Developers suing the city of Plymouth for rejecting a proposal to turn a former golf course into lots for 229 homes have agreed to put the lawsuit on hold — in exchange for being allowed to submit a new, similar plan that would still turn the former golf course into lots for 229 homes.
Local developers operating as Hollydale GC Development agreed to suspend the lawsuit while the city reviews a new plan to prepare the 160-acre former Hollydale Golf Course with lots and infrastructure for single-family homes priced at roughly $1 million to $2 million. Under the new plan, the developers will increase the cash and land they contribute for city parks and help pay for improvements on a nearby intersection.
If the new application is approved, Jake Walesch, head of the two-person development team, has agreed to drop the lawsuit. Richard Deziel, who owns the property on which his parents opened the Hollydale course in 1964, is involved in the suit on the developers' side.
Building homes on the site would require the city to rezone it for residential use — something council members in November voted against doing. Current zoning allows public entities such as a park, school or fire station, or institutions such as a church, hospital or golf course on the land.
City officials and others directly involved in the agreement declined to comment. Plymouth residents, meanwhile, are divided.
Opponents of the housing development, many of whom live alongside or near the property, argue that adding homes would increase traffic congestion, exacerbate existing water drainage problems and eliminate wildlife habitat. They said it would also deprive the city, which has a population of about 80,000, of what was, until it closed in 2019, its last relatively inexpensive public golf course.
"It was a Joe Sixpack kind of golf course," said resident Tim Schneeweis, who plays golf. "Now that's being taken away, and who's the property going to? People who can afford a $2 million home."
Schneeweis and other opponents say they want to preserve the property for a golf course or public park.
"This could be a community gathering place — a barn for weddings, a skating oval, winter carnivals, cross-country and golf meets," said Paul Hillen, who lives near the property. "Just because you can develop this land, should you? Because once it's gone it's gone forever."
City officials considered buying the land, but decided in July not to spend the money. Its assessed value is over $25 million, according to county records.
"Just because I can get $10 million from Speedway to build a convenience store on my property doesn't mean the city should zone it commercial," Hillen said.
No other organization has offered to buy the property for uses permitted under the current zoning — including another golf course, which is widely considered not a profitable enough business to warrant the sizable investment.
Residents who favor developing the homes say they don't want the city to spend the money on the land and raise their taxes.
"We don't want to pay for their private park — that's what they assumed the golf course was to them," said resident Tom Klick, noting that a larger and denser development was approved near where he lives, on the eastern side of Plymouth.
Uses for which the current zoning allows could be even less welcome, said David Haas, who favors the housing plan.
"Imagine the whining we would hear about traffic from a hospital or assisted living facility," he said. "They could get a correctional facility … I don't know about you, but I would prefer to have a $1.5 million home in my backyard."
Just because the land has been a golf course doesn't mean it must remain one, Haas said.
"Ninety percent of Plymouth was once farmland," he said, "and now it's not."
Katy Read • 612-673-4583