Fence surrounding Lakes Golf Course set to come down - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

Fence surrounding Lakes Golf Course set to come down

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Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014 8:51 am | Updated: 2:50 pm, Tue Jul 1, 2014.

The fence is coming down — at least for the most part.

PulteGroup has announced it has made an agreement with the current owners of The Lakes Golf Course to take down the barbed-wire fence surrounding the course. A fence will still surround the lakes on the course for safety reasons.

“Pulte, at its own expense, has negotiated to have the owner move the fence from the exterior of the property to the interior of the property,” Mike Brilz, vice president of land development with PulteGroup said in a statement. “In addition, Pulte will pay the owner to keep the lakes full for the next six months as we continue to meet with neighbors and hopefully the Save the Lakes group to assess the feasibility of a new neighborhood.”

Neighbors have been annoyed for months by the presence of a barbed-wire fence that was placed around The Lakes Golf Course in October. The course’s current owners said the fence was put up for liability issues now that the course is closed and there is no staff at the property, they wanted to make sure people were staying off the course.

City Councilman Sal DiCiccio has been in negotiations with Ahwatukee Golf Properties, owners of the course, and Pulte since October to have the fence removed.

“Many thanks to Pulte for working with my office to take the fence down,” DiCiccio said in a statement. “This fence has been a terrible blight for our neighbors and unacceptable for our community. It was especially harmful to those whose homes backed up to the barbed-wire fence.

“This is a positive step by Pulte to address citizens’ concerns. To be clear, nothing will happen on that site without approval from the neighborhood. It is up to the community to decide of they want additional senior housing.”

Pulte has said they are evaluating the feasibility of purchasing the course for development. Currently, they are meeting with neighbors.

“Our neighborhood communications have only just begun and Pulte looks forward to sharing and discussing more details, such as the release of a draft land plan,” Brilz said.

Many neighbors have formed a group known as Save the Lakes to keep development from happening on the land. Pulte has said they are including Save the Lakes in their discussions.

When the neighborhood was established, neighborhood CC&Rs declared that the course would remain a golf course. Save the Lakes is fighting to uphold those CC&Rs, even though Ahwatukee Golf Properties (AGP) owner Wilson Gee has said golf courses are not profitable in this economy.

“Pulte has initiated neighborhood meetings in an effort to open the lines of communication and discuss the realities of the vacant former golf course,” Brilz said. “Initial meetings have gone well. Many of the residents we have met with understand the U.S. Golf Industry demand and revenues are declining while maintenance expenses are escalating. For a handful of residents we recently met with, they have hopes that the property will remain a golf course and someday be purchased by a golf course operator. The owner’s attempt to keep it as a golf course, the financial woes sweeping the nation’s golf clubs and our professional experience knows that this is extremely unlikely in the near future.”

Brilz said any development issues regarding infrastructure and environment would be regulated and addressed by several government agencies.

DiCiccio said nothing will happen to The Lakes Golf Course without the approval of neighbors. He is working with several homeowners associations and community groups in the area to find solutions to problems that will help keep all golf courses in the Ahwatukee area viable into the future. AGP owns all the courses in Ahwatukee.

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

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