New claims in disagreement over Saguaro Ranch easement - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

New claims in disagreement over Saguaro Ranch easement

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Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:14 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Through their attorney, two residents of unincorporated Pima County have requested that the Town of Marana attorney’s office file felony kidnapping or misdemeanor unlawful imprisonment charges against the manager of McClintock’s restaurant at Saguaro Ranch.

Attorney Stephen M. Weeks, representing Steven J. Blomquist and Sharyl V. Cummings, husband and wife, asked Marana Town Attorney Frank Cassidy to file the charges, alleging that, on Dec. 14, McClintock’s manager Justin Fuhrman blocked a public easement with a vehicle, preventing the plaintiffs from leaving the area and detaining them against their will.

Cassidy said he forwarded the request, along with an initial police report, to the Pima County Attorney’s office for action.

“The main reason we passed it along to Pima County is that the allegations relate to a claimed felony and this office doesn’t handle felonies, only misdemeanors, so there’s no reason for us to get the e-mail in the first place,” Cassidy said.

In addition, Cassidy noted the allegations themselves revolve around the easement abandoned by the town, which is subject to litigation.

“It would be a conflict of interest for us to get involved,” Cassidy added.

But Cassidy’s request was sent back to Marana by David Berkman, chief criminal deputy Pima County attorney, who said his office ordinarily doesn’t look at cases based on the material he received.

“We need someone from Marana, a detective or police officer, to bring us the case,” Berkman said. “That’s the standard procedure.”

Jane Fairall, Marana deputy town attorney, confirmed the material had been returned to the town attorney’s office. She said she would be speaking with the sergeant in charge of the Marana Police Department’s criminal investigation unit about the issue, and let that unit proceed from there.

“Typically, a police officer takes a report and then can either file the case or forward it to the criminal investigation unit for further review,” Fairall said. “It does not appear that Officer (Raymond) Garcia (the police officer making the report) forwarded it to them.”

Officer’s report

Garcia’s report indicated that when he arrived at McClintock’s, he observed a white vehicle blocking a dirt road, and that Blomquist alleged his vehicle was being blocked, preventing him from going home on the public easement.

Garcia’s report further noted he spoke with Fuhrman, who stated the vehicle could not be removed for several hours. Marana Police Sgt. Terry Evans responded to the scene and spoke to all parties involved, the report stated, at which time Fuhrman moved his vehicle, allowing Blomquist to leave.

Weeks said McClintock’s “did the same thing to another of my clients after they did it to Steve and Sharyl, and they are doing it to harass them on property they don’t own.

“My ultimate goal is to accomplish them leaving my clients alone,” Weeks said.

Civil rights suit pending

Blomquist has a federal civil rights lawsuit pending against Marana and several of its employees, including Cassidy, former police chief Terry Tometich, several police officers and unnamed town officials, stemming from his Nov. 13 arrest for trespassing and disorderly conduct at McClintock’s restaurant in Saguaro Ranch and his subsequent incarceration in Pima County Jail.

At that time, Blomquist walked the route of an easement abandoned by the town earlier in the year, then mounted the steps to the patio of McClintock’s restaurant where he sat down at a table. Blomquist contends that McClintock’s is built partially on the abandoned public easement, and that Marana had no rights to abandon the easement in the first place.

The lawsuit states that Blomquist was greeted cordially by McClintock’s staff and served a beer, which was later taken away from him after telephone calls were made to unknown parties and to 9-1-1. Shortly thereafter, police officers arrived, spoke with McClintock’s staff and later arrested Blomquist, handcuffed him and sent him to jail.

Other cases

Blomquist and Cummings have tangled with the town and Saguaro Ranch in the past, in three instances having criminal trespass cases filed against them for trespassing on the former public easement abandoned by Marana. Those cases, after transfer from Marana to Oro Valley Municipal Court, were dismissed with prejudice.

The cases were transferred to Oro Valley because Blomquist, Cummings, Theresa Chamberlain and Timothy Blowers had filed a civil lawsuit against Marana, alleging the town had no right to abandon the public easement.

The civil lawsuit seeks to have the court determine the easement is still a valid public easement for ingress and egress by members of the public, and to prevent the town from citing the public for trespassing for attempting to use the easement.

The four individuals also are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Saguaro Ranch owner Stephen Phinny, who they say began blocking access to the easement in early 2008.

Weeks said the easement, essentially a loop road, has been used since the 1960s by the property owners in the area to get into what is now Tortolita Mountain Park. Another access to the park is off Como Road on the east side of the Saguaro Ranch development.

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