THATCHER — The Thatcher Town Council has settled a land use query by doing nothing.
The council held a special executive session meeting Jan. 21 to discuss inquiries about additional settlement offers to Steve Allen regarding a lawsuit he filed against the town, according to Town Manager Terry Hinton. Allen sued the town after he felt its government wronged him in its decision to forbid a business to operate on his property south of Highway 70 on Reay Lane.
While what is said during executive session is confidential, the council must adjourn to open session to take a vote. Upon returning to open session, the council voted to take no further action on the issue and let the previous judgment of the court stand as the final say, according to Hinton. Allen's son, Thatcher Council member Aaron Allen, recused himself from the session and did not take part in the discussion or vote. Steve Allen previously rejected a $385,000 settlement from the town to purchase the property in dispute.
Graham County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Jerry Landau issued a ruling Dec. 31, 2012, which granted Steve Allen's petition that the Thatcher Town Council acted inappropriately when it met as the town's Board of Adjustment and ruled against a Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation to allow Allen to use his property on Reay Lane as a possible maintenance and fueling facility for Bulk Transportation. However, Landau also dismissed Allen's suit for damages and granted Thatcher's motion to strike because the parties centered for the most part on the procedure and not monetary damages. Because no monetary damages were proved, it would be premature to award any, according to Landau, and both sides were ordered to bear their own attorney's fees.
The Town Council met Dec. 13, 2011, as the Thatcher Zoning Board of Adjustment, to address an appeal of an Oct. 13, 2011, Thatcher Planning and Zoning Commission ruling that approved a request from Steve Allen to use his property on Reay Lane as a possible maintenance and fueling facility.
The Steve Allen property, which is roughly 3.5 acres with a shop and fuel tanks, previously was used by the town of Thatcher as its maintenance facility for more than 40 years and, afterward, by J&M Excavating for the same purpose, according to Steve Allen. The property is zoned C-2 (commercial use), which is the same zoning for Bulk Transportation's Safford location.
Landau essentially said the decision whether to allow Bulk Transportation to operate at the location would be up to the Thatcher Town Council to decide. The council chose to not address the issue until Bulk petitions to use the property.
"Our stand is if Bulk wants to go in there and asks for that, then we would hold a hearing for the Town Council . . .," Hinton said. "I'm not sure they're still interested in the property."
The property can still be utilized for any normal C-2 use, however, according to Hinton.