The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Opinion

September 12, 2013

Editorial: Yule golf course war could leave scar on Alexandria

The battle over the Yule Golf Course in Alexandria has the earmarks of a protracted war that could scar the community.

Most recently, Yule Estates residents have complained that the property is becoming overgrown in violation of city ordinances.

You may recall that the trouble started when Robert McCurdy decided to sell the 146-acre golf course, which was proving unprofitable. It was purchased in October for just under $1 million by Yorktown farmer Dale Rinker.

He wanted the property to grow crops, but Yule Estates residents called foul, and the Alexandria Board of Zoning Appeals backed them up in July by refusing to grant Rinker an exception to grow crops on the property.

Rinker took the case to Madison Circuit Court, but a hearing date has not been set.

While the golf course property remains in limbo, no one’s going to be happy. Rinker wants to use it for agriculture; nearby residents want it to go back into business as a golf course.

They’re caught in a stalemate, and Rinker isn’t keeping the property up to snuff, residents say. They note that a city ordinance requires abandoned properties to be mowed to a maximum height of 8 inches. The grass on the old Yule property, they estimate, has grown to as much as 3 feet tall.

The city could fine Rinker, but that might not seem fair, given that, as Councilman Donald Lynch notes, other properties in the city are in violation of the ordinance. Rinker’s attorney, meanwhile, says that the ordinance shouldn’t apply to Yule, since it’s not really an abandoned property.

The city tried a compromise, allowing Rinker to bale the grass on the property. But that isn’t a permanent solution to the problem.

The court ruling on the Board of Zoning Appeals decision could free Rinker to farm the property. But such a decision would certainly lead to more litigation.

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