STOW —  City legislators have rezoned the Fox Den golf course property as part of an effort to preserve green space.

Council on Oct. 24 voted 6 to 1 to rezone the golf course land from a residential classification to a conservation district. Council members Mike Rasor (At Large) and Sindi Harrison (Ward 2) spearheaded the effort to rezone the 137-acre property. 

Harrison said many area golf courses have closed in the last few years, and while she hopes Fox Den "keeps thriving," she said the rezoning is designed to prevent the land from being developed if the golf course is no longer there.

Council member Bob Adaska (Ward 4), who voted against the ordinance, said if the city rezones to a conservation designation and the golf course closes, Fox Den would be an expensive park. The upkeep of 137 acres alone without any money coming in would cost the city closer to $4 million, Adaska said.

"I think it's premature to rezone at this time," Adaska said. "It's still green space. It'll operate as a golf course awhile."

Rasor said 10 years ago Fox Den "hemorrhaged" money and debt.

"Why not rezone? If we wait until there is a threat, it's too late," Rasor said. "We have to keep that part of town green."

Many of the Fox Den neighbors spoke at a public hearing Oct. 24. Residents who addressed council said they didn't want a residential development built on the golf course land if it was some day sold by the city.

"A lot of people are affected by whatever happens to this property," said Dennis Lewis. "We've enjoyed the golf course."

He said he didn't want a residential development like Call Farm or the one near Stow Cafe where homes were built close together.

"Many people are attracted to green space, and we need to protect it," added Darlene Lewis.

Both Rasor and Harrison said they support the rezoning and other potential land use restrictions because they want to see more green space maintained.

Harrison said the proposal is also in line with feedback the city received when the comprehensive plan was reviewed in 2017.

"Most of [the residents we heard from] don’t want to see more housing development," said Harrison. "They want to see more green space maintained."

Fox Den Golf Course opened in 1966. The city bought Fox Den in 2006 for a price of $5.5 million. Finance Director John Baranek said the city owes approximately $3.6 million in connection with its purchase of Fox Den.

Editor’s note: Reporter Phil Keren contributed to this story.

Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or lfreeman@recordpub.com