TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Mon, Jan. 20

Tell it to the judge<br>Group files action in Bashas' store controversy

A petition for special action was filed Friday in Yavapai County Superior Court in the Bashas' Center controversy.

Verde Heights neighbors opposing the store's placement filed the action, naming City Clerk Marianne Jiménez as the respondent.

Verde Heights resident Sally Davidson, on behalf of Cottonwood Citizens for Public Participation, filed the action in response to the city's refusal to accept one of two sets of petitions. The set of petitions was refused because a serial number for administrative purposes, on the lower right edge of the page, was printed with one wrong numeral.

Davidson said, "When we filed them, we had the correct number on them – it's just for record keeping."

In the court filing, the petitioners are asking for a writ of mandamus, directing the city clerk to issue a receipt for the petitions regarding Ordinance 408, filed Dec. 31, and "to file the petition signature pages and continue to process the subject referendum."

The dispute arose following the Dec. 31 filing of the two sets of petitions by a group of Verde Heights residents, objecting to the placement of a new Bashas' Center at Arizona 89A and Verde Heights Drive. The petitions for a referendum would require the issue to go before Cottonwood voters.

"We did it – despite the rain, poor health, and the holidays," said Cherie Ryan, a Verde Heights resident.

Each of the two sets of petitions – one regarding Resolution 1886 and one regarding Ordinance 408, both approved Nov. 29 by the Cottonwood City Council – contained more than 160 signatures, well beyond the 102 required for a referendum, according to Davidson and Ryan.

Resolution 1886 redesignated the General Plan land use for the 144-acre parcel from "residential/mixed use" to "commercial, multi-family residential, business park, and open space/trails."

Ordinance 408 amended zoning from R-1 (single-family residential), R-2 (single- or multi-family residential), and C-1 (light commercial) to PUD-C/R (planned unit development, commercial-residential).

The serial-number mistake on the set of petitions regarding Ordinance 408 was discovered when the petitions were submitted for filing Dec. 31 to Jiménez.

The serial number on the one set of petitions was corrected immediately by Davidson and rushed back to the clerk's office for filing. The petition was then taken by the clerk, Davidson said, but no receipt was given.

In a Jan. 8 letter, the city clerk formally advised Davidson that the petitions regarding Ordinance 408 were being refused because "the petitions did not contain the correct serial number when they were circulated," in violation of state statutes.

Although Davidson and petition circulators were not informed of the decision until the Jan. 8 letter, the clock began running from the date of refusal – Dec. 31. Davidson and the group of neighbors were left with only two days to file their special action in superior court.

Reporter Guinda Reeves may be contacted at greeves@verdevalleynews.com.

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