Decade-long Dispute Over Eden Isle Development Could End in Pulaski County Court

After almost a decade, a legal dispute between two real estate developers in Heber Springs is still playing out, and this week a court hearing will determine whether or not the battle will continue.

On one side: Dick Upton, owner of the Red Apple Inn & Country Club at Eden Isle near Heber Springs and husband of Patti Upton, founder of Aromatique.

On the other side: Windsong Enterprises Inc. of North Little Rock, a real estate group chaired by Ron McKenzie.

The dispute, in short: In 2004, Upton’s development company, UDC LLC, obtained from Windsong part of an Eden Isle subdivision — called the Harbor Trace Addition — and spent “substantial sums of money” developing the property. Upton built two, duplex patio homes that have since sold, and the addition still has four undeveloped lots.

But in 2007, McKenzie informed Upton that the documents allowing Upton to develop Harbor Trace had less than the required 50 percent of subdivision owners’ signatures. This meant Upton could lose the titles to the property he bought.

By 2008, Windsong had filed in Cleburne County Circuit Court to void the part of the agreement that ensured Upton’s ownership of the titles.

But Upton didn’t discover that filing until 2012. He complained to the Arkansas Real Estate Commission that Windsong had misled him, but it was turned down because more than three years had passed between Windsong’s filing and the complaint.

So in 2013, Upton filed a petition, this time in Pulaski County Circuit Court, for judicial review of AREC’s ruling.

In the petition, he stressed that voiding the titles would mean the Harbor Trace Homeowners Association would lose money and wouldn’t be able to perform its obligations to the neighborhood.

In July, however, AREC moved to dismiss Upton’s petition, claiming he didn’t have the right to a judicial review. Upton is represented by Stuart Hankins.

That brings us to this week. On Tuesday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce has scheduled a hearing on AREC’s motion to dismiss.