Thu, July 18

Town cracking down <br>on mining operations<br>

"The IGA has been null and void; it doesn’t exist," confirmed Camp Verde Town Manager John Roberts. As such, Roberts said that letters to the Yavapai-Apache Nation and all other mining operations soon will be in the mail.

Operators will be required to get a permit for their Camp Verde mining operations, grandfathered or otherwise.

Town officials are now ready to play hardball with the long controversial mining issue that gained public awareness when the Y-A Nation began sand-and-gravel operations on residentially zoned land near Arizona 260 and Old Highway 279.

Roberts estimates there are about half-a-dozen mining operations taking place in Camp Verde without permits.

"We are looking at enforcing the permit requirements of the existing mining ordinance," he said.

He said the matter is now out of the hands of the council and into his and he’s going to move forward on the issue.

Although, the Nation rejected a proposed intergovernmental agreement, tribal officials continue to have a pending permit with the town

In recent months, the Nation’s legal counsel indicated a permit was not necessary under the mining ordinance, because the Nation was removing sand-and-rock material from the land for the purposes of reclaiming and developing the land for agricultural, residential, industrial and commercial purposes.

In order to avoid litigation with the Nation, both sides agreed to go to the negotiating table to hammer out an agreement spelling out conditions for a permit, time limits and stipulations to be followed if the Nation placed the fee land into trust status. The town’s acceptable version was adopted by the council and delivered to the Nation Aug. 23. The Nation had 30 days to respond. Tribal leaders refused to sign the document, stating "it was not what was negotiated."

A new mining ordinance, also adopted Aug. 23, tightening the rules and regulations of mining in Camp Verde, is now on the back burner, according to Roberts.

Petition signatures collected by local contractor Andy Ayres to overturn the council’s decision to adopt the new mining ordinance were filed Sept. 22 with the town clerk. Ayres appears to have collected sufficient signatures necessary to place a referendum on the matter before the public to decide if the council’s decision was the right one. Ayres is hopeful the new mining ordinance, which he maintains will eliminate mining operations altogether in Camp Verde, will be overturned by public vote. In the meantime, the new mining ordinance is placed in a "limbo state" until the matter is decided by the voters, according to Town Clerk Debbie Barber.

Another referendum petition attempting to overturn the council’s decision adopting the IGA will not go forward on an upcoming ballot, according to Roberts, because the IGA is a "dead issue."

"I believe under state law, there is a provision for the clerk to refuse to file it if there are legitimate grounds."

A town hall official verified that Barber had sent a letter to petition organizer LeRoy Hunter indicating the IGA was null and void. Roberts said under the circumstances, it probably will not be filed with the elections’ officials, because it’s a "moot point."