Council votes to buy land, move cattle

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The Maricopa City Council is giving the cows the boot. Council voted last night to a land purchase and development agreement that would facilitate the extinction of the Maricopa Feedlot and spur a future job center in the city.

“This is a landmark change for the city of Maricopa,” said Mayor Anthony Smith. “It is as important for the city as the expansion of State Route 347 from two to four lanes was.”

The city is purchasing 68 acres of land for $3 million to use for the construction of an overpass at White and Parker Road and the Union Pacific Railroad. In turn, the owner of the entire 900-acre parcel, El Dorado Holdings, would cancel the lease on the cattle lot operating on the property, Maricopa Feedlot, and rezone 50 acres in the parcel from residential to commercial use.

“This will allow us to stimulate some serious job growth,” Smith said.

The lessee of the property will be responsible for cleaning up the land, a process Bill Sawyer, owner of Maricopa Feedlot, said is already 50 percent complete. However, if the company fails to complete the project, $300,000 is scheduled to be set aside in an escrow account for the city to mitigate the land they are purchasing.

“The total cost of mitigation for the 900-acre parcel is around $700,000, so if the lessee fails to clean, the $300,000 should be enough for the city to clean its parcel,” said city attorney Denis Fitzgibbons.

Assistant City Manager Roger Kolman said the agreement would rid the city of 55,000 cattle; however, the capacity of the Maricopa Feedlot is only 34,000 cattle. Currently, the company is only operating at 50 percent or less than that capacity, Sawyer said.

In addition a second feedlot, Pinal Feed, with a capacity of 50,000 cattle, lies on the west side of Maricopa Feedlot and will remain unaffected by this deal.

“It’s better for us if they close; more cattle will now be coming here,” said Earl Petznick, owner of Pinal Feed. He added typically his lot operates at 10,000 cattle below its capacity.

With the approval of the agreement Maricopa Feedlot’s lease will be terminated in December, and the company will essentially have six months to finish the clean up work.

“This is really going to reduce the air quality problems and smell in the area,” Smith said.

In addition to the removal of the feedlots, council renewed an annual contract with the lobbying firm of Landry, Creedon and Associates Inc. for $96,000, approved a $60,000 expenditure for the local youth center and approved a one-year use permit for Pathway Preparatory Academy.

Check back for full stories on these items in the coming days.

File photo