Wednesday, June 20, 2007

TOP STORY >>Sherwood golf course appraised

Leader staff writer

The city-funded appraisal is now in and states that the North Hills Golf Course is worth $2.215 million. The city-funded feasibility study, released in May, suggests that the city buy the property for $1.5 million.

Pulaski County, for tax purposes, has appraised the 106-acre facility at $3.1 million. And businessman Ron Campbell made a bona-fide offer earlier this year of $5.1 million. Regardless of who is right, interim Mayor Bill Harmon wants the city to push forward with the possible purchase of the golf course.

In a Monday press release, after he received the 40-plus-page appraisal, Harmon called the appraised price reasonable and realistic.

“At this price, the city could purchase this property without any tax increase, should it decide to do so, and save these 106 acres of valuable green space in the middle of our city.

“The next step will be to determine the best way to finance any such purchase,” Harmon said.

The appraisal, which cost the city $8,000, was performed by Ronald E. Bragg.

In the cover letter of his report, Bragg states “It is my opinion that the highest and best use of the subject property is no longer as a country club and golf course, but as single-family residential development, and as of the date of my inspection, May 8, 2007, it is my opinion that the subject property had a market value of $2,215,000.”

City Attorney Steve Cobb said even though Bragg recommended that the best use of the property would be as a single-family home development, that “this of course does not preclude this property being used for a golf course, park or any other recreational use.”

Harmon now plans to appoint what he calls a blue-ribbon committee of Sherwood citizens “to review the appraisal as well as the feasibility study.”

The purpose of the committee would be to report back with recommendations about the possible purchase of the property and methods of financing any such purchase, Harmon said in his press release. He added that two polls showed “support among Sherwood’s citizens for saving this green space is very high, and we at the city wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t do all we could to try and save it.”

In presenting his $2.215 million figure to the city, Bragg looked at the property in two ways: As vacant land and as in its current use, with the improvements necessary to make it viable as a golf course.

In his report, Bragg cited the feasibility study, which stated that the facility suffers from significant deferred maintenance and significant repairs and replacements are needed at a cost of up to $1.89 million.

Bragg based his market value of the property on “the most probable price which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale with the buyer and seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably.”
Bragg said the deed and covenants presented some difficulties in determining the market value.

The deed, along with related amendments state that the land would be used as a golf course until 2026, and if it could not be operated as a golf course then it would convert to residential use.

According to the deed and its amendments, “No undertaking which is or may become noxious or offensive shall be carried on or permitted on any part of said lands nor shall anything be done which may become an annoyance or nuisance to adjacent residents.”

Bragg said that the deed could restrict commercial use of any of the land, but didn’t say it would for sure since the deed had been amended in the past to allow “quiet business use” on a portion of the land previously sold.