Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another episode from "What's Wrong with the American Legal System?"

After over two years, "Rackham must remain a golf course, appeals court rules" (Detroit News).

Seriously, it took more than 700 days, a court case, and then an appeal of that court case, along with who knows how many thousands and thousands of dollars of legal fees and court costs to figure this out?

Anyone who can read should have been able to solve this in 30 seconds, just by reading the original deed restrictions:

Q: What are the underlying deed restrictions on Rackham?
A: There are two deed restrictions in place on the Rackham property.
  1. The first was put in place in 1922 by the Baker Land Company. Baker developed the Bronx subdivision within Huntington Woods (the land between 10 and 11 mile and Scotia and Wyoming). Its deed states Rackham must be used “only as a public park or golf course or for other similar purposes.” It wanted a golf course here because it wisely understood that a golf course makes a city more attractive to potential residents.
  2. The second deed restriction was put in place in 1924 by Horace and Mary Rackham. This deed restriction says that the property must be used as a “public golf course for the use of the public…” If the parameters in the deed restriction are not upheld, then the property is to revert to the control of the Rackham heirs. If the Rackham heirs take back the golf course, we believe the Baker Land Company Deed restriction remains in place although this issue is currently the subject of litigation.
This all started because the clowns known as the Detroit City Council wanted to sell the golf course back in July, 2006. (ref) But that didn't stop Detroit from putting it up for sale, asking for a minimum of $6.25 million with the restriction that it must remain a golf course. If the buyer does not keep it a golf course, the price increases to over $11 million. (ref)

Oh, and in the cash strapped city of Huntington Woods, "City Manager Alex Allie said the city has spent $175,000 on legal and administrative costs to block attempts by the city of Detroit to sell Rackham to developers." (Detroit News article det27612135) This was back in December, 2006. I'm sure they have wasted away even more money by now.

And don't think the heirs of Horace and Mary Rackham weren't above whoreing themselves out for money either. "The Rackham heirs may lift their family's development ban on the Rackham Golf Course -- for the right price." (Detroit News article det24273400 of June 22, 2006).

In fairness, some of the heirs did do the right thing, including the Rackhams' great-great-nephew, R. Leigh Frackelton Jr., and Zera Patterson, who said "It's very simple: We would like the golf course to stay the way it is and be available to everybody," (Detroit News Article det22648050 of July 11, 2008)

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