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  • Denise Bensusan
    All that public land that we think is protected which is scattered between all these MASSIVE private developers projects WILL be developed....either by
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12 6:00 AM
      All that public land that we think is protected which is scattered between all these MASSIVE private developers projects WILL be developed....either by existing owners of current mining claims or future purchases of OUR public lands should the current legislation be approved as is concerning the same. If you think it is not possible please Check it out: http://www.ewg.org/reports_content/dirtcheap/pdf/PomboFactsheet.pdf
      also see article below!!!!!

      Housing planned for mine site
      Firm envisions 35,000 homes after cleanup


      Carl Holcombe
      The Arizona Republic
      Dec. 12, 2005 12:00 AM

      More than six years ago, BHP Copper Co. laid off 2,500 workers and shut down one of the world's largest underground copper mining operations in San Manuel. Now, it's offering the depressed southeast Pinal County community a chance to snatch a share of the housing boom.

      At the request of BHP, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors has approved a master-plan amendment that frees up 23,234 acres of BHP land to be rezoned for new homes. As many as 35,000 homes may replace views of blackened smokestacks, rusting rail yards and a massive mining tailings site.

      This is just one of several housing projects in the early stages of development that reflect a push toward Tucson and Pima County. Pinal County has become one of the nation's fastest-growing counties, but most of the growth has been focused near the county's border with the southeast Valley.

      "We've seen Pinal County's growth patterns, so we're at the first stage of looking at the future," said Jeff Parker, BHP's environmental affairs manager. "If, in 15 or 20 years, rooftops are back in San Manuel, that's a good thing. But a lot of things have to fall into place. The real question is when will the market come here?"

      But residents wary of the company that nearly decimated their community have many questions.

      They are worried about whether BHP will clean up the land adequately, how new homes will affect property values, how enough water will be found to serve so many new residents and who will pay for new infrastructure like sewer treatment plants. Opponents have turned out at public meetings to criticize BHP's plans.

      Parker said construction is several years away. The state has estimated cleanup will cost about $150 million and require razing buildings, dismantling a smelter and capping and growing vegetation on a six-mile-long tailings pile and pond. "There are environmental concerns, but I think they'll be taken care of," Pinal County Supervisor Lionel Ruiz said.

      Ed Bonner managed the tailings pile for years until his 1988 retirement and now works as a consultant on the mines.

      Tailings are a mix of mostly crushed rock extracted from the earth during mining. Bonner said acids, chemicals and heavy metals might also have made it into the pile. But he said the levels were so low and reclamation so effective that the site isn't dangerous.

      When the mine closed, a surge of retirees scooped up homes for just tens of thousands of dollars and joined older fixed-income residents who couldn't leave. They want their quiet, empty streets to stay that way. They said they don't want an increase in property values to raise their taxes.

      "Our fears are where are they going to put these houses, what kind of houses will they be and who builds them?" said William Pyritz, a retired San Manuel Railroad Co. engineer. "Who pays for water and sewer improvements? And in the tailings, they say it's OK. But then they say, 'Well, there are some metals.' "

      He predicted new development will only bring San Manuel more traffic.

      Resident Henry Velasquez disagrees. He admitted development would change the community's lifestyle but said it might also attract needed services and businesses and could boost sagging enrollment at San Manuel's schools.

      "It's fine with me," Velasquez said.

      Resident Sam Pyritz said his neighbors fear new things. He said they were suspicious when the land's original mining company, Magma Copper Co., offered 401(k) retirement programs and again when it offered to sell affordable company-owned homes to work- ers.

      "Some people here don't have foresight," Pyritz said.

      BHP's Parker said San Manuel's sweeping mountain views, cooler temperatures and a 40-minute proximity to Tucson could make San Manuel an ideal location for master-planned communities.

      Supervisor Ruiz predicted new development could bring jobs in construction and retail, new medical facilities and a compelling reason for young people now moving away for jobs to stay in San Manuel.

      "It looks like (with this) we should be getting a sustainable community, where we keep people in town," Ruiz said.


      Denise Bensusan
      A Not for Profit Community Active Publication

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