Taking aim at blighted golf courses around the city, including the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course, a Phoenix City Council subcommittee this past week moved forward with changes to the city’s zoning ordinance regarding open space protections on golf courses.

The Housing and Development Subcommittee, of which City Councilman Sal DiCiccio is a part of, unanimously approved a motion to accept the changes that should come as welcome relief to many Phoenix residents.

The proposed language of the changes now begins the public process for a thorough vetting. The item is expected to return to the subcommittee in May for a final vote by the City Council.

“I’m incredibly excited about these proposed changes,” DiCiccio, an Ahwatukee resident, said. “Frankly, some developers have used ‘blight’ to their advantage, in terms of gaining concessions from neighbors when redeveloping golf courses. These recommended changes put everything back on a level playing field and help to protect our neighborhoods and property values. This will serve as a model for what other communities can do to deal with this issue.”

The proposed changes include:

• Prohibiting barbed-wire, razor wire or equivalent fencing.

• Identifying a one-year time limit for all temporary fencing; establishing a use permit requirement for temporary fencing of a golf course when adjacent to residential areas.

• Requiring that temporary fencing be set back a minimum of 50 feet from the perimeter of a golf course, when adjacent to residential property.

• Mandating that landscaping within the 50-foot setback be maintained.

DiCiccio would like the fences moved back even farther.

“Another thing I want to see is that a golf course claiming insolvent is not a good enough reason to put up a fence,” DiCiccio said. “We’ll see if that gets into the final version.”

The proposed changes would amend Chapter 7, Section 703.C, of the city ordinance.

Lakes owner Wilson Gee, of Ahwatukee Golf Properties, closed the course last May and began looking to sell the property. Gee put up temporary barbed-wire fencing around the perimeter of the course in October and Pulte Homes, which is looking to purchase the land to build single-family homes, in January agreed to cover the costs to move the fences away from the perimeter to around the clubhouse and water hazards.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or cgabel@ahwatukee.com.

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