FLAGSTAFF — Although most believe there's a one-year waiting period for Canyon Forest Village to submit a modified plan for development near the Grand Canyon, it appears that will not be the case.
Bill Towler, director of community development for Coconino County, said Wednesday "I don't believe there is a one-year waiting time." Language of the ordinance backs up that comment.
"The ordinance says there's a one-year wait from a denial from the board of supervisors," Towler said. "In this case, there was no denial from the board of supervisors. Initially, I don't think the one year applies to the vote."
The four sitting members (minus Paul Babbitt from District 1) of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved of CFV's 272-acre rezoning request on March 15 with several attached conditions. CFV would obtain the area in a land exchange with the U.S. Forest Service.
However, the Nov. 7 Proposition 400 referendum vote shot the CFV plan down by a considerable margin. Towler said he believes it would not be practical for Canyon Forest Village to resubmit its current plan.
"I suspect if they submit anything, it would be a substantially different plan," Towler said.
Tom De Paolo, CFV's managing partner, said after the vote a few weeks ago that there's no expiration date on the environmental impact study and one of his options would be to reapply for zoning under a modified plan, going back through the public process. De Paolo said if major changes were made, then a one-year wait would not be necessary, adding "that's at the discretion of the county."
De Paolo said his group would reflect on the events of the past several months, re-evaluating their options. Based on CFV's investment in money and time, many believe the developer will not just walk away.
"In the future, we'll try to connect better with those folks we didn't connect with," De Paolo said, which could be an indication that the developer will try again in the future. "We're extremely proud of the phenomenal support from that very diverse group of supporters from the environmental community, agencies, tribes, the museum, education institutions, and we just have to connect that support to the general public in a better fashion than we were able to do."
A couple of options that have surfaced include a parcel of land in the forest south of Desert View and the Kotzin acreage northwest of Tusayan. Towler saw problems with both of those options.
"It's in the middle of nowhere ... so there's the potential of developing a whole new community out there," Towler said of the Desert View area. "There are a lot of issues there, obviously."
Among those issues may be the response by the National Park Service of such a plan. Towler said a past goal had been to spread out traffic that crowds the South Rim area.
Now, however, the NPS has invested time and money into a comprehensive traffic philosophy that includes the implementation of a light-rail transit station. A development south of Desert View would no doubt disrupt those plans.
"I've always had mixed feelings about that," Towler said. "It would spread people out at the South Rim ... but the Park Service may not be geared up for additional traffic. They'd have to change traffic patterns."
The Kotzin parcel would also present problems, Towler said, based on the location.
"There'd have to be an access route to get there," he said. "It would be difficult to do anything commercial there because of access."
Of course, there would be other possibilities for any development by CFV. For now, those opposing South Rim-area development are celebrating Proposition 400's defeat. Still, based on the topic being around for the past 11 years, few expect CFV to walk away.