TAYLOR — It has been 14 months since Town Manager Gus Lundberg told the Taylor councilors they had been offered “an opportunity to purchase approximately 147 acres from Hatch Development in the Taylor Business Park,” located near Pinedale Road and Airport Loop, for $750,000.
The council approved a purchase agreement and Parcel A was purchased for $290,000. With 2019 coming to a close, there is still no closure on Parcel B.
At the December 2018 council meeting – over a year ago – a dark cloud was cast over the business park purchase. Former Taylor councilor Debi Bettis read a letter on behalf of “Concerned Taylor Residents, Property Owners and Tax Payers” at the call to the public – a letter she did not author and later asked to be disassociated with.
In that letter one of the key statements was, “On behalf of the taxpayers of the town, including many who are not even yet fully aware of what is happening … we urge/implore that the council cease any future progress or movement with respect to the purchase and/or acquisition of the business park, including consideration of a loan for it … until it can quickly and easily be made available to the public the exact reason(s) why (it) … has any merit at all. Failure to adhere to this request will leave the citizens no choice than to seek an injunction via whatever legal means available to accomplish the same.”
Several people questioned the necessity of the proposed business park purchase at a contentious January 2019 work study session held for the Taylor Business Park proposed purchase. Questions were raised about whether the town had a current appraisal, and Richard Franco, the author of the letter Bettis read, asked more questions regarding the reason for the purchase at $5,000 per acre.
The Town of Taylor was later cited in May by the Attorney General’s Office for three open meeting law violations regarding the work study session.
Though Lundberg said they disagreed with the AG’s ruling, the town agreed to open meeting law training which took place in June.
Now the ad-hoc group called Concerned Residents of the Town of Taylor have retained legal counsel and a letter was sent to mayor and council via email and U.S. Mail Nov. 7. Again, the group asked the town to not proceed with the purchase of Parcel B, stating:
“The entire process surrounding the Town’s acquisition of Parcel A and contracting to purchase Parcel B violated Arizona law and so the actions are null and void (A.R.S. 38-431.05). Demand is hereby made that the Town cease and desist from proceeding with the purchase of Parcel B for $460,000 from Hatch Development until the Town complies with the law by 1) holding a meaningful council workshop meeting that complies with the law; 2) conducting another Town Council vote on the issue after the workshop; 3) disqualifying Councilman Hatch from voting on the issue; and 4) if approved, waiting 30 days for the approval to become final.
“Please be advised that proceeding with the purchase of Parcel B without complying with Arizona law will subject to Town to legal liability.”
Following the letter, a meeting took place on Dec. 4 in Scottsdale between Taylor Town Attorney William Sims and Lundberg and Attorney C. Adam Buck with RADIX LAW and Alice Solomon Franco Wethington, aka Alice Franco, and Richard Franco.
Since the meeting date, Franco said that there has been no response from Sims or Lundberg. The Concerned Residents of the Town of Taylor are not giving up on this issue.
Franco said, “I have nothing to lose; I am driving the bus.”
Last February, the Independent asked for an update on the project. Lundberg said the survey had not been completed and the bank was still working out details for the lease-purchase; he also said he had not spoken with the attorney yet. He confirmed at that time the town was moving forward with the purchase.
In April the town approved accepting an easement to improve Airport Loop Road which runs north-south through the business park. Before that meeting Lundberg told the Independent, “The road has been slightly taken care of and we are asking the council to to consider maintaining it since we are so close to owning it.”
Nothing was agendized regarding the business park for the remainder of the year.
Neither Lundburg or Smith responded to the Independent’s request for an update on the Taylor Business Park proposed purchase as of Monday, Dec. 30. See more coverage on our website.
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