We would like to inform you that the City has informed Windmill Golf that they must stop work on the golf course and make an application for a new development permit. The work site was shut down on Thursday, November 30th.
Please read the following article that was published in The Herald:
The Hamptons Residents For Responsible Development
Corbella: City lets Hamptons Golf Course owner tear up the land without a permit
In a move that’s much like closing the proverbial barn door after all the barnyard animals have escaped and then been run over by a transport truck, the City of Calgary’s bylaw office shut down the stripping and grading of the Hamptons Golf Course Thursday following questions by the Postmedia.
Since late September, Windmill Golf Group — which bought the championship golf course in 2013 — has torn up more than 40 mature spruce trees at holes seven and eight in the upscale northwest community, that is home to families of deer and migrating birds.
Paul Donker, Calgary’s co-ordinator for community planning, said a development inspector visited the site to investigate and shut down the worksite Thursday.
“It was determined that a permit for changes to the site is required, since it is larger than 1,000 metres-square,” said Donker in a written statement. “The owners have been informed and notified to stop work and make an application.”
Community residents are outraged that the Windmill Golf Group would go ahead and tear up the land without a development permit.
“This is a lot too little and a lot too late,” said an outraged Gina Church, whose house backs onto the pond at the seventh hole of the golf course.
“Us regular citizens have to get a permit if we want to make the slightest modification or addition to our backyard deck or renovate our basement, but (the owner) started tearing up a huge area of sensitive wildlife reserves and pulling out trees since late September and the city didn’t do anything until the media called,” she said.
Robert Church, a former professor at the University of Calgary’s medical school (which he helped found), said torn up ground near the water’s edge is proof that the golf course owner is contravening the Water Conservation Act.
“Now the damage has been done,” said Church.
“It’s extremely upsetting and disappointing. This used to be called Deer Coulee and we used to ride our horses around here when we were kids,” said the 80-year-old.
Donker notes that he doesn’t know if any fines will be levied against Windmill Golf Group.
It would be outrageous if the company isn’t fined. After all, Donker admitted that they “got approval for a development permit for stripping and grading from the administration, however it was appealed, the appeal was launched and the application was withdrawn.”
In other words, Windmill Golf Group went ahead with the redevelopment of the land even though it knew it withdrew its application.
“In speaking with our development inspection team, the City always seeks compliance as a first approach to provide the owners an opportunity to correct the situation; in this case, they will have to apply for the proper permit,” said Donker.
Looks like kid-glove treatment, doesn’t it? Us little guys who can’t afford to own a golf course should keep this sentence in mind if we’re ever fined for not shovelling our walk fast enough or if a pet escapes and is captured by the city or if we “forget” to apply for a development permit when we rebuild the deck. We can reply, “Doesn’t the city always seek compliance as a first approach to provide the owners an opportunity to correct the situation?”
When asked for an interview, the Windmill Golf Group responded by email, telling Postmedia to contact its contracted developer, Quantum Place Developments.
But Chris Ollenberger, the managing principal at Quantum, says his company is not doing the work on the golf course.
“Windmill’s owner is away so I think that’s why you were asked to call me, but Quantum isn’t doing the golf course work. We’re doing the housing development, so I haven’t even been down to that site and I really don’t know what’s going on there,” said Ollenberger.
The Hamptons gold course in Calgary on Wednesday November 29, 2017. Leah Hennel/Postmedia
City Hall has received more than 3,000 letters of complaint by residents and others who object to the city rezoning recreational property to build a 64-unit housing development on the course’s existing 14th and 15th holes. That will result in the golf course needing to be rejigged to replace those two holes on the remaining footprint.
Under Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw, there is the ability to strip and grade land as long as it’s under 1,000 square metres. If it’s larger than that, then they need a development permit.
Hamptons Golf Course is the fourth golf course that the city has allowed to be rezoned from recreational land to residential: Shawnee Slopes, Highland Park and Harvest Hills have all been wiped out to put in housing.
“This is very shortsighted of the city,” complained Gina Church. She noted that the residents of the Hamptons all got together and spent $45,000 on legal fees, putting in an offer to buy the golf course and turn it into a park, but the land’s owner turned down the offer.
As for City Hall, it’s clear that someone hasn’t been doing his job properly. It shouldn’t require a call from a newspaper to get action on the tearing up of land without a permit.
Licia Corbella is a Postmedia columnist. firstname.lastname@example.org