Tusayan development deal gets OK from council
Developers required to address adequate water supply source within 30 days
TUSAYAN, Ariz. - Six new temporary homes will be delivered to Camper Village by Christmas. That is the guarantee made by Stilo Group after the Tusayan Town Council voted to approve the developer's controversial development agreement with the town of Tusayan Nov. 2.
Some may consider it an early Christmas present, others will not. But last night, after the Tusayan Town Council approved the large scale development plan and all necessary changes to current zoning ordinances connected to the three land parcels in question - Kotzin Ranch, Ten X Ranch, and Camper Village - the development process is under way.
That is, if a referendum doesn't make it onto an upcoming ballot. Disgruntled registered voters in Tusayan now have 30 days to seek a referendum to overturn the decision.
Within five days of the council's approval, Stilo must apply for building permits for the temporary homes at Camper Village. Within 30 days, they must apply for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CC&N) for Ten X and Kotzin, which requires the developer to supply an adequate water supply prior to the approval of any site plans.
A CC&N is the permit that allows a utility to serve a specific geographic area. Before a company can provide a regulated utility service such as water, electric, natural gas, telephone or sewer service, it must first obtain a CC&N that outlines the territory and terms under which the territory was granted.
Within 180 days, Stilo Group must begin an environmental assessment in conjunction with federal government requirements.
"There is also an overarching review process imposed by the government that will address the concerns of the Havasupai Tribe, the Grand Canyon National Park and the Forest Service," Town Attorney Bill Sims said. "This process has just begun."
After the environmental assessment is complete, and in the next 36 months, Stilo must begin construction on both the Kotzin and Ten X parcels.
According to Sims, Tusayan will continue to the development process to make sure many of the concerns that were expressed at previous hearings are addressed over time, with the first step being the deeding of 40 acres to the town.
This will occur in 14 days and start the process for moving housing onto Camper Village.
Sims explained the vote to zone and rezone the three parcels in question is dependent on Stilo satisfying many of the requirements set by the P&Z commission after a public comment period. Those requirements include detailed reports and reviews on drainage, traffic, water and solid waste.
"Probably the most significant change to the development plan that we've made is to address clearly that the zoning must, under the Arizona Statutes be consistent and conform to the Tusayan Area Plan," he added
The process approved last night set the wheels of development adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park in motion.
Still in the works is the negotiation of a donation agreement with Stilo and the Grand Canyon School District (GCSD). Stilo has agreed to provide the district with benefits to be described in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and provided after the town's approval of the development.
GCSD Superintendent Sharyl Allen reported to council members talks with Stilo were in progress, and due to the magnitude of the project, the district governing board predicts they will have an MOU in the next 30 days.
"We had the opportunity to meet today with Stilo, and we appreciate the time and interest they have given to the important issue of our children," she said.
Before council voted to approve the development agreement, Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga addressed his concerns regarding the timeframe in which the council has allowed for the incorporation of recent comments into their plan. Along with urging the council to slow the development process down, he said he noticed in the agreement that the developer will be allowed to drill wells for water. How that will affect the national park is a huge concern.
Attorney Helen Burtis of Rosette LLP representing the Havasupai Tribe said the tribe is very concerned that the pumping of groundwater will negatively affect the tribe's lifestyle, on which they are extremely dependent.
"I'd like to make it abundantly clear, if it wasn't already, that the assurances that there will be adequate water does not speak to the concerns of the tribe," she said. "The tribes concerns are that that water will be pulled from groundwater, of which the tribe has senior legal priority rights over the town. Infringing on those rights will not be taken lightly be the tribe."
After hearing the last comments by representatives of concerned entities asking council to not rush the decision, council members opted to move forward with the motion.
Councilman Al Montoya voted to approve the development agreement, with Vice-Mayor Cecily Maniaci seconding it. Tusayan Greg Bryan cast the third yes vote with both Councilmen John Rueter and Bill Fitzgerald recusing themselves.
Montoya said he understands that there will be growing pains, but as a town they have to move forward and take responsibility for the future.
For the last seven or eight months the council has gone over the project, he went on to say, and throughout that time, he's listened to attorneys from Red Feather Properties and the Havasupai Tribe.
"They all make decisions that are going to benefit their constituents," he said. "The Havasupai of course are here because they want to keep development at bay. After all, their job is to make decisions that are best for them. And the people at the Red Feather Properties say that we are moving too fast, we need more time, etc."
Montoya said Tusayan resident Clarinda Vail presented council with a map of other properties that are available for development.
"The same problems would exist there that exist now, the roads, the annexation, the water," he said. "All these issues still exist and the only thing that we wouldn't have would be someone to foot the bill.
"If we don't start this process at some point, and we keep putting it off, we are never going to get it done," he said.
Mayor Greg Bryan added that his mantra from day one has been "housing."
"We have the chance here to build our downtown and have homes for our people to live in, and a chance for people to own their own business and to have a chance to make some thing different for them and their families," Bryan. "To me that is important."