Proposal to close Greencastle Greens has residents seeing red

July 26, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, PA. - They live on roads with names like Golf Vista Drive and Putting Green Drive, but their golf course community is in danger of losing its golf course.

Nearly 200 homes have been proposed for the Greencastle Greens Golf Course two miles north of the intersection of U.S. 11 and Pa. 16.

The course is largely surrounded by the Greencastle Greens upscale housing development, being built in phases that started close to a decade ago. Residents of those homes filled Antrim Township's municipal building Tuesday night for the township supervisors' first mention of the proposal from GIBG Golf LLC of Baltimore, which purchased the course last summer.

A representative of the developer's attorney, Salzmann Hughes of Chambersburg, Pa., attended the meeting but did not comment on the proposal.


Residents have said they bought their houses with the belief the course would be there perpetually.

"We feel we've been deceived. We built based on a golf course," Dave Poper said. Some people even paid premiums to live in close proximity to the course, Keith Cole said.

Plans call for 191 single-family houses while maintaining open space in accordance with Conservation by Design standards. The plans, submitted a week ago, have yet to be reviewed by the township supervisors, municipal authority or planning commission.

Paul Schemel, a local attorney representing the existing development through Greens of Greencastle LP, told property owners that an injunctive action is in the works based on an original deed that called for the golf course to remain in place.

"Obviously, the golf course (owners) believes there is a loophole," he said.

He gently reminded the supervisors that he and legal partner Ed Wine had been encouraging the supervisors to adopt recreational zoning to protect the golf course and area parks. Township Solicitor John Lisko has said he feels the move could be spot zoning that lends itself to challenge in court.

"We had concerns that submission of this type might come up," Schemel said.

As frustrated as they are to see the golf course developed, neighbors also have concerns about the loss of tax revenue from the course and the homes' impact on infrastructure like roads and water.

Jim Winslow of Castle Green Drive watched his community in California quickly grow from 35,000 to 150,000 people. Now he stands in his front yard and points to 900 potential homes to his right and 191 more in front of him with worries about schools, traffic, water and fire service.

"The quality of life in Greencastle is challenged by all these developments," Winslow said, adding that he's not opposed to development that is managed correctly.

Admar Custom Homes of Frederick, Md., is building 20 houses a year in the Fairways at Greencastle Greens, company president Bob Marsh said.

"We have purchased the property based on it being a golf course," he said.

"The people I feel sorry for are the people who built homes strictly to be on a golf course," Robert White of Greencastle said just before taking to the course Tuesday. White called the proposal "devastating."

He and other golfers expressed surprise that the course might be closing to accommodate homes, since the new management, Pure Golf of Walkersville, Md., had made so many improvements in the past year, they said.

Dave Cero of Zullinger, Pa., said the care of fairways and greens has significantly improved at the course where he holds a membership.

It's one of the better-maintained courses around, Jeff Bonebrake of Hagerstown said.

"I don't like the idea at all of the course closing. ... It's a very difficult course to play, which makes it challenging and fun," Duane Schroyer of Greencastle said.

Zack Brisko, 17, who lives in the Fairways at Greencastle Greens, feels the high school golf team teaches students respect and teamwork, while also providing for exercise.

"Basically, if they get rid of the golf course, they'll get rid of the golf team," he said.

Several golfers said they play on several area courses, but return to Greencastle for play with leagues and small groups. The course averages 30,000 rounds of golf per year, a clubhouse staff member said.

Tim Lewis of Hagerstown plays in a league with Harry D. Zeigler VFW Post 6319 of Greencastle that has more than 25 participants.

"It's in good shape. We'd miss it," Lewis said.

Clay Trace of Upton, Pa., said if the golf course closed, he would instead frequent the Whitetail Golf Course in Mercersburg, Pa., or the Great Cove Golf and Recreation Club in McConnellsburg, Pa.

Cero, however, is quite happy using the Greencastle course three or four times a week in his retirement.

"I'm not quite sure where I'd go next," Cero said.

The Herald-Mail Articles