TUSAYAN — Concerns over open space and future commercial activity in rural areas appeared to be the big topic at an open house in Tusayan Wednesday designed to get public input on changes to the Coconino County Comprehensive Plan.
A Tusayan resident places a sticker on a county planning poster, expressing his desire to see improvements to local, state and regional recreation areas, during an open house Wednesday at the Quality Inn.
Sue Pratt, county planner, said the preservation of the county’s outlying ranching lifestyle will be a big issue.
"There’s been concern expressed about the lifestyle of the ranch and preserving land in that manner," Pratt said. "It’s something that’s pertinent to this general area. We didn’t really delve into it with the Valle (community) plan. I think it will be a big issue with this plan."
The open house gave visitors the opportunity to write down their concerns on various topical posters. On a poster labeled, "What’s Important to You?" the first response was "maintaining open space by preserving ranching viability," following by, "do not rezone remote properties for any commercial uses."
In recent months, there has been an increase in the number of properties sold in the State Route 64 corridor between Valle and Tusayan. Howard Mesa Ranch was mentioned as being particularly active in the area for the selling of residential plots.
Chris Thurston, who sits on a county steering committee as a Tusayan businessman, said decisions need to be made about what exactly people want this area to become in the future.
"Should it be a slice of Phoenix at a higher elevation or should we keep open space?" Thurston said. "At what point do you say there’s too much growth and accommodate all interests?"
Rich Gorney of Williams also sits on the steering committee, which includes 15 representatives in all. The committee’s purpose is to provide guidance on the project scope, process, progress, fund-raising and policy and meets monthly.
"One of the things about this is we’re trying to get to all the outlying areas," Pratt said, adding that they had recently been to Blue Ridge and Fredonia and were headed to Williams that evening. "It’s really meant to be a countywide plan and to reflect diversity in the county."
J. Ernest Jutte is heading up the project as coordinator and was on hand to answer questions and direct people on how to comment. Stickers were handed out so residents could mark items of importance to them already included on the vision and issues posters.
Concerns covered several topics, including water rights and access, the viability of public land exchanges, recreational diversity, off-highway vehicle use, landfill, trash removal and solid waste issues, personal property rights and maintaining spot zoning policies.
The project’s management team includes county staff and representatives of Grand Canyon Trust, Arizona Public Service and the Northern Arizona Building Association. That group meets weekly and oversees the day-to-day details of making the project happen. The county’s community development staff is the coordinating agency for the project.
The project includes several other partners for specific areas, including a science advisory group. That particular group will ensure that the natural resources component of the comprehensive plan will be founded on sound conservation biology principles.
There’s also an interagency workgroup made up of state and federal agencies that directly affect land and resource management in the county. A technical team improves the ability to understand the various types of data to create a more dynamic document.
"We’ll make sure all comments are incorporated into the process and take it back out to the public one year from now," Pratt said. "We’ll see if it adequately addresses the issues they had a year ago."
For more information on the planning process:
o Stop by the Coconino County Community Development Department, 2500 N. Fort Valley Road, Flagstaff.
o Call 928-226-2700.
o Go online to: http://co.coconino.az.us.
o E-mail the project coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org.