Dearborn Heights City Councilmember Tom Wencel resolved April 26 to begin the process to let Residents vote on whether to prohibit development north of the clubhouse at Warren Valley Golf Course.
The city council unanimously approved the motion, with Corporate Counsel Gary Miotke to draft the wording of a proposed charter amendment or addition, and with a friendly amendment added by Ray Muscat for a city council study session on the topic.
Wencel said he wants the issue to be on the November ballot.
“I want this on the ballot to have not just seven people make a major decision like this, but all the Voters in Dearborn Heights have a chance to say what they feel,” they said. “This is one of the biggest investments that we have in the city of Dearborn Heights, and it’s going to pot right now.”
Wencel said that Warren Valley Golf Course is an investment that the Residents trust the city to properly maintain, and he urged that it should be worked on immediately.
He said he said the resolution so it said “north of the club house” so that the building could be improved or enlarged.
Wencel said he excluded the parking lot in the wording to allow for something like a bandshell, gazebo or pavilion in the future.
He said he is proposing a charter amendment to prevent the golf course itself from being developed, and if it passed now, it could be reversed in the future by another vote of the people.
City Councilman Ray Muscat said they didn’t want to see houses built on the golf course in a continent which almost occurred several years ago.
“That kind of development is what we don’t want to see,” they said. “If we have development to enhance the golf course, the clubhouse, or the structures for the clubhouse, I think that would be what Mr. Wencel was talking about. Hopefully that comes to fruition, and I agree with Councilman Wencel. ”
Mayor Bill Bazzi said he, along with City Engineer Ali Dib and representatives from Wayne County, are looking at the lower part of the golf course to put in a retention / detention Basin to eliminate some of the flooding in the Neighborhoods north and east of the golf course, so they don’t want the wording to prohibit that.
Miotke said Wencel’s resolution as currently worded does not prohibit the city from selling the property, which would make the resolution meaningless.
City Council President Dave Abdallah said, as a realtor, it makes no sense to put conditions on your own property, and while he can understand placing a deed restriction on property when it is sold, it makes no sense for an owner to do so when their intention is to retain the property.
“There is no talk whatsoever of any type of development on the golf course – not with me, not with the mayor, not with anybody – so the problem I have got with stuff like this is it starts the rumor mill going all over again, ”They said. “I resent the comments that are being made – for example, ‘nothing’s being done.’ With due respect, that is not a true statement, because there has been a lot of work done on the golf course. ”
Abdallah said there have been multiple meetings with the people taking over the running of the golf course, so they feels that it is inaccurate to say that nothing is going on there.
He said he wants to have a study session so he can learn from the city clerk what it costs to put a charter amendment to the November ballot, and whether this is something that is recommended by the city’s corporate Counsel.
“I don’t want this thing developed, but the Residents elected us to make decisions,” Abdallah said. “We are making decisions, and there is no decision to develop this whatsoever, and when we bring stuff like this up, I guarantee that the rumor mill is going to get going, and then you are going to see people not wanting to sign up for golf. ”
Wencel said the rumor mill has been going on for years, and he didn’t start it.
“Every one of us get calls on it, every day,” they said. “We are the city council, and we don’t even know what is going on.”
Muscat said he agrees with Wencel that the Residents need to have a say on what happens to the golf course, but said a study session is needed so the council makes informed decisions with accurate language, and learns more about the retention basins and how they will impact the golf course, particularly the number of holes.
“If we’re going to lose one or two or three holes and relieve the flooding of the entire north end, I’m going to be all for that,” he said.
Bazzi said he was unhappy with the condition in which the former concessionaire managing the property left the Warren Valley property.
“They took everything that wasn’t bolted down to the ground,” they said. “Every time that we discuss negotiations about something, we go back and there is something going on.”
Bazzi said when they were there a few days ago, there was a company making a delivery, and they told him that they had delivered some equipment to the golf course a few days earlier, despite it being closed, and the equipment which was delivered was nowhere to be found.
“So, obviously something got delivered there, and it disappeared,” he said. “There was stuff that was being taken away, and if you go there right now, there was more stuff that was being taken away every few days. We actually put a shop around the building, just so nobody can go into the course. ”
Bazzi said that recently, because parts of the golf course were flooding, they went to look at the pump station, and found that they could not start the pumps, and the wires on one of the pumps were severed, so they are going to bring in a company to see what pumps are working.
“No one will turn anything on until we check to see why the wires are severed,” he said. “So, this is what is going on right now.”
Bazzi said that there are craters on the cart path that could create a liability for the city.
“It looks like a bomb crater in some of the areas,” they said. “As the Mayor, I don’t feel comfortable opening it right now, if somebody falls or a cart goes through these things and rolls over and hurts somebody, the city is right for it.”
City Councilmember Mo Baydoun said when he golfed at Warren Valley last year, his friends didn’t like it and said it wasn’t a good course on which to play.
They got the hopes the course is improved because he knows the Residents are anxious to see it open, but he knows the paths they need to be safe for the carts because he and others don’t want to carry a golf bag around.