A Superior Court judge has issued his final order in the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course case and directed the current and former owners to pay more than $170,000 in fees to the lawyer who won the case.
Judge John Hannah last week said The True Life Companies must pay attorney Tim Barnes about $130,000 and former owner Wilson Gee another $42,000 for his work in representing Ahwatukee Lakes residents Linda Swain and Eileen Breslin in their four-year fight to have the defunct 101-acre site restored as a golf course.
Hannah also ruled that True Life “breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing implied in the 1992 Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions” governing the use of the site, which was shut down in 2013 by Gee.
He also ruled that the course owners “shall operate a golf course” and that they “shall provide information concerning the restoration of the golf course to the plaintiffs, their attorneys and representatives and to any other benefitted persons upon reasonable request” so that they can “determine whether the property owners are complying with the permanent injunction.”
The judge’s final order came as no surprise, since he had filed two weeks ago a lengthy court record indicating his intention.
But the order now paves the way for a possible appeal by True Life, and even Gee.
True Life, which has declined comment on the case, has until Aug. 21 to pay Gee the $8.1 million it agreed on when it signed a note to but the course in 2015.
The company fought a year-long battle to get enough of the 5,400 Ahwatukee Lakes homeowners to agree to a change in the CC&Rs that would allow it to build an “agrihood” that included 270 single- and two-family homes, a five-acre farm, private school and various amenities. Just prior to the trial last October, True Life offered to build a small “fun course” if residents allowed the houses.
True Life’s expert has put the cost of restoring the course at around $14 million – more than twice the estimated cost the plaintiffs’ experts have estimated.
The case is far from over – and so is a final resolution of what will happen on the site.
Gee said last month he’ll appeal Hannah’s ruling if he ends up owning the course again. He contends the site will never be a golf course again.
Meanwhile. True Life also faces a possible Phoenix Municipal Court hearing over 66 code violations filed by city inspectors over the site’s condition in May. Overgrowth, weeds and other issues were cited in the complaints.