A group of homeowners along the Crooked Creek Golf Course filed a legal complaint Monday against the course’s owners to halt plans to demolish the course and replace it with more homes.
The motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction from Friends of Crooked Creek seeks to have a judge declare several key findings. The requests include keeping Crooked Creek Golf Course as a golf course; keeping the course open; and continuing to allow homeowners access to play on it.
Meanwhile, a different group of residents, who call themselves the New Crooked Creek, made an offer earlier this month to buy the course and keep it as it is. That offer was rejected because it was too low, said lawyer Russell Killen, who represents the golf course and its owners.
Course owners announced plans earlier this year to close the course after the July Fourth weekend. They said they’re losing money with the course and have the right to develop the land to make a profit.
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But the plaintiffs argue that when the golf course and surrounding neighborhood started being built in 1992, developers marketed Crooked Creek as a golfing community, attracting golf fans who paid premiums for lots along fairways and greens. They say the developers made implicit and explicit promises that the area always would be a golf course.
Matthew Quinn, the Raleigh lawyer representing the homeowners who filed the complaint, said the course owners – C.C. Partners Inc. and Crooked Creek Golf Land LLC – will have to go before a judge before July 5, when the owners had planned to close.
“We will absolutely have an injunction hearing before that closing date,” said Quinn, with the Law Offices of F. Bryan Brice Jr.
The golf course is 160 acres. Sam Ravenel, one of the owners, said in March that he and his business partner Tony Withers, of Cary engineering firm Withers & Ravenel, plan to build on 90 to 100 acres and leave the rest as open space and nature trails.
Killen, with Parker Poe law firm, said they hope to be able to continue with the development plans.
“We don’t think there’s any legal basis to their claims,” said Killen, who is the mayor of Knightdale.
Killen and his clients have 30 days to formally respond to the homeowners’ 40-page complaint.
Ken Boone is president of Friends of Crooked Creek, a group that formed to protest the golf course owners’ plans. He said the lawsuit is the only option left for residents who care about maintaining their property values and the golf course access they paid for originally.
“We felt this lawsuit was the only way to enforce what the covenant states,” he said.
Bill Cook, who founded the Friends of Crooked Creek and served as its president, said several homes recently have sold for thousands less than they are worth.
“People who live in this subdivision are being wronged, and it’s going to cost everyone who lives here,” Cook said.
For example, a five-bedroom house in Crooked Creek listed on the Wake Golf Homes website is listed for $399,900, which the website says is $70,000 less than its appraised value.
Nil Varinca, a Cary real-estate agent who represents many buyers and sellers in the neighborhood, said she and her clients are “waiting anxiously for the outcome of the lawsuit.”
Michael Kent, a real estate law professor at the Campbell University School of Law, has previously said the legal arguments the neighbors are making have never before been heard by an appeals court in North Carolina. The law is still unsettled, he said, and the case could end up setting a statewide precedent.
Killen said the Friends of Crooked Creek group doesn’t speak for the entire neighborhood. He said his clients have been working amicably with the subdivision’s Homeowners Association.
“There’s a small group of homeowners over there that are upset,” he said.
The New Crooked Creek group seeking to buy the course is also made up of residents. Brent Brewbaker, who organized the group, said they made an offer June 10 to buy the course from the current owners.
“If the desire is to maintain it as a golf course, but they don’t want to be behind it, we’re willing to take a swing at it,” Brewbaker said.
Brewbaker wouldn’t disclose the value of the offer. Killen said it was for about $400,000, “which doesn’t even begin to pay off the loans.”
According to Wake County property tax records, the golf course land is worth about $1.5 million, and the club house is worth $2.4 million. The land the club house is on is worth $380,000, but was purchased in 1992 for nearly $1.7 million, according to records.
“We’d be willing to talk to them, or any other serious buyer,” Killen said. “But it has to be more in the $5 million range, not the $400,000 range.”
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran