BY REBECCA PALMER
FARMINGTON — The owner of 72-acre plot of land next door to Farmington Station is “not getting his way and trying to bully and intimidate both staff and councilmembers,” said City Manager Dave Millheim.
The latest such tactic, according to Millheim, was the lawsuit filed against the city and its officers last week.
The complaint filing, submitted in behalf of The Haws Company, alleges that Farmington has blocked progress on the development by refusing to accept applications or return phone calls, among other things.
If built, the project would be known as Park Lane Commons and could include fast food eateries, a drug and alcohol treatment center, offices, shops, housing and much more.
However, the property is not zoned for such a use. Unless that designation is changed, The Haws Company can’t file paperwork such as a master plan for its project, and can’t start construction, said The Haws Company attorney Kevin Anderson.
After the lawsuit was filed, Millheim said it is untrue that his office has refused applications and phone calls, but it is true that the city won’t process applications from The Haws Group the city deems incomplete.
“Show me one thing on the public record that shows any of these allegations Р there are none,” Millheim said. “It’s a tactic. It’s right out of a developer playbook and, unfortunately, it’s not going to work.”
Farmington City has been working with The Haws Group and its Vice President Scott Harwood for at least 17 years, when Harwood started accumulating property for the Farmington Station development. He later sold the land to CenterCal, which owns and operates the retail center.
Millheim believes The Haws Company will lose in court, but understands the frustration, he said.
“For many years, they got everything they wanted when they wanted it,” Millheim said. “Now the city is being more careful.”
That increased carefulness is being applied to all issues in the city, and is necessary because of how the city is growing, the city manager added.
“We really want to work with everybody, but everybody means everybody and it doesn’t mean one group is favored more than another,” Millheim said. “Its absolutely silly to think that’s how the process works. It is just really unfortunate.”
Farmington looks forward to having the issue play out in court, where strict rules of evidence apply, Millheim said. The next step will be for the city’s attorneys to file a response with the court.
Until that happens, Millheim declined to comment on specific allegations such as theft of property, discrimination and violations of due process.
“There’s a lot of anger in there Р obviously this group is very unhappy with the city and I think I understand why,” Millheim said. “I just don’t think anger and meanness is a way to solve problems.”