Sun, Jan. 26

Legal issues before council

The Camp Verde town council faced a full slate of legal issues Tuesday night in three different executive session discussions.

Yavapai-Apache Sand & Rock litigation, a Daniel Eugene Pierce lawsuit, and purchasing property adjacent to a planned regional park were all before town leaders.

Results of the closed-door talks were not available by press time. The Yavapai-Apache Nation announced this week that its attorneys filed for a re-trial in a case against Camp Verde regarding the tribal company mining without a permit.

The nation has retained the services of Prescott legal firm Roberts & Carver in the permitting effort. Although Camp Verde prevailed in its legal case against the unsanctioned mining operations, granting a permit for town-approved mining has proven to be another challenge.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Lindberg stated that, "the Town Code and/or mining ordinance were validly adopted." He also determined that, "The nation has failed to produce any facts or evidence demonstrating that its excavation operation is exempt from the zoning regulatory scheme."

The council is also poised to instruct the town attorney regarding Camp Verde's position on settlement of lawsuit that Pierce filed over the summer. Pierce is suing the town of Camp Verde for alleged defamatory remarks that were made by former council member Eric Eberhard in reaction to Pierce's previous legal claim.

The suit states that Eberhard was in violation of defamation statutes because he referred to Daniel Pierce's previous legal threat as 'political terrorism.' The lawsuit claims that Eberhard's statements are such "gross distortions of the truth" that they justify an award of unspecified punitive damages.

The document, filed by Cottonwood attorneys Vaughn & Ledbetter, names the former council member, his wife, and the town as defendants.

The council voted in mid-July not to settle Pierce's initial claim, stemming from a town newsletter published the previous winter. Settling the claim would have cost the town $750, of which $500 would have been returned to town coffers and $250 to the plaintiff.

The council's final agenda item in executive session last night pertained to negotiations for the purchase or lease of property near the old airstrip, which is the chosen site of a future regional park.

The council voted in December that a regional park would be constructed near an old airstrip on forest service land. Bill Lee, general services director, said the town has applied for 170 acres of forest service land.

The town would pursue a grant of $650,000, which Camp Verde would have to match with equivalent cash or in-kind contributions. Camp Verde's planned regional park could carry a price tag of up to $6 million and take as many as 15 years to complete. Town officials are eyeing five to 10 acres near the airstrip owned by the Gilbert family.

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