More than 300 people who live near the Las Vegas property secured a temporary restraining order to keep the course watered and vowed to set up human blockades to stop any attempts to tear it up, as part of their objection to the plans of new owner Ronald Richards, who sparked similar controversy after acquiring Escondido CC in California.
A week after Beverly Hills, Calif.-based lawyer Ronald Richards bought the cash-strapped Silverstone Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nev. (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2015/09/04/silverstone-gc-sold-closes-doors/) more than 300 nearby residents held a “rowdy” homeowners association meeting to slam the sale and take jabs at Richards, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Richards represents a Los Angeles-based group that has faced lawsuits and heated criticism over its plans to build houses after acquiring Escondido (Calif.) Country Club, a San Diego-area golf course, the Review-Journal noted. And Richards hasn’t quite denied drawing up similar blueprints for Silverstone—a fact not at all lost on the hundreds of homeowners who filled two meeting rooms and spilled out into a hallway at the Centennial Hills YMCA in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, September 8th.
(C&RB reported on the controversy surrounding Richards’ acquisition of the Escondido property, which included his agreement to pay $100,000 in civil penalties for spreading chicken manure on the property, at the end of August: http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2015/08/31/escondido-calif-cc-owner-ordered-to-pay-100000-in-civil-penalties/?doing_wp_cron=1441817521.6441299915313720703125)
“It’s like we’ve had the death of a loved one,” homeowner Steve Hellerstein, one of several donors to a legal defense fund aimed at derailing Richards’ plans for the course, said at the rally for Silverstone, the Review-Journal reported. “Everybody who bought [homes] here bought because it’s a golf course community.”
Hellerstein and most other residents in attendance rallied behind any and all proposed efforts to stall, stop or reverse Richards’ purchase of the property, the Review-Journal reported. Many wondered why a legal covenant held by course homeowners wouldn’t be enough to scuttle the sale.
HOA attorney Tim Elson said he believed that agreement, which requires 75 percent homeowner approval for any modification of the 27-hole course, goes a long way toward protecting homeowners from Richards’ plans for the property, the Review-Journal reported
Those not quite reassured by the covenant called on HOA board members to sue Silverstone’s new owner—an action Elson said he is “aggressively pursuing,” the Review-Journal reported
Should those legal remedies fail, at least a handful of residents said they would happily reorganize human blockades they had put together to turn back a crane that they said was headed for the course on the morning of the 8th, the Review-Journal reported
That was just hours before an attorney hired by Hellerstein’s group filed a temporary restraining order that prevents Richards from removing water pumps or otherwise permitting the “waste, removal or destruction of golf course property.”
The order, signed by Clark County District Court Judge Joe Hardy, also forces Richard to turn on Silverstone’s water to irrigate its greens and fairways and fill its water features, the Review-Journal reported
Richards, who has said only that he plans to take Silverstone in a new, more “environmentally sound” direction, did not attend the meeting, the Review-Journal reported. But he then sent an e-mail later that night that said: “We are not in the golf course operations business. We have no set agenda and are open to numerous avenues of use, other than requiring us to subsidize someone else’s golf game or operate an asset that has no economically viable use to anyone except a privileged few.”
City Councilman Steve Ross, who represents the ward where Silverstone is located, promised homeowners he would put the “full force of the city” behind getting residents what they want, the Review-Journal reported.
“This is going to be a battle,” Ross said to ringing applause. “No permits will be issued until a judge has seen this case.”
Reached for comment just before the meeting, Ross was even more strident, the Review-Journal reported, warning that he was “probably the last person” Richards would want to meet if and when he comes to town.
HOA Board members estimate they have several hundred thousand dollars available to wage a legal battle over the future of the course, the Review-Journal reported. Melanie Hill, a Silverstone resident and Las Vegas attorney, estimated to the Review-Journal that residents in Escondido, Calif., have spent at least $750,000 fighting to keep Richards’ bulldozers off their course.
Attorneys for Silverstone residents said a District Court judge plans to hear their case on September 22.
Western Golf Properties, a California-based golf course management company, told the Review-Journal that it will continue to run the course in the interim.
Western CEO Robert Heath said he wasn’t sure when Richards planned to take over the property’s day-to-day operations, the Review-Journal reported, and declined to speculate on whether employees laid off by the course’s previous owner would be rehired.
There were no employees at the course when Western took over, the Review-Journal reported.