Kickstart Meeting Notes

Feb. 20, 2023 – Titusville Library
City Councilwoman, Dr. Sarah Stoeckel helping us to understand the Land Use Change process

Draft – Subject to Review by Speakers

Royal Oak Neighbors (RON) Meeting Highlights – Feb 20, 2023

The inaugural meeting of the Royal Oak Neighbors (RON) attracted more than 50 concerned neighbors.  Members of the RON team introduced the purpose of RON. Dr. Sarah Stoeckel, councilwoman and Royal Oaks resident and the RON team discussed what we know about the existing Land Use, about the new owner of the Royal Oak Golf Course and presented some of the detail we need to understand regarding the change process used by the City of Titusville for changes to the City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. 

  • The purchaser of the Royal Oak Golf Course is Toulon Apartments, a recently-formed Bronx NY Limited Liability Company. Toulon Apartments purchased the golf course last June for $4.5 million. (More information about Toulon can be found at the RON Website (click “Who Is Toulon Apartments”)
  • The golf course, as purchased by Toulon Apartments, has 3 different designated land uses:
    • ~103 acres of “ RECREATION” 
      • currently used as golf course / recreational 
      • may allow for single family residential at a density of one house every three acres.
  • ~45 acres of “CONSERVATION” 
  • currently the wetlands/stormwater management ponds 
  • If buildable, current land use allows one house for every five acres.
  • ~2.5 acres of “HIGH DENSITY RESIDENTIAL” (“Multifamily”) 
    • the corner of land near Moe Norman and Country Club Drive, near the abandoned pool
    • 36 “dwelling units” are allowed on that parcel 


  • Developers are allowed to ASK the city for a change to the Comprehensive Land use Plan, to allow a different land use(s), but, for a parcel this large (and representing at least 25% of Titusville’s land designated as recreational), this ask is a BIG deal – and NOT a done deal.
  • According to the Royal Oak Community Alliance (ROCA), a neighborhood 501(c)(3), incorporated to “…act as the focal point for neighborhood activities, analyzing area resources and physical needs, developing long range plans for the community, and supporting activities to coordinate actions and promote programs of safety, aesthetics, and quality of life beneficial to the residents,” ROCA has held meetings with Toulon Apartments management. Members of ROCA were in attendance at this first public RON meeting. The Chairwoman advised that ROCA is working with to obtain Toulon’s plan for the property. Previously, ROCA has advised, “if Toulon Apartments is going to tell anyone anything, it will be ROCA.”  ROCA has also previously stated they plan to react when the Toulon Apartments proposal is finalized. 
  • At the December 2022 ROCA annual meeting, ROCA stated that Toulon Apartments was floating the idea of building 600 “dwelling units” on Royal Oak Golf Course. Evidently, Toulon told ROCA that it would be best to wait until Toulon’s formal proposal was submitted to the City Council, then citizens and ROCA could comment.
  • The time between the plan being finalized for the Planning and Zoning meeting, and that first public hearing, is only FOUR DAYS.
    • Four days is nowhere near enough time to for the Royal Oak community to review Toulon’s plan
    • City Staff, professionals, who do this for a living, will have spent weeks evaluating the Plan
    • The RON team will need to consider all of the legal requirements Staff is expected to consider; then review the City teams’ work, to see if each issue is adequately addressed

If the community waits to organize until we have Toulon’s formal proposal available for review, to start our “fight” –  we have already lost our fight.

  • After a proposal is heard at Planning and Zoning, the next week it will go before the City Council for its first hearing; two weeks later, is the final hearing!
  • Because of these facts, we must organize, now.
    • Join RON
    • Attend future meetings
    • Tell EVERYONE what is happening
    • Participate however you can, to help prevent having 600 new neighbor families in your backyard and the loss of more of Titusville’s nature space
  • Toulon Apartments is required, by law, to meet with the community and explain their proposal in advance.
    • To-date this has not happened

From the Q and A with Dr. Sarah Stoeckel:

RON Q: “Can they do that? Can this NYC company change a golf course into a mix of 600 apartments and homes in our backyards!?” 

