various government agencies and residents in the Matanzas area, while the city’s code enforcement board proceeds with an actual case against the property owner, whoever that may be. Beyond that, numerous questions remain, as do legal limitations on what the city may and may not do.

The disused golf course sits—and now sprawls—in the form of an overgrown nib at the pointed edge of north Palm Coast, snaking around the homes on Lake Placid, Lake Success, Lindsay Drive, Lakeview Boulevard, Lee Drive, London Drive, upsetting those residents who know that if they were to let their own yards go untended in the same way, they’d be arraigned before the city’s code board before long.

Different standards of maintenance apply to vacant land, even former golf courses.

“I was shocked recently when I drove by the old Matanzas Golf Course recently,” Toby Tobin, publisher of GoToby, wrote in December. “The clubhouse is overgrown and falling apart. The parking lot is littered with trash. Only the contours of the course remain. How can such a treasure become unrecognizable in such a short period of time? What might the future hold?” He, too, was asking questions begging for answers the city could not provide.

Residents keep wondering whether the city’s code enforcement department, never known for going easy on property owners, is applying the same standards on the owner of the Matanzas Woods golf course, though equal standards happen not to apply in this case, because the abandoned course is not judged by the same standards as residential home lots. Still, there’s garbage in various places. There are bonfires, as neighborhood teens use certain areas as gathering places. There’s a lake that’s almost entirely overgrown, to such a point that firefighting helicopters can’t get their buckets in there to draw water when fighting fires.

The clubhouse is quite literally falling apart. Click on the image for larger view. (c FlaglerLive)

The clubhouse is quite literally falling apart. Click on the image for larger view. (c FlaglerLive)

There’s one other persistent mystery: no one can figure out who, exactly, owns the place. Last October an entity called Group Golf of Palm Coast LLC, of Jacksonville, bought the site for $266,800, according to property appraiser records—from an entity called Golf Group of Palm Coast. (The previous owners’ corporate identities, listed with the Department of State’s Division of Corporation, were all from Palm Coast. The new owners list just two names: Stephen Richardson and Michael Yokan of Jacksonville.)

“At some point we would like to have state officials and government officials and Bill Nelson’s office and the city and the county to have an open house up there, to know what’s going on,” Finnegan said. “Since 2005, nothing has happened up there, and we need the city to take a hard look.”

Palm Coast doesn’t dispute the nuisance. “This has been a thorn in our side for years,” Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts said. But the most he could do today was ask his administration for yet another update on where the city is on code enforcement “and what we anticipate doing.”

“There are private property issues, private property rights, that the city cannot impact,” Netts said. “The property is owned, I agreed it probably—although I would hope otherwise—it probably will never be resurrected as a golf course. But you can’t require them to maintain it in the appearance of a golf course.”

City Council member Bill McGuire, who attends county commission meetings, reported from the previous evening’s meeting that he’d heard that different city staff members had said they would not be enforcing the city’s code. “We’ve got a communications malfunction here,” McGuire said, which bothered him, he said, “because I’ve never seen our staff malfunction in areas like that.” He described Finnegan’s remarks as “a microcosm” of what’s happening in the county, citing “a huge gap” between what the residents of Matanzas Woods are thinking, and what the city is thinking.

matanzas golf course garbage

Garbage aplenty. Click on the image for larger view. (c FlaglerLive)

City Manager Jim Landon describes the Matanzas property as a vacant property, not a golf course, though the city does, he stresses, have minimum standards. “They let it go, then we send them a notice, and within a few weeks they have historically done the minimal amount of maintenance. Code case goes away,” Landon said. “Recently, we’ve had difficulty with exactly who owns the gold course, because it has been sold, and it’s in the process of foreclosure, and so that always complicates it when you do not know exactly who the owner is. In this case we have started a code-board case, and we actually got it scheduled for the code board. Which takes it to that next level to get the property owner’s attention, that they have to make some improvements.” A resident’s recent email to the administration signaled that “some maintenance” had been done. “But there’s still more that needs to be done. The residents may not like to hear this, but we cannot enter the private property to go find issues that they’re seeing. We can only enforce the code from the public street and the public property. We’ve attempted to do that the best we can in a very difficult situation.”

Regarding the different standards applied, Landon stressed: “We don’t require vacant properties to be maintained. We have vacant lots all over town that aren’t required to be mowed and maintained. And there’s a portion of this property that is vacant now, and doesn’t have to meet a residential kind of criteria. We are trying to get the property owner to, close to homes and certain areas, do the mowing, but residents don’t want to hear the fact that this vacant property does not have to be maintained at the same level as a residential lot or a developed lot. Definitely not the same level as a golf course. It is a very difficult call as to where that vacant property can be maintained as vacant property versus a developed parcel.”

The city has been making stormwater improvements and storage. But absent a new owner who takes maintenance seriously, the current situation is likelier to linger.

matanzas golf course

The old clubhouse. Click on the image for larger view. (c FlaglerLive)

Council member Steven Nobile said the conditions of the Matanzas course is “devastating” on neighboring residents, who bought property on a golf course only to see it decline—and see their property values go with it. But in terms of converting the land to something more valuable, the council had no answers.

Bill Reischmann, the city attorney, broke down the issue in its component parts—starting with the property owner and neighboring government agencies, including the state and the water management district—but could only explain what each entity is responsible for, legally, and what it may not do. “The city’s obligations are, right now, to receive complaints, do appropriate inspections and enforce our codes,” he said, including potential issues regarding trash, vermin and drainage. But violations can only be documented by code enforcement officers who can see the violations from a public road, or from other residents. As for property values: “That’s a private lawsuit,” not, Reischmann said, “something the city of Palm Coast has a stake in.”

