January 5, 2005
A court-ordered solution is expected soon to a legal dispute between the Carefree Town Council and a developer who wants to build a resort hotel in the town near its border with Scottsdale.
Attorneys for the town and a business partnership led by Valley developer Michael Peloquin argued their cases Tuesday before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Anna Baca.
Peloquin’s attorney, John Marcolini, said the council violated the developer’s rights by postponing a hearing on a request for a specialuse permit that would allow building of the 156-room boutique hotel and resort complex on 10 acres at Carefree Highway and Tom Darlington Road.
The council voted unanimously in November to hold off on a decision so it could seek a court ruling on Marcolini’s contention that the development group should be given the permit because it met all applicable stipulations set in the town’s general plan and zoning ordinance.
Mayor Ed Morgan told other council members he also did not want to make a decision at that time because Marcolini had made "implied threats" of litigation against council members if the permit was denied.
Town attorneys are arguing that granting a specialuse permit is up to the council, based on its determination of what is in the town’s best interest and not solely on whether general plan and zoning ordinances requirements are met.
Marcolini called the town’s move to seek a court ruling on the issue "a delay tactic."
He said it was motivated not by Carefree officials’ uncertainty about its latitude in decisions on special-use permits, but reflects the fact that "the mayor doesn’t like my client (Peloquin) . . . and my client doesn’t like the mayor."
Marcolini asked Baca to order the council to hold a hearing by Jan. 30.
Carefree attorneys Brad Woodford and Tom Chenal said the council had been considering Peloquin’s request using the same standards town officials have used in about 80 previous requests for special-use permits.
The council is prepared to schedule a hearing on Peloquin’s request after the court rules on how much discretion the council can legally exercise, the attorneys said.