The Mount Prospect Park District failed to win village board support Tuesday for a proposed 75-foot-tall net for its future driving range at the Mount Prospect Golf Club, forcing officials there to decide whether to pursue scheduled renovations without it.
Although three of six village trustees, along with Village President Arlene Juracek, voted in favor of the netting, the measure failed to win the supermajority needed to overcome a negative recommendation from the planning and zoning commission.
"We are going to have to look at the layout of the range and then determine, I guess, what our options are," Park District Executive Director Greg Kuhs said after the vote.
The park district had been seeking a zoning variation that would allow it to exceed the 30-foot height limit written into village zoning regulations. Officials say the netting would prevent golf balls hit on a planned new driving range from leaving the facility and potentially damaging neighboring properties. Neighbors, however, opposed the plan, saying it would be an eyesore and lower property values.
District officials argued Tuesday that the netting would provide safety, while the driving range itself, moved to a better location, would be more attractive to users and benefit high school players and others learning the game.
Village board members registered concerns not only about aesthetics, in particular the number of trees that would need to be removed, but also whether there would be enough parking to accommodate users.
Trustee John Matuszak summed up his concerns with a photograph he took of a driving range in Glenview that showed a bleak landscape dominated by netting and poles. He was joined in opposition to the proposal by trustees Steven Polit and Richard Rogers.
"You can see dead on it's pretty hideous," Matuszak said.
But Dave Esler, golf course designer, said the Glenview facility is not similar to what the Mount Prospect range would look like.
"We do not have 70 percent of that photographic condition," he said. "We have mature landscaping that will fit into the existing mature vegetation 300 to 600 feet away from existing neighbors' backyards."
Kuhs said the park district also has discussed the possibility of putting in additional fast-growing tall trees on the outside of the net to provide a better shield.
Joining Juracek in voting for the zoning variance were trustees A. John Korn, Michael Zadel and Paul Hoefert.
"If the golf course doesn't keep up, it's going to die," Juracek said. "And I know there are a lot of people who like a friendly neighborhood golf course. It may not be a friendly neighborhood golf course in 25 years, if in fact they are not able to accommodate a longer game, further hit balls and the training."
The new driving range is part of a larger $6 million plan to renovate the golf course at 600 S. See Gwun Ave. The plan also includes replacement of the course's irrigation and drainage systems, construction of a new maintenance structure and the redesign of select holes.