Thursday, September 15, 2022

Meritage Homes Continues To "Trash The Desert" (Part 2)

Meritage Homes is literally trashing the desert. Yesterday we published Part 1 about this. It focused on the timeline from November 2021 through April 2022. Today, we focus on the latest. Both articles were written with information provided to LOVE over the past ten months from Amy Eisenberg, Ph.D.
June and July 2022
Another 50 pounds of trash discovered including rusty barbed wire
Dr. Eisenberg cleaned up another 50 pounds of trash left by Meritage Homes, AT&T, and American Tower employees. She again called The Oro Valley Police Department to report the violation. She later dragged up two large tangles of rusty barbed wire and garbage from the Pima County Open Space Conservation Zone, including a tire on the Silverhawke Trail near American Tower where desert tortoises reside.

Eisenberg continued to implore Meritage Homes, American Tower, and AT&T workers to stop dumping their trash over the enclosure and into the desert and to show some respect for the wildlife that lives there. Dr. Eisenberg reports that after much prompting and pushback, American Tower cleaned up their enclosure and AT&T cleaned up their adjacent gated enclosure.

August 2022
Broken glass and Meritage Homes signs found on the ground
By August, Dr. Eisenberg had cleaned up hundreds of pounds of trash on this parcel. She is concerned that “if a baby tortoise eats this trash, they could become ill and die.”

On August 3, 2022, Eisenberg reported broken glass and many pounds of garbage including two tires which she removed from the Silverhawke Spur Trail off of Palisades Road. She asked the Town to have someone adopt this trail and clean up the broken glass “to protect native creatures.” Eisenberg also found two Meritage Homes signs left on the ground. She again asked for the Town’s assistance in requiring that Meritage “clean up the desert surrounding their construction site.”

The Town explains their compliance process
“Per our compliance process, once the violation has been rectified the violation is closed. So, when the compliance staff determines there is litter outside of Meritage’s property, Meritage is notified of the violation, Meritage will send out a crew to clean up the litter and when the Town follows up to confirm, the violation is closed, each time. A fine is considered when the litter is not picked up from several violation notices. This has not been the case with Meritage, each time they are notified about the litter, it is picked up.

The Town continues to keep eyes on this project and works closely with Meritage to remind their trade partners of cleanup expectations.”
According to the Town, the problem has been rectified. According to Dr. Eisenberg, the problem is ongoing and she continues to pick up the trash herself and continues to report the problems to the Town and the OVPD.

An unsustainable situation
It appears that the Town only addresses each individual episode and then it's "case closed" and that a fine is only considered if they do not pick up the litter after receiving several violation notices.  The fine should not just be "considered."  It should be mandatory.  This ongoing trash problem is an unsustainable situation.  LOVE has asked the Town if they have a protocol to address a builder who continually fails to control the litter on their job site.  We are awaiting a response. 

Between Meritage Homes construction debris, Pima County not maintaining their Open Space Conservation Zone, and Silverhawke residents’ trash blowing onto the trail and surrounding area, Dr. Eisenberg believes that this trail needs regular stewardship.

We still do not understand why Meritage Homes was never fined. After all, if a person/company does not suffer the consequences for their behavior, they have no reason to change their behavior.