Haines City residents say they weren't notified about sports complex construction

City says notice mailed to residents 300 feet around complex

HAINES CITY, Fla. – Gary and Bobbi Govanus are not pleased with the construction going on behind their Haines City home. They were even more upset when they found out what was being constructed.

"Definitely not what we bought the house expecting," Gary Govanus said.

Balmoral Resort Florida broke ground in 2016. 

Phases one and two are complete and include homes, a club house, a bar and a restaurant.
It has a $6 million amenities package, according to developer Garrett Kenney.

"We have had a number of owners visit us and they have been very, very happy with the product they purchased," Kenney said in a promotional video about the project on YouTube.

But many people living along Peninsular Drive are not happy with what's being constructed in phase three.

"We looked outside one day and those lights were going up," Gary Govanus said.

Phase three of the project was originally slated for 64 single-family homes. However, it will now be a sports complex that can be rented to various teams, with three soccer fields surrounded by 24 homes. The complex will also have 10 beach volleyball courts, and 60 foot stadium lights, according to site plans.

"Suddenly we're in the middle of a professional soccer stadium," Gary Govanus said.  "This isn’t what we signed up for."

The Govanuses and many of their neighbors tell News 6 they were never told of the change.

"They said that they sent us letters and none of the neighbors got them," Bobbi Govanus said. "We open everything from the city and I don't know what happened to it."

Haines City Manager Deric Feacher said he was not available for an interview in time for this story, but emailed a packet of information about the complex to News 6.  

Feacher said the developer met the city's notice requirements by mailing 54 notices to adjoining property owners within 300 feet of the project.

He also said an advertisement was placed in a local paper and a notice of a public hearing was placed at the site for others who live in the area.

According to the city, only two homeowners inquired about the proposed changes at those meetings.

"Again, nobody knew," Bobbi Govanus said. "Or they would have been there."

The Govanuses say they have numerous concerns, including, "60-foot lights, the noise, people, the traffic, and just the basic disruption of our life," Gary Govanus said.

The couple said they are also concerned about their property values.

"This is not benefiting anybody except the people who own the academy," Bobbi Govanus said. "And to put it in the middle of a residential neighborhood, I mean, this is definitely residential."

The sports complex is expected to be completed in the fall.

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