Nobile said the whole matter reflects poorly on Palm Coast, and wondered at what point the city could get on the property and “do something”—an irony, coming from the council’s most militant property right advocate, though in this case he was advocating for homeowners, who have seen their property values impacted. “If we’ve got hazards like mattresses, and we have a garbage dump being put out there,” Nobile said, “we really have to get on top of them, on top of whoever the owner is, whoever the bank is that’s holding the foreclosure, whatever, and really get on them and hammer them and make it as costly as possible for them to get that cleaned up.”

One unspoken matter nevertheless loomed over the council’s discussion, in light of where it had been a week ago: just last Tuesday, some council members, including Nobile and McGuire, were critical of the direction of the Palm Harbor Golf Course, which is city owned and has been losing money every year. It’s run by a private company, KemperSports, which, of course, is not losing a dime: taxpayers are subsidizing the losses. Council members have been under pressure to end the drain on the city. City Manager Jim Landon has been arguing that the value of the golf course goes beyond the bottom line—both as a city asset, in the scope of the city’s parks and recreation offerings, but also as an asset to the golf course’s neighbors, and neighborhoods: its continued upkeep enables the properties around the course to keep their value, rather than face a run-down property.

Today’s discussion regarding the Matanzas golf course made Landon’s point, unpopular as it has been.

The city had a plan to turn the property into a “linear park” that would be maintained by the neighborhood or the city, perhaps providing a playground to children in the neighborhood. But there was “sharp opposition” to that proposal, Landon said.

“Until the neighborhood can come together and sit down and be civil about it, with a game plan, your potential buyers all run away,” Landon said.

Council member Jason DeLorenzo, speaking of involving all residents in future discussions, hinted at the possibility of changing the golf course’s zoning, if only to make it more attractive to future buyers–namely, developers.

“The time has come to be the convenor of a discussion,” Netts said. “This cannot continue in perpetuity. Who is the owner, what are your plans for this property, do you have prospective purchasers for this property.”

(c FlaglerLive)

(c FlaglerLive)

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55 Responses for “Derelict Matanzas Golf Course Overrun By More Questions Than Answers, Angering Residents”

  1. a tiny manatee says:

    ‘Nobile said the whole matter reflects poorly on Palm Coast, and wondered at what point the city could get on the property and “do something”—an irony, coming from the council’s most militant property right advocate, though in this case he was advocating for homeowners, who have seen their property values impacted. “If we’ve got hazards like mattresses, and we have a garbage dump being put out there,” Nobile said, “we really have to get on top of them, on top of whoever the owner is, whoever the bank is that’s holding the foreclosure, whatever, and really get on them and hammer them and make it as costly as possible for them to get that cleaned up.”’

    Make it as costly as possible to get them cleaned up? I’m not seeing the logic in that statement, but then this is Steven Nobile we’re talking about.

  2. Layla says:

    More negligence on the part of the City Council. The time for civility has passed. You keep reelecting these people, Palm Coast.

    What do you expect?

  3. palmcoastpioneers says:

    The Matanzas Woods Golf Course is part of and listed as ‘ Exhibits’ in ‘Recreation’ pursuant the Federally ORDERED ’15 Yr. Compliance Report’. Federal Trade Commission ‘ Consent Agreement ‘ – F.T.C. C-2854.

    • Layla says:

      Your information is always appreciated. Do you happen to know what happens if they are not in compliance? What the options are? We know these agreements have been broken, we just don’t know what to do about it.

      We are like lambs to the slaughter when it comes to local government here.

  4. Lin says:

    Doesn’t surprise me that Nobile wants something done
    He was the one who before his election, was up in arms about the Council approving the property owner building that gas station
    I don’t see him as an advocate for property rights, just some people’s property rights.
    We can’t just buy every piece of property where we don’t like what a property owner does or doesn’t do with it, of course it should not be in violation of codes. I’d be upset if I lived near there too.
    If in foreclosure, would a small new development of homes be better than the mess that is there now? Probably IMO — but the word developer is a curse word here lately.

  5. Stormy Weather says:

    Wait till the “BIG” Hurricane hits Palm Coast this summer. Forced evacuation, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the interstate. National guard blocking citizens from returning to their homes. Two months go by and Palm Coast will start to resemble the swamp it was built from.

  6. Bottom Line says:

    Red Light Cameras (RLCs) have ruined this community. So many folks have steered away from PC after the RLCs were installed at nearly every intersection. Home values and the local economy have suffered for years due to the RLCs! Just compare PC to neighboring communities that didn’t jump on the Red Light Camera Band Wagon, their golf courses didn’t shut down.

  7. Mike says:

    Thank You Flagler Live, Great Story and Great Work, Please follow up as you can. Lets make this Ground Zero for state laws on closed and derelict Golf Courses, there has to be some young law clerk at Morgan and Morgan who knows where there is some law on keeping this place cleaned up.

  8. getwithit says:

    who will ever really do something about it???

  9. Brad W says:

    I actually live on what was once the 9th fairway and have for over 10 years now after building our home here. I know very well the frustration surrounding the issues with the course closure. The issue has continually gotten worse with each new owner, but it has also been made much worse by a few neighbors who have made it next near impossible to have honest, civil, and mature discussions about a solution. I am extremely surprised that Heidi Shipley did not speak up here as I filled her in on the history during the campaign since she represents this District.

    In any event, here is the outline of the history:

    1. The former company, LandMar, acquired the property around 2006 along with the Pine Course and Cypress. The 3 were then “combined” and called “The Grand Club”. Jim Cullis was the President of LandMar at that time and overseeing this transition.

    2. After the Pine Course had been renovated around late 2006 (?) and reopened in March of 2007, renovations began on the Matanzas Course but stopped several months after as LandMar began struggling with Grand Landings falling through and the market tanking. LandMar then went under and the property (I believe) went into foreclosure.

    3. The Course, along with Pine and Cypress, was purchased by a small local group called the Golf Group of Palm Coast, LLC in 2011. That group had originally planned on re-opening the course, but after struggling with the other two courses and facing millions to get the course back in shape again nothing happened with Matanzas.

