CLO Abandons Suit, Development, and Park Land

by Stephen on 09/25/2015

 

Twenty months ago the Commissioners of the Land Office (CLO) filed suit against Pointe Vista Development for breach of contract.  In 2008, they sponsored the developer’s purchase of 758 acres of Lake Texoma State Park in exchange for a contract to build a four star hotel and convention center, condominiums and other housing.

Last week Governor Fallin announced they had dropped their lawsuit against Pointe Vista.  They opted for an out-of-court settlement which will leave Pointe Vista with all but 50 of the 758  acres.  They will relieve Pointe Vista of their contracted hotel and convention center which were the reasons the park land was sold in the first place.  Plus, they will pursue additional 1,122 acre federal land transfer including the remainder of the park and public campgrounds, on Pointe Vista’s behalf.

The CLO’s independent legal counsel, Connor & Winters, claimed the CLO wanted to either move the project forward, or take back the undeveloped park land.  It appears that was all an elaborate charade.

The first court hearing was in May, 2014, in Oklahoma County District Court.  Judge Roger Stuart denied Pointe Vista’s motion to dismiss most of the suit.  He ordered both sides to focus on “specific performance” during the first phase of the suit.  The CLO attorneys claimed that having the right to order Pointe Vista to move forward with construction (specific performance) was not a true remedy.

However, this was the only remedy in the Pointe Vista Purchase Agreements written by their attorneys at McAfee & Taft and signed by the CLO in 2008.  (Areas A & B land sales)  Judge Stuart ordered attorneys for both sides to create a hearing “Scheduling Order” which they did ten months later.

CLO & Pointe Vista Conspire to Bypass Trial

Last March, the attorneys agreed to the 2015/2016 Scheduling Order.  Pointe Vista announced that the Oklahoma Tourism Department would join them as co-defendants.  Pointe Vista also wants to remove restrictions (“lis pendens”) on land tracts which they purchased which would allow them to sell former state park land under litigation.  Judge Stuart ordered the parties to move forward with Mediation.

In June, attorneys for both sides agreed to a one month extension to accommodate mediation. I asked, “Are the state land commissioners going to prosecute the case and possibly take back Lake Texoma State Park?  Or are they preparing to sell us out?”

Pointe Vista’s Claim for Area C was Geared toward Mediation.  Pointe Vista claimed that the state contracted to sell an additional 1,122 acres ( “Area C”) of Lake Texoma State Park and adjacent undeveloped shoreline acreage south of the park.  They claimed that the state failed to provide Pointe Vista with Area C.  Therefore, the state caused the delay in construction.  Without Area C, Pointe Vista said they could not fully realize the ultimate value of the project.

CLO attorneys stated the contract for Area C was not theirs.  They had provided Pointe Vista with the 758 acres required for the Lake Texoma Redevelopment.  The June, 2008,  contract for Area C was between Pointe Vista and the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department (OTRD).  The CLO claimed they are different agencies, and Pointe Vista is treating them as if they are one and the same.

Tourism, Pointe Vista have no rights to Area C Federal Land

Pointe Vista and the Tourism Department initiated the required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in September, 2009 to study the transfer (sale) of Area C from the federal government to the state.  Later, Pointe Vista refused to pay the $2 million for the EIS.  The Corps of Engineers said Pointe Vista and Tourism put the EIS “on hold” in 2011 before a Draft EIS was ever contracted.

The limited scope 2005 Environmental Assessment prior to the first federal land transfer did not provide environmental approvals for the sale of Areas A or B purchased by Pointe Vista.  When Pointe Vista abandoned the 2009 EIS, they left themselves without any environmental approvals for constructing a hotel, convention center or rental town homes.  This creates a problem with “specific performance.” Is this why the CLO plans to release Pointe Vista from their development contract?

Pointe Vista and Tourism know the contract for Area C had nothing to do with the state land commission.  Regardless, Pointe Vista filed notice that Tourism would join them as a co-defendant in the case.

“Tourism” Defends Pointe Vista During Settlement

Tourism general counsel Claudia Conner disputed that. “June 30, 2015 has passed and Tourism has not been joined as a party. In fact, Tourism has never been a party to the any action involving Commissioners of the Land Office and Pointe Vista Development.” (Durant Democrat, 7/11/15)

If so, why was Tourism a party to the settlement defending Pointe Vista’s contract for Area C?

Why did the CLO agree to pursue the Area C federal land transfer on Pointe Vista’s behalf, and allow Pointe Vista to void their contract for the hotel and convention center, and keep 700 acres of the park land?

Pointe Vista’s court filings were intended to establish the terms of the settlement, not the trial.  The CLO abandoned what Pointe Vista claimed was the state’s “sole remedy” of specific performance when they dropped the suit.  They allowed McAfee & Taft, Tourism and Pointe Vista to dictate the terms of a settlement.

The question now is, will Judge Stuart approve such a betrayal of the state taxpayers?

Previous post:

Next post: