Eyebrows Raised in Prescott Valley, Arizona

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – Prescott Valley officials have allowed toxic materials to be dumped near the Agua Fria River for decades in a misguided effort to develop a floodplain, two landowners say. Dumping was allowed, “to ‘grant favors’ for purposes of bribery and kickbacks,” the couple claims in Yavapai County Court.

     Joseph and Linda Unick claim the town has dumped and buried “hazardous road construction debris,” old cars, drums full of used oil and other junk on town-owned lots in the Agua Fria Floodplain, in which FEMA prohibits most development.
     “For at least the last 20 years, the Town through its policies and customs, has directly and/or indirectly participated in the illegal dumping of hazardous, toxic,
     and construction waste and fill directly in the Floodplain. No permits or applications were produced, despite plaintiffs’ requests, which would demonstrate the town complied with federal and state regulation of the floodplain,” the complaint states.
     “The purpose of this illegal dumping was to ‘grant favors’ (for purposes of bribery and kickbacks) and artificially raise the land above the elevation of the floodplain and alter the flow of the Agua Fria River.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
     The Town Council recently voted to rezone the land as commercial – now that it’s above the level of the floodplain, according to the complaint.
     The Unicks do not detail the alleged “bribery and kickbacks,” other to say that the illegal dumping “allowed for town monies that, by contract, should have been spent on proper waste disposal, to be paid out as bribes and kickbacks.”
     The raising of the lots makes them worth about $100,000 each rather than “several thousand” dollars each, as they were in the floodplain, the Unicks claim.
     “The express purpose of the illegal dumping was to defraud the individual landowners, including the plaintiffs, the Federal Government, FEMA and its Floodplain insurers, the EPA and the State of Arizona,” the complaint states. “The Town knows and knew such dumping was illegal, and has been recklessly and deliberately indifferent to this fact.”
     The Unicks sued the Town of Prescott Valley, the Town Council, manager, mayor and several of its department heads, alleging racketeering and other charges. They seek no less than $13 million in damages. They are represented by Robert Blakey of Prescott.

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