PRESCOTT VALLEY - A retired police officer agreed Wednesday to chair a new exploratory committee to study the feasibility of extending sewer service to the unincorporated Castle Canyon Mesa and Prescott East neighborhoods.
Shane Bryan volunteered to head the committee, and six of the 25 other property owners who attended the meeting agreed to serve on it.
Bryan stressed that the committee's purpose is not to support or oppose annexation into the Town of Prescott Valley.
He and Deborah Patton, an environmental specialist with the Rural Community Assistance Corp. who is offering technical support to the homeowners, encouraged opponents to serve on the panel as well.
Annexation opponent Dan Kraw agreed to serve on the panel for an "outreach" role but acknowledged he faces time constraints as a business owner.
Annexation would be a likely outcome of replacing aging and possibly failing septic systems with sewer lines because the town already operates a sewer plant, officials have said. Moreover, a separate plant serving the unincorporated area - west of Starlight Drive and north of Highway 69 - would not be financially viable.
Bryan said after the meeting, "I want people who live in that area to know what our situation is."
Bryan, 43, said he agreed to head the committee because he did not like the tone of the June 29 meeting of the property owners.
"It was so argumentative that the people in the room could not ask questions without being attacked and bombarded. And there is so much misinformation."
A Prescott native, Bryan said he moved to Castle Canyon Mesa in 2000 and retired from a 13-year career in law enforcement in 2008. He installed septic systems during his youth.
During the meeting, Bryan said the new committee could invite staff from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to conduct a site survey.
However, Yavapai County Supervisor Tom Thurman said the site visit could have "unintended consequences" if ADEQ were to drill 300 feet and determine septic systems were failing.
The 1.5-hour-long meeting with the property owners began with Prescott Valley Community Development Director Richard Parker explaining sanitary and improvement districts.
Both districts, which would finance sewer expansion, require support from more than 50 percent of the property owners in the targeted area, Parker said.
The county supervisors would serve as the board of directors of an improvement district while affected property owners would serve on the sanitary district's board.
Thurman, whose District 2 covers the Prescott Valley area, said he would prefer a sanitary district board because county supervisors "come and go."
Patton said, "We want some people to step up and take action," adding, "We don't want to sit here month after month talking."
Bryan stepped forward and invited critics to join because "they asked good questions."
The committee will consider factors such as costs, whether septic systems are functioning, and annexation, Patton said. She added the formation of a district is at least a year away.
"I think we made some progress tonight and did not have to yell at each other," Patton noted as the meeting ended.
The committee plans its next meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 17 in the Yavapai County Long-Term Care office, 6717 E. Second St., Suite D. For more information, email Patton at firstname.lastname@example.org.