Tim Barnes, the attorney who led the legal fight to restore the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course, has been hired by the Foothills Club West Association board as a counsel in its fight with a group of homeowners over their golf course.
Barnes last week filed notice with Maricopa County Superior Court that he is joining two lawyers from another firm who had been representing the board against the suit filed by the Club West Conservancy.
Barnes’ first appearance likely will be Jan. 22 before Superior Court Commissioner Andrew Russell on a hearing involving the Conservancy’s request to make permanent a temporary injunction that has stopped the board from taking any formal action on the next plan for the course by The Edge and its subsidiary Community Land Solutions.
The Edge bought the site from Wilson Gee on an installment plan for $750,000.
Neither the Edge nor CLS have yet unveiled its new plan to turn the course into a park with various amenities. To pay for that project, it has said it would need to sell parts of the course to a homebuilder.
The Edge’s first plan to restore the 18-hole course and sell three parts of it for the construction of 164 single- and two-story homes fell apart a year ago after the builder pulled out when community opposition arose.
The Conservancy represents a group of homeowners who oppose houses. It conducted a survey answered by about 800 of Club West’s approximate 2,600 homeowners that showed the vast majority of respondents oppose houses and would rather see the site remain in its current barren state.
Gee closed the course in June 2016 and it was briefly reopened in late 2017 when Richard Breuninger bought it. But Breuninger eventually fell behind on his monthly payments to Gee, who foreclosed on his $1 million note.
In papers filed last month, the board challenged the ruling of Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley, which focused on the way the board assume the declarant rights over the course. Those rights give the board considerable power in deciding the course’s future since it determines whether any plan for the site can go before homeowners for their approval.
The declarant rights also give the board the power to determine the percentage of homeowners who need to vote on any plan and the margin needed to declare the outcome of the vote.
Barnes will be working alongside attorneys Carlotta L. Turman and Jeffrey G. Solloway of the firm Carpenter, Hazelwood, Delgado & Bolen, LLP as the case moves forward.
Kiley is no longer presiding over the case after he was moved to another section of Superior Court under the court’s routine rotation of judges every year. A new judge has not yet been appointed so the case is before a trial commissioner, who holds many of the same powers as a judge.
Russell’s ruling on the Jan. 22 issues could determine whether a trial will be held as scheduled in February on the Conservancy’s challenge to the Club West HOA board’s assumption of the golf course’s declarant rights.
Barnes has represented Lakes homeowners Linda Swain and Eileen Breslin when they sued Gee in 2014 over his closing of the 18-hole executive course a year earlier.
Barnes represented the two homeowners in multiple hearings and a trial that consistently ended with orders to restore the course.
Currently, he is representing Swain and Breslin as they monitor his compliance with Superior Court Judge Theodore Campagnolo’s contempt order, which requires Gee to have the course opened for play by the fall of 2022 or pay $3.5 million in penalties.