Developers lose referendum lawsuits
Posted to Monday, April 15, 2002
By J.C. Huntington

Hon. William O'Neil, Pinal Superior Court
      In separate rulings issued April 12, Pinal County Superior Court Judge William O'Neil found that two referendum petitions challenging the re-zoning of over 7,100 acres for two large residential development projects are valid and that the voters must decide the development issues at the ballot box.

       Both projects, which would import over 33,000 people to the region, are slated to be built in the Oracle Junction area.

       Immediately after the Pinal Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning for the projects, 12,000 signatures were obtained on referendum petitions to put the proposals to a vote in the next general election. 

       After Pinal County government accepted the signatures, the developers -- Anam Inc. and Robson Communities Inc.-- sued the county claiming that both rezoning decisions should be kept off the ballot because the referendums were invalid due to legal technicalities.

       Pinal Citizens for Sustainable Communities (PCSC) spearheaded both referendum efforts and also intervened in the lawsuit against the county.  PCSC hired attorney Anne Graham-Bergin at their own expense to uphold the right of voters to decide the issue at the ballot box.

       Oracle resident Darrel Klesh said he was "elated" at the ruling. 

       "It is a huge victory for voters," said Klesh. 

       Klesh has played an active role in the last three referendums involving massive land rezoning in the Oracle Area while also tending to his craft as a stonemason.

       When asked about the O'Neil's findings, Oracle resident and citizen leader Mary Ellen Kazda said the ruling was "correct and thoughtful." 

       "Voters have the right to be engaged in decisions regarding the outcome of the largest land use issue to-date in the county," said Kazda

       Asked what she thought would happen next, Kazda said, "we're a grass roots organization but the developers have deep pockets. I expect they will appeal."

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