    4. In 2013, Jim Cullis offered to purchase Matanzas from the Golf Group. His thought was to help remedy something he felt some personal responsibility about since he was the President of the former company that originally ended up closing the course due to unfortunate economic situations.

    5. He met with residents and suggested that he would 1) purchase the property, 2) donate almost all of the land back to the City with a plan for the City to maintain the property (keeping the existing golf course contour) as a linear park with pathways (once the cart paths) and whatnot, 3) keep a small portion in the northeast corner by the old clubhouse and build homes there over time to recoup what he put out to purchase the property in the first place. The discussions became . . . well . . . whatever they were, and Jim Cullis decided against the purchase.

    6. In the fall of 2014 a newly formed Group Golf of Palm Coast, LLC (yes, that is the actual name) consisting 2 people in Jacksonville (one of which is an attorney up there) as noted here purchased the property with $166k down and a balloon mortgage that was due in December for $100k. They did not make that payment in December and Jim Cullis acquired the Note. There are conflicting reports as to whether he is foreclosing on the LLC, Group Golf of Palm Coast, or not. So at this point Group Golf of Palm Coast is still the current owner. Just to note here as well, the Golf Group of Palm Coast also sold one of the other course as well this past fall (I believe it was the Pine Course).

    The plan Jim Landon was referring to (and as I outlined in point 5), was a great opportunity in my opinion for the neighborhood. This would have maintained the two key characteristics that a golf course typically contributes to increased property values, especially for adjacent properties . . . 1) view (natural, open, and well-maintained), and 2) a sense of privacy with no homes directly behind the property (just as golfers go through, some people using the land to “play” is the same). What this plan added was very unique in that it would provide close proximity for ALL to a variety of outdoor activity. With 3 great nearby schools, this would have positioned Matanzas Woods as something attractive for all lifestyles and especially perfect for families leading to current residents seeing much better opportunity for property values increasing as demand increases. Matanzas Woods would become very competitive to similar neighborhoods. In that scenario, with the City owning the land, it would put residents in a much better position to insure that the property is protected and could work with the City towards improvements that benefited everyone. In addition, it would put the City in a unique position to even lease portions of the land to those that wished to bring activity to the area. For example, the City could lease a portion to someone to run a driving range. Or it could lease a portion to run an executive style 9-hole golf or foot golf course. The bottom line is that it was a fantastic opportunity that unfortunately was left to slip away over what could only be characterized as pure silliness.

    Not one person here, including me, wouldn’t be very happy to see the course reopen. But the cold hard truth is that golf courses are private businesses that are extremely costly to run, and no one is coming with the millions it would take to just reopen that course. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that even if it did open, there isn’t the consumer base in the area to keep the course afloat very long. In fact, it would put the other existing courses in further jeopardy of going under causing a negative ripple effect across the City that would effect every single Palm Coaster.

    There is a solution with that property that would benefit everyone here and the City as a whole, but it takes some “out of box” thinking and being open-minded. That’s not always easy for some, but the truth is as adults we should be able to have adult discussions regarding this problem. It’s a property value problem, but too many want to make it a golf problem which it is not.

  10. PJ says:

    If it goes overgrown then it will look just like the rest of the empty lots in Palm Coast. I’m not happy but these owners purchased a golf course. So these owners should be fined and the fines should stick. Wake up Code Enforcement. You don’t have to put a decal on a garage door just fine them. Fine them hard, lein the property. Or see below:

    A suggestion is these so called owners should donate the property to the City as a park. We do not have a park this place can connect to the great trails we have throughout the City.

    What worries me is the illegal dumping of construction debris and house hold garbage at the end of lakeview on the dirt road. garbge piles, wood yard debris. Before you know it we will have rats and roaches infesting the area. Please help close this illegal dump….PJ

  11. palmcoastpioneers says:

    It is e n c u m b e r e d by F.T.C. C-2854. & the Federally ORDERED ‘ 15 Yr. Compliance Report’.

  12. Groot says:

    Finally, we made Flagler Live! Thanks for the coverage. First, the zoning is and has been MPD since 11/08. Multi Purpose Development (MPD) is a very broad designation.When I bought my “golf course home” in 2/09, it was listed on the MLS as golf course frontage and as a golf course under renovation in my closing documents. I was misled to by a local realtor. There is no need for a zoning change, it has not been a golf course in many years. It was changed from Golf Course to MPD in 2009. I finally received a zoning map contemporary 2009 from Mr Tyner last month. why did it take so long for a correct 2009 zoning map? We have met with both the Mayor and City Manager in 2014 on this matter as well as Mr Nobile recently in 2015. The Mayor was his cordial self. The City Manager was openly hostile to us. He gave us his curt Palm Coast is saturated in golf courses speech and promptly left the meeting. We didn’t want it to be a muni course, we just wanted info on possibilities and referrals. Mr Landon said he had a long association with Mr Cullis and rebuked us for not accepting his plan. In the interim, Richardon and Yokan bought the property and did not make their payments. This is after they promised to make it the envy of any private course in the area. So, what really is going on? It would appear on the surface that Mr Cullis is still after the property, he may, I say may, have used Richardson and Yokan to reach this goal. I mean he has purchased the loan and initiated a Lis Pendens suit. In the mean time, the property has not been maintained. Our homes have lost value. The only homes selling in L are distressed sales. Kudos to Mr Finnegan for taking the initiative on this matter. My personal preference would be for the community to purchase the property and maintain it at acceptable standards and allow us to decide for ourselves it’s future use.

  13. Joe says:

    Matanzas Woods used to be a pretty decent neighborhood, its funny how the City conveniently always passes issues like this back on the home owners as ( civil cases) Sorry, not our problem, you are on your own! I still don’t understand the empty lot issues neither. Seems like all a owner of an empty lot has to do is pay the taxes. Some of these non maintained eye sores are totally over grown, I would like to see these owners at least have to maintain them twice a year to keep the over grown brush at bay. If we ever have a fire we are in big, big trouble.

