Purchase Of Star Valley Water Back In Court

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Petitioners are hoping Resolution 2098 -- the Payson Town Council's decision to pay George Randall and Roy Haught $750,000 for water from their Star Valley well -- will still end up on the ballot.

The Arizona Court of Appeals in Tucson has agreed to hear the appeal filed by the Committee for Community-Based Growth (CCBG) at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 1.

"They have given each side a half hour for argument which is pretty unprecedented," CCBG Chairman Hal Baas said. "We are encouraging concerned citizens to attend if they are able to."

After Resolution 2098 was originally passed, CCBG submitted a petition containing over 1,900 signatures in September requesting it be placed on the ballot.

The town council turned to the legal advice of Tom Irvine, a Valley lawyer who specializes in election law. Irvine told the council that he felt a referendum could not be held because Resolution 2098 would merely carry out a policy that is already in place.

When CCBG appealed the town's decision not to hold the referendum. Superior Court Judge Colin Campbell ruled in the town's favor in December. CCBG appealed the ruling.

A CCBG spokesperson said the matter will probably end up before the Arizona Supreme Court, because whichever side loses the latest hearing is likely to appeal the decision again.

The Town of Payson wants to buy the excess water from the Randall-Haught well after local developer G. Michael Horton takes the water he needs to develop three new subdivisions within Payson town limits. Horton is currently completing a pipeline from the Randall-Haught well to The Rim Club, a gated community just inside the town of Payson's eastern boundary.

The town's decision to use Star Valley water for its own growth led the town of Diamond Star to incorporate in hopes of stopping the process. The CCBG is comprised of Payson residents who support the efforts of the Diamond Star residents.

The Court of Appeals is located at 400 W. Congress in Tucson.

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