The former Skyline Woods golf course must be maintained to look like a golf course but isn't required to be operated as one, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday. In a unanimous opinion, the court ruled that developer David Broekemeier, who bought the course in 2005 to develop into condominiums, was bound by covenants that restrict use of the property as a golf course. The 25-page ruling was a victory for homeowners, who argued they purchased their homes at premium prices because of the proximity to a golf course. Their attorney, Jim Sherrets, said the ruling leaves a golf course as the property's only viable use.
"Any logical person would conclude that if you have to make it waddle and quack like a duck, you have to make it a duck," he said.
Broekemeier and his attorney, David Domina, didn't immediately return calls. Friday's ruling comes after a four-year feud between the developer and owners of about 90 homes surrounding the course near 217th Street and West Dodge Road. Broekemeier and his firm, Liberty Building Corp., bought the property from a bankruptcy court in 2005 and informed course members he was not bound by previous membership contracts.
Broekemeier closed the course after a year and argued that he purchased it "free and clear" of any prior restrictions and covenants. The Skyline Woods Homeowners Association sued, contending Broekemeier had violated the protective covenants and let the course become "a real eyesore." The homeowners won a ruling in Douglas County District Court. A year ago, Broekemeier was held in contempt of court for failing to maintain the grass in accordance with a seven-step maintenance agreement.
The Supreme Court rejected Broekemeier's appeal that the golf course covenant was not properly recorded and thus invalid. The court noted that Broekemeier himself had promoted the sale of adjacent lots he owned as being near the golf course. The court ruled the covenant was too narrow to require that the land be operated as a golf course. Broekemeier put the golf course and about 135 acres of other land up for sale last spring for $32.8 million. Sherrets said the price was unreasonably high.
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