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House GOP leader wants to bar cities from stopping private wall construction

By: - June 3, 2019 1:24 pm

House Majority Leader Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

House Majority Leader Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, is planning to propose legislation next session that would allow for private groups to build a wall along the border on private land, regardless of whether city or county zoning allows such structures.

On Twitter Monday, Petersen said he’d be introducing legislation that would make sure organizations can “erect border walls on private property in AZ without impediment from state and local government.”

Petersen, a Republican from Gilbert, referred to the We Build the Wall Inc. group in his tweet which has raised $23 million of its $1 billion goal that it says will be used to build a border wall on private land on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico.

“I want We Build the Wall to have a final look at and input before its introduced,” Petersen told the Arizona Mirror Monday.

“I’m working on the language but I believe the best path would be a zoning preemption or a state general permit, or perhaps both,” Petersen said. “Obviously, any scenario would require property owners consent.”

A representative from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns was aware of Petersen’s tweet, but said the organization had not gathered enough information to comment publicly.

Brian Kolfage founded We Build the Wall Inc., which formed out of a GoFundMe created by the veteran and triple amputee. The GoFundMe created by Kolfage raised more than $20 million and is tied up in lawsuits over how the money will be used. Some of that money has gone to this new initiative.

PMAZ Bannon
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon poses for a picture with members of Patriot Movement AZ, an anti-immigrant group that is considered an extremist organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

Steve Bannon and other Trump acolytes gathered in a conference room in a gated community in Sahuarita earlier this year to speak to members of the Quail Creek Republican Club about their plans with We Build the Wall Inc.

Recently, the group hit a major roadblock when a city in New Mexico near where it is building approximately half-a-mile of border wall issued a cease and desist order.

The Mayor of Sunland Park, New Mexico, later withdrew his cease and desist and the group has continued to work.

We Build the Wall has not yet begun constructing any barriers in Arizona, nor has it publicly identified any potential sites where it could do so. According to a recent Phoenix New Times investigation, there are few places in Arizona where it could do so.

We Build the Wall is being investigated by the state of Florida for consumer complaints, where it is based.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.