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Community Interest

ALACHUA – The City of Alachua has prevailed in a seven-year litigation with the developer of the Heritage Oaks commercial and residential development adjacent to Santa Fe High School on U.S. Highway 441.

“On March 9, less than 24 hours after presenting its argument before the First District Court of Appeal, the City received an opinion upholding the final judgment rendered in favor of the City by the trial court,” said Alachua Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari in a press release.

The case has undergone several twists and turns, including the City's appeal of the original results of a jury trial in which $3.9 million was awarded to developer John Curtis, Jr. on the grounds that the City interfered in the development of the subdivision.

Curtis was forced to abandon the project after the City banned him from working on the subdivision.

In the case, Heritage Oaks residents were able to show the damages that had occurred to their homes since he left the project, noting sagging roofs and unpaved roads as some of the issues that the development faced, according to reports.

Curtis alleged the city breached contract and interfered with the development. The trial called attention to issues relating to quality of construction, such as improperly paved roads. Photos at the trial showed that wastewater pipes had been repaired using duct tape.

According to reports filed by the court, Judge Hulslander set the jury verdict aside and called for an appeal because he felt that the City did not interfere with the construction, said David Theriaque, attorney for the City handling the lawsuit.

“He believed the jury verdict form was flawed and that a new trial needed to be held,” Theriaque said at that time. “It invalidates the $3.9 million jury verdict.”

The judge then made a summary judgment in favor of the City, which was upheld March 9 by the Florida District Court of Appeals after they heard attorneys from both sides present their cases.

“The City is pleased with the Court's decision and the conclusion of the lawsuit,” said Boukari.

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