DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Detroit officials have rejected a proposal to turn a church-owned golf course into a cemetery, which would have been the city’s first in decades.

The Detroit Memorial Park Association has been in talks since last spring to purchase the 120-acre, 18-hole New Rogell Golf Course from Greater Grace Temple and convert the land into a burial ground — but they were waiting for approval from state regulators.

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This week, building officials denied the request because they said converting the recreational property, located along 7 Mile Road between Berg and Lahser roads, wouldn’t be in the city’s best interests. They also cited concerns about diminishing property values and traffic in the area.

Detroit Memorial Park Association General Manager Wilbur Hughes III called the decision “disappointing,” telling the Detroit News he plans to file an appeal.

“(The cemetery is) something that’s needed. Currently, it is not a golf course. It is closed,” Hughes said. “Hopefully upon review, the city will find a reason to change their decision.”

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Greater Grace Temple bought the golf course from the city for $2.5 million in 2007 but closed it last May, saying the operation had never been profitable. Bishop Charles Ellis III said they had been spending up to $100,000 annually just to keep the course open.

“(Bishop Ellis) has no intention for it to be a golf course,” Hughes said. “He maintains it beautiful, but it will not be a golf course. We are the perfect company to come in and provide services and move forward with the project.”

Prior to being shut down, the golf course was one of the city’s oldest links. It was founded in 1914 by philanthropist Max Fisher and other prominent business leaders.

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