The Real Deal Miami

Jack Nicklaus faces lawsuit for building on wetlands

Firms owned by the golf legend filled almost an acre of wetlands at The Bear's Club in Jupiter

February 14, 2016 09:15AM

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Jack Nicklaus (Credit: The Telegraph)

Jack Nicklaus (Credit: The Telegraph)

The U.S. Justice Department sued companies owned by golf legend Jack Nicklaus for unauthorized construction work on wetlands at The Bear’s Club, a private golf course community in Jupiter that Nicklaus co-developed.

The Justice Department alleges four Nicklaus-owned entities filled almost an acre of wetlands at the 369-acre Bear’s Club without permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The wetlands were filled to relocate a tee box, upgrade the club’s 15th hole and allow for the development of five residential lots.

The suit also claims the developers of The Bear’s Club failed to comply with the Army Corp of Engineers’ refusal to modify the original building permit for The Bear’s Club, which included an easement agreement to prevent development of several acres of protected wetlands.

Miami attorney Eugene Stearns, who represents the defendants in the suit, said his clients deny the allegations in the government suit.

“The lawsuit is puzzling for a number of reasons,” Stearns told FloridaBulldog.org. “We believe it is a tempest in a teapot. We don’t believe we violated the agreement with the Corps.”

Stearns last month filed a motion to dismiss the suit, claiming the Army Corps of Engineers lacks jurisdiction over the wetlands dispute.

“The tee box required building a pad on a relatively small piece of wetlands,” Stearns told FloridaBulldog.org. “The change near the 15th hole was a result of people hitting balls into area that would get really muddy when it rained. If you go out there, you’ll see the wetland area is still very beautiful.” [FloridaBulldog.org]Mike Seemuth

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