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Williams residents frustrated with delay in AutoCamp decision

Cooper Ranch Road is dirt road that connects to Cataract Lake Road. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

Cooper Ranch Road is dirt road that connects to Cataract Lake Road. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Residents who live near a proposed commercial camping business northwest of Williams have become frustrated with delays in a decision on a rezoning application for the property.

Dennis Nelson, a representative of the Cataract Lake Neighborhood Association said neighbors are still hopeful the Coconino County Planning and Zoning Commission will reject a rezoning application by AutoCamp for the Cooper Ranch property, but the decision has been delayed with an “indefinite continuance” issued by the commission.

“To be clear, we fully respect the right of any property owner to seek rezoning, but we strongly feel that fundamental fairness requires that there should be some guidance around how long an indefinite continuance can last,” Nelson told the Coconino County Community Development department in an email.

The county said they are giving the applicant more time to work through issues regarding access to the property.

“The continuance provides the applicant with time to obtain legal access for the commercial operation they propose,” said Bob Short, Principal Planner for Coconino County Community Development.

Nearby residents have also expressed concern about property values as the decision on whether to approve the rezoningis postponed.

“Our purpose in bringing this to your attention is that the residents in our area are very concerned about the adverse effect on property values created by an indefinite continuance,” Nelson said to the county. “This is not only unfair to the immediate neighborhood but also to the development of the nature preserve and the city's infrastructure planning.”

Kaibab National Forest South Zone District Ranger Debra Mollet sent a letter to Coconino County Planning Feb. 2 addressing several issues about the commercial campground proposal for the Cooper Ranch Property northwest of Williams.

In addition to increased wildland fire risks, potential associated resource damage, and conflicts with grazing, the Forest Service said there are problems with using Cataract Creek Road to access the property.

The property is currently located off Forest Road 49A, which provides access to Cataract Lake picnic area.

According to the Forest Service, the remaining 1,320 feet provides authorization to only Coconino County, not any other entity or private interest, for access to Cataract Dam and associated pipeline through a special use permit.

The city of Williams has stated they are not interested in assuming control of the road.

"At this time, the city of Williams is not interested in pursuing a special use permit for access to the Cataract Lake infrastructure," said Williams City Manager Tim Pettit Oct. 5.

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