Leader Blues

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

TOP STORY >>New plans made for course in Sherwood

Leader staff writer

Another set of plans to turn the closed 106-acre North Hills Country Club and golf course into a mix of residential homes and commercial property has been submitted to the Sherwood Planning Commission.

Jim Rodgers, whose company owns the acreage, has asked that 14 acres of highway frontage be rezoned to C-3 for commercial development and the remaining 92 acres be approved for single-family homes.

The rezoning should be on the planning commission’s agenda for its January meeting.

“We needed to do something,” Rodgers explained, “rather than just sit here.” Since the building moratorium expired in October, there has been a great deal of interest in the property. “We’ve got lots of interested parties, but no one has come forth, so we decided to go forward.”

Even with development plans turned in, Rodgers said, “We are still looking to sell the property, but if no one comes forward with a reasonable offer, then we’ll move forward.”

One of the parties interested is the city of Sherwood in hopes of maintaining it as a golf course, but Rodgers said there are currently “no active conversations with the city.” The Sherwood City Council passed an ordinance slightly more than a month ago giving the city attorney permission to start negotiations to buy the golf course land.

At the time, Alderman Becki Vassar said, “The ordinance will allow our attorney to talk to the property owner’s attorney. It’s a communication tool. It’s to show that we are serious about this property and that it is far too valuable as a greenbelt in the heart of the city not to make a good-faith effort to buy the property.”

The value of the property has been a variable in the many proposed deals for the acreage. A city-funded feasibility study suggested that Sherwood buy the property for $1.5 million, while a city-funded appraisal puts the property at $2.22 million, the county’s tax appraisal of the property puts it at $3.1 million and before the building moratorium went into effect, there was a $5.1 million offer on the property by businessman Ray Campbell and his company.

Campbell had submitted plans to build a high-end gated community of 200 homes on the property. The homes would have sold in the $300,000 to $400,000 range.

The city’s moratorium thwarted Campbell’s efforts to finance the deal. Rodgers’ company, Club Properties, has maintained that the city had no right to place restrictions on the property, prompting the group to file a lawsuit back in June. That suit is still pending.