Judge Hears Case on RV Park Referendum
Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Brutinel heard arguments Thursday (Nov. 18) on whether to uphold Chino Valley, Ariz.'s decision to reject a referendum on a proposed recreational vehicle park, and will rule by early next week, the Prescott Daily Courier reported.
"I'll do my best" to rule quickly, Brutinel told the attorneys.
Brutinel listened to nearly an hour of arguments from three attorneys involved in the case: Lisa Hauser, who is representing Protect Our Rural Lifestyle; Tom Kack, the outside counsel for the town; and Steven Hirsch, who represents developer Jack Tuls Jr. of Las Vegas, Nev.
The case advanced to Brutinel's courtroom six weeks after Hauser of Gammage & Burnham of Phoenix filed the lawsuit in Superior Court challenging the town's denial of the petition drive. Contrary to Kack's position, she contends Protect Our Rural Lifestyle met the 30-day deadline to submit signatures to Tom Clerk Jami Lewis to seek to overturn the council's July 22 vote to rezone Tuls' property.
Protect members believe the council's decision to rezone land for an RV park would be incompatible with nearby homes.
The council voted 6-1 to rezone 17 acres on the south side of East Road 3-1/2 North, 400 feet east of Highway 89. Councilwoman Linda Hatch cast the sole "no" vote.
Protect members submitted petitions Aug. 31 calling for a referendum, which would take place on the same day as the town council elections next March 8 if Brutinel rules in their favor.
Kack and Sharon Sargent-Flack of his Prescott law office sought to quash the referendum drive, contending in a letter dated Sept. 30 that the 30-day period began after the approved minutes or portions of them became available July 29 from the town clerk.
However, Hauser claimed Protect organizer Candy Blakeslee submitted the petition in time because Mayor Jim Bunker did not sign the final version of the rezoning ordinance until Aug. 2.
The attorneys made their cases to Brutinel by citing state law and past lawsuits.
If Brutinel rules in favor of Protect, "we have to put this on the ballot," Lewis said after the hearing. "Council has to adopt an amended call of election. I'm thinking Tuesday because we also have to put out a press release."
Protect will not give up if Brutinel rules in favor of the town, Blakeslee said afterward.
"If we lose, we are ready to appeal, and the reason we would appeal is over 400 people signed the petitions," she said. "The people have spoken they want the right to vote."