Sports complex plans miniature golf course Four Seasons layout may open in spring

August 04, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Golf on a small scale will come to the Hampstead area if Carroll officials approve plans to add a miniature golf course to the Four Seasons Sports Complex on Route 482.

Within the next 30 days, the owners of the complex will ask the county zoning commission for permission to build a miniature golf course on three to four of the 19 acres that make up the facility, said Kevin Bidelspach, director of operations and part owner of the complex.

The miniature golf course would be between the complex's driveway and the soccer-golf course now under construction, he said.

"We're not looking to put a putt-putt in," he said. "It's going to have to be challenging and unique."

He said the course probably will have 18 holes, which will be longer than the holes that make up a typical miniature golf course. The course might also include holes of varying levels of difficulty, to provide a challenge for people with a wider range of abilities.

"We would want to do it with respect for the surroundings," he said, with features such as ground-level lighting.

"We're touring other facilities on the East Coast" to glean ideas, he said.

He said plans will emphasize providing a challenge for golfers, not creating atmosphere in the sense provided by some miniature golf courses in Ocean City.

"I think that we could provide a fun, challenging hole without putting a large animal next to it," Mr. Bidelspach said.

He said Four Seasons has not yet approached the county for planning approval.

However, if the application goes in soon and the planning process goes smoothly, construction might begin next March, and the course could open in May, he said.

Frank G. Schaeffer, chief of the county Bureau of Development Review, said the sports complex would have to go through the regular site development plan review process of the county planning commission.

There already is a site plan on file for the sports complex, he said, so the owners would need to amend that to include the miniature golf course.

The plan would then be reviewed by county staff to see if it meets requirements for storm water management, forest conservation, landscaping, setbacks, sediment control, traffic, and so on.

Because it is zoned for agricultural use, the complex will also need to seek a conditional use approval from the county Board of Zoning Appeals.

Mr. Bidelspach said the Four Seasons Sports Complex has about 1,200 members.

He said about 3,000 players on 200 sports teams use the facility each week.

He said "a tremendous amount" of families come into the center asking for more activities, and "a pretty fair amount" have suggested miniature golf.

"I think it would be a fine idea," said Richard J. Soisson, director of the county Department of Recreation and Parks.

"I think it would be a good addition to the facility," he said, noting that Four Seasons plays host to occasional overnight "lock-in" parties for teen-agers, for whom miniature golf would be a suitable activity.

Mr. Soisson said the only complaints he knows of against the Four Seasons Sports Complex concerned an all-night graduation party held there, with a live band that some said was too loud.

But Julia Ann Ruby, who lives across from the Four Seasons complex, said Monday, "We haven't had any problems with anything over there so far. . . . I don't know why that [miniature golf] would bring a problem."

Bonnie Howard, whose family lives on a lot adjacent to Four Seasons, said, "I really don't see where it poses a problem."

She said that when her air conditioner is on, she cannot hear activities at Four Seasons, such as the prom attended this spring by her son, Mark, a student at North Carroll High School.

"I would rather see something like that [miniature golf course] go up down there than homes," Ms. Howard said. "I don't think the children have enough to do in the county."

Rowdiness at Putt N' Fun, a Mount Airy indoor miniature golf course and arcade, attracted attention earlier in the year.

Police had to break up a fight involving about 75 people in the facility's parking lot in March.

In June, three teens died in an alcohol-related accident after they had been drinking during a dance at Putt N' Fun.

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