By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
According to a report in Ahwatukee Foothills News, the future of the defunct Ahwatukee Lakes golf course and country club remains in limbo.
Owner of the golf course, The True Life Companies (TTLC), has failed to convince a majority of homeowners to amend covenants to allow the overgrown golf course to be transformed into an agrihood.
But that does not mean that owners fighting to restore the 18-hole golf course have won their battle against developers.
On the contrary, TTLC argues that the golf course was unprofitable for at least four years prior to its closing in 2016. Furthermore, it estimates a cost of $14 million to restore the course, and that it would take 29 years to recoup those costs.
TTLC is now proposing to a Superior Court judge that it be allowed to build new homes on the fallow land, and drastically reduce the size of the golf course.
TTLC says that a newly formed homeowners association would be responsible for maintaining and operating a “small” golf course.
The developer makes clear that, if not permitted to build and sell new homes on the site, there will be no investment in restoring the golf course.
True Life drops Farms, offers golf course
By Paul Maryniak, AFN Executive Editor Oct 25, 2017
The True Life Companies last week told a state Superior Court judge that the company will build a small golf course – if it is allowed to build homes on the 101-acre site of the defunct Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course.
And it also warned that if he orders the company to restore the old course, the land will remain barren indefinitely.
The bombshell disclosures are contained in a brief filed by attorney Chris Baniszewski with state Superior Court Judge John R. Hannah Jr., who began on Tuesday, Oct. 24, hearing evidence in a three-day trial on two residents’ demand that True Life be ordered to restore the course.
True Life is proposing that the judge allow housing and that those new houses would comprise a new homeowners association that would operate the course.
Does this seem a bit like corporate blackmail? Is this an ultimatum to get homeowners to give up their fight to keep their golf course, or at least some open space?
By this time, local elected officials must be lamenting the lack of foresight of their Land Use predecessors. When Ahwatukee Lakes was first established in the 1980s, the CC&Rs were written, and then renewed in the 1990s, to provide a perpetual golf course, even if economic conditions do not support one.
This bitter controversy was created decades ago, and now current property owners are tying up the courts trying to hash out some sort of realistic solution. Both sides are digging in their heels, with no end in sight.
What would be gained by creating yet another new golf course community, albeit much smaller? Why burden yet another group of new homeowners with CC&Rs and financial liabilities to support a golf course for the foreseeable future?
The golf course controversy playing out all over the U.S. is the unfortunate result of tying up business interests and/or common interest amenities with individual property deeds.
If there were a viable market for a golf course at Ahwatukee Lakes, there would be willing entrepreneurs and investors to purchase, restore, and operate the golf course. Or there would be a waiting list of home buyers clamoring to live in and support a golf community.
If land use planners had rejected numerous proposals to fully integrate golf courses into residential zones, instead issuing permits for golf country clubs on land parcels completely separate from suburban housing, 99% of the conflict could have been avoided.
Will lessons learned change land use policies in the Ahwatukee foothills and countless other locales across the country? Or will the same mistakes be repeated, setting the stage for similar controversies in the decades to come?