By Kevin Reagan for Casa Grande Dispatch
A Pinal County judge has ruled that a permit granted to the APEX Motor Club project in Maricopa is subject to a referendum, thus putting it on hold.
On Wednesday, Judge Robert Carter Olson issued an order in favor of the plaintiffs who petitioned the city to place the permitting issue on a ballot measure before the public.
The Maricopa City Council issued a conditional-use permit in April for APEX to develop a private motor sports park on 280 acres near Ralston Road and State Route 238.
More than 1,000 signatures were gathered by a citizens group, calling for a referendum. But in June the city clerk claimed the permitting matter was an “administrative” action and not subject to a public vote under state law.
In his ruling, the judge decided the council’s vote was a “legislative” action and subject to a referendum.
Olson further ordered the city clerk to include 12 signatures on the plaintiff’s petitions that had been disqualified for failing to provide a ZIP code or address. The court determined such disqualification went beyond the scope of a clerk’s authority.
The judge has instructed the city to forward the sample of petition signatures to the county recorder.
The permit has been a source of controversy, though it’s unclear who the different sides of the conflict are. APEX and city officials have long questioned who it is behind the opposition, theorizing that the group is actually backed by people from outside of Maricopa.
One theory pushed by APEX is that the leaders of the opposition are the developers behind Attesa, a separate race track development planned for construction near Casa Grande. Attesa declined to comment.
Timothy La Sota, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said his clients were very happy with the judge’s ruling as it vindicates their right to seek a referendum.
Read more at Casa Grande Dispatch.
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