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Empire project a fire hazard
Written by Staff Reporter   
Wednesday, 22 October 2008 13:32

Empty lots in the bankrupt Mountain Gate Community in Clarkdale will become a fire hazard.

Town of Clarkdale Community Development Director Sherry Bailey said the town, fire district and Mountain Gate Homeowners Association are trying to fix the tumbleweed problem on the empty lots. The tumbleweeds present a fire hazard to the area.

Clarkdale Fire District Chief Joe Moore said it is not a significant fire hazard because the tumbleweeds are not dry at this time. The tumbleweeds will become a significant problem in the near future though.

He said CFD has been working with the homeowners association and Clarkdale to get in contact with Empire Land, the owners of the property, to get the problem fixed.

The HOA has been very diligent in helping clear tumbleweeds in common areas and burn them to prevent reseeding for next year, Moore said.

“The residents do not have permission, or any of us, to go onto Empire’s property legally. We are waiting on an answer from them to see what we can do,” he said.

CFD does not have the manpower to clear this very large property area, Moore said.

“We want the community to know we know it is a concern, and we are doing everything possible to stop this from becoming a life and safety hazard,” Moore said.

If anybody gets hurt or property is damaged, Empire would be strictly liable. Clarkdale does not own any of the land, so it would be hard to find the town liable for any loss of life or property damage, he said.

Bailey said the town has been in contact with Empire’s bankruptcy attorney because it is their responsibility to handle the danger. She said the town hasn’t heard back from them.

Bankruptcy Status
Empire declared bankruptcy earlier this year but posted a performance bond to build the project as required by Clarkdale town ordinances.
The $1.85 million bond has not yet been applied to remaining infrastructure costs.

“The process is moving slowly through the court.” Bailey said.

Clarkdale has retained Scott Cohen, a bankruptcy attorney out of Phoenix, to represent the town.

Bailey said Clarkdale is working with two bond companies to settle on infrastructure costs.

The Arch Bond Company and Clarkdale reached a settlement that will be taken to the council at the next meeting. This bond is the smaller amount of just over $150,000, Bailey said. “We are still working with Bond Safeguard to provide the level of detail covered by the $1.7 million bond,” she said


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