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ZAP reaffirms amendments to Great Hills Country Club overlay

Monday, May 24, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

Chair Betty Baker warned the audience at the Zoning and Platting Commission last week that a posting error on the Great Hills Country Club rezoning was unlikely to change the outcome in the case. And she was right.


Larry Harper of the Great Hills Country Club wanted to amend the conditional overlay on his property to include community recreation use, specifically to add tennis courts and enlarge the pool area on the property. The property is located off Lost Horizon Drive and is across the street from a residential neighborhood.


Back in April, when ZAP approved the changes, Harper agreed during the meeting to make his additional uses – community recreation (private), indoor entertainment, outdoor sports and recreation, restaurant (limited), and restaurant (general) – all conditional uses, which would mean review and approval for all site plans.


“We’re here tonight because of a notification error,” said Baker, adding a comment for the neighbors. “I just want you to know it was a long and discussed case.”


The case was not presented a second time. Instead, Baker limited the discussion to neighborhood objections.


Neighbors, led by Bill Bosking, wanted a different compromise: agreeing to the new use but guaranteeing a 100-foot setback buffer with vegetation. Bosking called this a fair compromise, since city code already sets out a 300-foot buffer between other public recreational uses and single-family zoning.


Clarification provided by planner Jerry Rusthoven, however, noted that the code forked into two categories: the smaller community recreational private use, such as tennis courts and pools, and the larger community recreational public use, which is typically reserved for football or soccer fields where crowds would gather.


The distance requirement for private recreation uses, including swimming pools and tennis courts, is only 50 feet. Bosking was not deterred by the differentiation.


“If you combine four tennis courts and a swimming pool and put them directly adjacent to a neighborhood, and they’re having swimming meets and large tournaments, it’s very similar to the athletic field use,” Bosking said.


Even though she warned off neighbors at the beginning of the hearing, Baker and her colleagues did make an effort to determine a possible compromise, asking for a comparison in code and possible additional concessions from Harper.


Baker made the argument, however, that the width of Lost Horizon Drive, at 70 feet, comes close to already providing the setback the neighbors requested. Asked whether he could adjust his site plans so that the distance between the facilities and the neighbors would be 100 feet, Harper said it would tight, especially for the pool.


When prompted by the commission, Harper noted the pool would only host two swim tournaments a year. 


The suggestion was made to strip the conditional overlay status – since the neighbors did not want the back-and-forth – but planner Sherri Siwaitis noted there could be no going backwards on concessions. The only direction at the hearing could be toward more, rather than less, compliance.


Offered the option before the vote, Bosking passed on limiting hours of operation. ZAP reaffirmed its April vote.

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