A Pima County Superior Court judge upheld the town of Oro Valley's May 7 annexation of Area B last week, indicating that the town had at least four signatures more than it needed for a majority.
"We needed to reach a certain threshold amount and we did, whether it was one, 20 or 100 signatures," said town attorney Mark Langlitz. "The majority of property owners spoke."
Judge Carmine Cornelio issued the ruling Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 26, denying two petitions to void the annexation filed by area resident Philip Richardson.
The decision reversed the judge's preliminary ruling July 29 stating that the town had failed to show it had signatures from more than half of homeowners in the annexed area. Area B includes the commercial intersection at Oracle and Magee roads and surrounding residential areas bounded by Northern Avenue to the west, First Avenue to the east, Suffolk Drive to the south and Camino Cortaro to the north.
By law, the town needed more than 313.5 signatures to uphold the annexation. After reviewing 10 exhibits challenging the validity of the signatures because of missing dates, printed rather than cursive signatures, signatures made by one spouse for another and similar reasons, the judge determined that of 347.75 signatures presented by the town, 318.25 were valid.
Judge Cornelio also examined Richardson's claim that the town's use of non-uniformed police to circulate petitions made some area residents feel intimidated, but found "no reasonable and credible evidence" presented to the Court "that signatures were obtained by threat or intimidation."
Richardson said he will appeal the decision. "We're preparing the battleground for the appeal, but we need money," he said. "This case is so complicated. It's possibly the most convoluted thing that ever came before a judge about annexation."
An appeals process could take three to six months, said Langlitz. "We are going to operate under the assumption that the annexation is valid and continue to provide services to residents."