A new city ordinance to prevent closed golf courses from becoming blight in a neighborhood has been approved by the Phoenix City Council.

The ordinance requires owners of closed golf courses to get a use permit to put up temporary fencing around the perimeter of their course, put fencing 50 feet back from the perimeter, submit a landscape plan to the city, and maintain vegetation. The hearing officer approving the use permit could be flexible on the set back. Fences around hazards like water or sand traps are allowed without a permit. The ordinance also says razor wire on top of fences near residential areas would not be allowed.

“I am a strong supporter of property rights, but that does not include allowing one party to blight an entire neighborhood, decreasing property values of existing residences as a negotiation tool. All negotiations should be open and fair, not the result of coercion,” said Councilman Sal DiCiccio.

Six village planning committees in the city approved the ordinance change with some amendments. Five committees denied the ordinance and four did not hear it. Those that denied it were concerned about maintenance, enforcement, and feared that any fences put up might attract attention to the fact that the course is abandoned.

Councilwoman Kate Gallego voted against the ordinance hoping to create a policy that works across the city.

“They still have concerns that we could improve the policy before finalizing it,” she said. “We often don’t seem to come back to these issues. We do it once and go on to the other important things we do.”

DiCiccio and Councilman Daniel Valenzuela said the issue was time sensitive enough to move the ordinance forward now.

“This ordinance is of great importance to neighborhoods as it prevents developers from purchasing land with deeds restricting how the property can be used, and then creating blight as a tool of gaining concessions that neighbors would not otherwise agree to,” DiCiccio said.

Mayor Greg Stanton asked staff to look into applying similar standards to all closed commercial properties.

The ordinance will take effect on July 4.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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