The Deer Creek Golf Club in Overland Park will close April 1, according to its owners.
Brett Klaussman, golf course owner and president of GreatLIFE KC, made the announcement Wednesday, a day after the Overland Park City Council rejected a plan for a $65 million apartment complex next to the course.
That development plan, Klaussman said, would have helped Deer Creek, in part, to “stabilize and mitigate erosion issues.”
The golf course will officially close on April 1, Klaussman said.
Klaussman’s full statement reads:
“Over the past 10 months we and many others have worked hard to advance a viable plan to save the Deer Creek Golf Course in Overland Park. We greatly appreciate all of those who supported the solution to save it. Unfortunately, the City Council voted to deny our zoning application this week, which provided the solution to save the golf course and stabilize and mitigate the erosion issues on it. These circumstances have led us to the decision to close the Deer Creek Golf Course effective April 1st, 2022. All our team and staff at the Deer Creek Golf Course will be offered employment opportunities within our organization. We have notified current membership, stakeholders and future tournament organizers of this decision. The next phase for the land where the golf course currently sits is development. After the golf course closes on April 1st, 2022, we will move into this phase with our development partner, EPC Real Estate. Thank you to the community for your patronage of the Deer Creek Golf Course. This was not an easy decision for us and not one we had wanted, but one that had to be made given the current situation at Deer Creek.”
This comes after the Overland Park City Council’s denial of the proposed high-rise apartment complex that would have taken up and rezoned 11 acres of land near the golf course.
Overland Park city councilmember Sam Passer, whose Ward 5 area covers Deer Creek, voted against the proposed development.
He said he weighed the project against the “Golden Criteria” for land use, a set of rules set out by a Kansas Supreme Court decision in the 1970s that prioritizes considerations of how a development may impact the character and sustainability of nearby properties.
His question, he said, was what use of the Deer Creek land would be most consistent with the city’s standards.
“It’s a little bit of a crystal ball question,” he said. “Ultimately, what I tried to look at wasn’t necessarily what the best use was, because that’s not my role in this matter. It was ‘Is what the applicant wanted to do permissible and consistent with the Golden Criteria?’ and allowing them to use their property in a manner that’s consistent with the neighborhood.”
As for the property’s future after the golf course closes, Passer said it’s possible it could be used for single-family homes since the land is currently zoned for that use.
“This whole process has been interesting,” he said. “I understand that the citizens and the residents want their city leaders to listen to them, and I think by and large, most of us do. I guess my gut reaction afterwards is we’ll see what’s next.”
Councilmember Jeff Cox, who also opposed the project, said he could tell early on that the nearby residents did not want it.
People ultimately have a right to choose what kind of community they live in, he said, and the quality of life of the existing residents should be the main priority instead of what might bring more of them to town.
“My first reaction anytime there’s any kind of development that’s going to happen is, ‘How do the people around the development feel? ” Cox said. “I’m looking at everything from the perspective of ‘Is that making life better for the people who live here now?”
In reflection of Monday’s decision and what it means for the community, Cox said it could be the beginning of more conflict between golf course owners and neighboring residents.
“I think it’s the beginning, not the end, of a long fight,” he said. “The homeowners are kind of in this difficult situation. We can’t make someone run a golf course and we can’t make the owner of that golf course sell it to another golf course. If they want to develop it within the zoning it has, they have the right to do that. All of these parties have rights, and we’re trying to balance those rights against each other.“
But as future plans move forward for the property, whatever they may be, Cox said he hopes it can be easier to remove emotions from it and to focus primarily on the logistics.
“I think that’s the thing that’s the most unfortunate about these things, is that they tend to take on a life of their own,” he said. “I hope as this thing moves forward, there is less of that.”