The fight that pits scores of Club West homeowners against their HOA board and the new owners of the golf course intensified this week as the nonprofit that oppose s homes on the ravaged site asked a judge to stop any further efforts to advance a plan for the property until at least October.
The Club West Conservancy asked Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley on Monday to grant a temporary restraining order preventing the HOA board and the course owners from trying to put a new proposal for the site’s development up for a homeowners vote until at least October, when the judge has scheduled a hearing on a longer ban pending a possible trial next year.
A hearing on the request that was to be held July 6 was postponed after Club West’s lawyer fell ill. Lawyers and the judge were to meet later this week to discuss a new date.
The HOA board lost its effort to have Kiley dismiss the Conservancy’s lawsuit on grounds that it lacked standing despite the fact it comprises only Club West homeowners. The Conservancy is challenging the board’s assumption of the course’s “declarant rights,” which give the board a greater say over how any owner of the Club West site can develop the property.
The Conservancy contends that any action involving the course must obtain the approval of 75 percent of Club West’s approximate 2,700 homeowners. The board disputes that contention.
The Conservancy also is seeking an injunction barring the board from having anything to with the course’s owners. Kiley has set a hearing on that motion for October and has indicated that if he grants the injunction, the Conservancy’s lawsuit would likely be scheduled for a trial next February.
But the temporary restraining order sought by the Conservancy would bar the board from taking any further steps on the course owners’ efforts to put their own plan for the site before the homeowners for a vote.
The Conservancy is seeking a restraining order after its attorney, Francis Slavin, unsuccessfully tried to get the board to halt any further action pending the outcome of the October hearing.
In its request for the restraining order, the Conservancy says the board’s refusal to wait until October sets the stage for “some act in violations of the rights of the” Conservancy that would render a ruling on its lawsuit “ineffectual.”
The board wants Kiley to throw out the request for the restraining order.
Board attorney Scott Carpenter again raised the issue of standing in his request for dismissal and also said the Conservancy’s “notions are merely speculative and do not establish actual, concrete harm.”
He also says the course owner is a dues-paying member of the homeowners association and that the board has a right to discuss plans for the site.
“The golf course has been dead for many months and the association’s membership wants this property to be discussed,” the dismissal request states, stating the Conservancy comprises only a “subset of homeowners” and that a restraining order “strips the entire community of its right to be involved in the future of property which contains membership rights in the Association.”
Meanwhile, the owners – who bought the course from Wilson Gee and renamed it the Park at Club West – last week announced through the high-powered public relations firm of Rose+Moser+Allyn Public and Online Relations and that they have changed their name from The Edge to Community Land Solutions.
The press release said Community Land Solutions is getting a landscape architect for the project and that their goal “is for a maximum amount of new park and open space along with responsible and minimal development.”
The release quoted one of the partners in the ownership group – which now numbers three men instead of the original four who were part of The Edge – but makes no mention of houses.
“We are neighbors first. We want to bring new green and open spaces to the shuttered Club West Golf Course. Our plans are community minded and will raise property values,” the release quoted co-owner Matt Shearer.
“CLS and the Neighborhood Committee are meeting on a weekly basis with the goal of distributing an initial draft park plan to the Club West Community for additional input, the release said, promising “the process includes significant time for community feedback, presentations to the HOA and homeowners, additional open houses and community events, a homeowners’ vote and approvals from the city of Phoenix.”
“We want open and transparent dialogues with all our neighbors and remain optimistic in uniting the community with a sustainable solution that removes uncertainty and enhances property values. There is still a lot of misinformation surrounding the future redevelopment plans for the property. We are confident that the current planning process will allow us to proceed with constructive discussions based on facts,” Shearer said in the release. It identified the other two CLS principals as Bill McManus and Mike Hare.
CLS also formed a “neighborhood committee” that the release said would be studying how other golf course communities in other states reinvented themselves when the course tanked.
The committee itself stirred some controversy last week when the Club HOA board disassociated itself from the panel.
The controversy started when the board issued a statement to homeowners after its June 25 monthly meeting that said the new owners “requested an opportunity to meet with interested homeowners to participate on an advisory team.
“The board agreed to facilitate this request by emailing an announcement and call for volunteers to the community at large. We sent the request to all 1500 Plus emails in our list of members of the community,” the communique went on, explaining how it asked respondents to its call for volunteers “to identify three things they would like to see accomplished.”
Conservancy President Matt Tyler said he and some fellow members submitted their names for consideration but none were picked and most did not even get the survey the board alluded to.
On July 1, several days after its first communication to homeowners, the board sent out another message apologizing for “any confusion our previous communications have created.”
“First and foremost, this is not a HOA sponsored committee,” it stated, saying the course owner asked the board to facilitate a way of reaching homeowners for volunteers for the CLS committee. The board also said it denied CLS a request for its list of homeowners’ emails and said, “We applaud the new owners’ attempt to include the community in discussing their property.”
In an affidavit filed with the board’s request to dismiss the restraining order request, board President Mike Hinz said Conservancy members “seek to engage in discussion with the current owner of the golf course regarding potential plans for the golf course property’s future while at the same time attempting to enjoin the Association from examining those options.”
Hinz disputed the Conservancy’s characterization of the board’s assumption of declarant rights. He also said any development of the site “would necessitate a much more arduous process than what the plaintiff references” in its request for a restraining order.
Hinz’s affidavit said any development would require “a chain of democratic events, including a special meeting called and noticed for a vote by the membership, the need for any city approvals and a possible increase in fees, which would come in the form of a special assessment levied by the Association.”