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Plan for development near San Pedro River hits obstacle as government suspends permit

By Ian James | Arizona Republic

The federal government has suspended a permit for a proposal to build thousands of new homes near Arizona’s San Pedro River, creating a new obstacle for a controversial project that conservation activists argue would imperil the river.

Environmental groups sued in 2019 to challenge the government’s decision to grant a permit under a provision of the Clean Water Act that regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material into streams, washes and wetlands. They argued the government should have analyzed the potential harm to the river as part of its analysis.

The decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to suspend the dredge-and-fill permit was announced in a court document filed by lawyers for the government, and appears to hinder plans for the 28,000-home Tuscan-themed development called Villages at Vigneto.

“It’s a big deal,” said Robin Silver, a co-founder of the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that sued the government over the permit. Silver called it a “huge victory,” saying the developer won’t be able to “do anything without that permit.”


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July 2021