The private nine-hole course has been purchased by the town of Pelham, N.H., which wants to convert 30 of its 70 acres into open space with hiking trails. The other 40 acres can continue to be operated as a private business, with the owners getting sizable tax relief over the next decade.
Fifty-five years after it was created by the family of H. Todd Madden, an American Life Member of the Professional Golf AssocIation, the nine-hole Pine Valley Golf Links in Pelham, N.H. could become town-owned property, the North Andover (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune reported.
Town leaders in Pelham have announced that they’ve signed an agreement to purchase the 71.2-acre facility for $750,000, the Eagle-Tribune reported. The money will come from the Conservation Commission’s $3 million bond fund that voters established in 2003.
Under the terms of the deal, the Eagle-Tribune reported, about 40 acres of the property—which is now the developed golf course—will continue to operate as a private business managed by Madden and his family for the next 10 years. The remaining 30 acres would be incorporated into the Peabody Town Forest, which plans to extend hiking trails into the new “open space” area.
In addition, the Eagle-Tribune reported, the owners will receive a special tax relief package totaling $250,000 over the next decade, at a rate of $25,000 per year. At a public hearing, Conservation Commission Chairman Paul Gagnon said that the current annual tax bill for the property is $25,500, so the owners would still be obligated to pay $500 in taxes.
The unusual tax program was designed to allow the owners to realize a fair amount of value on their community-minded sale, the Eagle-Tribune reported. “The property is currently appraised at $1.1 million,” Gagnon explained. “It’s $760,000 for the land and $340,000 for improvements [for] the irrigation [and other work] that makes the 40 acres into a golf course.
“When the public authorized the Conservation Commission to buy land for open space [in 2003], they obviously didn’t authorize us to buy water pumps and tee boxes and other [golf-related] items,” Gagnon added.
The Pelham Board of Selectmen proposed the tax-relief concept, the Eagle-Tribune reported, as a way of allowing the Madden family to make back some of the cost of their investment in the links while still permitting the land to be transferred over to the town.
The agreement will also help make the golfing facility more profitable, Gagnon noted.
“It will keep it as a golf course,” the chairman said, but it will also “maintain a large section of open land in the middle of town.”
The tentative purchase is just the latest action, Gagnon explained, in the commission’s ongoing goal to double the amount of open space in Pelham, which was its charge when the bond fund was established in 2003, the Eagle-Tribune reported. At that time, Pelham had about 1,000 acres—and if the new proposal is approved by the selectmen, it will bring the total of added land over the last 13 years to about 850 acres.
Before the meeting, Selectmen Hal Lynde indicated his support for the plan, the Eagle-Tribune reported. “It certainly gives the town the opportunity to prevent the parcel [from] being developed, while determining the eventual conservation use of the land,” Lynde said.
The commission has had an interest in the land for some time, Gagnon said, because of its size and location and the possibility that some or all of it could be developed.
The deal will not allow town residents to golf at Pine Valley for free, he added.
The deal needs to go before the Planning Board for a minor lot line adjustment, the Eagle-Tribune reported, and it then will have two hearings before the selectmen prior to being put up for approval. If there are no problems, Gagnon said, the land transfer could be consummated in June.