Villa de Paz golf course set to close

Villa de Paz residents living on the golf course will soon see their view of rolling greens change to either rolling house tops or vacant fields.

The privately owned golf course, located on roughly 130 acres between 99th and 107th avenues and Camelback and Indian School roads, is set to close May 2014 because it is no longer profitable after losing approximately $2 million, said Larry Lazarus, an attorney representing the purchaser of the property, International Maple Properties.

What replaces the golf course depends on whether or not a stipulation written into two-thirds of its zoning can be deleted or not.

Since the land the golf course sits on was annexed in separate pieces from the county to the city of Phoenix, two-thirds of the course has a stipulation specifying an 18-hole golf course, while the remaining one-third has no such stipulation, said Alan Stephenson, acting director for Phoenix’s Planning and Developing Department.

“The property is zoned for single-family homes, so if the stipulation stays in place, the city can’t require them to operate a golf course. They would then just close it, leave it and let it go vacant to a dirt lot over time,” he said.

Instead of letting the golf course grow unkempt, Lazarus and the company he represents are attempting to delete the stipulation in the zoning in order to build approximately 350 single-family homes.

The houses would be similar in construction to surrounding ones already built in the Villa de Paz neighborhood, he said.

Lazarus added that the developer is also open to preserving approximately 20 percent of the land as open space, such as lakes or parks, and is seeking resident feedback for its development plans at  www.surveymonkey.com/s/villadepaz.

“There’s only two options: either a brown field or a residential development, so we’re trying to work on a residential development that will be compatible as much as possible with the surrounding properties,” Lazarus said. “We know it’s not a golf course, but the short of the long of it is, it’s a bad situation, so how do we make it better?”

Dirt lot vs. houses

There have been vocal supporters of both options for the future of the golf course since news of its closure spread through the Villa de Paz neighborhood.

Paula Dee has lived on the golf course for more than 25 years, and while she is reluctant to see it go, she told the View she’d rather see it become a dirt lot than a housing development.

“I’m sure we’re going to have young families move in there with kids, and our schools are already overcrowded,” she said. “Plus I can’t believe that our taxes won’t go up, because that’s more neighborhood that our police will have to watch over.”

She added that she would feel safer with a vacant lot than more houses and public areas such as parks, which could foster crime.

Lazarus disagrees, and said that in his experience, occupied homes are often safer than vacant lots.

“When there’s less people in an area, there’s less people keeping an eye on its well-being,” he said. “The vacant fields can attract loitering kids and crime.”

He added that because vacant lots are not required to be maintained to the same standard as a golf course, the trees and grass would eventually die and might attract garbage.

“The problem is that these brown fields can turn into a nuisance, even though you try to keep it clean, it can turn into a garbage dump,” he said. “They can become a detriment to the area and actually depreciate the value of a property more than additional homes.”

Public meetings

The question about whether or not to delete the stipulation to allow the housing development will be discussed at two upcoming meetings with local planning committees and hearing officers.

The planning committee and officer will make recommendations on whether to delete the stipulation or not after each meeting.

The Maryvale Village Planning Committee will hear the situation and citizen comments at 6 p.m. Wednesday at The Hope Center, 10500 W. Mariposa St., Phoenix.

The next meeting will be with the planning hearing officer at 10 a.m. Nov. 20 at 200 W. Washington St., Phoenix.

 

Rachel Trott can be reached by email at rtrott@westvalleyview.com or on Twitter @byracheltrott.

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