  14. Brad W says:

    I’d also like to point out that there is confusion about the zoning of the property. The property falls under the subvision’s zoning of MPD (Master Planned Development). A MPD simply means the area will have “mixed use” types of properties which we do. Within MPD’s, land is designated with FLUM (Future Land Use) codes which determine how that land can be used. The golf course property specifically has a FLUM designation of “Greenbelt” which does NOT allow for building residential homes. The City Zoning and FLUM maps are available on the City’s website.

    There is also confusion with statements that the land was “rezoned”, and it was not. In 2008/2009 the City eliminated several unnecessary designations for areas that were confusing and simply called them MPD, or mixed use areas which is what all of those other designations were anyway. Those designations were Village Center (VGC-1 and VGC-2), Golf Course Community (GCC), Planned Unit Development (PUD) and Planned Rural Development (PRD) (City of Palm Coast Land Development Code Chapter 3 Sec. 3.01. – In General).

    All of this information is very easy to access via the City’s website by the way, and I personally think it’s important that we as residents have the correct information.

  15. Mike says:

    Heidi, Steve

    Thank You for your input and ACTION on the Matanzas Woods Issue, we know its not going to happen overnight, all we are asking for is for the city to take a look and I think we accomplished that as residents of the L Section.

    You are both exactly with this city needs, I hope one day you both have a chance to be Mayor and or Vice Mayor and then County Officials next. Very strong public speakers. Direct and to the point of the issues. Great Job.

    It seems that the residents of Palm Coast have been dealing with a host of issues going back many years, Housing Boom, Growth, Internet Sweepstakes, Red Light Camera’s, City Owned Golf Course, Tennis Center, Old Tennis Center, Swim Club and this mess up here at Matanzas Woods. We know you both bring a positive addition to the City of Palm Coast.

    We know that the owners have many rights as private land owners of the GC. We would like the City to fight for us also as residents, with 450 houses that back up to their private land, along with city easements and right ways, with cart paths that cross city roads along with a various water and drainage issues the city needs to have visibility.

    Please see attached photo of the overgrown lake here as can bees seen on Google Maps also, Zillow has a picture of when there was an actual lake here. Flagler Live did a great story also.

  16. Groot says:

    I would like to point out that up here in L, we have nothing. No retail, no parks, most of us have overhead utilities and open ditches for drainage. We have been long ignored by the city. What we do have now is excess housing, too many rental homes, a lot of areas zoned MFR, drainage problems and low property values. Adding more homes up here will compound these problems. We do not want more homes on the abandoned property. This will only benefit a few greedy realtors and developers and make the situation worse. After the bulldozers leave and the new residential boxes are built and the builders, realtors and developers leave with their $, we’re stuck with more excess housing, more residents and lower property values. We do need some quality greenspace up here that is maintained for all of us. I would like to point out that the golf course behind my home has not been cut or maintained since I attended a meeting with the City Manager and Code Enforcement in 2/14. Palm Coast doesn’t like residents speaking their mind. Mr Cullis referred to us as trouble makers because we questioned his plans for more houses. We do not want more houses on that property. It will only benefit Mr Cullis and one to two local realtors with checkered pasts and questionable motives. We want to add to our quality of life and property values, not totally destroy both with yet more residential development.

  17. Palmcoastresident says:

    First and foremost, all of you 55 and older residents who sat in that meeting Mr. Cullis afforded us the opportunity to be apart of a year or so back, well quite your gripping! You all sat (some stood to yell at him) there and didn’t give him the time of day to present his ideas and what he was going to provide to our neighborhood. You all deserve what is happening now! This is a life learning lesson. Shut your mouth if you don’t know what you’re talking about, and all you idiots who suggested putting up a gate to the “L” section need to go live in the STD capital of the state, the Villages. This is not a retirement community, this is not a 55 and older community. This is an incorporated City with families who live here and are raising their kids here. There is very minimal in regards to parks and recreation. This City has no real community center with an indoor gym for basketball, but we do have a bridge club!

    I get more frustrated because ignorance is the reason this is still an overgrown, vacant, piece of land. All you people who spoke, blasted Mr. Cullis about his plans to make something out of nothing. What do you have today? NOTHING! He explained in his presentation that NO ONE, was going to come in here and open up a golf course. He was nice enough to think outside the box, and afford us residents an option for a park that would be beneficial to this region. You dingwhits stood up and told him about all the homeless people that would live here, or about how ABC liquor opened up on the corner of Palm Coast Prk Way and Old Kings Rd. Just a Note: HE WAS NOT THERE TO DISCUSS ABC liquor store opening!

    I wish the meetings would have been around 5 or 6pm both days so the people who work, who have familes, could have been represented in this meeting. The problem was only a minority (maybe 2 of us 40 yrs and younger) were attending the first meeting, and I heard about the same for the second meeting. Everyone got up to speak were blasting him on his presentation without thinking about the alternative. The alternative was absolutely nothing being done, and now you all are gripping about this!

    I got an idea. The next time someone asks the residents input, and allows us the opportunity to be apart of the process, to shut your mouth if you don’t have A). The money to buy the property, and B). The money and ability to run the type of suggestion you are trying to present!

    Thank you Mr. Cullis for your time and attention to this property. I know I appreciated it!

    • Brad W says:

      Well said. Couldn’t agree more. It is very sad that so many of us have to have our property values held back because of ignorance, egos, and spreading of false information. Enough is enough.

