Monroe tees off on golf range owner’s faulty nets

By Leslie Moriarty

Herald Writer

MONROE —- Halloween can be a scary day. But for Young Kim, owner of the Iron Eagle driving range, this Halloween carries a particularly scary deadline.

By Wednesday, Kim must repair the holes in the netting at his driving range or possibly face being closed by the city.

City officials say they sent him a letter in September telling him to make the repairs or face closure by Oct. 31. Kim, who said he didn’t receive the letter until it was hand-delivered by a police department employee on Thursday, has yet to make any fixes and says he won’t.

"The city is the one who is responsible for all of this," Kim said.

It’s all part of a battle with neighbors who have gone to the city council to complain about golf balls flying into their cars, windows, yards and, sometimes, even at them and their children.

In 1989, Kim received an extraordinary use permit to operate a golf driving range. After he began operating, houses were built around the facility.

That is why, Kim said, the city is responsible for the current situation.

"They let those houses be built there knowing I was next door," he said. "The city owns this problem."

Community development director Hiller West said copies of the letter, dated Sept. 24, were sent by regular and certified mail to Kim on Sept. 24. He said the city stands by the Oct. 31 deadline and expects Kim to have the nets repaired by then or face further action.

"We will be out there on Thursday to inspect," West said. "If the holes are not repaired and if the nets are not tightened up to protect neighboring properties, we will be looking at what our next option is."

Cindi Howard, who lives near the driving range, has asked the city to yank Kim’s permit to operate. She said Kim is not living up to the conditions set out in the permit, which require proper nets.

"To me it just doesn’t seem that unfair to ask Kim to operate by the requirements of his own permit," she said.

The battle has also stressed others’ nerves. Recently, Monroe City Council member Ken Berger wrote to Kim informing him that he needs to stop faxing information to Berger’s law office or face harassment charges.

Berger said he has received hundreds of pages of faxes in past months from Kim that have "tied up my business fax" and prevented him from earning a living.

"I’m pretty tolerant," Berger said. "But there is a limit to what can be taken. And he’s reached that point."

Kim said he is faxing Berger because he feels Berger has spoken publicly about him and has "damaged my name and my business."

Kim, who said he wants to see a peaceful solution to the golf ball battle, has suggested that the city buy his property for use as a park. But city officials say the $6 million price tag is out of line.

Kim said the only other peaceful solution is to have the city pay for net repairs, which he says will run in the thousands of dollars.

"Otherwise, the city should just tell the homeowners to put up screens on their properties to protect themselves," Kim said.

You can call Herald Writer Leslie Moriarty at 425-339-3436

or send e-mail to moriarty@heraldnet.com.

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