OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - St. Andrews homeowners said they are fed up over potential plans to build on their community golf course. Now, they are preparing to take legal action to stop development in their neighborhood.
The course has been vacant since 2010, when the private developers who owned the property filed bankruptcy. Before that, the course took a beating from Hurricane Katrina and had a hard time recovering.
Following those events, homeowners said their property values took a beating too.
“Our housing value dropped at least 20, 30 percent," said Alan Doyle, acting Homeowners Association president.
“So, for those of us, especially people like me who had our houses put together with scotch tape and whatever you could get, it’s hard to get refinancing to go back in and fix your house properly because the property values are so low," added St. Andrews homeowner Monica Schroeder-Lanoux.
For years, homeowners have been looking for ways to revamp the golf course to make it attractive to potential investors. For more than two years following the bankruptcy, residents spent time and money mowing the grass and maintaining the 18-hole course.
Now, the threat of new development is weighing on them.
“Basically, I never knew where this came from other than the fact that it just popped up in the planning commission meeting. Now we’re on the warpath to make it stop because we want our golf course back," Doyle said.
Jackson County Planning Commission Director Michele Coats said a developer based out of Panama City submitted plans to build in the area. Those plans, Coats said, teetered on some of the golf course property, which is not allowed.
Back in 2005, a Planned Unit Development plan was put in place. Basically, it’s an agreement to only build in certain areas. The board tabled the plans from developer John Lewis and sent him back to the drawing board.
“It’s supposed to be green space. So, they can’t come over on the golf course. They’re not supposed to and build. And that’s exactly what they want to do," said St. Andrews homeowner Bryan Gipson.
Developer John Lewis has since backed off of his proposal. He said he’d like to meet with residents before moving forward. He didn’t have an idea on when that would happen.
Areas labeled as medium density can be developed, even if it sits on the course. That’s the purple area to the right on the map below. That’s what homeowners don’t want to see.
“We have enough people now that want this golf course back that they’re willing to fight for it,” Doyle said.
Homeowners are banding together to challenge any new plans to build on the course, an area they’d like to see refurbished and back in working order. They said they would like to see a major player in the golf game come in and purchase the property.
Coats said Jackson County Board of Supervisors President Randy Bosarge met with pro golfer Jan Stephenson at the property earlier this year. Stephenson said unfortunately, the property was too far gone to rehab.
Bosarge said he is opposed to all development inside the golf course. He released this statement:
“I am totally opposed to all development inside the current golf course footprint with the exception, of a reopened golf course. Any current and future development on the outside designated area around the golf course/green space is favorable to me, which should increase your property values and welcome new residents. I am continuing to work hard as your supervisor and I hope this will clear up any miscommunication around the St. Andrews community."