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Survey claims opposition to SunLand golf course assessment

A survey of SunLand property owners by a group calling itself Sunland-Facts shows 80 percent don't want to pay a proposed $300 annual assessment for golf course maintenance.

Supporters of the proposed assessment didn't have much to say regarding the survey results except that the sample size is small and the group is entitled to its opinion.

In a September e-mail to SunLand Owners Association homeowners, the country club's board of directors proposed charging each of SunLand's residences $300 per year for golf course maintenance.

Results of the December mail survey of 750 SunLand residents were distributed Monday, Jan. 4, by SunLand resident Jim Karr.

People were asked, "If you have formed an opinion regarding the proposed $300 per year (SunLand Owners Association) assessment to fund the budget deficit of the SunLand Golf and Country Club, please indicate your preference below."

A total of 167 out of 210 respondents, or 80 percent, opposed the assessment while 43 respondents, or 20 percent, supported it.



Golfers dwindling

The country club has only 195 members. The club's membership has declined 50 percent since 2001, including 48 members who have left since February 2009.

Property owners opposing the assessment include homeowners living on and off the golf course as well as members and nonmembers of the SunLand Golf & Country Club, according to the results.

Karr noted the apparently low return rate but wrote, "Research on mail surveys in election forecasting showed that surveys with a lower response rates (near 20 percent) yielded more accurate measurements than did surveys with higher response rates (near 60 percent or 70 percent).

"In short, the Sunland-Facts survey result of four opposed for each endorsement sends a strong signal about homeowner attitudes on the proposed assessment."

Karr also wrote that the 167 opposing the proposed assessment represent 95 percent of the streets and cul-de-sacs in SunLand and that 78 percent live in SunLand and not SunLand North.



Opponents' letter

A letter opposing the assessment or other financial aid for the golf club was signed by 118 property owners, including 50 who also responded to the survey, according to Karr.

Many of the remaining 68 said they would not return the survey because they already had stated their opposition by signing the letter, he wrote.

"That fact indicates that the 4:1 ratio may be conservative."

SunLand Golf & Country Club President Jim Ratliff said Monday, "I can't say much about it; their data is their data. It's a small sample and they acknowledge that. I don't know what else to say."

A statistical analysis of a golf course closure's impact on property values will be available in a few days and the decision regarding the assessment eventually will be made by the members, he said.

The dispute also has created dueling Web sites, with "SunLand Preservation Project" on sunlandgolf.com being countered by Chuck Howerton's "SLOA Just Say No" at drchuckgd.com.



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