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Court: Greencastle Greens must remain a golf course

October 14, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- After three years of litigation, a federal court has ruled the 18-hole Greencastle Greens must remain a golf course.

U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane issued a summary judgment Sept. 28 ordering that covenants in the original deed of sale restrict the present owner from converting the golf course into a housing development.

Greens at Greencastle Limited Partnership challenged a 2006 land development plan by the course's owner, Greencastle GIBG LLC, which proposed to develop the course into 192 single-family homes.

Attorney Jeff Clark, with Harrisburg-based Wix, Wenger, Weidner LLP, said the judgment in favor of his client, Greens at Greencastle, was the right decision.

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"It was a clear judgment ruling that the restrictive covenant was valid," he said. "The judge came to a decision that we think was correct."

Greens at Greencastle Limited Partnership was the name assumed by Admar Homes, the original developer of the houses that surround the golf course, said Paul Schemel, an attorney with Dick, Stein, Schemel, Wine and Frey, which represented Greens at Greencastle before the case was transferred to federal court.

When Greens at Greencastle sold the course in 1990, the deed included a restriction that the property be used only for the construction, operation and maintenance of a golf-course facility, Kane explained in a 2007 memorandum and order.

The deed also restricted that the property may not be further subdivided without the consent of Plaintiff (Greens at Greencastle), the grantor, she wrote.

Neither side presented oral testimony in the case, so with nothing added to evidentiary documents, Greens at Greencastle asked for a summary judgment, Schemel said.

"In this case, the deed restrictions spoke for themselves," he said, referencing the arguments of his firm when the case was in local court.

Kane, chief judge of U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, ordered that Greencastle GIBG is permanently "enjoined," or prevented, from developing the property into something contrary to the deed restriction.

"This is the decision that we wanted from the beginning, for the protection of the development that surrounds the course," Schemel said.

Clark said Greencastle GIBG has 30 days to appeal the judgment. As of Wednesday, his firm had not been served with notice of appeal, he said.

Greencastle GIBG's attorney, Fox Rothschild LLP, declined to comment.

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