Town sets special session to resolve Y-A litigation
Camp Verde Councilman Eric Eberhard is upset.
He said that town officials have set a last-minute special executive session today to resolve its litigation problems with the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
The executive session, set for 5:30 p.m. in council chambers, provides town officials the opportunity to consult with attorneys for legal advice regarding approval of a settlement behind closed doors.
In January, the Yavapai-Apache Nation filed a declaratory judgment request with the Superior Court demanding the town withdraw its complaint against the Nation to stop its mining operation. The legal action seeks reimbursement for court costs and attorney fees. In February, the town responded and filed a counterclaim. It too requested court costs and attorney fees.
At the time the declaratory judgment was filed, the Nation was reacting to the town's order to appear before its hearing officer concerning its ongoing sand-and-gravel mining operation. The property in question is owned by the Nation in fee-simple land commonly known as the Tunlii and Cloverleaf Ranch located along Arizona 260. The battle between the town and the Nation has been ongoing for more than two years. The Nation has always maintained it was reclaiming the property for future development of housing and agriculture, and as such was not subject to the town's then-current mining ordinance.
Just recently, the Nation included the lands in its application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for trust status protection. Past negotiations concerning the mining dilemma between the town and Nation have proved futile.
At the regular council session at 6:30 p.m. that follows the executive session, the agenda includes an opportunity for the council to approve the settlement. Tuesday, Town Attorney Ron Ramsey would not comment about the case maintaining executive session privilege.
Eberhard, who has been an outspoken critic of the Nation's mining operation, said he is concerned the town will settle the case without public input.
"It's lame duck politics. You don't exclude the public ever," he said about the last-minute decision to meet behind closed doors.
The council meets in regular session tonight at 6:30 at Town Hall Chambers, 473 S. Main St., Rm. 106.
On other issues in the regular session, the council will:
• Decide which private roads qualify for continued maintenance
• Consider approval of a ordinance designating town staff as a planning agency
• Consider adopting procedures for public participation in General Plan amendments
• Continue to discuss the possibility of a non-vehicular pathway along Salt Mine Road
• Possibly accept a recently donated bronze statue
• Possibly approve $3,600 to go to Channel 18 for continued council meeting broadcasts