Escondido City Council Votes in Favor of Green Designation for Golf Course

Development plans for the golf course call for 283 homes to be built with 60-foot wide streets

The Escondido City Council voted 5-0 Wednesday in support of an effort to protect the former site of the historic Escondido Country Club.

After 46 years in business, the golf course on Country Club Lane officially closed in April.

Since then, there’s been a battle between Rough LLC the company that purchased the property out of bankruptcy in 2012 and nearby homeowners who want to maintain their “golf course views.”

Development plans for the golf course call for 283 homes to be built with 60-foot wide streets.

Opponents of the development plan to hand over more than 9,000 verified signatures collected by volunteers to councilmembers requesting they give the area a green space designation.

Upset homeowners in the area say the four-month closure has severely damaged the once pristine property.

"I'm mortified, it’s disgusting,” complained homeowner Dee Dee Walsh. “The way it's been handled, it’s a disgrace.”

Escondido residents have qualified for the Citizens Property Rights initiative which protects 100 acres of established open space in the Escondido Country Club area.

During a packed meeting Wednesday night, the Escondido City Council voted unanimously to uphold the open space designation for the area, effectively preventing the site from being developed. The initiative could be adopted immediately as a city ordinance or the measure could be placed on the ballot for a public vote.

It was a resounding victory for residents, who were determined to prevent a former golf course from being replaced with hundreds of homes.

So the residents won -- but at what cost to the city? Could the city be forced to eventually compensate the developer an amount of money that could bankrupt Escondido?

A spokesperson for the developer, which is currently suing the city for allegedly violated private property rights, says there is still a legal battle ahead.

A judge will review Wednesday’s decision on Sept. 5.

The developer, who is now facing millions of dollars in annual costs to maintain the area as open space, will undoubtedly try to recoup some, if not all of the money he paid for the property.

The spokesperson says there have been other cases where the developer was compensated hundreds of millions of dollars, an amount that could potentially bankrupt the city of Escondido.

NBC 7 has reached out to the Escondido City Attorney for comment on the matter.

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