County stalls decision on waiving fees for San Tan Valley home developers

FLORENCE - The Pinal County Board of Supervisors delayed action on a request Wednesday by D.R. Horton and Chi Contruction to lengthen the progress contract with the planned Copper Basin housing advancement to look extra closely at the circumstance and any possible relation it might need to a current court conclusion dealing with a government's proper to waive development service fees.

With housing construction almost at a standstill, Old Country House Plans have sought to prolong deadlines for the agreements approved earlier.

In January, the Arizona Supreme Court's choice from the situation of Turken v. Gordon declared that government subsidies to encourage growth violate the present clause of the Arizona Constitution, unless the developer can provide proof of tangible benefits of equal worth in return.

Each the attorney for your county and counsel to the developer cited this situation in their arguments before the board.

The attorney representing the county, Michael Sillyman of Kutak Rock LLP, informed the supervisors the county had acquired $3.8 million in advantages from developer-funded investments in the San Tan Valley residential improvement, including infrastructure in return for far more than $14 million in waived development costs. The costs represent those already waived and what the county calculates would be waived in the future, need to the contract be extended.

Sillyman stated the advantages on the county were "grossly disproportionate" towards the charges it waived.

He mentioned the deal violates the reward clause and is consequently unenforceable, and that the developer need to not be allowed to elect to prolong it into the long term.

D.R. Horton's lawyer, Timothy Berg of Fennimore Craig Law Offices, told the board that "unlike the typical growth deal, the [county] doesn't should vote" to enable the settlement to prolong. The developer may perhaps lengthen the deal if it chooses.

Berg informed the board the settlement does not violate the reward clause.

"The test is, is there a public purpose?" that the county gained by waiving the costs, Berg claimed.

He mentioned the county received $40 million in benefits with the fees it waived. The number of residents who bought the homes inside the development increased the county's tax base, for instance. The county also benefitted from the roads the developer funded.

Supervisor Bryan Martyn asked to have the vote delayed till Sept. 15, to which the board agreed.

"I need a lot more information," Martyn said. "I am not going to give away a bunch of money."

"I have got to know the facts," he said. "I am hearing two fully diverse stories" from the opposing attorneys.

Board Chairman Pete Rios asked if the court scenario applies to activities 10 years ago.

The court's ruling applies prospectively to occasions since the conclusion, according to a Goldwater Institute analysis on the situation.

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