The private water war between the City of Dallas and Prestonwood Country Club became public at Wednesday’s Dallas City Council meeting as a councilman accused the club of stealing Dallas water for the past 25 years.
“It’s just not right, and I hope everyone here today will support me in saying let’s go back to the negotiation table with them,” Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs said.
City Council members had been briefed about the issue in a closed-door executive session last week. Griggs went public with the details Wednesday before a scheduled vote on part of a settlement deal with Prestonwood.
The private country club has two golf courses. The Hills Course is in Plano near Plano Parkway and Midway Road. The Creek course is in North Dallas near Arapaho and Preston.
A resident complained about the rapid decline of Indian Creek running The Hills Course in Plano, which led to a state investigation that confirmed the club had been improperly using the creek to irrigate the golf course for years.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality fined Prestonwood $1,600 in 2012.
Dallas owns the rights to that water - which could have been worth an estimated $600,000, if Prestonwood had been charged for it. City officials could not prove exactly how much Prestonwood had used.
The Dallas City Council was expected to vote Wednesday to start charging Prestonwood $46,013 a year for the water.
Another part of the deal would permit the city to run a new water line through Prestonwood’s North Dallas golf course, at no cost, in exchange for past water use.
But Griggs said Prestonwood would be getting far too good a deal.
Griggs complained the golf course land is valued at $250,000 an acre in a city appraisal. However, Prestonwood recently claimed the land is worth only $32,000 in property tax appraisal appeals.
“They’re having it both ways and the people that loose are the people of the City of Dallas.” Griggs said. “This Prestonwood Golf Club steals our water for 25 years, avoids paying taxes, and now tries to reach into our pocket and take more money.”
Councilman Dwaine Caraway sided with Griggs.
Caraway said citizens face tough penalties if they misuse Dallas water and he accused city officials of going easy on Prestonwood.
“I expect for you all to roll up your sleeves and fight long and hard on behalf of the taxpayers,” Caraway said.
Several council members accused Griggs of grandstanding.
Griggs is an attorney and council member Vonciel Hill, who is also an attorney, said lawyers should keep legal negotiations behind closed doors.
“Prestonwood Country Club is a corporate citizen who pays their taxes,” Hill said. “That is totally, utterly unnecessary, inappropriate and should not happen.”
In the end, the Dallas City Council voted 9 to 5 in favor of Griggs’ motion to seek a better deal with Prestonwood.
Prestonwood Vice President and General Manager Brian Keelan provided an e-mail statement:
“We’re certain we will find a positive resolution to all aspects of this. We have been working diligently with all parties to find an amicable solution that’s fair and equitable to everyone.”