Monday, May 26, 2008

Painted Hills Melee Goes to Court

Posted By on Mon, May 26, 2008 at 4:17 PM

Heads-up from Friends of Painted Hills: They need your support tomorrow when Judge Xavier Chon-Lopez hears a cross-motion for a summary judgment filed by developers of a proposed project--still making its way through Pima County Developmental Services--that could put 260 houses on 286 acres on the Painted Hills.

The hearing takes place in Room 774 at Pima County Superior Court at 10:30 a.m. The hearing is part of the lawsuit filed by Painted Hills residents against Pima County. The residents claim their rights were denied by the county when it failed to adequately notify them of the pending approval of the development.

TDB Tucson Group, the Dallas developer, is an affected third party in the lawsuit, and according to Friends of Painted Hills, it is within its right to request a summary judgment. Expect to hear legal arguments presented by both sides and formal presentations by the plaintiffs and others. Friends of Painted Hills say TDB may walk away from the third party summary judgment disappointed:

"...the outcome of that judgment may, in fact, not be what TDB expects or wants given the plaintiffs' very solid claim that their constitutional due process rights were denied by (Pima County) in its complete failure to adequately notify them of the pending approval of the development."

After the Tucson Weekly last talked with Friends of Painted Hills reps, the Pima County Board of Supervisors on April 8 requested that staff contract with an independent lawyer to determine if the county can legally make cluster-ordinance revisions retroactive. If approved, any retroactive maneuvering could end the Painted Hills development.

This month the county retained Paul Loucks of Mesch, Clark and Rothschild to advise them on the feasibility and legality of retroactively applying procedural changes to the cluster ordinance to 2007. According to Friends of Painted Hills, retroactivity would make their lawsuit moot, as the county would have to go back and adequately notify affected property owners, and would give them standing to appeal the Design Review Committee's past decisions.