This article was published in the Progress Times issue dated Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.
Following discussion and legal consultation, the city of Mission has decided to rezone part of Meadow Creek.
During this week’s city council meeting residents of the golf course and the owners (Olaguer and Laurice Bauza) gathered at Mission’s city hall, with both sides hoping for very different results.
The ongoing disagreement between the Bauzas and Meadow Creek residents has caused the council chambers to be completely filled for the last two meetings – standing room only. Four items have been brought before the council, each pertaining to different tracts of land on the Meadow Creek golf course.
The Bauzas have been trying to rezone since 2016. They were aiming to change three of the tracts to residential and one to commercial in order to sell their property to other investors.
According to the Bauzas, the people interested in purchasing Meadow Creek would only be interested in rezoned land. They also have stated they are trying to save part of the golf course for residents, so the back nine holes and first hole would still remain in tact following the rezoning.
The residents of Meadow Creek have been very vocal against these changes, saying that the drainage in the area is already sufficient, the golf course, lounge and grounds have not been properly maintained and they bought their homes with the intention to play golf regularly.
Former Mission mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas made an appearance during the meeting, and stepped forward during the public hearing in order to give his opinion on why the Meadow Creek golf course should not be rezoned.
“It is very important that you listen to the people that live there,” Salinas said. “People who have bought there expect to keep the same plat they had back in 1982.”
“The people who bought the Meadow Creek golf course have to maintain it,” Salinas added. “If they cannot maintain it, you all [the city] have to clean it, and every time you send somebody to clean the golf course, you charge the person that owns the golf course.”
Salinas said he “insisted” the council listen to the people that live in Meadow Creek.
“Feel sorry for them [the residents], because they’re going to have some bad neighbors there,” Salinas said. “They didn’t expect to have those homes there. They bought with the intention of having a nice golf course and nice neighborhood.”
The Bauzas also spoke on why the rezoning would be beneficial to the city and surrounding area.
“We know that the city council is concerned about the future of this subdivision,” Laurice Bauza said. “We want to tell you that if this zoning is not approved, the value of the subdivision will be severely affected, and it [the golf course] could be closed until it is solved.”
Several residents spoke on the issue during public hearing. A group of investors among the residents have also made two offers to buy the property from the owners, but at a rate the Bauzas were not interested in.
For the Meadow Creek residents present, keeping the community the way it was when they purchased their homes is crucial to them. Many stated that if the city rezoned, they would go to other cities in the Valley.
“We’re talking about business here, and they [the Bauzas] made a bad business decision,” Robert Degarimore, a resident of Meadow Creek, said. “They couldn’t fund it. It’s time for them to go, they’ve got an offer on the table to leave, they need to go away. You guys are going to reward [them] for bad business.”
Jon Garner, a golf course architect and land planner who lives in McAllen, also spoke during the public hearing. He stated that in his experience, and in recent years, golfing activity has decreased in the United States.
“Beginning in about 2003, statistics started showing that fewer people were playing golf,” Garner said. “We didn’t quit building golf courses. With the economic crash in 2008, new golf course design came to a screeching halt.”
Garner said that many courses under construction at that time were not completed, and since then the market is “slowly crawling back, but for different types of facilites.”
“Today I get calls to reduce golf [courses],” Garner said. “The new courses I’m working on are small courses.
The National Golf Foundation in the year 2017 said the total supply of golf declined by 1.5 percent. Only 15 and a half new courses were opened, and 205 and a half were closed.”
While he was speaking, a resident from Meadow Creek called out, asking who was paying Garner to be there.
“I am free, sir,” Garner said.
The residents who came forward after Garner said that regardless of what the stats are, they golf quite often and know plenty of people who also like to participate. One man noted that young people have begun to take more of an interest as well, citing the popularity of Topgolf, a corporate driving range that has recently opened a location in Pharr.
Council changed two of the requests, rezoning all four tracts to residential-1. The four council members voted to approve the altered items, and Mayor Armando O’caña voted against it.
After the vote the residents got up to leave the chambers, and a man called out “Shame on you!,” while a woman added “Bye bye, Mission!”