Stoeckel A: “Only if the city allows it!”

To be allowed to build their proposed 600 “dwelling units,” Toulon Apartments would have to do the following: 

  1. Propose a Large Scale Amendment to the Comprehensive Plan
    • Changing the Land Use to High Density Multifamily apartments
    • When changing the Comprehensive Plan, Municipalities decide land use based on what the elected representatives think is best for the city.

Citizens can make arguments for or against what changes the Developer requests. Citizen arguments and debate among the council members can be “common sense” things (traffic, the nature of the community, what it does to the tax base). The council can think about citizen opinions and use them (or not).

  1. If the Council agrees to change the Land Use, then they may evaluate the Developer’s proposal for re-zoning and evaluate if the proposal meets the City’s requirements for re-zoning. The City evaluates if a re-zoning permit can be granted, based on the existing rules and regulations that exist for the land use and zoning designation they are allowing under the Amendment to the Comprehensive Plan.

This is a “quasi-judicial” activity. They look ONLY at the facts and whether the development meets the rules and regulations.

It is important to understand that the city Staff review the development plan and tell the developer if they appear to have problems with the application. 

The developer can elect to fix the identified problems before it is presented to the council. 

This process reduces the chance that there will be a technical reason for the City to deny Toulon Apartment’s development plan.

Often the two parts, land use change and the rezoning/permitting of the development, are considered at the same time by the City. This fast tracking is efficient, particularly for small developments. There is only one meeting. The City council reviews and decides to change the Master Plan, then whether the proposal meets the now-rezoned property rules and regulations. There is no second bite at the apple – it is one-and-done!. 

  • At these fast-track hearings (tandem land use change/rezoning/permit reviews) it has been tradition for public input to be limited to the part about whether the proposal meets the zoning rules and regulations.
    • That means citizens must speak only about the facts, and if you aren’t a verified expert, then unless you cite a known fact (such as that building isn’t set back far enough), then the city council will not give your statement any merit; essentially, if you cannot be deemed an expert, your statements will not be persuasive.
  • Essentially, this fast-track process robs citizens of their right to point out to their elected officials the common-sense reasons not to allow the change in Land Use!
    • The discussion is limited to legal technicalities. 
    • The big picture, asking if the proposed development is in-keeping with the Comprehensive Plan for the City, is lost. There is no concern regarding if it is good for the City to grow in the manner proposed by the developer.

What are we going to do?

  1. Continue to learn about how to best talk to the city council members about “the big picture” and make sure they hear the common-sense reasons to stop the golf course redevelopment at the “no change in land use” part.
  2. Prepare for the worst, which is that we have to argue about re-zoning and the development meeting community standards (fast-track). 

That will mean finding experts:


-Civil engineers – especially regarding runoff/stormwater 

-Traffic engineers

-Experts on property valuation (what loss of home values would occur)

-Wildlife experts

-Tree experts / tree ordinance people

-Wetlands experts

-Those who know the process of appeals to St Johns Water Management District

-School / special needs assessment impact experts

  1. Gather contact information for all ~600 current Royal Oak homeowners and keep everyone informed.
  2. Talk to your neighbors! Send them to the RON website, RoyalOakNeighbors.Org, to get information and provide their contact information.
  3. Organize! Create teams to contact neighbors, gather petition signatures, reach-out to elected officials, etc.
  4. Ask why, after almost 9 months, Toulon Apartments has not corrected the lengthy list of violations of the City Code.
    1. Toulon was told about the violations right after buying the property 
    2. Toulon said they plan to tear down the buildings – yet, the buildings still stand
    3. Toulon had a survey at the time they purchased the property; but, they told Code Enforcement that they need a topographical survey before they will demolish the buildings.
      1. This property is currently an eyesore which lowers property values in our neighborhood. 
      2. Toulon Apartments will need to make sure that any asbestos in those buildings isn’t released into the air when the buildings come down
      3. Toulon will need to eradicate rodents so that they don’t end up in neighboring properties

What can you do?

  1. If you weren’t at the meeting, go to webpage and provide your contact information.
  2. Send ideas through the website


The RON Team

We plan to keep in touch!

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