Taking the Mulligan: The Land Use Regulatory Hurdles in Golf Course Repurposing

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There are numerous obstacles facing developers attempting to repurpose a golf course. It can be politically controversial. Nearby residents often oppose the idea of replacing a low intensity, visually pleasing quasi-natural environment with a development that could bring in more people and more traffic. Golf courses are often viewed as open-space amenities, and homes abutting golf courses may be worth more than similar homes that don’t. In an economic downturn, though, it can be expected that many public golf courses will close. When golf courses fail due to reduced play, or in regions suffering housing shortages, some type of redevelopment will have to be authorized; or else homeowner associations and/or conservation groups will have to raise enough money to purchase the course. Otherwise, the course will likely be abandoned, maintenance will cease, and the result will be bad for everyone involved.

Litigation is expensive. This can be an impediment for members of the public opposing golf course redevelopment. An alternative available to most homeowners is to convince their local governmental entities regulating golf course development or redevelopment to deny the redevelopment or impose conditions acceptable to area landowners.

Originally published in The Practical Real Estate Lawyer - November 2020.

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