TAYLOR — In November 2018, the Town of Taylor approved the purchase of 147 acres of the Taylor Business Park (TBP) from Hatch Development for $750,000.
The purchase was set up in increments.The council approved a purchase agreement on Nov. 1, 2018, and Parcel A was purchased for $290,000 on Nov. 20, 2018. Parcel B for $460,000 has not yet closed. The total acreage of both parcels is 147 acres, although only a legal description was listed on the exhibit attached to Parcel A, not the number of acres.
Since then, the purchase has been plagued with protests, delays, legal issues, uncertainties and a seeming lack of information. For months, the town council took no action on the controversial issue, but now has apparently been forced to act by the threat of a lawsuit.
According to draft minutes of the Jan. 9 special council meeting (the regular meeting of Jan. 2 was cancelled), there was an executive session held for “Discussion or consultation for legal advice with the attorney or attorneys of the public body related to pending and potential litigation associated with the Business Park Purchase Agreement dated November 2018 …”
The agenda item relating to the business park appeared to be in response to a letter from the attorney of an ad-hoc group called Concerned Residents of the Town of Taylor, who retained legal council in December. Their attorney sent a letter to the mayor and council Nov. 7 stating, “Please be advised that proceeding with the purchase of Parcel B without complying with Arizona law will subject the town to legal liability.”
Following the Nov. 7 letter, Taylor Town Attorney William Sims met with the Concerned Citizens’ attorney C. Adam Buck in Scottsdale Dec. 4 to discuss their issues with the purchase of the business park.
Reconvening from the Jan. 9 Executive Session at 9:30 p.m. the next item of business was “Consideration of Direction to Town Manager and/or Town Attorney regarding Business Park,” according to the agenda.
Mayor David Smith said they focused on the business park as a means to address flooding problems. He reiterated that the business park “has been an ongoing project for the town to address flood plain (sic)mitigation and economic development.”
Sims acknowledged that the business park property has been a subject of concern. He said the town had executed an agreement (he was apparently referring to the purchase agreement) and residents have raised some concerns. He made a recommendation of nine items for council to direct staff to “report on and come back with answers concerning the floodplain issue to several businesses and residences.”
The nine items are: the economic impact to businesses in the area; ADEQ approval of water & sewer lines; estimate flood insurance costs to businesses and residents and amount of reduction if flood plain mitigation plan is implemented; obtain an independent appraisal; negotiate price based on the appraisal, if necessary; confirm that the seller of the property (Jason Hatch or an entity created by Jason Hatch) is the legal owner of the property and has the power to sell the property; come back with a plan for flood plain mitigation efforts; come back with a flood plain mitigation plan confirming grant from FEMA and town matching funds and in-kind resources, at no additional cost to the town, and commission a study to identify development options to be implemented by developers.
Before Smith made the motion approving the directive to staff to report back on the nine items and “move forward thereafter,” Vice Mayor Jason Brubaker said, “It is not the town or the Hatches responsibility to develop the area,” and Brubaker asked that the ADEQ report be available soon.
The motion was passed 7 – 0.
The minutes, no longer listed as draft, less some of the details enumerated in the draft minutes, are now posted on the Town of Taylor’s website, www.tayloraz.org.
In an email to the Independent Jan. 29, Town Manager Gus Lundberg wrote, “The town continues to consult with our town attorney and there has been open and constructive dialogue with the Franco’s legal counsel as we try to best meet the needs of our community. We will be reporting back to our council at the Feb. 11 meeting regarding the issues we were directed to report back on.”
The council meeting is normally the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. The Feb. 11 date mentioned in Lundberg’s email is the second Thursday.