Pima County faces $11 million claim over Valencia Road project

Developer: Officials reneged on deal to reroute Valencia Rd.
2013-04-01T00:00:00Z Pima County faces $11 million claim over Valencia Road projectDarren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A local developer has filed a claim for about $11 million in damages against the county over what he says is a politically motivated breach of contract.

Michael Farley, manager of Valencia Kolb Properties, alleges the county reneged on a deal that would have rerouted Valencia Road near Kolb Road because he actively campaigned against the four incumbent county supervisors who sought re-election last year, according to the claim.

Farley owns property at Valencia and Kolb and has been trying to get the intersection moved south of its current location for years. He also funded various political campaigns last year.

As a result, Farley is seeking a $10.2 million settlement for the breach of contract and $1 million for violating his constitutional rights. The notice of claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, was filed on March 21.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said he believes Farley is trying to get taxpayers to move Valencia Road, which bisects his property.

Huckelberry said Farley has been trying to get the road moved for three or four years.

The county "has bent over backwards," Huckelberry said, working on ways to make this plan work, but the numbers never added up.

"We looked at all the data," Huckelberry said. "It doesn't make sense financially. It doesn't make sense performancewise. ... It just didn't work out."

However, the county didn't make the decision to nix the new intersection, or trample Farley's constitutional rights or retaliate against him for his political beliefs, Huckelberry said.

He said the county recused itself from leading the project in October 2012 to avoid any conflict-of-interest allegations

"He's financing all these things ... to unseat the board, which is fine, but he created such an atmosphere that no matter what we did (on the road project) we would be declared biased. This was a no-win for us," Huckelberry said. "So we decided it would be best just to turn it over to the" Regional Transportation Authority, and it would be the decision-maker.

The claim asserts that even though the county wasn't the lead agency anymore, Huckelberry has encouraged the RTA to drop the new intersection.

On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com/politics to read more about local and state government.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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