Photo by Mason Cajellas

A Pinal County judge has ruled against the City of Maricopa in a lawsuit filed recently regarding the City’s issuing of conditional use permit to Private Motorsports Group for the proposed APEX Motor Club.

The decision could force a special election in November. Read the ruling

Judge Robert Olson issued the decision Wednesday siding with the plaintiff — Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers — and ordering the city to forward signatures gathered by the plaintiff for a referendum seeking to force the permit issue to a public vote.

The city previously denied the petition and refused to forward the signatures to the Pinal County Recorder, arguing the matter was “administrative” rather than “legislative.” If signatures are verified by the recorder’s office, Maricopa residents will vote on the issue in 90 days.

“Whether the new code preserved the right to apply for an industrial use permit or if the City Council made a policy decision to restore that right, the court finds the grant of the use permit is a legislative action and, therefore, subject to referendum,” Olson wrote in his decision.

Citing the direct power vested in the City Council by the former code, Olson declared the action legislative.

“The old code empowers the City Council to exercise its authority to approve such a permit directly, as it did, while relegating the Planning and Zoning Commission to an advisory role,” Olson wrote. “The Court observes that the effect of this exercise of discretion is similar in magnitude and character to a zoning decision.”

The Maricopa City Clerk’s office has been ordered to forward all signatures to the county recorder for verification.

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