Originally Published: May 6, 2009 10:13 p.m.
PRESCOTT - A proposed north Prescott development is touting itself as the largest commercial area in the city's future, but written public comments so far have focused on how it will affect a popular non-motorized trail.
The public concern has led city staff to schedule a special public workshop May 26 to discuss the development's impact on the Peavine Trail, and possibly discuss broader issues surrounding the trail and future development.
The Prescott City Council heard about the trail issues Tuesday during its work session. Also at the meeting, the city released its draft development agreement with Cavan Real Estate Investments of Scottsdale, aka Granite Dells Ranch Holdings, LLC.
The Prescott Planning and Zoning Commission in February unanimously supported annexation and zoning changes for the 500-acre Cavan project at Highway 89A and Side Road.
But the commission also stated its unanimous opposition to any Cavan roads directly crossing the Peavine Trail, which is a National Recreation Trail that the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has touted as "one of the gems in the national rail-trail network."
The Peavine Trail once was a railroad line from Prescott to Ash Fork. Prescott and Chino Valley acquired parts of the right-of-way after the railroad abandoned the route and tore out the tracks. Chino has about eight miles of the Peavine and would love to connect it to Prescott, but a few miles of private land currently separate the trails, said Bob Worthen, CV parks and trails superintendent.
The Peavine Trail already connects Prescott to Prescott Valley via PV's Iron King Trail, another trail created from a former railroad bed.
Assistant City Manager Craig McConnell reviewed the Cavan draft development agreement's options for the Peavine Trail road crossings with the city council Tuesday.
The draft development agreement allows three Cavan roads to cross the Peavine Trail, and states that the city taxpayers must bear all costs of any overpass or underpass to separate the trail from the roads.
It offers another option to briefly reroute the Peavine Trail slightly to the west along Granite Creek and avoid two road crossings. But if the city also wants to keep the existing route, the draft agreement states the city would have to pay $37,926/acre in cash to Cavan. McConnell didn't have an estimate of how many acres would be involved. He said the city might want to preserve the existing route in case it wants to revive rail service someday.
A non-motorized overpass could cost $200,000 to $2 million-plus, said Mark Nietupski, city engineering services director. The city could seek federal grants, McConnell said.
Six of the 10 letters and e-mails that the city received about the Cavan proposal specifically request separation of the trail from the proposed roads. They included letters from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Yavapai Trails Association (YTA) and Prescott Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committee.
Letters from YTA and a citizen specifically request that Cavan cover the costs of any trail rerouting.
YTA President Joyce Mackin also expressed concerns about setting a precedent of letting land developers build roads over the Peavine, noting more development is coming to the north.
The draft development agreement and other documents about the Cavan proposal are available via a link on the city's home page at cityofprescott.net. Click on "Granite Dells Ranch annexation."