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Resident files to stop annexation

DEWEY – "A day late and a dollar short" may be the epitaph for an attempt to stop Prescott Valley's annexation of state trust land in Dewey. An individual complaint filed in the county court to stop Prescott Valley's annexation of land south of the Prescott Country Club may have come one day after the legal deadline and, according to Prescott Valley's rebuttal, may have failed to make a case.

Town Manager Tony Mortillaro said the complaint alone will not stop the annexation, and it hasn't interfered with development plans.

"Plans are still proceeding forward," he said. "It hasn't stopped anything at all."

"Prescott Valley isn't coming to improve our lives," said Dewey resident Lee McCoy, who filed the complaint. "The Town Council wants the money, the commercial district (along the highway). They have no concern or remorse over destroying our community. It's the worst case of thievery and we're adamantly opposed."

"The private landowners there have a right to request annexation," Mortillaro said. "Why would anybody want to block them from exercising their right to get the most use from their property in a lawful manner?"

The town is not planning any immediate development of the annexed parcel. Rather, its annexation now allows the town to annex adjacent private property extending across the highway in Dewey. That, in turn, would allow the town to bring sewer and water service to the proposed Quailwood Meadows subdivision, to planned commercial developments and to Bradshaw Mountain Middle School.

The complaint stems from the Town Council's passage this past month of an ordinance approving annexation of about 320 acres of state trust land south of PCC. That action followed the State Land Selection Board's approval of the town's annexation request during a Dec. 5, 2002, public meeting.

The action does not annex PCC, but it does create a situation in which Prescott Valley now surrounds the subdivision on three sides. Residents of PCC and Dewey appeared at several Prescott Valley Town Council discussions to object to the annexation. According to the complaint, they also sent a petition of opposition, signed by 1,000 residents, to the State Land Department, attorney general's office and to the governor.

The State Land Selection Board had placed the matter on its Dec. 5 meeting agenda. According to Prescott Valley Community Development Director Richard Parker, the State Land Department (SLD) later notified the town and the residents in opposition that it would probably remove the item from the meeting agenda. Parker said he called SLD and insisted the annexation request stay on the agenda, and SLD agreed. Apparently, however, SLD did not notify the Dewey residents that the annexation was back on the agenda, so no resident appeared at the meeting to oppose it. The selection board is composed of the governor, state treasurer and attorney general.

The town filed its own motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that it does not accuse the town of violating any state laws. Instead, the complaint alleges improper procedures by the state, but not by the town.

The motion also alleges that McCoy lacks a standing to sue. "It is settled in Arizona that in order to have a standing a plaintiff 'must plead damage from an injury peculiar to him or at least more substantial than that suffered by the community at large,'" the motion reads. "Not only does plaintiff fail to plead damage from 'an injury peculiar to him,' he fails to plead any damage whatsoever ... plaintiff simply states throughout his complaint that he and other Dewey residents voiced objections to the annexation."

Lastly, the town's motion to dismiss the complaint alleges that McCoy failed to file his complaint within the 30-day legal time limit after the annexation ordinance became final. The ordinance became final on March 16; McCoy didn't file until March 17.

McCoy said he believes that, because the 30th day fell on a Saturday, the actual deadline may be the next business day, a Monday. The town's rebuttal points to case law that discounts that opinion.

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