The Ardmore Development Authority board of trustees voted unanimously during its Monday afternoon meeting to move forward on legal action in an issue pertaining to ownership of a water tower.
Following an executive session, a motion was approved to authorize the ADA to enter into a joint cooperative agreement with the Ardmore Public Works Authority, with each party reserving any claims they may have with each other in order to prosecute their respective rights against IMTEC Real Estate LLC.
During the executive session, David Cheek of Cheek & Falcone PLLC, gave the results of research and analysis that had been conducted during the past 60 days.
"After conducting the research and analysis, the ADA believes there to have been an agreement between itself, the city and IMTEC Real Estate," said ADA interim president and CEO Brian Carter.
Carter said the agreement consisted of the ADA's sale of the property to the APWA. The APWA committed to construction of an access road and parking lot for IMTEC, and the APWA would use the land for a water tower.
Following approval of the motion, there was an agenda item for consideration and possible action to authorize and confirm the engagement of David A. Cheek and the law firm of Cheek & Falcone PLLC as legal counsel to the ADA.
Vice chairman Gary Farabough voiced opposition to the item because of unanswered questions regarding the procedure of hiring Cheek, as well as a conflict of interest, saying he wanted to look into it further. He said he wanted to know what the insurance company said regarding an error and omission report, and that he had not received answers to his issues.
Carter said the conflict of interest stems from Cheek's representation of a bank involved in a condemnation legal issue with Highway 53 LLC, and that Cheek has offered to recuse himself.
Carter also said the board opted to notify its insurance company, and that it was the first time it had been briefed on the water tower issue. Carter said the email Farabough had sent the ADA asked if the same issue with the insurance company "could possibly relate to the condemnation as well."
"I'm okay with tabling the issue," Carter said. "It's important that we address the issues."
Chairman James Chambers added that it was important that a vote be unanimous.
The board also tabled an agenda item in which the ADA would have engaged the services of the Center for Economic Development Law as economic legal counsel. James Dan Batchelor, chairman, gave a presentation highlighting the number of significant projects in which the firm has been involved, and why Ardmore stood out as a potential client.
"There is one thing we do," Batchelor said. "We are entirely focused on economic development and redevelopment in communities in Oklahoma."
Batchelor said there are three special things about Ardmore. Those are:
• Substantial history of success in development
• It is in the top tier of communities positioned for exemplary success
• What is done in Ardmore is significant to Oklahoma
The firm's purpose would be to review foundational documents and business practices, and make recommendations. It would also review existing projects, make recommendations for any changes and review potential future projects.
Engaging the firm was tabled following questions from Farabough. He asked about the rates charged by the firm, which Batchelor said range from $45 to $300 per hour. The lowest rate is for legal assistants, while the firm's attorneys charge $195 to $300 per hour.
Farabough also asked about the size of the communities with which the firm has relationships.
"Lawton is the closest in size," Batchelor said. "We don't have one your size, but we have done smaller and we have done larger."