MULBERRY, Fla. — Residents in one Polk County community are fighting against the rezoning of a golf course.
“We have a lot of wild birds that come out to the ponds, we don’t know if they would stop coming to the ponds. We also have at least one resident that we’ve spoken to who has some pictures of Florida panthers,” said Aaron Puffer who lives at Imperial Lakes.
Neighbors said the wildlife would have no place to go if homes are built on the Imperial Lakes Golf Course in Mulberry.
In a meeting Monday, residents learned an application was submitted to Polk County as the first step in the process of getting 188 acres of the golf course rezoned for residential land use.
“The rezoning application plans for the maximum amount of houses that would be planned for the property and the application has 940 houses on it, and that’s just to ensure the proper utilities can be handled with all of that,” Puffer said.
Puffer is one of the 125 residents that signed a petition opposing rezoning to protect the animals. However, the owner of the golf course said no wildlife will be harmed.
“Most of the wildlife is on the back 9. We’ve already put holes 14, 15 and 16 which is where they all live, under a conservation easement that runs in perpetuity. It can never be developed,” said John Lennon, Owner of Imperial Lakes Golf Course.
He said there are no specific plans in place right now for redevelopment and no potential buyers.
One option residents want considered is having neighboring HOA’s purchase the golf course.
“You know, as HOA representatives we need to get together. We need to look at what we can do and what we can't,” said Donnie Arbeau, HOA President said.