New RV park planned for land adjacent to Watson Woods

Watson Woods RV park gets city OK

Plans for a 71-unit RV park got city approval this week, to be located on about 8.5 acres of land off Highway 89 (shown along the left of this image), south of Prescott Lakes Parkway (at the top of the photo). The project will border the Watson Woods Riparian Preserve, which is pictured along the right in this 2014 aerial photo taken by the Prescott Creeks organization.

Plans for a 71-unit RV park got city approval this week, to be located on about 8.5 acres of land off Highway 89 (shown along the left of this image), south of Prescott Lakes Parkway (at the top of the photo). The project will border the Watson Woods Riparian Preserve, which is pictured along the right in this 2014 aerial photo taken by the Prescott Creeks organization.

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Courtesy image/City of Prescott

Watson Woods, Prescott’s high-profile riparian area along Highway 89, is slated to get a new neighbor soon: a 71-unit RV park.

In a unanimous decision Thursday, Feb. 16, the Prescott Board of Adjustment approved a conditional use permit for the Watson Woods RV Resort.

Watson Woods RV park conditions

In its approval of a conditional use permit for the Watson Woods RV Resort, the Prescott Board of Adjustment included a number of requirements:

• Limited and directed access to Watson Woods, as coordinated with the Prescott Parks and Recreation Department.

• On-site management present at all times.

• Full compliance with the city’s “dark sky” requirements.

• Events are for RV Resort users only.

• The park is for short-term use only (less than 30 days).

The project is planned on about 8.5 acres of partially vacant land between Highway 89 and the stand of old cottonwoods and willows along Granite Creek, south of Watson Lake.

Developer Kent Bunger said after the meeting that he hopes to have construction underway by the middle of this summer, with completion slated by December 2017.

The plans include use of several of the existing buildings on the parcel, along with the addition of several new buildings and construction of paved streets and parking areas.

The land is privately owned, and is zoned for light-industrial uses. In his presentation to the board, Bunger said the zoning would allow for uses that would be “more detrimental” than the RV park. For instance, the zoning would allow for uses such as chemical-based manufacturing, contractor storage yards, or dry-cleaning plants.

City Planning Manager George Worley said the light-industrial zoning dates back to about the early 1990s.

Because the city’s Land Development Code requires conditional use permits for RV parks, the project went to the Board of Adjustment.

All of the land adjacent to the parcel is owned by the City of Prescott, including the Watson Woods Riparian Preserve and a segment of the Peavine Trail, according to a city memo.

Just across the highway, though, is the Cliff Rose subdivision, and a number of residents from that neighborhood attended the meeting and raised questions this week about the impacts from the project.

Robert Sledge, president of the Cliff Rose Homeowners’ Association, voiced concerns about noise – especially from the community center that is planned as a part of the project. For instance, he asked whether live music or large events would take place in the community center, noting that noise tends to “travel up the canyon” to the houses located on the hillside.

Bunger agreed that events would occur in the community center, but he said they likely would be required to end by 9:30 or 10 p.m.

That also raised a question about whether the community center would be for RV park users only, or whether the events would be open to the general public.

While the conditions that the board ultimately approved limited the events to those staying at the RV park, Bunger said after the vote that he would like to have the events open to the public.

City Community Planner Frank Hall noted that the city’s review of possible impacts, including traffic at the Highway 89/Rosser Street intersection, was done assuming that the center would be just for RV users. He suggested that if Bunger wanted to change that, he could ask for an amendment to the use permit, which would have to go back before the Board of Adjustment.

The board also heard from Michael Byrd, executive director of Prescott Creeks, the non-profit organization that manages the 126-acre Watson Woods Riparian Preserve under a long-term agreement with the city.

“A significant investment has been made by this community and the state,” Byrd said, noting that about $3 million of local and state money has gone into the preserve over the years.

At one time, Byrd said, the Watson Woods area served as the city dump. Later, it was used as a sand-and-gravel-mining operation. An effort has been underway since 1990 to clean up the area, replace trees, and improve the watershed.

For the past several years, the Prescott Creeks organization has operated out of a building located on the site that is being considered for the new RV park. As a tenant, Byrd said the organization has talked frequently with the developers about the RV park plans. While Byrd said the Prescott Creeks organization neither supports nor opposes the RV Park project, he said, “I feel like the dialogue has been very productive.”

After the meeting, Byrd said discussions are still underway for Prescott Creeks to remain at its current site.