Water among biggest<br>county plan topics

Depending on where they go in Coconino County, development planners will hear different priorities when meeting with the public.

Coconino County senior planner John Aber, right, chats with Valle resident Jim Greene Wednesday evening while Randle Kennedy, left, looks over information about the county’s comprehensive plan.

Tuba City wants to know how their community plan interacts with the county plan. Up at Marble Canyon, folks have a land exchange with the Bureau of Land Management on their minds. Sedona has concerns about protecting dark skies.

When it comes to the Williams-Grand Canyon area, water has been a big topic.

"Water is a big one; it keeps coming up due to fire protection," John Aber, senior planner for Coconino County, said during a comprehensive county plan open house in Valle Wednesday. "There is focus on water because of the drought situation and the source."

Aber said there are several examples of why water is top dog.

"With Williams tightening up on who they’ll sell water to and Flagstaff fees going up and shallow wells drying up, it’s a huge issue for people," Aber said. "You need water."

On the topic of water resources, the county proposes to work with municipalities and other appropriate agencies in evaluating the viability and impact of alternative water supplies. With water quality, the proposed plan policy calls preventing the degradation of surface waters and groundwater when considering development applications.

The Coconino County Comprehensive Plan is intended to serve as a guide in the decision-making process for the Planning and Zoning Commission as well as the Board of Supervisors when reviewing development proposals. Land-use issues are always among the biggest concerns as the plan tries to identify appropriate or inappropriate actions.

"The unique thing about this is its focus on conservation planning while allowing for good development," said Tiffany Antol, community development planner. "That’s the biggest focus."

The Valle meeting last week was one of 17 around the county in a final effort to collect input. The county comes to Tusayan Thursday.

"The plan we have now is from 1990," Antol said. "This process began in 2002. We took all the comments from meetings we had last year and put them together to create goal statements."

The update process revolved out of Arizona Growing Smarter legislation, which sets a 10-year timeframe on comprehensive plans.

"We’ll be moving forward with adoption of the plan by August or September of this year," Antol said.

Besides water, among the other issues being addressed:

o Future growth — To the extent allowed by state law, availability of water should be a consideration for all major developments and subdivision applications filed in conjunction with a rezoning for higher density.

o Off-highway vehicles — The county supports and will assist other agencies with the planning and development of designated off-highway vehicle routes.

o Telecommunications — The county promotes telecommunication service development that meets the needs of residents while preserving the visual character of existing communities and landscapes.

o Roadway maintenance — The county will provide technical assistance and resource information to residents where circulation infrastructure improvement are desired, including efforts to establish dust control measures and promote groundwater recharge.

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