Developers' latest move a 'publicity stunt,' attorney says

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By Cindy Simpson

A red herring.

That’s what Harriman City Attorney Harold Balcom called a motion to dismiss filed for Site Inc., David Robinette, D-K Properties II LLC, Steve H. Kirkham, Jerry Duncan and Judy Duncan in a lawsuit and countersuit concerning who owes whom on a project involving public and private property.

“It is a public publicity stunt to indicate to the general public, ‘Oh, we can’t be held responsible,’” Balcom said.

“This motion is meaningless,” he added. “It has no basis in law and no basis in fact. It is being done as a red herring to the public.”

Kirkham and the Duncans are named in the suit because they own, individually or through D-K Properties, the land under the roadways in contention, Balcom said.

“That was to bring them into the lawsuit,” he added. “Prestige doesn’t own the land.”

Jerry Duncan and Kirkham are partners in Prestige Land Co., which developed the Pinnacle Pointe shopping center at Hwy. 70 and Interstate 40 in Midtown.

The city developed roadways in the shopping center. If there is no plan to turn over those roadways, Balcom said it would be reasonable for the city to be reimbursed the money spent on infrastructure.

“If you don’t want to give it to us, then you have to pay us for the improvements,” an impassioned Balcom said. “We can sue them for this, because they own the land on which the freaking improvements sit.”

Attorney Jim Scott represents the Duncans, Kirkham and their interests. He said he doesn’t interpret the counter-complaint that way and denied it was some sort of publicity tactic.

“It isn’t about any sort of posturing,” Scott said.

A state audit in 2007 said the city was owed $234,685 by Prestige. City officials contend an engineering study shows they are owed much more.

Prestige’s legal representatives counter that it’s the developers who are owed money. They filed the first suit against the city, asking for millions.

The city, in turn, filed a counter-complaint asking for a judgment to reimburse money spent on private property, reimbursement for money spent on the roadways and other public improvements, or for those  improvements themselves.

Scott and Balcom agree on one thing: the resolution of this issue is probably some time away.

If it goes to trial, Scott said it could be two years before a final resolution.

“My clients are willing to take (the issue) all the way to the Supreme Court on appeal,” he said. “We do think we’re in a good position.”