Ft. Caroline neighborhood threatens forced membership fee

Article and Video Courtesy of Channel 12 First Coast News

By Shelby Danielsen

Published February 22, 2015



JACKSONVILLE  -- A neighborhood newsletter is leaving Ft. Caroline homeowners with questions. The Hidden Hills Country Club Estates Homeowner's Association is threatening a new, forced membership fee that may or may not save the club's golf course.


"I think they're in a bit of financial trouble," said Becky Lacour, a 38-year Hidden Hills Country Club member and homeowner for 9 years.

"And I just know in general that membership has been down," said homeowner Kelly Arledge.

A 30-year zoning ordinance for the Hidden Hills Golf Course expires this July. In the neighborhood's latest newsletter - homeowner association president Paul Franks – wrote "the land could convert to anything, including low income multi-family housing. To avoid this – he says the only option presented is to add a monthly $96 membership fee for all homeowners."

"I've talked to a lot of members who say they don't think it's legal for him to do that," said Lacour.

But – Franks goes on to say – "even if this were achieved, they would not guarantee the land will remain a golf course."

"That's not something you can decide because of the club's financial reasons after the fact, this is people's homes and lives, you can't just come to them afterwards without a reason for a rule change," said Arledge.

Arledge is a homeowner, but no longer a club member. She's concerned over the loss of property value if the golf course is replaced.

And it's not just the golf course in jeopardy, it's the identity of the country club and everything that's associated with being a member.


"I think most of the people who live here, the club is a very big part of their life. I think it's a very big dilemma," said Lacour. She says most of the club's funds come from members who don't have the privilege of living on the golf course.

"What would low-income housing do to this neighborhood? It would make a lot of people unhappy, not just me," said Lacour.

Still, Lacour says she highly doubts that would actually happen.

FCN reached out to Franks, who wrote the message, but he declined to comment.

We did speak to the country club's owner Russ Libby, who was unavailable to speak on camera, but tells us they're working to find the best solution for everyone.


He could not speak to Franks' message.