A Primer on the The Granville Golf Course Easement
As of this writing, development rights to the Granville Golf Course are: (1) owned solely by the six owners of the Granville Golf Course; (2) not capable of being definitively determined in the absence of a complex, unpredictable and potentially expensive legal process; (3) reasonably valued at approximately $4 million; and (4) available for purchase by Granville Township and the Village of Granville for roughly half that value. The elected representatives of both Township and Village residents are pursuing steps to seize that opportunity while it is available. By negotiating two separate easements and a right of first refusal, the Township Trustees and Village Council will effectively preserve the property for continued use as a golf course or as open space. In the Spring of 2012, concerns arising from several years of operational losses led the Granville Golf Course owners to consider their options regarding the property. During that time the Granville Township Trustees were advised that the owners would consider creating a conservation easement that would qualify for purchase with the Township
s statutory Open Space funds. Such an easement would preserve most of the golf course property as open space and eliminate any possibility of future development of that property. That led to a number of conversations between representatives of the property owners, the Township and the Village regarding what, if any, development rights currently exist on the golf course property. That question was exhaustively researched during the latter half of 2012. When the Hilengreen and Bryn Du subdivisions were developed in the 1980s, the area that includes those subdivisions and the Granville Golf Course was rezoned from Open Space District (OSD) to Planned Unit Development (PUD). As part of that rezoning, the Development Plan stipulated that the golf course land
shall be used as either a golf course
and/or kept in its natural state
so long as that zoning exists on said property and/or until said Plan is modified by the Village of Granville.
In other words, as long as the Granville Golf Course land is zoned PUD and the Development Plan remains unchanged, the land can be used only as a golf course or open space. The Development Plan is essentially a binding contractual agreement between the developers and the Village. Like any contract, it can be modified by agreement of the parties. Neither party has suggested that it be modified. Zoning ordinances, on the other hand, are created by law and are subject to constitutional scrutiny under Article I, Section 19 of the Ohio Constitution and the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. A property owner can apply for rezoning of property at any time. A future owner of the Granville Golf Course could apply to rezone the property to Suburban Residential District (SRD), for example, for the purpose of developing additional subdivisions with densities comparable to the adjacent Hilengreen and Bryn Du subdivisions. A decision by Council to deny such an application, if found to be arbitrary and unreasonable, could be declared unconstitutional and overturned in court. Even if such a decision passed constitutional muster, it