VENICE – The owner of the Bird Bay Village golf course will ask the Venice Planning Advisory Board to accept a plan for the development of units planned 50 years ago to reduce its existing 18-hole golf course to 12 holes and build 45 villas on the property.

Jason Picciano, managing partner of Paradise Realty Holdings, current owner of the 33.2-acre property that is the centerpiece of Bird Bay, wants to downsize the golf course so he can build homes on part of the existing golf course.

Earlier this year, Picciano said those homes would be part of a separate community called Hawks Run that would have its own amenities and not use the swimming pool and tennis facilities now enjoyed by residents of Bird Bay Village.

In his vision, Picciano would build a new golf clubhouse and restaurant, which would be open to the public.

Related:Developer draws up plan to add homes to Bird Bay Golf Course

An early version of this plan was previewed to area residents in December 2021 at a neighborhood workshop held via Zoom due to social distancing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Bird Bay Community Association have expressed their opposition to the proposal, which would result in a loss of open space.

The association has hired land use lawyer Robert Lincoln to represent them, and he will seek affected party status in a court-like hearing before the Venice Planning Commission on Tuesday. This means that he would not be bound by a five-minute time limit for public comments and that he would have the right to cross-examine the plaintiff’s representatives.

Picciano is represented by attorney Jeff Boone of the Boone Law Firm, who also led that December neighborhood workshop.

The planning committee meets at 1:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber of Venice City Hall, 401 W Venice Ave. The public hearing is the second on the agenda.

If the planning commission and city council approve a change to the binding master plan, the developer will still have to go through separate public hearings on a site and development plan and a preliminary plan.

Modified packages

The Hawks Run proposal has changed since last December’s neighborhood workshop. The proposed number of homes has been reduced from 70 to 45 and the proposed binding development master plan now has the homes on the southwestern part of the property – backing onto either the Legacy Trail or the existing Bird Bay Plaza.

Earlier:Developer looking to add homes to Hawks Run golf course in Bird Bay

While this change would eliminate the potential for a view of the golf course expressed by some residents, it does not resolve the density objections raised by residents.

Approving the additional units would reduce the percentage of free space from 55.3% to 52.32%.

Bird Bay, Capri Isles and Pinebrook are the three oldest planned unit developments in Venice. The planning staff report assigns Bird Bay the oldest city in Venice, as it was proposed when annexation took place in 1972.

The current binding master plan dates from 1992.

A written objection filed by Lincoln argues that the planned development of the unit should not be changed because Bird Bay’s current density of 5.15 units per exceeds 4.5 units per acre.

He also pointed to the 1972 annexation agreement that promised a minimum of 56% open space and a clause in a 1977 amendment to the annexation agreement that protected the entire golf course.

Picciano purchased the golf course from the father-son duo of John and Robby Robertson with the intention of developing only part of the property and leasing the smaller golf course to the Robertsons.

Over the past two decades, the 18-hole, 2,433-yard, par-56 golf course had suffered from lack of use and fallen into disrepair.

The Robertsons accepted Picciano’s offer over those of the developers seeking to develop the whole course as housing and a lower offer from the residents.

Picciano completed that purchase in February for $1.1 million, according to Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records.

Earle Kimel primarily covers southern Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.