Horse trail enemies

Don SorchychIf you are one of the few subscribers to the far left Arizona Republic you may have read an inaccurate and libelous article by a Phillip Haldiman about my gift of property to Cave Creek. Haldiman should be at the National Enquirer since he quoted from the lawsuit’s plaintiff’s attorney and people protecting their back side.

Here are the facts except for sensitive information in the lawsuits. The gaps will be filled in later issues. I am situated on a .6 mile private road in northwest Cave Creek. I purchased my home on 10 acres in 2000 from Jerry Foster.
The private road was primitive, much like other private roads in Arizona and required little maintenance since it was hardpan and rocks. The road crosses Cave Creek and we often had to use our tractor to open the roadway after a flood.

Gerald Freeman, who apparently was a Caterpillar salesman from Peoria, Illinois, bought the thirty acres to the west of me which was purchased for a song (according to his wife) from the RTC in 1991.

Freeman moved into the area in about 2003 and planned a house but to get Rural Metro approval he substantially altered the road and tried to charge me half of what he spent. He sued and as the years went by he added more and more costs and demanded payment.

Both he and his wife said, under oath, that I had encouraged them to build so they could help maintain the road. Those statements were lies. The lies continue in court that I am harassing him. I put my vacant five acres up for sale for $695,000. He immediately placed a sign on Old Stage Road (the reference to Arizona Law was added later.)

When Cahava Springs, owner of the property where the sign was placed, wrote a letter to tell him to take the sign down, he threatened to add them to the lawsuit so they sat back. My realtor told me it was impossible to sell not only because of the sign but we would have to disclose an unfriendly neighbor. So thanks to Freeman, I had no chance to sell during a hot market and the property value has since dropped by over 60 percent.

When Freeman began blading the road Town attorney Bill Farrell told him to seek approval from underlying landowners. He sued the town and the town, to stop the lawsuit, stated they had no jurisdiction over private roads. He later lost in Federal Court when he sought attorney’s fees.

Our case went to mediation and we won on all counts. It then went to superior court and we won again. When asked by presiding judge Ed Ballinger if he would have spent the amount on road building if I wasn’t living there, Freeman replied he would have.

Freeman then appealed and the case was heard by a three person panel of obvious liberal slant. Even though there was no road maintenance agreement, or law supporting cost sharing for maintenance, they ruled it was a matter of equity, and remanded the case to superior court to decide who paid what. This decision was obviously ruling from the bench which Judge Ballinger had refused to do. You will hear about these three appeal court judges when they are up for retention by voters.

By the way, thousands upon thousands of people statewide are at risk of the same treatment by the court, who bought their homes depending on existing law.

We appealed to the state supreme court and they refused to hear the case. We went through another mediation and could not come to what we felt was an equitable agreement.
Freeman filed another lawsuit claiming he has exclusive rights to the easement across my property and even I as the property owner would be denied its use. It is interesting the case is being heard in Mesa near Freeman’s attorney’s office and my attorney and I have to make a two hour round trip to attend court hearings.

Attempts to dismiss the case were unsuccessful and both parties have filed for summary judgment.

While this was going on, discussions which had gone on for years continued about donating the 33 feet on my property to the town, which would accomplish two things, a horse and hiking trail and eventually a public road connecting Old Stage Road and 48th street. This would allow escape to the west in case of Cave Creek lengthy flooding, which has happened. Freeman has access to 48th Street but has blocked my access to 48th Street by piles of huge boulders and cactus. The pile of the boulders is on Cahava Springs property without their permission.

So, I donated the property and the council passed the gift on a consent agenda. Freeman’s attorney notified the judge, who was not pleased. I believe that not only did many people at town hall know, but rather than fess up to the knowledge, they and the council threw Usama under the bus. In an executive session town council apparently told the town attorney to ask us to accept the property back and we have agreed and will continue the lawsuit to its conclusion. In no way did we gift our property to escape the lawsuit or to pass the problem to the town.

Will I donate the land again when we win the lawsuit? It depends on the sincerity of the council’s apology. If you are contemplating a gift of land to Cave Creek, talk to me first.
If you drive Morning Star Road between Spur Cross Road and Old Stage Road, look to the north and see a completed horse and hiking trail. It was intended to connect to the private road mentioned here and extend to 48th Street. The key is an agreement with Cahava Springs and the town was prepared to continue last week but was stopped by council because, as usual, Freeman threatened to sue. Council has the courage of the lion in the Wizard of Oz or Jimmy Carter.

And why do we have a town manager form of government when council micro manages the positive things he is doing for the town? I hope ten gallon hats fill the council chambers in the next council meeting. You can bet the dark side will be there in force, thinking they detect blood.

Show them how wrong they are!