A settlement agreement was reached this week between the owner of a defunct golf course and the city of Virginia Beach over how the property must be maintained.
But the terms of the agreement are irking a resident whose home backs up to the former Signature at West Neck golf course and has been singled out in the past for speaking out against the owner.
“It’s pretty much a travesty,” said Tom Luckman, who lives in the Villages at West Neck. “The city, in my view, they rolled over.”
The golf course, in the southern part of the city near Kellam High School, closed nearly three years ago, and a corporate entity named W.C. Capital bought it in 2020. The company has submitted a preliminary proposal to the city to redevelop it into a residential community.
The registered agent for W.C. Capital, Norfolk attorney John McIntyre, has previously declined to identify who owns the company, other than to say it’s someone who lives in Florida. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Eight residential villages surround the Arnold Palmer-designed course. Many of the residents bought homes that overlooked the neatly manicured fairways and cart paths.
But the golf course grounds quickly became overgrown with tall weeds when the course closed. Luckman and other residents who live in homes surrounding it complained to the new owner and the city last year.
When they didn’t get results, some residents took it upon themselves to mow the weeds that were creeping into their backyards.
Luckman and a couple of his neighbors were particularly vocal about their concerns and wrote letters to W.C. Capital. Then, a surprise showed up in their backyards.
W.C. Capital erected an 8-foot-tall, solid metal fence across the rear property line of three homes, including Luckman’s, last fall. The fence stops at one yard of a resident who didn’t raise concerns, and then starts again.
Luckman dubbed it a “spite fence,” and tried to have it removed, but ultimately the city approved it. The fence is still standing just beyond the property line of Luckman’s backyard.
Last summer, Virginia Beach sued W.C. Capital for not maintaining the golf course property. The lawsuit was scheduled for a bench trial this week, but both parties reached the agreement beforehand.
The agreement requires W.C. Capital only to landscape part of the property, and it allows the company to create a “vegetated buffer” between the residential homes and the fairways. It does not require the company to cut behind the residences.
W.C. Capital must trim and maintain vegetation on the flat portions of the former fairways, as well as certain areas along public rights of way. The agreement does not prohibit the company from building a fence to “protect the property,” according to the agreement.
Deputy City Attorney Christopher Boynton said this week that the agreement was reached after the company’s attorneys successfully argued that city code on excessive growth of weeds does not apply to parts of the former golf course property that are being used as an “active farming operation.”
W.C. Capital obtained a producers permit in 2020 and has harvested sod, according to Boynton. The company has also started a small tree farm in the center of the course.
“We felt like this was a resolution that allowed some portion of the property to be maintained, in particular these high traffic areas,” Boynton said.
Anyone who trespasses on the course could face a Class 1 misdemeanor, and W.C. Capital will be using security guards and electronic surveillance, according to a joint statement that accompanied the agreement.
The agreement also prohibits the city from trespassing to inspect for possible violations. Boynton said inspectors will observe from the public right of way.
“It’s not a total solution,” he said. “There are certain areas that aren’t visible to us.”
Luckman is less than thrilled with the outcome.
“It’s a shame that it got to this,” he said. “W.C. Capital won big time.”
Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, email@example.com