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3:37 AM Sun, July 22nd

Most residentsoppose Viewpoint commercial proposal

PRESCOTT VALLEY – Viewpoint and Pronghorn Ranch residents appeared en masse during Monday evening's planning and zoning meeting, mostly to oppose a proposed general plan amendment that could change the south entrance to the two subdivisions.

The Prescott Valley Planning and Zoning Commission conducted a public hearing about a proposed general plan amendment to change the land use designation for several parcels of property northwest of the intersection at Viewpoint Drive and 89A. At the end of the evening, the commission voted 4-1 to defer the item to next month's meeting.

Commission Chairman Phil Bourdon recused himself from voting, because he helped attain right-of-way for Highway 89A as a Yavapai County employee. Commissioner Clay Sundell represented the sole vote against the motion to defer a vote on the item.

Most residents appeared to oppose the project, while some supported it and others said they would support the proposal if the land owner changed details in the request. About 140 people attended the meeting, including representatives of the group that owns the land. Approximately 25 to 30 people showed up for previous meetings concerning the project.

The area's land use designation would change the general plan status of the site from low-density residential to community commercial, if the commission and the Town Council approve the amendment. If this happens, the real estate agent, Gary Emery, will ask the commission to rezone the area to allow commercial development. The commission would review this request at a future meeting, make a recommendation, and the Town Council would have to approve any zoning map change.

Richard Parker, the town's community development director, said the applicant offered several proposals that changed the size of the area in question from as large as 90 acres to as small as 70 acres.

Craig Dorn, the president of the Viewpoint West Home-owners Association, noted that the town's general plan already allows for commercial development on the western side of Viewpoint Drive, north of Highway 89A.

"We are not totally opposed to some commercial development out there … we believe that it is going to happen," he said. "Possibly a scaled-down version, or maybe resubmitted as a planned area development with some more emphasis on what their intentions are and not just simply a blank check to make this commercial property, and then do with it what they will."

Steve Parker, president of the Viewpoint East Homeowners Association and husband of council candidate Angie Parker, said the project appears to be a "bait and switch" to home owners who reviewed the general plan before buying their homes.

Carol Miller, also a Viewpoint resident, said, "I hear the word commercial. I hear a lot of vague stuff. I have heard no specifics. At some of the prior meetings, I have heard Lowe's (home improvement), big box stores, and unless I heard more of a specific – what we need is a grocery store, a dry cleaner, maybe a momma-poppa restaurant – but everything has been so general."

Mary Jane Harwin, another Viewpoint resident, said rezoning the area and changing its general plan status would set a bad precedent. She said allowing commercial tenants to have a liquor license on the property would increase crime and cause other social problems.

Commissioner Joe Huot, who voted for deferring the item to a future meeting, pointed out that the people who oppose the project often mentioned concerns that the staff and commission attempts to resolve during the rezoning process. These concerns include intrusive lighting, increased traffic, safety issues, and the types of businesses on the property.

Valerie Richter, a board member from the company that owns the land, responded to questions about why the company could not build and sell homes on the property instead. She said the business couldn't obtain the necessary state water permit to build homes on the property.

Parker said, "I thought it was a real good, honest, deliberate dialogue."

He said he and his staff hope the applicants try to accommodate the public's and the commission's concerns about the proposal before the topic reappears a future meet-ing.

Contact the reporter at jkamin@prescottaz.com