If Lake Havasu City, Ariz., residents Rick Collins and Don Clark are any indication, people’s minds may be made already up when it comes to The Refuge annexation.
Several representatives of an organization against The Refuge Golf & Country Club’s partial annexation into the city hosted a meeting Tuesday night (May 3), urging residents to vote “No” in the mail-in May 17 special election. Roughly 75 residents turned out for the meeting, Today’s News Herald reported.
City Center Executive Plaza Owners Jerry and Cindy Aldridge requested annexation into the city last year for about 50 acres of the property for a new motorcoach resort. The city council approved the annexation in October, but then opted in January for an all-mail special-election ballot after roughly 1,600 residents signed a petition against the annexation.
“What we’re going to be voting on is whether the city is going to be annexing this property,” said Lake Havasu City resident Dennis Schilling, who is also the chairman of the political-action committee that initiated the referendum petition. “It’s wise to remember that we’re not going to be voting on whether an RV park is going to be built or not.”
Schilling and other representatives mentioned the multiple lawsuits currently in litigation that involve City Center, the city and The Refuge Homeowner’s Association. Schilling said the lawsuits make him question the validity of the annexation.
“Basically we just want to let the courts work it out,” Schilling said during the meeting. “And then, if it’s a good idea, then maybe it can be reconsidered. … Those things really need to be settled before the city embarks on this hoopla.”
Those attending the meeting were required to submit written questions during the session. One focused on why the city did not seek out a third-party to evaluate the Aldridges’ plan and its effect on the city. City officials previously estimated the annexation would cost about $2,000 to $4,000 a year.
“We as homeowners started to do an evaluation,” said part-time Refuge resident Sue Thompson, adding that the third-party evaluation would’ve cost roughly $15,000. “But then (the Aldridges’ plan) changed, so we didn’t do that.”
City staff and council members say paying for an analysis using a third-party would have cost more than $150,000. The independent study was not required, city officials say, and did not have an impact on the annexation itself as the city would gain money from the annexation whether the project succeeds or not.
Schilling said he was disappointed the city didn’t do its own study.
“I think this was a real shame that our city did not take a look at any of those numbers,” Schilling said. “We don’t really know how much this will be costing us in any given year.”
Lake Havasu City resident Don Clark, who has advocated for the annexation, said his mind was not swayed during the meeting.
“As a matter of fact, they solidified my reasons for voting ‘Yes,’” Clark said. “They said they weren’t going to bring up RV parks or this or that, and all they talked about was RV parks and lawsuits. Then they went on to say that if the city annexed the property, it could opt out of the annexation. So to me, that’s all the more reason to vote ‘Yes.’ If it doesn’t work, the city’s not out anything.”
Resident Rick Collins said he had already decided to vote “No” before the presentation.
“There wasn’t a clear indication from the spokespeople as to what the benefit would be to City Center if it’s annexed,” Collins said. “They made mention of a looser business dealing, which doesn’t really succinctly explain what the benefit would be. I would’ve liked to have known more clearly.”
Collins said he lives near The Refuge, and he questioned the addition of 500 more people that the motorcoach would supposedly bring in and its validity with the city’s General Plan.
“That’s 500 people added to all of the traffic that’s out there now,” he said. “So we’d prefer, that since we bought property in town, to stay with the General Plan.”
Lake Havasu City Councilman Sonny Borrelli is set to host a town-hall meeting at 6 tonight at the Relics and Rods Hall of the Lake Havasu Community Center.