According to the American Institute of Certified Planners one of the principles they aspire to, as part of their overall responsibility to the public is this:
“We shall give people the opportunity to have a meaningful impact on the development of plans and programs that may affect them. Participation should be broad enough to include those who lack formal organization or influence.” (AICP, American Planning Association)
In other words, planners, including a Planning and Zoning Commission has a responsibility to insure that access to the public, especially those who a decision most impacts, have an opportunity to be part of the decision and be heard.
The move of the P&Z meeting to the Community Center was a decision made to allow a maximum number of affected people access to the process. Had the meeting been held in Parker, some or many people would not have been able to attend for a variety of reasons. Additionally, it is appropriate to have had the meeting here since it can affect our community and it is the first time that Alliance has faced the people who they profess to want to be good neighbors to.
Here’s why I say all of this. The day after the meeting, they put out a press release with the following headline: “Unprecedented La Paz County Decision Unfairly Stacks the Deck Against New Jobs and Economic Development”. Wow! Fortunately local press saw through it and did not publish it.
Alliance went on to take a personal attack at me claiming that the move was a political favor to me so I could “organize and deploy activists and opponents to Alliance Metals plan…” It sounds like they were at a different meeting than the rest of us and if activists are concerned citizens who don’t want the smelter here, then that’s what we are. I don’t know how they think I am so powerful when they saw the overwhelming opposition. It seemed pretty obvious to me that the opposition was overwhelming.
Alliance chose to blame me for their astounding defeat instead of blaming themselves and Rose Law Group for coming unprepared, failure to connect with the community, failure to recognize our valid concerns, failure to prepare and submit a complete presentation, failure to complete all the necessary paperwork, failure to pay their taxes, failure to pay ADEQ for permit fees, etc. This company not only made a mistake because they never tried to embrace the community for support. They never achieved support from our Chamber of Commerce and even the La Paz Economic Development Corporation…Skip Becker, failed to support their plan publicly. Rather than blame me, they need to listen to the community.
Because of all this, I have a question to pose to you: Why hasn’t Loren Barton fired the Rose Law Group yet?
Look at the optics…Loren from Alliance would not even introduce himself or address the group and his attorney did it all. The environmental guy, the same guy who prepared their application to ADEQ had to speak for Alliance as well. Thomas Galvin, their attorney, is not qualified to make environmental, health or welfare statements, but he did. In fact, they again verbally stated that there would be 30 full time jobs when the application to the county that bears his name, says there will be 100 full time jobs. When the truck traffic was pointed out he again came up and said that there would be five or so trucks per day. Loren Barton has been stated that there will be “a few trucks per hours”. The math shows that they can not get their raw material delivered and finished product out with less than almost 600 trucks per month. With such inconsistencies, how can we believe anything they say! I repeat…Why hasn’t Loren Barton fired the Rose Law Group yet? Talk about bad advice!
Alliance complained that the meeting was held at 3:00 in the afternoon making it hard for “working families, parents and other residents” to attend. What I saw in the audience were, yes retired people, after all, that’s who lives here, but I also saw business owners, employed people, young adults and even some kids. I think it was a pretty balanced cross section of who we are. We even had local business people close their businesses so they could attend. I feel I need to point this out, if the unemployed were interested in their jobs, they didn’t have to get off work to attend and support them.
Alliance further went on to say that I am operating a water system that is producing unsafe drinking water. I guess that my background is pretty clean if that is all they can get. They are referring to a notice that we sent to customers last quarter after we tested high for what is called “disinfectant byproducts”. That simply means that there was an interaction with the chlorine and citric acid in the system. This violation is the equivalent of a parking ticket and it was fixed immediately and our testing this quarter shows that there is no problem. They did not speak to the fact that last year we finished a years long $500,000 project that filters out the arsenic that occurs naturally and now produce some of the healthiest and cleanest water in the area.
Alliance also accused the school of using enough plastic bottles to fill a landfill. I’m not sure where they are getting their information but the school campus was declared a plastic bottle free zone over a year ago and has signs to that effect. All staff and children are provided with reusable sports bottles that they fill with Wenden Water so they can stay hydrated during class and for outside activities. The kids were provided in-depth education in sustainability and the harmful effects of plastic and the kids participated enthusiastically.
Alliance continues to avoid answering concerns from the community, but that ship has sailed. Now they think that by sending additional press releases to publications like Recycling Today and by joining and asking the Arizona Manufacturers Council to write a letter that it will make a difference, but it won’t. These people have never been informed about the details or the concerns of the public so they are simply not relevant. This company just doesn’t get that we don’t want them here.
While we won this round, this struggle is far from over. We need to make everyone know that the P&Z Commission has recommended to not approve Alliance Metals application but that is not a final decision. The County Supervisors hopefully will make the final decision to deny their requests and that meeting is currently scheduled for January 6that 10 AM in Parker. We are trying to get the meeting to be moved to the Community Center but we will keep you posted.