Golf course fence called an 'eyesore'

March 08, 1995|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

Good fences are supposed to make good neighbors -- but the 1,000-foot-long chain link fence erected by the Columbia Association (CA) along its golf course construction project has some neighbors crying foul.

Wilde Lake Village officials call the fence an "eyesore" and say they're disturbed that CA installed the 6-foot-high, black vinyl barrier -- intended to protect construction workers and children living near the Fairway Hills Golf Course -- without seeking architectural approval.

The Wilde Lake officials urged their Dorsey's Search counterparts to join in criticizing the nonprofit association, which is charged with enforcing Columbia's rigorous property maintenance standards, for neglecting to consult community boards about the fence installation.

"We took offense at the process," David Gardner, Wilde Lake Village board member, told the Dorsey's Search Resident Architectural Committee at a hearing last week on CA's belated application for approval. "We'd like to see as much if not all of the fence removed as quickly as possible."

In a letter to the Dorsey's Search committee, the Wilde Lake board called the fence "offensive" because it is a stone's throw from the Hannibal Grove apartments, noting that the fence "would be forbidden under the architectural covenants of each of our villages."

Dorsey's Search architectural committee members also criticized CA for taking part in what residents say is an aggravating trend throughout Columbia -- property owners altering their property first, then applying for permission when questions are raised after the fact.

"We'd like [CA] to be setting an example since they had a hand in writing the rules," said Mike Smith, Dorsey's Search architectural committee member, in an interview.

The disputed fence -- which is closer to Wilde Lake residences but on Dorsey's Search property -- may be more than a temporary structure.

The association has applied to the Dorsey's Search Resident Architectural Committee to leave about 350 feet in place permanently, saying it's necessary to protect against children wandering onto a green within 20 yards of Hannibal Grove and being hit by a golf ball.

At the hearing last week, the Dorsey's Search committee granted approval for a temporary fence until construction is completed in about three months. But the committee tabled until next Wednesday action on the request to retain a permanent section.

Robert Goldman, CA's membership services director, apologized to the Dorsey's Search committee for the belated application. He said the association acted quickly to install the fence -- which extends from Columbia Road toward Route 29 along holes 5 and 6 -- out of concern that neighborhood children were endangering themselves and workers by playing in the construction area and throwing rocks.

Dorsey's Search and Wilde Lake officials asked association managers to consider redesigning the course holes behind Hannibal Grove, moving the playing area and fence farther from the residences.

"You designed the golf course in a way that handicaps yourself," said Bob Conors, Dorsey's Search Resident Architectural Committee member. "That's going to be your problem. You'll have to work around it.

"I think there are a lot of problems there. The fence is one."

Karen Wallace, Wilde Lake's Architectural Committee chairwoman, said at the hearing that the fence creates a bad impression -- and not just aesthetically.

"It keeps looking to us and other residents -- we've gotten a lot of calls -- that it's there to keep a group of people out," she said.

But Mr. Goldman defended the design of the association's $5.5 million, 18-hole golf course, including the protective fence. He noted that landscaping eventually would shroud the fence and that the fence is the same type that surrounds the Dorsey Hall pool.

"We believe we have a sound architectural golf course," he said. "We have a history when a problem arises of making adjustments that are successful. It would be fiscally irresponsible to change the course now when we think it's sound and the greens are already built."

While Columbia officials haggle over architectural principles, Hannibal Grove's property managers say they've received no complaints from residents.

"[The fence] hasn't presented any problems we're aware of," said Terry Henry, regional manager of Berkshire Property Management, which manages the 316-unit complex off Columbia Road. "At this point, it doesn't concern us a whole lot one way or the other."

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