Judge denies Valley Green Golf Course rezoning appeal

David Weissman

The owner of Valley Green Golf Course will not be allowed to build homes on the property after a judge denied its appeal of Newberry Township's 2013 decision.

The township's Board of Supervisors had previously denied Golf Enterprises Inc.'s request to have its course zoned "residential growth" instead of "open space," but the owner of the public course filed for appeal to the York County Court of Common Pleas.

After more than two years of judge changes and back-and-forth settlement discussions, Senior Judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr. ruled on Dec. 30 in favor of the township's board and Valley Green Residents Organization, which served as intervenors opposing the rezoning request.

Clark's 19-page opinion addressed Golf Enterprises' assertions that the township's classification of its property constituted "spot zoning" and that the classification was arbitrary or irrational, according to court documents.

A golfer makes a shot during a York County Amateur Golf Association's Junior Championship at Valley Green Golf Course. 
file photo

Clark did not find spot zoning, which is described by the state Supreme Court as an "arbitrary exercise of police powers that is prohibited by our Constitution," to be an issue with the township's ordinance, according to documents.

The ordinance, rather, is "part of a long-term plan concerned with and directed toward the Newberry Township community as a whole, and does not treat the Property unjustifiably different from the surrounding land," Clark wrote.

Golf Enterprises' argument that the classification was arbitrary and irrational was also unfounded, Clark wrote, because it was the result of an extensive process that led to the enactment of the 2006 Zoning Ordinance.

Clark's opinion also addresses the township's concerns over the potential for increased traffic if the course were to be developed.

He determined that Golf Enterprises' expert did not perform an adequate traffic study, pointing to the board's evaluation of Valley Green Road, where insufficient width and unfeasible improvements would lead to an estimated 440 percent traffic increase.

Lastly, Clark pointed out that Golf Enterprises, owned by McNaughton Homes, failed to explain how its proposal was to meet regional housing needs.

"Over 400 properties owned by (Golf Enterprises) or other McNaughton entities that have been approved for development and have yet to be constructed," he wrote. "This indicates that there is no pressing unmet housing demand that would lead the Board to accept the proposed (rezoning request)."

Attorneys for Golf Enterprises and Valley Green Residents Organization could not immediately be reached for comment.

—Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.