TELL MEL: Negligent with nature?

Community members share concerns over construction materials littering Catalina Mountains

Tell Mel: La Reserve residents dealing with construction debris

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Nestled high on the side of the Catalina Mountains, many Oro Valley residents call Pusch Ridge home.

“We are very blessed to live here and try to protect what is left," said Amy Eisenberg, Ph. D.

Eisenberg reached out to KOLD News 13 with concerns over construction materials she believes have been left behind for years. The University of Arizona professor filed a complaint with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, fed up with a property owner who she feels has been negligent with nature.

“There are thousands of pounds of trash up in this area, which is now in the hands of La Reserve," Eisenberg said.

ADEQ inspectors followed Eisenberg into the gated community of Ponticello at La Reserve last month. According to the report taken on Nov. 19, the inspectors provided identification and explained that they were there to responding to a dumping complaint on the backside of the property adjacent to the mountains. The gate attendant granted the group access.

The report identified items in a waste summary, including: tires, large rock screen grates, metal equipment, concrete debris, PVC pipes, scrap metal, an unidentified tank, a metal shed and more. Forty-five photos were included in the report.

As to the result of the visit, the inspectors reported “potential deficiencies were noted during the course of the inspection."

“It’s the rubber that was eroding from large tractor tires, plastic decomposing, which is threat to the soil ecosystem and animals," Eisenberg said. “We hope they will promptly clean up their act. It’s long overdue. Since 2006 it’s been there and it’s caused tremendous damage already.”

KOLD News 13 reached out to the person listed on the report as the onsite contact. In an email, he wrote:

“Thieves and vandals have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and theft to our equipment and material legally and properly stored on private property. For someone to think we would have any ill intents toward our pristine multi-million dollar property is simply ludicrous and defies even the simplest of logic."

“He didn’t want people to see the trash that he left, but now it’s exposed because it’s violating environmental quality," Eisenberg said.

ADEQ sent a what the department calls an “action update letter” to the onsite contact on Dec. 11. It stated the department was determining appropriate ADEQ response to possible violations. An ADEQ spokesperson told KOLD News 13 there hasn’t been any formal communication at that time.

The town of Oro Valley also stepped in following complaints.

The Community and Economic Development Department sent two ‘notice of violation’ letters, one in October and the second in November, to the onsite contact.

In the notice from November, it states:

“Town staff sent you a letter regarding the violation and have not had a response. This is the last attempt to contact you before this is sent to our legal department.”

On Dec. 16, an Oro Valley spokesperson told KOLD News 13 that “town staff will be headed out later this week to check to see if there have been any changes/improvements to the site.” The spokesperson was also checking to see if the property owner’s permit for construction activities was current.

KOLD News 13 reached out to the onsite contact again on Monday, Dec. 16 to see if any changes had been made to the site. We have not yet heard back.

While she has more concerns with the impact of future development north of Tucson, Eisenberg hopes someone will be forced to clean up the site, soon, on the Catalinas.

“We can’t stop development but we can try to be a voice for the creatures who are trying to survive here," said Eisenberg.

If you have questions or concerns about your the community, it’s easy to Tell Mel.

Call: 1-844-KOLD MEL (1-844-565-3635)

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