  18. Mantanzas says:

    2 years ago several residents including myself met with Mayor Netts & Jim Landon about the golf course, we also met with the owners who offered to sell us the course for $250,000, Jim Landon said & I quote, your best bet is to Bring Back Jim Cullis who did not receive a warm welcome when he called a meeting with plans to build more homes, I and most others bought into a Golf Course Community which we all paid a premium price for what is now a MESS, homes values are down, the city changed the rebuild on the course which was to be completed before Cypress Knolls, Pines Lakes was first , then Mantanzas, then all at once a rebuild took place at Cypress Knolls instead of Mantanzas which is a Arnold Palmer design championship course which got more than enough play when it was open, yet Landon says to many courses in the Palm Coast, BS, most are private or not affordable, Landon lives near the Cypress course, he sure protected his area, politics, and Landon steers us back to a Builder, corruption is going on so much in this town and no one does anything about it, there is rumors there is a Class action suit ready to be filed, Netts, Landon, buddy Cullis have to go, they do NOT care about residents, only there pockets, we also took photos But was told by Landon they were not legal because we trespassed on private property and we did notify the police we were walking the property, we also had potential buyers, due to restrictions from Palm Coast, some got scared off, yet now Landon’s buddy who owns the property doesn’t have to do anything, just waiting for the right time to build, what a shame to see such a beautiful course let go all because of Politics and corruption. This has to STOP

  19. confidential says:

    Kudos to all the Matanzas Woods residents getting involved in this issue and also to Flaglerlive for publishing this editorial. I know at least one great family that was a real asset to our community that sold their home and moved to Ocala given the golf course eyesore on the back of their home. I remember like it was yesterday how proud and happy they were during their new Howell built home with so many outstanding fixtures during their home warming gathering…The gorgeous view from the back of their home of that beautiful Matanzas Golf Course in 1998-99.
    It was time that you all, affected residents raise and demand justice and accountability of the wealthy owners of the property. The best Cullis should do is to deed the land to the city (as until now the residents have endured enough suffering the eyesore and homes value erosion thanks to his failed golf course ownership) and by now the city should include that land on its Parks and Recreations fund to be maintained, at least a wide contour around the neighbors residences as the original golf course was with walking/cycling trails on the original paved golf cart trails. Install surveillance cameras in strategic places and add it to the sheriff patrolling area and also clean up that lake and install some oxygenating solar fountains to reduce algae growth. City could call for volunteers to help and do the initial clean up and landscape work…then engage a group of volunteers savvy landscaper aficionados (like myself) for the maintenance on city provided equipment, providing a hold harmless agreement. Won’t you all love to get together and help while socializing and end the day with some cold juices/drinks, some hot dogs and a big hand of thank you? Can you all imagine how beautiful that land would look just now if at least were mowed and ornamentals and trees trimmed and garbage hauled away and prevented from dumping again? C’mon Palm Coast city officials….get down hard on Cullis now to give us the land…he can write it of his taxes as a loss and city and volunteers can make that land as beautiful as it used to be. We will also go from our Palm Coast C section and volunteer just let us know. Great work Mr. Finnegan stay the course!

  20. Groot says:

    Possibly the easiest and least divisive solution to this mess that has snowballed over the years would be for Mr Cullis to gift the land to the community when he obtains ownership of it. (We all know he will, it’s just a matter of time). We can structure it so Mr Cullis can make it a charitable contribution and take it off his taxes. The community would form a voluntary community association to fund and maintain the property as an undeveloped community park and nature preserve. However, no homes on that property. I suggested this to Mr Cullis back in late 2013 and he said no, he said he wants to build some homes. He might want to re-think that and just gift the property to the community. There is no financial gain for anyone and he gets a nice tax break and his name in posterity as a good guy. Cullis Memorial Park. Think about it. It’s the easiest way for all. But no more homes, we have enough houses here already. We need something positive in our neighborhood. Cullis Memorial Park. It has a nice ring to it.

  21. confidential says:

    Here was when all started:, and I still find that ITT was and still is responsible for selling our amenities back then after they hooked us on buying our homes here with those federally filed development programs mentioned by Pioneer above.
    This is what ITT sold to us all: and they should be held responsible along everyone of the buyers of all ITT amenities that were promised by ITT, for the use and enjoyment of the residents buying homes in Palm Coast. No one ever tried a class action.
    Also when we buy a business in the city, land or not, is to run it. Not to shut it down to become an eyesore and a house for vermin. Then why are these golf course buyers let them to get away with it? Or the only approval city gives them is to change the zoning to build more houses that we don’t need?

  22. Mike says:

    General Quarters calling all pilots in Flagler County who has a small plane or helo that can fly over Mantanzas woods and get pictures for city code enforcement.

  23. I/M/O says:

    It was called the Housing Bubble Foreclousre Crisis and the “L” section of Palm Coast took a very hard hit.

  24. Joe says:

    Matanzas Woods is quickly becoming the new arm pit of Palm Coast. Its not a coincidence that taxes fund Palm Harbor, its more like the Mayor lives over there and he sure doesn’t want what Matanzas is turning into in his neighborhood. Cypress Knoll gets a big renovation and who lives there? You guessed it! Nothing for Matanzas because another course would hurt these two courses and their property values. Just my opinion on this!

    • Mike says:

      Right On, Great Comment, there has to a state law somewhere that looks out for the home owners around the property.

      • Groot says:

        100% agree with Joe and Mike. Original order for the course renovation was Matanzas, Pine, Cypress. It was flipped. Who lives adjacent to Cypress? Landon. Where is the Town Center? Cypress. Where is the new city hall? Cypress. Where is the new Walmart? Cypress. Where is Palm Harbor? In Palm Harbor and who lives there? Netts. You’re right a restored Matanzas Woods GC would drive Cypress, Palm Harbor and Pine out of business. However, their incompetent management will probably run them out of business on their own. Oh, hey we’re saturated in golf. No, not saturated in golf, we’re saturated in favoritism, stupidity and incompetence at the top. Only problems, how to we come up with the minimum $3 mill to open up Mantanzas GC and pry it out of Cullis cold hands?

