Past articles

Past articles

October 24 trial scheduled for True Life challenge to Lakes Golf Course CC&Rs

The trial on The True Life Co.’s attempt to have a judge void the CC&Rs that stand in the way of its Ahwatukee Farms development concept is scheduled for Oct. 24 through 26. Judge John Hannah will hear oral arguments in October about why changed economic circumstances should nullify the CC&Rs. The judge’s decision is expected sometime after that.

In April, True Life persuaded the judge to allow it to argue in court that changed economic conditions made the CC&Rs impossible to follow.  True Life is expected to argue that the course can never operate at a profit, so the CC&R restriction as a golf course should be voided. Removing that restriction would dramatically increase the re-sale value for the owners of the golf course land, but would leave a host of economic and quality-of-life costs for the community. True Life claims that new development will increase property values in Ahwatukee, a claim for which it has offered no evidence.

What is a fact is that uncertainty about the prospect of crowded in-fill houses has depressed property values near the course between 10 and 25 percent; True Life apparently embarked on a strategy to have a judge overrule the property owners’ wishes after True Life had failed in its attempt to collect enough signatures to change the CC&Rs according to the method outlined in the CC&Rs themselves.   True Life had been scrambling to collect signatures from at least half of the residents of the so-called “benefitted area” before a June 2017 court hearing. 

The hearing was supposed to determine what True Life would have to do to restore the course and operate it as a golf course, but that issue was not decided. The hearing was canceled because True Life was pursuing the second legal strategy. The CC&Rs state that the CC&Rs can be changed by majority approval, and that was what True Life attempted to do until this spring.

The issue is a legal contract called the Covenants Conditions and Restrictions that restrict the property to use as a golf course. The CC&Rs are a contract between the golf course owners and the owners of real estate in the benefited area, which includes all the sub-associations within the Ahwatukee Board of Management umbrella. CC&Rs set rules about what can and can’t be done with their property. The CC&Rs, for example, wouldn’t let someone operate a grocery store in their home.

In May 2016, in response to a breach of contract lawsuit brought by property owners Linda W. Swain and Eileen T. Breslin, the judge affirmed that the CC&Rs are valid and mean that the land can be used only for a golf course.

The same CC&Rs, adopted in 1992, apply to the Lakes Golf Course and the Ahwatukee Country Club.  The “benefited parties”  -- that is, the property owners who benefit from the open space and recreation  -- are  homeowners who live in the area approximately from South Mountain east to the Interstate 10 Freeway, and from Elliott Road south to Knox Road.  This is basically the same as area in the sub-associations under the ABM.   About 5,200 property owners are in the “benefitted area.”