The Herald Bulletin

July 8, 2014

Residents unhappy with overgrown course

City awaits judge's ruling on zoning appeal by farmer

By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ALEXANDRIA — As an appeal involving the former Yule Golf Course property and the zoning of the property drags on through the courts, more Alexandria citizens are getting tired of seeing weeds where they once saw well-maintained fairways.

Residents of Fairway Drive, a subdivision in Alexandria built right next to the golf course, are especially upset the course is gone.

Denis Kuhn said at one point the grass and weeds bordering his backyard were 3 feet tall before the field was finally cut.

“It looks disgusting,” Kuhn said. “It’s attracted lots of wild animals like rabbits, racoons and coyotes.”

Even though the field has finally been cut, the former course is in obvious disrepair. Trees, untrimmed in two years, crowd the fairways, clumps of grass are everywhere and weeds 2 to 3 feet tall still stand in some places.

Randall Saatchoff built his house on Fairway Drive back in the 1970s in large part because of the golf course. He said the golf course was a big part of him getting to know people in the city.

“It was a social place that has now left,” Saatchoff said. “I don’t know if people realized how unique it was to have a small town with a nice golf course.”

Ralph Day, another Fairway resident, said having the empty fields just sitting there has depreciated his property.

“There’s no question it’s affecting our property values,” Day said. “Some neighbors who have moved away saw a significant drop in what they got back.”

Kuhn said he estimated the properties have depreciated by about 20 to 25 percent since the course shut down.

There is a definite sense of frustration from the men as the court continues to ponder the case. All of them want to see the land returned to a golf course and they believe they speak for a large majority of the Alexandria residents.

“I have residents, even former residents who drive by and say it makes them sick to see the course in disrepair,” Saatchoff said. “People want to see it come back.”

The saga began in late 2012 when course owner, Dr. Robert McCurdy, sold the property at a farm auction as potential farmland to Dale Rinker. Rinker planned on growing corn and soybeans on the 156-acre property but Alexandria’s Board of Zoning Appeals ruled the current zoning of the property didn’t allow for that.

The board then ruled again in July 2013 that crops could not be planted on the property. Rinker appealed to Madison County Circuit Court 1 where a decision is still pending.

Alexandria Mayor Jack Woods said the court held a hearing back in March. The city has not yet heard anything regarding a ruling on the zoning.

“We’re still waiting and we’re not sure when we might hear something,” Woods said.

The ruling could go a long way toward determining what happens with the former course. If the court sides with Alexandria’s BZA, it could open up the possibility of another group buying the property and turning it back into a course. If Judge Angela Warner Sims orders the land to be zoned as farm appropriate, the course could be gone for good.

Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.