Friday, November 3, 2006

Housing pushes out golf courses ...

  They have been an essential feature of affluent land use in both suburbs and resorts -- as  inevitable on a large scale as coffee shops on a smaller scale.  But for the first time in recent memory, the number of golf courses that are closing in the country in 2006 is likely to exceed the number that are opening, according to the Economist.  The chief reason for the closings is the value of land for housing in affluent areas.  Even some property owners in Myrtle Beach, S.C., a famous golfing haven, have decided that they can make more money by selling to residential developers.       

Golfcourse    I can't lament too much the loss of the links, even as some golf community residents who bought with the expectation that a course would there forever are suing under contract theories, the Economist reports.  Golf courses use up a large amount of land; with new housing construction for a growing America restricted in many places by environmental regulations, open space requirements, and large-lot zoning laws, housing demand is bound to fall upon the golf links.  Let the market work.

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The more interesting question posed by the heightened interest in golf course owners in converting their property to residential use is whether they should have any better right to have their property reguided to accommodate the consequences of the overbuilding of golf courses. If so, then a city's comprehensive guide plan becomes too much a product of the bad economic decisions of private parties. Two Minnesota cases -- Mendota Golf v. City of Mendota Heights, and Wensmann Realty v. City of Eagan -- present these issues. Mendota Golf was decided in the City's favor in January by the Supreme Court (but in the absence of any takings claim), and Wensmann Realty is awaiting the scheduling of oral argument before the same court(with the takings claim front and center).

Posted by: John M. Baker | Nov 9, 2006 9:24:53 PM