Steve Ellman will continue to fight to keep his Los Arcos redevelopment deal with Scottsdale off the March ballot despite a judge’s rejection Monday of Ellman’s request to halt the referendum.
Ellman attorney James T. Braselton of Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre and Friedlander in Phoenix said he plans to file another motion — possibly as early as today — for the same request with the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division 1, in Phoenix.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Schwartz refused Ellman’s request to stop the Los Arcos Town Center agreement from appearing on Scottsdale’s March 9 general election ballot since the case is being appealed.
Louis Schmitt of the Scottsdale Taxpayers Oppose Paying for Ellman’s Mistakes said the developer is simply trying to delay Proposition 300 from being decided in a citywide vote. The group is pushing for a public vote on the Ellman/ Scottsdale redevelopment agreement.
"I just cannot believe that this gentleman doesn’t get the picture that he has no standing and that his appeal will be denied," Schmitt said. "The only reason I can see why he is doing it is to create diversion."
Bob Kaufman, a senior vice president for The Ellman Cos., defended the company’s actions.
"We’ve been at this for any number of years so that’s bunk," Kaufman said in response to group’s claims that The Ellman Cos. is trying to delay a public vote.
Braselton said it is the developer’s right to file the motion in another court, similar to a patient seeking a second doctor’s opinion. "We would like to do this as soon as possible so we know whether the election should go forward," he said.
Proposition 300 will ask voters whether they want to overturn a City Council decision in July that would grant Ellman up to $36.75 million, plus interest, in sales tax revenue generated from his proposed Los Arcos Town Center project at Scottsdale and McDowell roads.
The deal could stretch over 40 years and result in up to $183 million for Ellman, who plans to have a Wal-Mart Supercenter, Lowe’s Home Improvement Center, Sam’s Club and neighborhood shops built at the former Los Arcos Mall site. The project will encompass 42 acres and Scottsdale would get ownership to a parking garage to be built in the center of the Los Arcos Town Center.
"I don’t know why he’s doing it. I think he’s just throwing things at the wall hoping something will stick," Schmitt said.
The opposition group is financially backed by grocery stores opposed to the subsidy.
The Scottsdale city clerk could wait as late as mid-January to have the March 9 ballots printed. If the appeals court rules in favor of Ellman after the ballots are printed, the Los Arcos votes would not be counted.
The next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 7 in the state Court of Appeals in Phoenix.
"We’re in the middle of an election right now as far as I’m concerned," said the groups attorney Tom Irvine, referring to the pamphlets and ballot language developed for Proposition 300.
Postponing a referendum to November 2004 — 1 1 /2 years after the council’s July redevelopment deal — would be "absurd," Irvine added.
"As far as we’re concerned, they just want delay," Irvine said. "They must think their chances get better as people’s memories dim."
In October, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge decided the Los Arcos redevelopment deal could be subject to a public vote. The city and Ellman argued that it was not a referable item. Ellman appealed that decision, but the city did not.
"We’ve got a good project. We’ve got a good plan. It’s the only plan on the table," Kaufman said. "We’re going to fight for it."