  25. confidential says:

    To Joe and Mike: Our Palm Harbor Golf Course of today is not because Netts the Mayor resides in the C section, he is faraway from it but instead was and is possible thanks to all the residents many avid golfers around our Palm Harbor Golf Course our fight caused that was deeded to us by the developer simply because we all got up in arm over 500 of us strong present in those meetings raising cane demanding the buyer Centex and our City accountability and compliance with the golf course they bought and neglected to a waste land!. We even told them we will go on picket lines for the world to see us and NOT TO BUY CENTEX PRIOPERTIES, as they started construction of those condos in what was supposed to be, our never rebuilt Sheraton Hotel replacement. A real shameful charade were Palm Coast lost 300 plus jobs in the old ITT Sheraton /Palm Coast Resort. Sheraton. We fought hard and were present on all those meetings 500 plus affected residents to recover our Golf Course or repair it!
    Now all of you need to fight the same way and I am one of those C section residents to give you all the support! Landon needs to be less nice to Cullis and demand he deeds the land to the city or spend the millions to bring it back to what it was and maintain it! No zoning approval for more homes! Landon talked Centex into the deed we got Palm Harbor, have him do same with Cullis corporation and name it Cullis Gardens then!. These developers including ITT have made enough wealth we us all, now is the time to hold them to the task of what we were promised and the city legal team and elected one’s need to be in your side not Cullis or whoever owns it now. City then should appoint an oversight volunteer committee comprised of accountants, landscapers and also security professionals, all Matanzas affected residents to monitor the park. Invite Sheriff Manfre to cooperate with a plan to have his deputies monitor it too by making it part of his patrolling area. Organize and win! Like we did for our beloved Palm Harbor Course. If we do not ask or demand nothing will improve! Good luck to all.
    Also I believe that Matanzas as the other Palm Coast Golf courses are designated “Green Belts” and do not let them administrators sell you a different thing, if so. Our City legal team “we pay” to defend us and not developers interest all the time.

  26. L Section Resident says:

    As a homeowner in the L section for the past 8 years, I could write a laundry list of the issues our neighborhood faces because of this property – one of the biggest ones is the clubhouse on Lakeview and the dirt road adjacent to the clubhouse. From dirt bikes, illegal dumping, bonfires, target practice (yes, they fire guns back there from time to time) and all of the other issues associated with abandoned properties.

    Just to throw my .02 in, there seems to be a few passionate people in this comment thread and I wonder if there is a way we can band together as a community to demand something be done. Personally, I love the park idea!

    As someone else mentioned, the last time there was a meeting I had to work and was unable to attend the meeting.

    Can we start some comments in here with ideas in how to come together and actually become a voice that will be heard??

    • Brad W says:

      I have always agreed that we as a community need to communicate. Believe me, that is not an easy thing to do. In 2013 when Mr. Cullis brought us a great opportunity, a few people decided they were somehow entitled to speak for every owner. A few of them are commenting here. They were insistent that even after almost 7 years at that time, that someone would be coming to purchase and open the property as a golf course. I love it here, and have truly lost money. We paid double for our lot on the 9th fairway compared to the rest of the area that we built on in 2003/2004. We have lost quite a bit in value. We did not purchase distressed homes in 2008 and claim to have “paid a premium”.

      I love living here, and am not considering moving. I am looking forward to being here for many years with a nice open view from my back yard. I would like to see that view not being an overgrown mess. The plan for the property being granted to the City with a plan for a park while maintaining the golf course contour would not have only benefited us by restoring our home value, it would have benefited everyone by providing a solution to restoring all property values in Matanzas Woods. Again, unfortuantely that was not allowed to happen because mature and civil discussion that allowed everyone to feel safe to express their opinions based upon experience and facts.

      Here are the realities of the situation:

      1. The Matanzas Woods Golf Course property is privately owned property. The City is bound by the same laws that protect the rights of all property owners. Golf is a private business, and we know that no one is willing to come forward and invest millions into a business that none of that data points to being sustainable. It’s not a conspiracy against Matanzas Woods. It’s just an unfortunate reality.

      2. No homes were ever proposed to be built on the fairways or greens. You know that dirt road on Lakeview at the bend? At the end of that dirt road and set back is where he was proposing to build homes over several years to regain his money. Homes were always planned to be built back there, and it was a fair concession.

      3. Matanzas Woods is far from built out, and there already exists many vacant lots that will be built on. There are also 4-5 large multi-family zoned parcels that most likely will end up with townhome style communities built on them in coming years. Corner of London and Lee, corner of London and Londonderry, on Londonderry behind the brick home, etc. There will be more building in the area, and it’s never been any surprise.

      4. It is not “distressed sales”. In fact “distressed sales” account for a small fraction of all sales in all of Palm Coast and Flagler County. My wife has listed and sold 3 regular sale homes in Matanzas Woods already this year (the remaining one is closing very soon) and all around 90 days. We have real activity and real opportunity for owners to get even more IF the community had a great amenity like a linear park.

      5. IF someone is willing to put out their money to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars to purchase the property (or the note to the property and court costs to foreclose on owners who have defaulted) and is willing to grant almost all of it back to the City for a park, then I personally think it is fair that the person be able to keep a sliver set back at the end of a dirt road to build some homes and regain their money back in several years because it will take several years to get contracts from would-be buyers to build. In fact, I think that is more than fair.

      It made perfect sense in 2013 and it makes perfect sense today.

  27. confidential says:

    To L S. Resident and all: If you have to work when these incoming meetings take place, have your wife/lady. relative go to the meeting, even your teen kids if they reside at home. Do not miss a meeting. Also talk to your neighbors about it and explain to them that probably like happened in our Palm Harbor Course, the forced repair and maintenance of that land even if just as community park and gardens will no longer be an eyesore to endure but also will bring back the value of your homes into the positive thousands, just like happened with our homes. Believe me is worth the diplomatic but relentless battles ahead! We the resident taxpayers have rights too, not only the wealthy developers around us.
    Call Mr. Flanagan in the city government mentioned above and ask him when is the next meeting. Also try to locate Mike Finnigan by phone, your Matanzas leader and organize.

