MARTINEZ -- The quiet at Pine Meadows Golf Course may be a reflection of changing times.
Course co-owner Christine Coward Dean says business has dropped off dramatically since three public workshops on a DeNova Homes plan for new residences on the course site.
Some neighbors are against building new homes and others worry that the course would close before building is approved.
"They feared it would become an attractive nuisance. I am keeping the course open because I promised the neighbors I would," Dean said.
Dean, a retiree, lives across the street from the course her father built 59 years ago, and grew up in the neighborhood.
According to Dean, golf course owners across the country have been caught in a market with an increased number of courses, decreased interest in the sport and a languishing economy.
"There is no appreciable income in a golf course unless it is part of a community center like Boundary Oak," she said.
Although a two-year-old survey showed that only about 38 percent of the course clientele is from Martinez, Dean says she has some loyal local patrons.
Martinez resident Richard Dyoe's group was one of two on the course at 10:30 a.m. Monday.
"I have a standing reservation to golf with friends at 7:30 a.m. four days a week," Dyoe said. "I've been coming here for 15 years. I don't know where else I will go."
Dean and her siblings have been wrestling with the golf course dilemma since their father became seriously ill in 2005. Both of their parents needed costly care before they passed away, leaving the declining business on a 29.5-acre property, to their heirs.
Reluctantly, they decided to sell to a residential developer after a two-year effort to sell to city of Martinez failed, and there were no offers from golf course operators, Dean explained.
They thought if it had to be homes, it should be in keeping with their father's legacy.
"We approached five developers that we had researched," she recalled. "Dave Sanson (DeNova Homes CEO) worked with us about what our vision is: single-family homes with big backyards, at least one-third being single story and handicapped-accessible. He did not fight us in our vision."
DeNova Homes is now revising plans, according to the results of meetings with the public and city planners. Sanson said neighbors did not want a high-density, multistory type of development either.
Normally a property of that size could accommodate 120 or more homes, and the current proposal is for 99. Open spaces have been created to help sustain views from surrounding neighborhood perspectives, according to Sanson. And part of that is a landscaped meandering path buffer between new houses and Vine Hill Road.
Sanson said that stormwater runoff can be a problem for surrounding properties, and development improvements will manage and clean stormwater on site.
Martinez Planning Manager Dina Tasini reported that city planners asked Sanson to move the existing golf course entrance to another location because neighbors across the street have been impacted by traffic in the past.
According to Sanson, another satisfactory location with no residences across the street has been found. Plan modifications have not been resubmitted, but Tasini said residents will be notified when they are ready, before the next public meeting.
About 40 percent of the homes are planned as single story, and the overall size of all of homes are expected to range from 1,800 to 3,400-square-feet, Sanson said.
"There is a lot of interest in homes for active adults and not much provided elsewhere. "
The Vine Hill (old golf course site) housing plan calls for removal of 47 trees, which is always a concern. Sanson hastened to say that most of them are older Monterey pines and eucalyptus, some of which have blocked neighboring views.
Regardless of that, he said DeNova normally replaces trees at a three, or even five-to-one ratio. There are two oaks that will be replaced at a higher ratio.
Environmental studies on nesting birds and a check for red-legged frogs are being prepared, and if all of the revisions and reports are available, there may be another public meeting by early October, according to Tasini.
"We have an extensive list of interested residents, and we will be notifying them and all adjacent neighbors two weeks ahead of any public meetings," she said.
"We know that it is not going to be perfect and we will continue to work with the community," Sanson said.
Contact Dana Guzzetti at email@example.com or call 925-202-9292.