During a public meeting several months ago, one of our Commissioners announced that a moratorium on development of the Belleview Biltmore Golf Course property had expired. The Mayor, who was caught by surprise by this information, became disconsolate and voiced his concerns about what development would mean for the aquifer lying underneath the golf course, as well as for those who owned homes on with golf course views.
Prior to this discovery, KAWA (who owned the golf course as a part of the three Belleview Biltmore Resort properties) had accumulated a huge debt to the Town, resulting from a $250/day fine the Town had assessed for neglecting to repair the roof of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel – a direct violation of the Town’s Historic Preservation Ordinance and other ordinances regarding property upkeep in the town.
Once KAWA discovered they had control over something of value to the Town of Belleair, they wielded that power like a sword, forcing the Town to give them great concessions to save the golf course. KAWA agreed to sell the golf course property to the Town, only if the Town would agree to separate that piece of property, as well as the beach property (which was also part of the resort) out from under a lien that had been filed against all three resort properties for not paying the previously imposed fines. They also demanded that the sum of the fine be reduced.
As soon as the Town made these concessions and purchased the golf course for $3.5 million. KAWA sold the beach property, but did not spend any of the profits to repair the roof of the Belleview Biltmore or make any effort to repay the rest of the fine. Instead, they began to petition the Town to demolish the hotel, insisting the fine should not have been imposed in the first place, because the hotel was beyond repair.
Now KAWA wants the Town to release another 2.3 acres from the lien, so they can sell the property to the Belleair Country Club (BCC) to provide additional parking for its members, the majority of whom do not live in Belleair. It would be absurd for the Commission to agree to this demand without at least demanding a percentage equal of the current fine be paid.
The current amount of the fines owed by KAWA is over $250,000. The 2.3 acres they want to sell to the BCC represents less than 10% of the total 20 acres of hotel property that is still bound by the lien. That means that KAWA should be required to pay money before the Town agrees to release the property from the lien. Until such time that this amount is paid, KAWA should not be allowed to sell any of the property to the BCC.
On the other hand, IF KAWA/Cheezem was willing to sell the property to the BBP with the condition that the hotel roof (as well as the rest of the hotel) would be restored, then the Town could be much more forgiving with regard to the lien and fines owed.