A Phoenix Municipal Court judge on Monday levied $165,000 in fines on The True Life Companies for leaving the defunct Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course in a deplorable state for months.
The fines came on 66 citations against True Life that represented a total 132 charges with possible fines of $100 to $2,500 for each charge.
After hearing oral arguments from both parties, the judge imposed maximum fines on all charges but stipulated that the two fines on each citation were to run concurrent, resulting in the $165,000 total.
“We’re really pleased with this and with the work that (city Code Compliance Manager) Bob Lozier has done on this case,” said Sam Stone, chief of staff to city Councilman Sal DiCiccio.
The developer already is on the hook for $20,000 in fines after it was found guilty of leaving the defunct 101-acre site in a shoddy state for months earlier this year.
The violations that drew the latest fines covered inspectors’ observations of the site between April 23 and May 25. A June 20 arraignment has been set.
Some Lakes homeowners for months expressed concern that the dry brush and trees – besides creating an eyesore – also posed a fire hazard that threatens homes near the course.
Lozier had told DiCiccio earlier this year that his staff had been “monitoring the property multiple days weekly” for three weeks because of the numerous complaints about uncut vegetation and garbage that DiCiccio’s office has received from Lakes homeowners.
When the violations were filed, Eileen Breslin, one of the Lakes residents who sued True Life to get the golf course restored, said, “The neighborhood has spoken repeatedly. The court has spoken decisively, and with the fines, the city has spoken with resolve. What is it the developers do not understand?”
Wilson Gee, the former golf course owner, has foreclosed on an $8.1 million note he gave True Life when it bought the property in 2015 and now again owns the 101-acre site that he closed in 2013.
And although he has insisted the site will not be restored as a golf course, Gee said he intended to keep the property clean.
Even before the foreclosure became official, Gee weeks ago had sent crews out to clean the site.
It’s unclear whether True Life can be forced to pay the fines or whether the developer intends to appeal them to a higher court.
But Stone said the court’s action “sends a strong message to whoever owns or will own that golf course.”
“Whoever owns it has to maintain a basically decent condition,” he said, praising the neighbors who cooperated with city officials in prosecuting True Life.