  28. confidential says:

    That is a good start…a great conversation with city officials. I tried to reach Mr. Mike Finnigan by phone but gives me busy line forever. Who else from Matanzas was in the city council meeting addressing this issue with Mr. Mike Finnigan, you all need to communicate with each other and contact your Matanzas Woods neighbors regarding at least the involvement of the city for enforcement of the course upkeep. Mr. Jim Cullis for sure can help if he is foreclosing on the course now, because for sure should not be allowed to keep that eyesore that devaluates your homes and pollutes your community with discarded refuse. Jim Cullis is involved right now in millionaire plans as President of Gran Haven Realty to develop the Light House Harbor LLC by the old Lehigh Cement Plan off Colbert Lane. Read todays 4/23 Palm Coast Observer page 11…Nice plans, Nice photos! So right here all of you Matanzas affected neighbors have the great chance to demand that the city set a precedent of no approval plans to Mr. Cullis before he resolves the Matanzas Course serious issue. Or all of you maybe will go and picket on site, or online too, against Mr. Cullis new development and warn the potential buyers, what he and his company (I believe then Landmark) did to you all and that maybe can be repeated on the Light House Harbor LLC. development.
    Get those 450 affected Matanzas homeowners together march to city hall talk to your council without wasting time.

  29. palmcoastpioneers says:

    @confidential – It was Federally Ordered ‘…significant areas of Recreation…’, along with Federally Ordered ‘…significant areas of Preservation…’…and ‘…significant areas of Conservation…’.
    It is also many times llisted as a Federal Exhbit in the Federally Ordered ‘ 15 Year Compliance Report ‘.
    It is within Official Federal Records of the United States Government.
    I.T.T. , largest Conglomerated listed it as a Palm Coast ‘ Community MILESTONE’.
    Every acres, every blade of grass, every grain of sand is encumbered by Federal Trade Commissions ‘ Consent Agreement ‘ F.T.C. C-2854.

  30. confidential says:

    Unfortunately I am not a lawyer and what concerns me is the “15 years Compliance” and the way I perceive it as a non attorney, is that length of time that then may have expired at the time ITT sold all our amenities. In the mid to late nineties…Actually we never consulted attorneys to that regard for a class action suit!. We all just swallow the bad pill without exploring our possibilities. I read thru the years that in other cases like ours big developers were taken to court in Florida and the residents won. But that takes time to research and find out…is work for a legal team that was never consulted.

  31. Groot says:

    The community should purchase this property with voluntary participation and donations and maintain it the same way. It’s our problem, let’s solve this once and for all. We can make it a community park and nature preserve for now and maybe, in the future, a golf course. But for now, a community park. No city participation in this and no city funds. The Lis Pendens is moving right along, a summons was mailed yesterday. The alternative is housing. Both the city and Jim Cullis want houses; the city to widen their tax base and Cullis to get himself out of financial dodge.

  32. My thoughts says:

    The Property Appraiser still lists the golf course as, surprise, GOLF COURSE! Not vacant land. My guess is Code Enforcement is being held back from mowing the property by the City Manager/Mayor, so that Cullis doesn’t end up with a piece of property encumbered by fines that would have to be paid back to the City once Cullis foreclosed on the loan. . Nice deal, but at the expense of the residents.

    You guys need to get organized and fight City Hall.

  33. Joe says:

    I’m not sure the ( make it into a park) idea is a good solution, the park in the “R” section comes to mind with all of its troubles.

  34. Mike says:

    That did not take long, 4/23 posted on Facebook under Save Matanzas Woods

    Save Matanzas Woods GC Cullis filed a foreclosure for the balance due on the loan from Group Golf of Palm Coast (Richardson and Yokan). Group Golf did not respond and now a summons has been issued by the court. Go to the Flagler County Court site, search court records by Matanzas Land LLC (Cullis) or Group Golf to follow the progress, well, the demise of the golf course. It is moving along at record speed.

    • Brad W says:


      This is where I have to disagree and it is very clear where of the confusion is coming from. How do you see that process being the “demise of the golf course”?

      Is it an operational golf course today? Has it been an operational golf course in 7 years? Is anyone coming with the ability and/or willingness to reopen the property as a golf course? The answer to all of those questions is “no”. Reality is reality.

      IF anyone ever sought to try and build on the fairways of the course it would have to go before the property owners (and specifically those of us who have “golf course” lots) and the City Council. I would be the first in line to say “No way!” if anyone was ever proposing that.

      So would you prefer that property to continue to deteriorate and simply be treated as vacant land and continue to be overgrown? Or would you prefer that property to be groomed and usable by all as a park retaining the contour of the course owned and maintained by the City (which is us anyway)? Because those really are the only possibilities we have as a community at this point. And which of those two options do you see restoring property values in Matanzas Woods.

      How would the property being a linear park not protect the property, restore our values, and leave the option open for someone who wanted to resurrect a course later to come and purchase the property from the City and bring back a golf course?

      I think your “save the matanzas woods gc” needs to revisit that word “save” because I haven’t seen them saving anything. When I look out my back window I see a “golf course” that is in worse shape than it’s ever been and far less hope with property values that are not going anywhere. I think as a community, people better wise up. They can choose to listen to a few committed to spreading conspiracy theories and false information but not willing to actually step up and really do anything worthwhile to actually”save” anything. The real truth is that they are simply making things worse for all of us because of their obsession over fantasies they have concocted. Or people can stand up and start discussing actual solutions as adults.

      Personally, I’ve lived with this as long as I have and am about done with it. A solution was (and possibly may be again) handed to us on a silver platter, but because a few insisted on attacking and spreading false information you are looking at the same frustrating problem as all of us. And because of that those who are all pointing fingers at everyone else, and they should all look down at their hands because there are 3 fingers pointing right back at them. At this point, the problem with that property and it’s continued negative impact on our home values is not anyone else’s fault . . . it’s the fault of the residents of this neighborhood who behaved as horribly as they have (and still are).

