Town of Florence residents have been inquiring as to the current status of the Florence Copper project. With recent developments, the Town felt it was appropriate and prudent to update the community as to the current status.
The Florence Town Council’s recent action on Monday, April 1, 2013 to rescind Ordinance No. 583-12, which made it unlawful to use or store large quantities of sulfuric acid in the Town of Florence or within two miles of the Town’s boundaries, raised many questions amongst the public on whether or not the Town of Florence remains opposed to the Florence Copper Project.
Florence Town Manager, Charles A. Montoya clarifies the Town’s position by saying, “The Florence Town Council remains opposed to the Florence Copper Project and has expressed a desire to maintain its current stance. The health and safety of the public is our first priority and we will continue to do what is necessary to minimize all potential risks to the Town’s water supply”.
On February 1, 2013, Curis Resources filed a $139,800,000 notice of claim against the Town in response to Ordinance No. 583-12 being adopted by the Florence Town Council in August of 2012. It had also filed a federal lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment against the ordinance.
“The notice of claim received by the Town was significant. It represented a significant liability to the Town and to the residents of the Town of Florence”, says Mr. Montoya. “The Town Council rescinded the ordinance to minimize the financial risks represented by the notice of claim filed by Curis Resources.”
Town Management and Curis Resources representatives entered into discussions prior to the Town Council rescinding the ordinance and an agreement was reached that Curis Resources would drop the pending notice of claim, as well as its federal lawsuit, if the ordinance was rescinded. In addition, Curis Resources agreed to forgo its attorney’s fees and costs, which were estimated to be in excess of $100,000, if the Town agreed to minimize its communications with the media while the ordinance was rescinded.
Since that time, Curis Resources has dropped its claim and dismissed its federal lawsuit against the Town. The Town held up to its side of the agreement and minimized its communications with the media in relation to the ordinance being rescinded. Moving forward, the Town has now resumed its communications with the media and is open to talking about the issues and the Town’s opposition to the proposed Florence Copper Project.
More recently, Judge Arthur Anderson of the Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit against Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), which was filed by the Town of Florence, Pulte Homes, Southwest Value Partners and Johnson Utilities. The suit was based on a claim that ADEQ exceeded its statutory authority in enacting regulations which allowed the agency to issue a temporary Aquifer Protection Permit to Curis Resources. The Town believes that this dismissal was not in the best interest of the community and is considering an appeal of the decision.
In addition, the Town continues to oppose the project by challenging the issuance of any permits that may be issued by the ADEQ and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
On a separate issue that is unrelated to permitting, the Town of Florence continues to pursue the acquisition of property owned by Curis Resources, which may include buildings, land and water rights for a future wastewater treatment plant, as well as sites for the location of other Town facilities, buildings and related improvements. If necessary, the Town may use its power of eminent domain for the acquisition.
The property owned by Curis Resources is zoned residential with certain amenities, and the Town is looking forward to this type of development for its future growth and service delivery systems, all of which is reflected in the Town’s voter-approved General Plan. The existing land use and zoning categories were requested by the previous land owner, real estate developer Harrison Merrill, and occurred in 2007 prior to Curis Resources purchasing the property. The Town Council believes that such development is still the best and most appropriate use for the community and its residents.
For questions regarding this issue, contact Jess Knudson, Florence Public Information Officer, at (520) 868-7541 or by email.