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Tusayan Mayor, Vice Mayor and Town Manager Knew What They Were Doing When They Ignored Flood Plain Issues On TenX

January 12, 2019

 Work has been halted on the affordable housing project on Ten X after Coconino County told the Town to cease and desist. That’s because Tusayan needed a review for construction because much of the land is in a flood plain. The Town tried to take flood plain duties from Coconino County to bypass that approval process. But all bets would be off if the issue went to the ballot (signatures were filed Sept. 26 and the election is still pending) amid concerns that Tusayan wasn’t up to the task of taking over floodplain issues. That’s something very few cities or towns in Arizona are willing or able to do.

And while Tusayan’s Mayor told the Grand Canyon News the decision to stop work was ‘voluntary’ rather than fight it out in court, the language in the injunction filed by Coconino County seemed to be fairly definitive. It also shows the Town appeared to act deliberately.

The request for injunction notes:

“On or about October 9, 2018, the Town's manager replied to the District's email stating that the Town was the floodplain administrator with regard to those floodplains within the Subject Property; however, it failed inform the District of the referendum petition received on September 26, 2018 regarding its Ordinance 2018-01.”

The injunction request concludes:

“The Defendant has committed serious and continuing violations of the County's Floodplain Regulations and Arizona's Floodplain Management statutes. It has continued in its violations, despite knowing that it must obtain a floodplain use permit, and should have obtained such permissions prior to commencing work.”

For a link to the request click here.

Here is a link to the initial complaint.

In addition, the Town seemed to know it would have to stop work but went ahead with construction. Vice Mayor Rebecca Wirth, Mayor Craig Sanderson, and Town Manager Eric Duthie discussed that possibility following an October 10th council meeting. Because the streaming audio switch had been left on, that conversation was broadcast over the internet. Here is a link to the recording.

Duthie said, “If push comes to shove, and (inaudible) comes back that says you either have to work through the county or shut down Ten X, I don’t want to do that and am of a mindset to just continue what we’re doing unless somebody comes and makes a claim on it.”

Mayor Sanderson then speculated that Tusayan resident Clarinda Vail would file litigation. He was wrong. Coconino County filed the litigation. And they meant business. The fines for these violations exceed $720,000 if this battle goes to trial. 

Once Coconino County filed a complaint, the Town responded as Duthie had planned. The Grand Canyon News reports that the Town has asked its engineering firm to do additional studies.