Road Kill

An innocuous road near Sedona is all that remains of Ken Parker's dream of a grand resort. Now Yavapai County is joining megadeveloper SunCor to take that away, too--with the county providing condemnation powers and SunCor paying the bills.

"It's going to be a great development," Brandin says. "[Ken] Parker lost a lot of money on this place. This is his last gasp of getting money out of it. And I don't blame him for that."

But Brandin and the homeowners association have endorsed SunCor's development agreement with the county. The homeowners took that step, however, only after SunCor sent a letter promising to indemnify them against litigation.

The road Ken Parker built has drawn a dozen people to the courtroom of Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Cates. The condemnation case has been moved to Phoenix because Yavapai County is one of the litigants.

Ken Parker is waiting for the proceedings to begin. On this day, he and his attorney, Chuck Hultstrand, will try to convince Judge Cates that the entrance road is worth millions of dollars. Yavapai County, on the other hand, has an appraiser who will testify that the road's only worth about $126,000.

Yavapai County--and SunCor, which is paying the bills--hopes to convince Judge Cates that the road is worth the appraiser's $126,000 estimate. If it succeeds, Cates will set a bond at that amount, which the county will have to pay. Of course, SunCor will actually provide the money.

When possession of the road is taken by the county, the money will be paid to the road's owner. According to the bankruptcy court, that owner is SunCor. So SunCor may end up paying itself $126,000 for its own road, which would then be dedicated to the county for public use.

But if Ken Parker can prove in his bankruptcy appeal that he's the rightful owner of the road, then he'd get the $126,000.

It's a far cry from the $5 million Parker says the road is worth.
But by the time Parker could win such a bankruptcy appeal, the road will have been condemned, and he won't be in a position to negotiate.

SunCor has the upper hand.
But Parker is undeterred. As he awaits his turn to testify, he pulls out his wallet to show off the copy of Psalm 35 he carries with him. It's surprisingly litigious in tone:

"Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: Fight against them that fight against me."

At this point, divine intervention may be Ken Parker's best chance for victory.

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