Leader Blues

Monday, May 07, 2007

TOP STORY >>Deal to build subdivision not dead

IN SHORT: Developer believes he will eventually become the owner of the property and build a gated community on the site.

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

“The contract deadline has not passed,” said Ron Campbell, the businessman trying to buy the 100-acre North Hills Country Club and golf course and turn it into a gated community of high-end homes.

Campbell had worked out a $5.1 million deal to buy the Sherwood course from James Rodgers.

“I was very surprised to see the media reports that the deal was dead and that Rodgers was offering to sell it to the city,” he said, adding, “no one told me.”

Campbell talked to James Rodgers, the current owner Thurs-day. “We’re still talking about the fate of the property,” Campbell said.

“Sometime in the future we will be the owners of the property,” Campbell said.

But Rodgers says the due date on that agreement has come and gone and put the property back on the market.
Also, Rodgers has said he plans to cease club operations after this weekend, and if the city wants to save the golf course, it will have to work out an agreement with him to maintain the greens.

“The city is putting together a proposal for us to look at. It’s just a matter of working things out,” Rodgers said.
How long the greens will last without care, Rodgers said, is unknown. “There are a number of factors including the weather. They could die out in a matter of hours or a month, but they really do need daily care,” he said.

At a Sherwood City Council meeting in late April, aldermen approved the first reading of a resolution calling for a six-month moratorium on any and all building permits, rezoning requests or any other work projects for the 100-acre golf course on the corner of Hwy. 107 and Country Club Drive.

Mayor Bill Harmon explained that the moratorium was necessary to give the city time to complete its feasibility study, get an appraisal and “decide on how to pay for it and bring it before the people for a vote.”

 The city has issued a moratorium before when Chapel Links Apartments wanted to build in the city. The apartment builders took the city to court over the moratorium. The city eventually pulled the moratorium and the apartments were built.
Campbell said he talked to Rodgers Thursday and “we both feel the city could be in for a lawsuit because of their interference.”

 Campbell said his plan for the golf course property is to turn it into a very nice single-family home subdivision. “Much like Osage Falls in Maumelle,” he said.

Rodgers said he has suggested to the city to buy the golf course three or four times over the past few years. “I don’t think they thought we were serious until the for sale sign came out,” he said.

Rodgers added that every time he went to the city and talked to either Mayor Bill Harmon or Mayor Danny Stedman about buying the property, the talks have always been very friendly and positive.

But the city never pursued the property until Campbell made an offer on the property earlier this year.