Deep Well Ranch annexation gets unanimous nod from Prescott City Council

PRESCOTT - As of Dec. 10, Prescott will grow by about two and a half square miles.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Prescott City Council approved two annexations, taking in a total of 1,625 acres of Deep Well Ranch land northeast of Prescott.

The annexation ordinances, which will become effective 30 days after the approval, included a 1,304-acre parcel west of the Prescott Airport, and a 321-acre parcel located north of Pioneer Park, west of Pinon Oaks, and east of Williamson Valley Estates.

The two and a half square miles of Deep Well land will add to the existing 41.5 square miles that currently make up the corporate limits of Prescott.

While both annexations got unanimous support from the council, the related rezonings raised concerns with Councilwoman Jean Wilcox, who voted against the changes.

Wilcox maintained that the zoning changes - taking much of the land from the county's residential with minimum one-and-a-half-acre lot sizes to the city's less than half-acre-lot minimum - would be denser than what is called for in the original master plan for the land.

A number of audience members agreed, and asked the council to either postpone the annexation vote, or change the zoning to one-acre minimum lot size, which they said would be more consistent with the adjacent neighborhoods.

Teresa Jones of the neighboring Williamson Valley Estates told the council that her family had moved to the area "for the buffer and the privacy it affords us." Although not within Prescott's city limits, her neighborhood would feel the effects of the city action, she said.

"Those of us who reside in the county will feel most of the negative impact," Jones said, noting that the city and its higher-density developments are "literally starting to surround us."

Others in the audience said the annexation process had not followed the requirements of a 2005 voter-approved proposition.

Leslie Hoy and Tom Slaback - both members of the committee for 2005's Proposition 400 (the Reasonable Growth initiative) - told the council that the proposition called for more evaluation of the citizen feedback.

Although the council's informational packet for the meeting included a written breakdown of comments that came in during the required 60-day public-comment period, Hoy said the comments should have been presented and considered by the council during Tuesday's public hearing.

"Unfortunately, the brief synopsis did not do the comments justice," Hoy told the council.

Slaback agreed, and also objected to the procedure that was used for the required cost-benefit analysis, which was presented to the council in October. He maintained that the analysis, which showed a financial benefit to the annexation, used "voodoo economics" by combining the northern parcel's business and industrial areas with the residential areas in the entire annexation.

"I'm totally against annexing land to have more housing," Slaback said, noting that houses end up costing the city more than they bring in.

And, while the cost-benefit analysis looked 25 years into the future, Slaback said the residential areas would "last forever," and would continue to cost the city more in services, such as police and fire protection, well into the future.

Mayor Marlin Kuykendall responded, however, that more houses would lead to more business development. "You need rooftops before the businesses can be supported," Kuykendall said, adding, "I've been proud to be part of a community ... where the quality of life is good, and a lot of people would like to live here."

Concerns also continued among the neighbors about the location of future access roads into the Deep Well developments, recreational trails through the area, and availability of water.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-642-0951.