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Lucas Hoopes, Pima Town council member

The Pima Town Council directed new town manager Vernon Batty to consult with an attorney about the unofficial industrial zone that’s been created south of the town cemetery before talking with the two tenants who are currently operating on the land.

The council also scheduled a meeting for next week to discuss new regulations recommended by the town’s planning and zoning commission.

Although the town’s planning and zoning commission hasn’t met for two years, it was recently revealed a cardboard recycling plant and steel fabrication building have been operating on 20 acres the town owns south of the cemetery and one of those businesses is operating out of two buildings built with town funds. In recent months, the commission has been meeting twice a month under a new administrator to create regulations for future light and heavy industrial zones.

On Thursday, the commission and council met together to go over those regulations, but instead had a more global discussion about Ty Traylor’s two-year lease for the recycling plant, Nick DeRusha’s steel fabrication business and industrial zones in general.

Because Traylor and DeRusha have been allowed to operate out there, the town has some “serious, serious issues,” said Lucas Hoopes, council member. “Today the big question we need to discuss is what do we do going forward, especially with these two tenants we have out there and think it’s very clear we don’t even want that as an industrial zone, period.”

New commission administrator Jimmy Lofgreen agreed its a bad location for an industrial zone because of traffic.

“On South Main there’s a really weird bottleneck, a dog-leg on it and if two semis meet there, they’re not passing,” Lofgreen said. “The only other option to get out there is 400 West. It has a railroad track followed by a park and left 90-degree turn and two semis can’t pass each other on that at all... There is no other ingress, egress out of that particular area.”

While there has been talk about widening Main for years, it would be difficult now because of the number of homeowners out there, said commission member Daryl Weech.

Hoopes asked whose decision it was to allow DeRusha and Traylor to move onto the property.

“Someone who used to work here,” Weech said.

“Without your permission?” Hoopes asked.

“We were never talked to about it,” Weech responded.

“We were never brought into it,” commission member Diane Drobka agreed.

“In fact, all of our discussions for several years prior to that was, ‘Before anything happens there we need to be sure we have enough room to widen that’ because we knew things were going to grow out in that direction,” Weech said.

The situation is an unfortunate one, Hoope said.

“Me, personally, I just feel really bad for those businesses that think they’ve relocated and found a new home in Pima, the up and coming of the Gila Valley and now we are putting their whole lives in jeopardy I guess right now, my brother-in-law being one of them,” Hoopes said.

Planning and zoning member Scott Howell said there have been a lot of discussions about how to make it right and the fact Pima Unified School District is now discussing building a new high school nearby makes it even more complicated. That will mean that much more traffic out there, he said.

“This is sort of a crazy thing, but I want to bring it up,” Drobka said. “We weren’t involved in this, but apparently Town of Pima money was used, $70,000 or something, to actually build those buildings for the current occupant with the idea he was going to reimburse the Town of Pima at some point. He hasn’t paid any money...Would it make any sense for us to build him a new facility someplace in an industrial zone and repurpose those buildings?”

Batty said he believes the town might still be able to widen Main Street, if it can obtain grant and other funding.

As for Drobka’s query?

“There are some decisions that need to be made out there and we are currently looking at different options, crazy or not,” Batty said.

Hoopes said moving forward he’d like to bring Traylor and DeRusha into the fold.

“I would pick their brains and see what their thoughts are and make some suggestions. That would be my recommendation. Involve them in this whole situation rather than leave them out there in the dark, under the impression everything is still OK,” Hoopes said.

DeRusha, who is currently operating without a lease, is aware of the problems, but Traylor is not, Batty said.

“Which is why we need to bring him in. We all need to get on the same page and make sure he understands that ‘No matter what you’ve been told, these are the realities,’” Batty said.

At that point, Mayor CB Fletcher recommended Batty speak with attorney Grant Walker prior to meeting with the tenants to “see where we’re at legally.”

The council will meet with the commission at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 to go over the suggested industrial zone regulations.

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