Community founders over fate of swim club pool Owners want to build houses on site

June 10, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

The pending fate of Westminster's former Middlebrooke Swi Club has brought out neighbors who don't want to see the pool filled in for houses -- followed by a petition from residents who do.

This was followed by reports that some petition-signers are changing their minds.

"In the 6 1/2 years I've been here, it's one of the most amazing things I've seen," said City Planning Director Thomas B. Beyard.

The 67-signature petition submitted to the city government last week counters earlier testimony by subdivision residents. The citizens' voices are being raised in an effort to influence the City Council, which must decide whether to approve a request from swim club owners George F. Grogan and his son, Timothy Grogan, to change the land use from recreational to residential.

The Grogans have submitted a plan to build four houses on the property. They bought the pool in 1988 and closed it three years later because, they said, it didn't make a profit.

Council members may hear dissonant voices at a public hearing set for 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

Or maybe they won't. The petition's main sponsor, who refused to allow her name to be published, said that she hasn't decided whether to attend the hearing.

About 12 residents who signed the petition are expected to submit letters to the city government rescinding their signatures, said Sam Mathias, acting president of the Middlebrooke Homeowners' Association.

Mr. Mathias said he did not know the names of individuals who planned to withdraw their signatures. He identified one man who has been involved in discussing rescissions with petition signers, but that individual refused to allow his name to be used or to discuss his efforts until after the hearing.

The Grogans' proposal will go before the council with an unfavorable recommendation from the city planning commission.

Middlebrooke residents packed the commission meeting room in February to point out that they had been told when they bought their homes that the area would remain community open space.

The homeowners' association hired attorney E. Suzan Miller, who argued before the planning commission that houses on the pool site would bring Middlebrooke below the percentage of open space required by the city's zoning law for planned unit developments.

Residents weren't consulted about that move, said Muriel Sabo, a petition signer. Although she did not circulate the petition, she said the sponsor told her it took just one day to gather the 67 signatures to urge council members to allow the Grogans to build houses on the property if they cannot find a buyer who will operate the pool.

"Someone is speaking for me and didn't ask my opinion," Ms. Sabo said. She sees the unused pool as a health hazard and potential breeding ground for mosquitoes. It will "become an eyesore sitting there as a hole in the ground," she said.

Wayne Shropshire, the association's former president, said the board of directors decided to hire the attorney.

"I don't know that it was necessary to poll each and every member of the association to make that decision," he said.

The petitioners argue that houses would generate less traffic than the pool. But Mr. Shropshire, who lives on the street that leads to the pool, said he didn't experience a traffic problem. His family enjoyed the pool, he said.

"We took full advantage of it and would like to see it continue," he said.

Mr. Mathias said that although no official vote was taken among association members, his sense is that the majority wants the swimming pool to remain a swimming pool.

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