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New Plans For Escondido Country Club Property Divide Community

Photo by Alison St John

The site of the former Escondido Country Club golf course, where a development called "The Villages" is proposed, July 3, 2017.

Residents living around the former Escondido Country Club golf course vehemently disagree over a new plan to build houses on the now-dried-up greens. Some newer residents say it is time to stop fighting and let the blighted golf course be developed.

Residents living around the former Escondido Country Club golf course vehemently disagree over a new plan to build houses on the now-dried-up greens. Some newer residents say it is time to stop fighting and let the blighted golf course be developed.

Escondido residents have 45 days to comment on the new plan called "The Villages," which would build 392 homes on the 110 acres of open space that were once the country club.

Developer Michael Schlesinger bought the golf course in 2012 and promptly closed it, saying it was not viable. He stopped watering it and the greens went brown. He lost any hope of public support when he spread chicken manure on the fairways with the smell alienating nearby residents.

Schlesinger’s handed over the future plans to another developer, New Urban West.

There are still numerous yard signs for Escondido Country Club Homeowners Organization, or ECCHO,, the homeowners group that opposed developing the property. Mike Slater, spokesman for ECCHO, said it was designated open space under the master plan 50 years ago. He said the group has given up the dream of restoring some of the land to a smaller golf course. But, they believe the maximum number of homes that could be built there is 158, Slater said.

However, a new residents’ group called Renew Our Country Club, or ROCC, supports the new plan.

Miles Grimes moved into the neighborhood early last year.

“I think ECCHO’s efforts have been very valiant and noble — they’ve fought off a bully in Michael Schlesigner,” he said. “And what I’m afraid of is that ECCHO is scaring off a good thing."

Grimes said New Urban West’s plan will increase property values for existing residents. He said if 158 homes were the limit, they would have to sell for a $1 million each and there is no market for that in the Escondido neighborhood. He said 392 new homes is reasonable.

“You know, the developer has to make a living,” he said. “Plus the amenities — the clubhouse, the community gardens, the gym, the four miles of trails with pocket parks scattered throughout. That is a really good deal.”

Grimes said he is afraid if this plan fails, the land could revert to old zoning laws that would allow 600 homes to be built on the property.

The Escondido Planning Commission may vote on the plan this fall.

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