  35. Mike says:

    PALM COAST — Made Ch 13 News

    Peter Kennedy moved into his Matanzas Woods home in 2006. The glass inlay of his front door shows off the 18th hole pin flag, something he could see from his lanai.

    “It was meticulously maintained, and it was a beautiful environment to move into,” said Kennedy. “I’m sure it’s one of the main reasons why I paid the price that I paid for the house in 2006.”

    Shortly after he moved in, though, the course was shut down for a renovation. The housing market bottomed out, and the owners of the course went under.

    After a succession of other owners, it’s barely evident that there was a golf course here.

    A few miles away from Matanzas Woods sits the Palm Harbor Golf Course, Palm Coast’s original golf course. That, too, closed six years ago, and became overgrown with weeds.

    In this case, though, the city of Palm Coast stepped in and bought it, turning it into a municipal course, run by a third party.

    But that company has yet to turn a profit, meaning the city is subsidizing it to the tune of six figures a year.

    Donna Flieger, who bought her home here specifically for the golf course view, said she’s OK with that.

    “Every city has a responsibility to have parks and recreation, and there is a cost of doing that,” said Flieger.

    There is even a new development going up around the course, touting homes nearing a half-million dollars.

    Back at Matanzas Woods, Kennedy said he’s resigned to the fact that he’ll probably never have that golf course view again, but he wants to know who’s responsible to at least make the surrounding property look presentable.

    “What I don’t understand is why the town government body doesn’t do anything to enforce the maintenance and the upkeep of what is somebody’s property,” Kennedy said.

  36. Groot says:

    Mr Cullis prefers houses!

  37. confidential says:

    Horrible behavior is NOT from the residents Brad W, but instead from the string of owners of the golf course since purchased from ITT and allowed to do so against the best interest, deteriorated home values and also safety of the affected 450 homeowners that paid premium golf course located parcels in Matanzas.
    Do not swallow the charade that city officials are selling you all, that city could not enforce golf course compliance, as that is Bull! When city gives us a license or we buy a business and they approve the operation is always that is in compliance….since when a wealthy corporation is exempted…just because they want to build more homes or whatever on it, against zoning and green belt designation?
    Stop cheering for Cullis & City officials and demand compliance or deed the land to the city (us) for a park, gardens with beautiful walkways (the golf car trails). Exchange it for the city approval of Cullis millionaire new development on the scope by the Lehigh Cement plant off Colbert Lane. Get your meetings NOW!

  38. Anonymous says:

    Brad W. blames the residents of Matanzas Woods for the current plight of the golf course. He dislikes it when someone refers to saving Matanzas Woods GC. I built in 2004. 8th fairway. Paid a premium. The ensuing financial meltdown, multiple owners, Cullis shenanigans, Landons thinly veiled resorting of Matanzas Woods to third party status, property value loss, the creation of an eyesore where once there was a beautiful golf course..,are not the fault of the residents of Matanzas Woods.
    Those that talk about saving a now defunct golf course do so because that is what it was designed for. It’s what they paid for. There has been no other legal use for it since it closed. Certainly, Cullis and Landon are hoping to change that by ignoring the people who are rightfully unhappy that their community is being ignored, left to decay. In this situation the best thing those directly affected by the cities inaction can do is file a class action lawsuit. If the city is still appraising owners as if they are on a golf course, and has been since it closed, then the city is defrauding, and has defrauded, property owners. You can’t argue it’s no longer a golf course and then tax those living around it like it is. A fiduciary responsibility develops when the city acts only in it’s best interest (more tax dollars) while doing nothing to help the residents of Matanzas Woods, the precedent being Palm Harbor. I would gladly sign on to a class action lawsuit.

  39. CarMichael McMillan says:

    I know investors willing to buy the Matanzas Woods Golf course, clean it up and reopen it. Keeping it a golf course and preserving the character of the community.

    All those people bought homes on a golf course only to have powerful people in this city play games with their livelihood in an effort to force them to allow rezoning of that land. They want to rip up the golf course and build more homes/condos and reap profits. Allowing this will destroy the investment made by all those residents who bought homes on the golf course.

    There have been efforts made to preserve the course in the past. Those efforts were unsuccessful. They were outmaneuvered by the folks who want to destroy the course. I think I can do better and save the course. Seems Crazy CarMichael has to get involved in another community issue, God help us all. :) Red Light Cameras are pretty much done. What else am I going to do with my spare time.

    If you live on the Matanzas Woods Golf Course, or in the Matanzas Woods area. Like this page. I will do everything possible to fight this and preserve the Matanzas Woods Golf Course. We can get that area back to the beautiful community it should be.

    Like our page, let’s get organized.

  40. David B says:

    Perhaps the city should mow and clean it up and bill the owners. If they don’t pay then file a lien. That’s what any other city would do, besides sending emails and comments is just going to drag this out. Come on Palm Coast grow some, and take this matter into your own hands.

  41. Mikey Eyes says:

    I loved Matanzas Woods Golf Course! It makes me sick to see what has happened!

  42. MaryAnn Genovese says:

    If h/o are searching for damages. My husband and I are condiering relocating to florida after our home sells. We are looking a two hr radius to Amelia Island. I looked at a couple of homes for sale in your community. Now after reading this blog and the laissez faire attitude of the council Palm Coast is off the list. Why isnt the council “eminent domain” the property charging back all charges incurred and liening the propety to whomever buys it, installing cameras for dping offenders and charging astronomical fees and penalties, arresting the kids who are going to start a fire that is going out of control, offering tax credits to outside entities blah blah. OMG taking care of business. Whew this is crazy. Council you should be ashamed . You just costed a homeowner a sale.

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