Status of CFSD Lawsuit
The La Paloma Property Owners Association (“LPPOA”) is charged with
maintaining the safe use of the Common Areas. Primarily, this involves the use of
the road system throughout La Paloma. Although the Catalina Foothills Unified
School District (“CFSD”) initially offered $52,000 to access Campo Abierto while
being exempt from contribution of future fees, and the Judgment was, ultimately,
$346,416, the amount of just compensation is not the more important issue.
LPPOA's ability to compel a safer design for an intersection was lost. CFSD
acquired the south portion of Campo Abierto (north of Sunrise Drive) in fee, which
obviates LPPOA's ability to require design concessions. LPPOA's suggestions such
as right-out-only to avoid northern or incoming traffic from cutting across the
existing traffic lane were rejected by CFSD.
Thus, the case proceeded to trial on the issue of just compensation with the
Judgment entered in 2014. The appeal was taken contending CFSD does not have
the right to condemn the street as that right is limited to the state, city, and county
governments. Notwithstanding, the Court of Appeals felt that this portion of
Campo Abierto could be viewed as CFSD's “buildings and grounds,” thus the
condemnation acquisition was proper. There are a number of other issues,
including the fact that the State of Arizona owns Block 22, the one-acre commercial
parcel adjacent to Campo Abierto and CFSD cannot proceed with condemnation
against State Trust Lands. Thus, there were issues unresolved by the Court of
Appeals that also needed to be addressed.
The Court of Appeals has recently been requested to reconsider its decision, but it
would be highly unlikely they will do so. Nevertheless, they have been requested to
do so and after the Court of Appeals enters its final decision, which should be soon
forthcoming, a Petition for Review will be filed with the Arizona Supreme Court.
This is, after all, an issue of state-wide concern which should be addressed by our
highest court. Certainly, everyone should recall the degree of controversy raised on
a national level when the City of New London, Connecticut, sought to acquire
property for a questionable objective which, although allowed by the Court, never
came to fruition even though the homeowners were displaced. It is the opinion of
LPPOA that the power of eminent domain is similarly in question here.