Reader addresses preferential treatment in Gila County

Dear Editor:

The Pine Ice Debacle is a classic example of preferential treatment that still reigns in Gila County today. In 2018 Pine Ice was granted Commercial -2 zoning on their half acre lot with 7 conditions. They ignored 4 of the 7 conditions and altered the grading & drainage on that lot without a permit, a development plan or engineering as required by county ordinances and those 7 conditions. By 2021 they had diverted all their storm water onto their neighbors to the south, flooding 3 properties and 4 other businesses with every heavy rain. It is well known that it’s illegal to divert your storm water onto another property in Arizona (A.R.S.48-3613.) Not so, however, if you belong to the Good Old Boy network in District One! Pine Ice has been allowed to continue as usual while neighboring businesses pay the consequences of Gila County’s lack of action.

Pine Ice has been in violation of the 7 conditions, Gila County Ordinances and ARS 48-3614 for over 2 years now without a single fine. Property owners have complained to Planning & Zoning, Public Works, County Manager and assistant county manager, Engineering, County Attorney, District One supervisor and the Board of Supervisors repeatedly. They are told “it’s a process – the process takes time. Be patient,” while being passed from one department to another being told “I really can’t help you.”

I wonder how much time “the process” takes for the same code violations if you are someone outside “the group?” Consequences for Community Development code violations are enforced by a “hearing officer” contracted to be “judge & jury” in these cases. This hearing officer (the only one for all of Gila County) happens to be a long-time local resident with ties to Pine Ice.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some good people who work for the county with integrity. When they have tried to do what is right their hands were tied by their superiors – or superior’s superior, or “the process.”

Check the facts. You be the judge. Is this or is this not a clear case of preferential treatment for one of the Good Old Boys?

Cyndi Hutson