Arbitration may end standoff

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Pinnacle Pointe problems holding up further development

By Cindy Simpson

Harriman City Council may go into arbitration over the conflict between the city and Pinnacle Pointe shopping complex developers.
At issue is whether public money was spent on private enterprise or whether the city owes developers instead.
“I think we need to get it over with. I think it would speed up the progress in Midtown a lot,” said Councilman J.D. Sampson.He said developers Steve Kirkham and Jerry Duncan believe the city is against them.
“Both parties have made good money off the Lowe’s project down there. I think we need to move forward and get this thing resolved,” Sampson added.
The conflict between the city and developers first arose after a state audit found the city paid $234,685 of public funds on private development.
The developers filed suit first asking for $1.9 million, which included the cost of the land under the roadways in the shopping complex.
The roadways the city paved themselves are part of the contention.
City officials contend the roads should belong to the city, and developers saying they should be reimbursed for the the land beneath the roads. Since then, both parties have said they may be owed in the millions.
Harriman Mayor Chris Mason said city attorney Harold Balcom had talked to the developers’ attorney, Jim Scott, and both agreed they needed to have a mediator present.
Council members discussed negotiations as binding arbitration — which means both parties would have to accept the decision of the arbitrator.
City officials asked that the developers be questioned about whether they are agreeable to that before moving forward.
“Binding arbitration is exactly what I’m proposing,” Councilman Ken Mynatt said.
Mediation, which is not binding, has been tried before.
“Mediation was a failure last time. Maybe it would be more successful this time,” Treasurer Charles Kerley said.
Kerley recommended taking mediation in steps; for instance, establishing what issues need to be addressed first.
Balcom said the trial has yet to be scheduled, and attorneys are still taking deposition.