Lawsuit Disputing Star Valley's Legitimacy Being Dismissed

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When representatives of Star Valley and principals of Terra Capital Group met in mid-March to discuss mending the riff between the two parties, their ultimate goal was a return to healthy community.

"Hopefully, it will be an opportunity for us to work together," said Star Valley Town Manager Lanny Sloan. "From this we can heal some wounds."

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After nearly two years of strife and a pair of lawsuits, regional progress moves forward.

It started in March when a local resident stepped forward to offer mediation services.

"They wanted to remain anonymous," said Star Valley Councilor Art Lloyd. "They just said, ‘Why don't we see if we can work something out.'"

The first order of business included resolving a lawsuit -- filed by Terra Capital Group, well owners George Randall and Roy Haught, and other neighbors -- against Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard in mid-March 2006, Lloyd said.

The litigation challenged the November 2005 incorporation of Star Valley.

"For us, it means that we are not going to pursue this lawsuit that would require Goddard to investigate the Town of Star Valley incorporating or not," said Stephen Carder, Terra Capital principal.

Prior to the meetings between Terra Capital and Star Valley -- not a litigant in the suit -- the town council directed its attorney to intervene, thereby giving Star Valley more control over its destiny.

But the conciliation changed that destiny.

"The lawsuit is in the process of being dismissed," Lloyd said. "The Town of Star Valley hasn't given up anything. Terra Capital had nothing to gain by pursuing (the lawsuit) and even if they won, there would have been nothing for them to gain."

With this pending accord, Lloyd said Star Valley will turn its attention to Payson.

After Lloyd made an announcement at the April 27 Payson Town Council meeting that Star Valley and Terra Capital had come to an agreement, he asked Payson for its cooperation.

Members of the Payson Town Council lauded Lloyd for his announcement, and Mayor Barbara Brewer said the Town of Payson wouldn't abuse its privilege of using Star Valley water.

Without that promise in writing, Lloyd said, those are just words.

"The biggest problem is the Town of Payson," Lloyd said. "(Brewer) kept promising they'd do this and they'd do that. They would never put it in writing and we became a little skeptical. We haven't been able to trust them yet. We're hoping there is a new town council we can trust."

Brewer said the Town of Payson "put it in writing" with Resolution 2131.

The resolution, passed five to one Dec. 8, 2005, outlined six stipulations Payson must follow to operate its well in Star Valley, including running it within the town's safe yield policy -- not pumping out more than is recharged.

"I said we would not go beyond safe yield because we want to be good neighbors too," Brewer said.

All parties involved said they want a partnership between the communities, and, Carder added, Terra Capital will work with both towns to broker the peace.

"We're going to do everything we can to erase as much of the feelings that existed in the past because of that well," he said. "It takes both councils wanting to work together."

Terra Capital also offered to create a master plan pro bono for Star Valley.

"We've offered our professional services at no charge," Carder said. "We'd like to see them succeed."

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