Sunday night's fire at an Ahwatukee golf clubhouse has flared up neighbors' opposition to redevelopment plans on the property.
Residents told ABC15 that the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course used to be a green gem in the middle of their neighborhood, but it's now a brown wasteland.
Pete Meier, an Ahwatukee real estate agent, said the condition of the golf course has depressed nearby home values “anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.”
The golf course closed in 2013 and the current owner, The True Life Companies (TTLC), wants to redevelop it into more housing. Neighbors fought the idea, creating the Save the Lakes campaign.
“They are all just trying to get us to knuckle under and agree to anything they want to do,” neighbor Dave Rudnikoff said. “But a lot of us won't. It's just that simple.”
Nearby homeowners would get to vote on any change to the zoning of the golf course.
“They are doing a developer play,” Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio said. “They come in here, create an environmental mess for the entire community, and then they come in here and act like they are the savior by putting in higher density [housing].”
According to the Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department, there are two current open cases with eight city code violations against TTLC/Ahwatukee Lakes Investors. The open violations include unsound fence, vegetation, litter/debris, harborage and open/vacant structure. There were 12 other cases resulting in 15 violations from June of 2014 to 2015 that are now closed.
A TTLC spokesman said the city did find the clubhouse was unsecure last week, and the company sent a crew the next day to ensure everything was properly closed. He claims TTLC is currently “in compliance” with city code and has a good working relationship with neighborhood services staff.
DiCiccio thinks the golf course owners should have to foot the bill for the firefighters.
“Firefighters risked their lives because one developer could not take care and secure his own property,” DiCiccio said. “I think it is disrespectful to all taxpayers in the entire city.”
The Phoenix Fire Department is trying to find the cause of Sunday’s fire, which sent flames shooting into the night sky from the clubhouse before midnight.