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Conquistador Golf Course to allow private access for neighbors

Golf Advisory Board drafts ordinance for city council
Rodney Lipe blasts out of a sand trap during the 2016 Pinto Bean Classic Tournament at Conquistador Golf Course.

At its Wednesday meeting, the Cortez golf advisory board discussed plans to allow neighbors private access to Conquistador Golf Course.

On July 25, the Cortez council voted to table an ordinance that would have imposed penalties on golfers who entered the city-run course by unauthorized means, after several of its neighbors complained the penalties were too harsh. City Manager Shane Hale met with some of those property owners, as well as members of the golf board, on Aug. 23 to try to find a better way to keep unauthorized players off the golf course. On Wednesday, he presented a list of requirements for private access that he said the property owners had approved.

The city previously considered adding a new public access to the course to make it more accessible to neighbors on the east side, but Hale said feedback from those neighbors gave him and other city staff a change of heart.

“We’ve been talking about doing a private access for a couple years now, or doing a public access in off of Golf Course Lane,” he said. “When we sat down and started brainstorming, we thought that this might actually be a better solution for everybody.”

Most of the Cortez residents whose property adjoins the course have annual passes to golf there. At the July council meeting, several of them said they have removed their property fences or installed gates in order to create private entrances and allow golfers to retrieve balls from their yards. Instead of penalizing them for this, Hale said he plans to ask the city council to regulate those private entrances.

On Wednesday, he presented a draft list of requirements homeowners must meet before they can build a private access. Among other things, homeowners with existing fences would be required to install gates facing the golf course, and all owners with private accesses would have to sign a yearly agreement with the city acknowledging their legal responsibility for them. All golfers would still have to check in at the Golf Pro Shop before playing.

Golf board member Sam Jarvis said the homeowners who met with city staff were open to these requirements, and he had heard positive feedback from many of them in the week since the meeting.

“Some of them are already talking about the style of gates they want to put up,” he said.

Ty Keel, the city council’s representative on the golf board, said he agreed with the requirements, but he thought the course should wait to implement them until the 2018 golfing season, in order to give homeowners time to install fences if they need to. Cortez Parks and Recreation Director Dean Palmquist also said the city needs a plan to enforce the rules once they do go into effect.

Hale said he plans to draft an ordinance with the private access requirements and present it at the next city council meeting, which will be on Sept. 12.

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