Please allow me to address the opinion piece by Mike Brilz, vice president of land for PulteGroup Arizona Division (June 4, AFN, “Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course solution), voicing Pulte’s eagerness to develop The Lakes Golf Course.
I have enjoyed life in my home in Ahwatukee about a mile from The Lakes since 1989. I do not have an interest in golf but The Lakes Golf Course matters to me because of the open area and wildlife habitat and the countless other environmental benefits. What used to be is no longer because of conscious decisions on the part of Wilson Gee. The CC&Rs (Codes, Covenants and Restrictions) were put in place thoughtfully and specifically to protect our home investments and this community’s character and ambience.
Gee. One would think, if Mr. Gee had any intention of selling the golf course as a viable business, he would have maintained it in impeccable condition.
Let’s look at the facts…
We, as homeowners, have the opportunity to vote on only one idea: keep the CC&Rs — or allow the CC&Rs to be changed.
The facts are clear:
1. Ahwatukee homeowners bought their properties to enjoy and as an investment with the CC&Rs in place.
2. Mr. Gee bought The Lakes Golf Course as an investment with the CC&Rs in place.
3. The CC&Rs clearly state that the land will remain a golf course.
4. It is Mr. Gee’s responsibility to solve his problem of how to make a profit with his investment or find a buyer for The Lakes Golf Course with the existing CC&Rs in place.
Now, let’s look at Mr.Brilz’s story...
Mr. Gee and Pulte, represented by Mr. Brilz, want you to sign a petition altering the CC&Rs to allow them a change in land use.
Pulte is not a community property owner so why isn’t Mr. Gee engaging the homeowners for the changes? Pulte claims “Our idea best suits Lakes course.”
To start, the idea of houses to infill The Lakes Golf Course is not an option at all — unless the CC&Rs are changed.
Who decided that the Lakes course is not able to be successful and how was this decision made?
Intentionally allowing The Lakes Golf Course to dry up and deteriorate resulted in discouraging loyal Lakes golfers, then rallying neighbors to believe that houses are the only alternative to a blighted golf course is dishonest at best.
The Lakes Golf Course was a nationally ranked executive course praised for its challenging design and its location near both family and active adult communities. The fact that Mr. Gee cannot make a profit points to mismanagement or, worse, to something near collusion in order to get the CC&Rs changed for personal monetary gain.
A look at the golf scene in Arizona shows that the San Marcos course in Chandler is doing extensive renovation — because golf is a good investment in Arizona. Rolling Hills Golf Course in Tempe, a course similar in quality to The Lakes prior to 2006, was taken over by new management and, according to members, their golf fund is currently in the best shape in 10 years. In 2013 only five courses in the entire state of Arizona closed — that is 1.5 percent of the state’s golf facilities. While some golf courses did close nationwide during the recession of 2008-2012, some homebuilders also went belly up during that same time period — surely we should not lump everyone together.
Mr. Brilz avoided mentioning the increased crowding, traffic, pollution, impact on schools, loss of expansive open areas (not the same as buffer zones), loss of recreation, loss of wildlife habitat, and the negative contribution to Ahwatukee as an urban heat island that the 250-plus new homes will generate.
But this research is beside the point, Mr. Gee made his investment in a golf course!
Yes, there is more money to be made selling the land for development but his investment had CC&Rs in place. The CC&Rs clearly limit the use of his property to a golf course. These CC&Rs were written and agreed upon up front to protect the land and maintain the lifestyle and character of Ahwatukee into the future.
Please, let us not be distracted or divided by what is not ours to decide. We are being given a say in only one issue — the CC&Rs. The same CC&Rs adhere to both The Lakes Golf Course and the Ahwatukee Country Club Golf Course. If we vote to allow a change to the CC&Rs, there is no going back.
Together, as a neighborhood, WE have the power to DECIDE to keep the CC&Rs as they were written to protect us, or to vote to allow a change for the personal gain of a few.
Let us stand together and vote “No!” to changing the CC&RS.
• Keep the CC&Rs. No changes.
• Keep OUR home investments and enjoyment with the protection intended and counted on.
• Let Mr. Gee deal with HIS investment intact, as he bought it and agreed upon.
Regardless of the outcome, we all belong to this wonderful neighborhood together.
Let us STOP, THINK, and DECIDE — it’s about the CC&Rs!
• Barbara Bingham Deutscher has lived in Ahwatukee about a mile from The Lakes since 1989. She is an animal trainer/behaviorist with Harmony Animal Behavior.