Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development
It may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a huge win for our community. The ugly poles and nets were removed yesterday at the Evolution Sportsplex located at 141 S. Opdyke.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, back in 1984 an outdoor golf driving range was built on the site. Soon after a mobile home park was developed on the property adjacent to it. The result was the unintended land use conflict of golfers hitting balls through or over the netting into the neighborhood. The balls were damaging property and endangering people on a regular basis. Not good at all! The issue hit a boiling point in 2003/2004 when the City Council held a series of public hearings and seriously considered revoking the driving range permit. Operations improved after the crisis, but the activity remained a nuisance for the adjacent neighborhood.
In May 2012, the property was sold to Randy Stephens who has been working to develop it into a premier indoor sports training facility for soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse, and football utilizing the existing dome. He operated the controversial outdoor range to supplement his revenue stream, but as you can imagine the issues continued. Then, this past April the dome was destroyed in a big storm. It was a devastating event for this small business owner. Seeing what was happening, the City of Auburn Hills stepped in to help (read more by clicking here).
Over the past four months, the City has worked closely with Mr. Stephens to shut down and remove the outdoor range, and its associated nets and poles, in an effort to be a good neighbor. We also worked as a team, in consultation with the mobile home park, to help improve Mr. Stephen’s business with a new, larger dome. Weather permitting, the new dome is expected to be installed by Thanksgiving. Now, the troublesome problem is no more and the business will flourish.
It’s amazing what open communication can accomplish. A win-win for all.