Alliance Metals has described the Dec. 5 La Paz County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting as unfair and an effort to “stack the deck” against them. In a press release dated Dec. 6, the company said the decision to hold the meeting at the Centennial Community Center in Wenden was “unusual, irregular and unprecedented.”

Alliance has plans to build an aluminum recycling smelter on U.S Route 60 between Wenden and Salome. One of the leading opponents of the plan, Gary Saiter, said the meeting was moved to Wenden from its normal location in Parker so more people who would be directly affected by the smelter would have a chance to attend.

At the Dec. 5 meeting, the commission voted to recommend the Board of Supervisors reject a change to the county’s comprehensive plan and also reject a zoning change that would have allowed for the smelter. A parade of local residents spoke out against the proposed smelter. They were concerned about emissions, hazardous materials used in the process and by-products of the process, the potential negative effect this would have on nearby agricultural facilities, and the fact the smelter was not being planned in an area already zoned for industry.

The site is currently zoned for Rural Agricultural-40 acre minimum (RA-40).

The meeting was moved to Wenden at the urging of the County Supervisor for the area, District 3 Supervisor Holly Irwin.

“Moving the hearing away from its normal location appears to be a politically motivated effort to ‘stack the deck’ against bringing new jobs and increased tax revenue to the county and in favor of the self-appointed leader of the opposition to Alliance Metals’ recycling and economic development investment,” the press release stated.

The release went on to state Alliance has seen a lot of interest in employment opportunities at the job fairs they’ve held around the county.

“The county’s highly unusual action disenfranchised these job seekers,” said Loren Barton, Vice President of Alliance Metals.

The release stated that Alliance Metals was never consulted on moving the meeting out of Parker, and the County Attorney’s office was unable to provide examples of other meetings taking place outside the county seat. They added it was held in the afternoon, so working people and families could not attend. They further noted Saiter’s wife, De Vona, is a member of the Commission.

Alliance Metals also attacked Saiter for his roles as Chairman of the Wenden Water Improvement District and President of the Wenden Elementary School District Board. They said the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality had ordered the Wenden water district to send out notifications of violations by the district, and that unsafe water at Wenden Elementary School forced the students there to use bottled water.

Saiter replied by saying it was appropriate to have the meeting in Wenden because these would be the people most affected by the smelter.

“It is the first time Alliance has faced the people who they profess they want to be good neighbors to,” he said.

Saiter said he saw a lot of retirees who attended the meeting, but that was because many retirees live in the area. He also saw working people and families. He said he knew of businesses that closed up so their owners and employees could attend.

As for claims the meeting was set up so Saiter could bring in opposition “activists,” he said, “It sounds like they were at a different meeting than the rest of us.”

“I don’t know how they think I am so powerful when they saw the overwhelming opposition,” Saiter said. “It seemed pretty obvious to me that the opposition was overwhelming.”

The problem with the Wenden water system were from a chemical reaction between citric acid and chlorine used to disinfect the system. Saiter said it amounted to the equivalent of a parking ticket, and has since been corrected. He noted Alliance didn’t mention the district’s completion of a $500,000 project to lower the arsenic level in Wenden’s water.

Saiter said Wenden Elementary School is a “plastic bottle-free zone,” and students and teacher there drink the district’s water.

In the press release, Alliance said they are still committed to bring a safe, clean operation to the county that will provide jobs and more tax revenue for the county. They noted their efforts have been featured in publications like Recycling Today, FastMarkets, and Argus Media.

The final decision on the change to the comprehensive plan and the zoning change will be made by the La Paz County Board of Supervisors. It’s on the agenda for their Jan. 6, 2020 meeting.

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(4) comments

outback

Alliance Metals has failed to get its way with the La Paz County Planning and Zoning Commission, so now it's strategy is to attack the machinery of a government process, an indication that another lawsuit is potentially looming on the horizon for taxpayers of La Paz County.

It's also indication of just how tone-deaf executives of Alliance Metals and lawyers of the Rose Law Firm are to the overwhelming public consensus against its toxic plan to build a smelter in the backyards of the bedroom communities of Wenden and Salome.

Galvin boasts of Alliance bringing $13 an hour jobs to La Paz County while his firm charges clients hundreds of dollars an hour for legal work. That's a huge condescending carrot, considering residents don't want a smelter, even if Alliance would pay employees as much as Galvin earns.

We all make mistakes in our lives. If we bet on the wrong horse, we don't blame the racetrack or, worse, resort to a lawsuit to recover our folly. Instead, we lick our wounds and move on. Alliance Metals and the Rose Law Firm need to do the right thing and just move on.

As a footnote, it's encouraging to see overwhelming public participation in the Alliance debacle, indicating taxpayers are finally taking back their lives from the lordosic politician-Big Business bloodfest, which has been systemically exploiting taxpayers and crushing the middle class since the 60s, to the extent that 80% of the working population no longer can make ends meet without some form of public assistance. Yet, ironically, there is more corporate welfare today than public wefare.

assured

holding a meeting in the town and with the people that live there is irregular? that means they would prefer to shove it down our mouth from a private meeting far away? already not working with community throw them out of town

Gary Saiter

According to the American Institute of Certified Planners one of the core 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.” (American Planning Association)

In other words, planners, including a Planning and Zoning Commission and other officials who participate in making decisions concerning planning have 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 without obstacles put in their way.

The move of the P&Z meeting to the Community Center in Wenden 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 profess that they want to be good neighbors to.

Let’s do some math now to reinforce the position. Let’s assume that a caravan of 137 vehicles made the trip to Parker and back. With two people per vehicle that is 274 people. (There were approximately 325 at the meeting in Wenden.) It is 112 miles round trip from Salome to Parker. @ 25 miles per gallon that would take about four and a half gallons, at $3.00 per gallon that would be $13.50 per vehicle. For 137 vehicles that would cost $1,849.50. The same trip taken by the Supervisors to meet in Wenden would be $67.50 assuming that it would take five vehicles to bring everyone to Wenden. So, even from an economic view point it would cost $1,782 more dollars to have the meeting in Parker than in Wenden. Makes sense to me all the way around.

Alliance and Rose Law Group just can’t seem to face the fact that the overwhelming number of people in our community simply do not want the smelter in the proposed location. It is only fair and reasonable to have such a significant meeting in the place where the company wants to build their smelter and where the people who are impacted the most have access to voice their opinion. We hope that the same sense prevails when the Supervisors decide on the location of their January 6th meeting.

dennisdp@tds.net

If they are so willing to employee area people, have them clean the eyesore up.

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