The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world and our communities upside down. Still, local and county governments as well as other public bodies have continued to conduct business and hold necessary, public meetings online.
Virtual meetings have been happening throughout Arizona and the country in communities large and small. Some elected boards and councils in Arizona have also started holding public meetings again with social distancing protocols in place.
The La Paz County Board of Supervisors itself held an in-person meeting in Parker on Monday (May 18th). The Board held numerous virtual meetings throughout March, April, and the beginning of May during the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Yet, Alliance Metals cannot get a Board of Supervisors hearing and vote on our proposed $30 million economic development investment in Wenden and Salome. This, despite our project that will bring critical new jobs, tax revenue and investment at a time when La Paz County and all governments desperately need it.
Prior to the crisis, the County had taken the unprecedented step of scheduling a hearing outside of the county seat in Parker for a potential vote on our aluminum manufacturing and recycling operations. As far as we know, the La Paz County Board had never scheduled a hearing outside of Parker. The March 16th meeting was scheduled for the Centennial Community Center in Wenden. The meeting was canceled because of COVID-19.
More than two months later we still have not received a hearing or vote on our investment and properly filed application which will bring jobs and tax revenue to La Paz County amidst COVID-19’s destructive economic path.
This is unfair and violates many due process provisions. Why does the County Board hold hearings and votes on multiple other matters and proposals since March but refuse to give us our ‘day in court’?
Alliance Metals has played by the rules. We applied for an air quality permit with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in April 2019. DEQ held a public hearing last September in Wenden and granted our air quality permit in November. The La Paz County Planning and Zoning Commission held a hearing on our investment in December. The Commission also took the unusual step of holding the hearing outside of Parker.
Alliance Metals has held job fairs in Wenden, Quartzsite and Parker. We held open houses and meetings with concerned residents and opponents. We changed our plans to eliminate chlorine from the manufacturing process after listening to community concerns. We met with opponents to resolve concerns about truck traffic, flooding, and safety.
We saw support for efforts to bring jobs and new tax revenues to La Paz County grow even before COVID-19 decimated the economy. The pandemic magnifies those needs ten-fold.
Still, La Paz County refuses to reschedule a hearing and vote on our investment. They could hold a hearing in Parker or a virtual hearing with residents from Wenden and Salome.
They continue to do neither violating one of the major tenets of our democracy: Due Process.
Alliance Metals has played by the rules and listened to opponents. We are committed to creating much needed help for local schools as well as public health programs that don’t currently exist. La Paz County now needs to do its job and hold a timely and fair hearing on our proposal.
The violation of our due process, democratic rights and property rights is not only unfair; it is illegal.