It was reported this week in Crain’s Cleveland Business that the Blue Heron Golf Club in Medina County is for sale. The golf course, only four years old and ranked in 2006 as one of the best new courses in the country, is surrounded by a residential development consisting of more than 400 home sites.
Residential developers and new home builders have been two players in the market hit hardest by the current credit crisis and rising unemployment.
Park use is one alternative which could complement neighboring residential development. The 2007 sale of Orchard Hills Golf Course to the Geauga Park District is a prime example of a golf course being converted to a use that successfully preserves the green spaces and recreational aspects of the property.
But the contraction in golf course play (2.2% fewer rounds played and 4.1% less days open in Ohio in 2008 compared to 2007) coupled with the likely lack of buyers willing to commit to long-term development restrictions - - unless bound to do so - - leaves open the possibility of other uses. Other Northeast Ohio courses have been sold for mixed-use or retail development in recent years.
Even converting a course to additional residential development can raise the ire of people who thought they were buying into a golf course community.
In the case of Schurenberg v. Butler Cty. Bd. of Elections, 78 Ohio App.3d 773 (1992), the owners of homes in a golf course community sought to enjoin the developer from selling the course for further residential use. They lost. The court held that because the developer had not recorded any restrictions requiring the property to be maintained as a golf course he was free to sell it for other uses.