SAVE THE LAKES GOLF COURSE
Please help stop a land grab
by real estate speculators in Ahwatukee,
a neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona.
Many of us opted to retire here because the golf course has a restricted deed: that is, the property can be used only as a golf course, which is intended to protect land set aside for stormwater management and to prevent speculators from swooping in to buy land, subdivide it for houses, and resell it for a windfall.
But that’s exactly what is about to happen.
This 103-acre "gem" was once rated one of the top ten executive golf courses in the country and it was a point of pride for our modest single-family retirement homes in the first master-planned community in the East Valley.
Our neighbors, Linda Swain and Eileen Breslin, filed a lawsuit in 2014 against the former owners who sold the property to developers, The True Life Companies, to stop them from violating the deed restriction on the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course, also known as The Lakes at Ahwatukee GC.
Thanks to the support of our community, its financial contributions, and an educational organization, Save the Lakes, of which many of us are members, Linda and Eileen have prevailed in court and with public opinion.
After his previous proposals met with widespread opposition, Wilson Gee (who in 2013 owned four golf courses within an 8-mile radius: Ahwatukee Lakes, Ahwatukee Country Club, The Foothills, and Club West) turned to The True Life Companies, a company that specializes in buying land for residential development.
Faced with unfavorable court rulings, True Life proposed a project crafted to have wide popular appeal, and it launched a costly public relations campaign to persuade homeowners to agree to change the golf course CC&Rs to permit development. (The deed restriction can be changed by majority vote of the 5078 homeowners.)
True Life's “concept” showed 300 single-family units, a farmer's market, a community garden, a private K-12 school, public buildings, cafe, with room left over for public recreation areas and nature. The “concept” was notably short on details that would be required in a written plan, such as parking. For example, the “concept drawings” show only a dozen parking spaces, if that, for all non-residential uses.
Few in the community have been swayed by the PR blitz, but the developers aren’t satisfied with accepting the public will. In the spring, they persuaded the judge to let them argue in court that the judge should modify the deed restriction with a new proposal by True Life to replace the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course.
The trial for deciding whether True Life can modify the deed restriction to replace the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course is set for October 24 through 26.
While we have prevailed so far with donations from our community, True Life's change in tactics is forcing us to look outside our community for additional financial support. Our community has worked hard in trying to keep up with our legal expenses so far, but the issues are now more complex and need more legal work. The issues require expert witnesses to rebut their claims that "golf is dead" and that the deterioration of the golf course by Wilson Gee should allow True Life to modify the deed restriction on the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course.
Our goal is to raise $10,000 to defray the legal expenses for the upcoming trial.
Fighting the developer is the right thing to do for many reasons. For one, the deed restriction is supposed to protect our property. The sales pitch has become all too familiar: a project that happens to benefit a few wealthy out-of-town investors looking for tax-advantaged returns will bring prosperity to all. Nothing could be further from the truth. All that our community gets are the unpleasant side effects of development.
Please donate via this gofundme page
or by mailing a check to:
Lakes Golf Course Legal Defense Fund
% Timothy H. Barnes, P.C.
428 E. Thunderbird Road, #150
Phoenix, AZ 85022
Donations made by check to the legal defense fund will be reflected on this gofundme page.
You may donate anonymously if you wish.
Victory is in sight! With your help, we can stop these land grabbers!
For details about the issues and the history of this case, please visit our website,
Save the Lakes / Save Open Space Ahwatukee
The judge has 60 calendar days to rule and it will take 1-5 days for the order to make its way through the system. We anticipate the ruling will come out on or before Jan. 12.
Please visualize the best possible outcome for The Lakes GC. The sale and speedy turnaround of Club West proves there are local businessmen who are watching and waiting to purchase and preserve special golf properties in Ahwatukee!
Gee closed The Lakes GC in May 2013.
We filed suit in October 2014.
The judge heard closing arguments Nov. 1, 2017.
On Weds., Nov. 1, attorneys Tim Barnes and Chris Baniszewski asked the honorable Judge John Hannah to rule in their clients' favor: we are asking the judge to enforce the golf course deed restriction by issuing an injunction ordering the owner to restore the course, The defendant, The True Life Companies, is asking the judge to amend the deed restriction to allow them to build on The Lakes GC, citing a "material" change.
Our attorney, Tim Barnes, was beyond magnificent. We couldn’t have had a more interested and devoted advocate.
I've never been involved in a lawsuit before, so I don't know if it's normal for attorneys and plaintiffs and expert witness became close and work together the way we have. Tim and Buddie Johnson did the heavy lifting. The rest of us contributed as we were able.
Fundraising is an important but frequently overlooked activity! This gofundme campaign was an 11th hour effort and I'm delighted and grateful for the response to our plea for financial support.
The matter now rests in our judge's very capable hands. Judge Hannah took copious notes, asked lots of questions of witnesses and attorneys, and treated attorneys and witnesses with respect and consideration.
Summing it up, this has been an incredible experience! It has been fun!
Thank you all for your support. Please visualize the best possible outcome!
Today was day 2 of our trial.
On day 1, attorneys Tim Barnes and Chris Chris Baniszewski made opening statements. Then, our attorney. Tim Barnes, set the stage by showing before and after (closure) photographs of The Lakes golf course taken by Ahwatukee homeowner/photographer Richard Strange (richpics.biz).
The following individuals have been in the witness box:
- Richard Strange (testimony read by Chris Barnes)
- Linda Swain
- Eileen Breslin
- Buddie Johnson - expert witness for plaintiffs
- Wilson Gee - former owner of The Lakes GC
Tomorrow, Chris Chris Baniszewski finishes questioning Buddie Johnson and will call their witnesses.
We anticipate the trial will wrap up next Weds.
About a dozen ABM homeowners have turned out to witness the goings on. The Judge is alert and attentive, has questioned every person in the witness box.
Thanks everyone for your moral and financial support. Please visualize the best possible outcome for our trial!