Glendale approved the sale of land in the Agua Fria River bed to a mining company late last month, despite a lawsuit looming from one of the bidders rejected in the sale.
The Glendale City Council unanimously approved on Nov. 28 an ordinance authorizing the sale of 47.85 acres of the river bed to Gilbert-based M.R. Tanner Mining Inc. for $4.75 million.
But Phoenix-based attorney Jeri Kishiyama, represents Phoenix-based ABC Sand and Rock Co. and Rare Earth LLC, said her clients have repeatedly asked the city about information regarding the sale but have been denied.
Once they received those records, they filed a lawsuit against in Maricopa County Superior Court.
“We believe ABC was the most responsive bidder on this. We requested public records and were rebuffed, time and time again, until we finally filed a lawsuit and asked for public record,” Kishiyama said. “We got them Nov. 13 and those emails that are in that form the basis of a lawsuit we filed yesterday against the City of Glendale. We really strongly oppose this. The procurement code that you have adopted in your code was not followed. All we have asked this whole time is to have been treated fairly.”
Before the council unanimously voted to go into executive session to discuss the legal ramifications of the vote, Glendale City
Attorney Michael Bailey provided a city staff perspective.
“We were told a complaint was filed. We have not been served. More importantly, the attorney that just spoke is not on the pleading that was filed. So I’m not actually sure who represents the entity in the complaint. What I can tell you is that in this process, there were no bid protests at any time,” Bailey said.
Maricopa County court records list a lawsuit filed by ABC against the city in September. That case, which had attorney Tim Lasota listed as representing the company, was listed as dismissed as of Nov. 13.
Glendale purchased 453 acres of Agua Fria river bed land in separate chunks during 1991 and 1996. In September 2020, the council authorized staff to solicit offers to sell part of that land adjacent to the West Area Water Reclamation Facility, built by the city in 2000 with the entrance at 5901 N. Glenn Harbor Blvd.
In August 2022 the city issued an invitation for bids on the 47.85 acres.
“Two bids were received. The most responsive bid was M.R. Tanner Co. for $4.75 million to dispose of this acreage on the Agua Fria River corridor,” Bessler said. “It’s no longer determined to be in the interest of the city to continue to hold this property.”
In her public comment on the sale, Kishiyama alleged the bidding process was weighted in M.R. Tanner’s favor, and that it was made clear once ABC Sand and Rock received the public records on Nov. 13 and was able to look through them.
She cited an email from deputy city manager that she alleged states the city knows M.R. Tanner cannot comply with the bid process in regards to the water recharge component. Kishiyama said she and her clients informed Bailey of the lawsuit that was pending as of Nov. 27.
“We didn’t give ABC that opportunity — this is what the email said — but we know ABC is probably going to protest the bid because that’s how the operate. I’m stunned and disappointed at the level of disregard for the procurement code,” Kishiyama said.