2002: PGA nixes San Antonio project, cites community protests

Under pressure from intense community activism, the PGA of America Aug. 1 announced it is withdrawing plans to develop a major resort village in northern San Antonio – officially derailing a project the PGA had pursued for the better part of the year.

The decision is a major victory for a coalition of project opponents, especially since its persistent protests, in essence, overturned development plans that previously had won approval from the San Antonio City Council.

Following a grass-roots signature-collection campaign opposing the PGA Resort Village, the city council was readying to put the issue to a public vote on a November referendum ballot. At the heart of the conflict: Opponents maintained that the PGA Village would expose the city’s sole source of water – Edward’s Aquifer – to the hazards of course runoff and other pollutants; Lumbermen’s Investment Corp., the PGA’s development partner, insisted such issues would be addressed by a technically advanced drainage system.

“The PGA has been supportive of the desire to protect the environment and the aquifer as outlined in the development agreement,” said PGA chief executive officer Jim Awtrey in a letter addressed to Lumbermen’s. “The PGA does not wish to be involved in an issue that is creating so much controversy and divisiveness within the San Antonio community.”

Initially, city council voted 9-to-2 on April 4 in favor of constructing three courses, two luxury hotels and more than 3,000 residential units in northern Bexar County. In June, opposition groups presented 79,000 signatures against the project to get the issue on a referendum ballot and potentially overrule the city council’s decision. However, nearly a third of those signatures were ruled invalid by the city clerk. Opponents then filed a suit against the city, alleging unfair disqualification – and proceeded to gather even more signatures to meet the 63,000 minimum needed to secure a spot on the ballot. They were waiting word about their qualification when the PGA announced its withdrawal.

Awtrey did say that, in the future, if San Antonio and Lumbermen’s resolve their concerns regarding development of the North Bexar County property, the PGA would be interested in revisiting the partnership.

Though PGA officials had previously mentioned that other cities had expressed interest in the resort project, they declined Aug. 1 to discuss alternative locations. m

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