AHWATUKEE, AZ - Land, lawsuits and a bitter HOA battle with $6.5 million on the line and it's all over the South Mountain Freeway Project.
Dietmar Hanke lives in the Foothills Reserve community near 27th Avenue and Chandler Blvd. He says he's determined to pump the brakes on the project, no matter the cost. He has piles of paperwork throughout his home, dozens of folders filled with ongoing litigation and claims.
"My goal is to test Prop 207 and stop the freeway," Hanke said.
He says it all boils down to protecting his home and his property.
"It's ruined the neighborhood, it's ruined the quality of life here, it's financially ruined my plans for the future," said Hanke.
However the Foothills Reserve HOA says Hanke's ongoing litigation is financially ruining them. Until his claims are resolved the HOA cannot access a $6.5 million settlement from ADOT. It is money the board says it needs now for various projects that will help ease the construction pains homeowners are facing.
The Foothills Reserve Master Home Owner's Association Board sent the following statement to ABC 15 regarding this issue:
"The Foothills Reserve HOA has reached an agreement with the State on the sale of our common areas, required for the Loop 202 project, that are under the process of condemnation. The State asked the Court for an award of immediate possession to the common areas. Our Association's attorney, Dale Zeitlin, and the Board did an outstanding job negotiating with the State as evidenced by a settlement worth three times the State's original offer. The settlement includes the value of certain "cost to cure" items. Our community's current southern perimeter walls and fences are located somewhere near the middle of what will be Loop 202. We must replace these walls for our residents, especially residents at the 'taking' line, or they will be looking at a barbed wire wildlife fence, water retention ponds, and freeway landscaping. We have a small window of opportunity to find a vendor to build the necessary wall and work with ADOT so that a barbed wire fence is not erected. Once the barbed wire fence is in place, we may not have the authority to take it out. So, we need access to our funds ASAP for the good of our membership. There are many other items that must be replaced for our members as well. Mr. Hanke's claims are obstructing the Association’s rights to access the funds as the State will not let the association have access to our settlement funds until all claims are resolved...even ones that have no merit. Thus, Mr. Hanke’s arguments—which the Court found have no merit—are detrimental to our community.
It's very important to understand that Mr. Hanke is absolutely free to pursue severance damages for his property due to the loss of the common areas, or for diminution to the value of his home due to the freeway. That's not what he's doing, regarding your queries. He is challenging the State's right to continue with their project (the Court has ruled that Hanke’s arguments have no merit) and the HOA's right to handle issues regarding the sale of our common areas which are owned solely by the HOA. He signed Declarations when he purchased his home giving the HOA's Board the authority to negotiate and sell common areas under the threat of condemnation by the State. He's trying to throw a wrench into that process. His actions are now harmful to our community. Our attorney has been empowered to do what is best for the membership and will do what is appropriate to protect them."
Still, Hanke says he will take this all the way to the national level if he has to, meaning the HOA will have to sit and wait.
"The most sacred interest well beyond civil liberties in the history of the western world is land," said Hanke.