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Thread: Golf courses as open space

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    Golf courses as open space

    Our township is about to receive a Planned Residential Development inside an existing public (privately owned) golf course. The idea is that the course will go from 18 holes to 9, with 3 of the holes surrounding the residential and commercial areas (very tightly, I might add!). The developer wants to count the golf course as "common open space". Our definition of "common open space" is "a parcel or parcels of land or and area of water, or a combination of land and water within a development site which is open space designed and intended for the use or enjoyment of residents of a development."
    The site contains a creek which is currently mowed to the banks and a very large floodplain.
    My dilemna is whether the golf course should be counted as open space, or looked at as the commercial use that it is and excluded from "common open space".
    I'm very interested in your thoughts!

    Moderator note:
    (nerudite) Since this discussion is tied to the processing of plan, it has been moved to the Land Use, Development and Zoning forum.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    This is not really my area, but I would think one important factor is whether the golf course is publicly accessible or restricted. In a similar scenario, we have some agricultural fields that are managed as a commercial and community farm (two different sections) by a non-profit. It is, however, owned by the City Open Space Division. The public can access the space, but obviously treading on the farm plots is a no-no (just as having a picnic in the fairway would be problematic). So, the idea of a commercial enterprise on "open space" does not seem irreconcilable. The degree to which the public can access and use the space would, I think, be one key issue. Also, are there other amenities the public can use that are not impacted by golfres - a walking path, picnic tables, other gathering spaces?
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian
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    I would count it as open space. The main reason is that it provides some level of protection for the golf course from future development. I would also get the developert oinclude some walking trails throughout the golf course for the residents to use. Golf courses make excellent walking trails. The most prestigious country club in my area allows adjacent residents to walk on the car paths. The golfers and club members don't seem to mind, as long people are being considerate. I don't know if you are in a winter climate, but they also make great places for cross country skiing. G

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    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    I have an read article regarding adjacent communities who have done this in a condo setting. In one instance, a few years later the Developer gives the condo owners the option of taking over the golf course (operational cost and revenue) or allowing the developer to close the golf course and allow the developer to do away with the golf course and build additional condos on the land where the golf course currently exists. I don't know if the developer allowed the golf course maintenance to deteriorate to the point where the cost of taking it over was greater than the condo association was willing to pay.(not keeping up the sprinkling, tiles etc) The course was open to the public and was considered open space during the planning approval process. This was all in the newspaper article. Naturally the condo owners were up in arms. I relocated shortly after that, so I don't know what the outcome was.
    On a personal note, I looked at a new home a few years ago and the developer was promising a park in the development. The develpment was approved with the park. We did not buy the home for a variety of reasons. Later we noticed that homes were built where the park was supposed to be. Do not know if a revised site plan was brought in a later date or not. We did notice the beginnings of blight and were glad that we did not buy there

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    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I'm with cololi: count it.

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    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    Thanks for your responses. This is definitely providing some items I would need to watch for- esp. making sure that it remains as open space via permanent protection. I'm not opposed to the concept, as long as the residents have access without paying a fee. My belief is that common open space should be relatively useful and not charge for access.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    In PA they use open space grant money to buy golf courses. Count it I guess?

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    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    In a number of jurisdictions that I have worked for, it is usually common practice to allow some of the golf course be counted as some of the overall percentage for open space, but nothing over 50%. Golf courses are not used by everyone, only a small percentage of the residents ever use them. If there was a trail that around the perimeter of the golf course for the general population, then we would allow a greater percentage.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    Thanks again for your thoughts. I think we're going to be trying to negotiate a buffer around the stream and some wetlands restoration on the site. We'll calculate how much of a buffer over our requirements will work out to be and then see what remains for the needs for open space.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    My understanding is the cutting back of the number of holes then opens that area to passive recreational uses? If thats the case I'd say count it. Probably better situation that most green spaces. If the area is open only by a fee paid, then I'd say no. But that doesn't sound like the case. I personally live in a Golf Course community and love the green space in the evenings and the days the course is closed. I go fishing and walking on the course.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    I think the idea will be to allow some walking in delineated areas. Otherwise, it's pay to play.
    I think we're going to try to go for a riparian buffer and wetland restoration as a trade and count that as the open space, allowing the developer to keep his golf holes, hoping not too many balls bounce off peoples' verandas!

  12. #12
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    I would not count it as open space because it doen't benefit everyone. A group of children can't play soccer or baseball on an open golfcourse. They are left to their small back yards, and that's if they are level, or playing in the streets which I am totally against.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by coldmount View post
    They are left to their small back yards, and that's if they are level, or playing in the streets which I am totally against.

    Off topic: I don't necessarily think that playing in the streets is a bad thing. If the street and the neighborhood are designed right, the streets can be a very valuable community space. We often played in our street growing up, and I grew up in a neighborhood with pretty large lots (typically 1/2 acre) Many cultures use the streets as an ammenity, not a big scary place for cars.

    Open space provides a benefit to a community beyone the recreational use.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian craines's avatar
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    It would have to be open to all for me to count it as open space. Though having a golf course in a urban context usally means that people with a lot of money had their way with the local politic powers.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    We count them as part of the open space. Those who purchased residential estates are automatically members of the club and they can have access to the amenities. Non-resident has the option to buy shares for them to become a member and can now use the amenities. Children can play on designated areas only those near the clubhouse and driving ranges. Allowing children to play in the fairways is dangerous especially during the course of the play. Clore is right there. Not just on the veranda's but on top of their head. We have some experiences children were drown on the ponds.

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