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10:50 AM Sun, Dec. 16th

Editorial: Enough with Deep Well and its naysayers

Traffic enters the roundabout on Highway 89 where the future Deep Well Ranch subdivision will be centered.

Photo by Les Stukenberg.

Traffic enters the roundabout on Highway 89 where the future Deep Well Ranch subdivision will be centered.

After two months of Planning and Zoning meetings, the Deep Well Ranch development proposal is expected to culminate Tuesday, Nov. 28, with a vote by the Prescott City Council.

The issue and its debate have gone in many directions.

Deep Well Ranch, if approved by the city, is an 1,800-acre subdivision that is generally north of Pioneer Parkway and west of Highway 89. The proposal itself has gone through many changes — especially the number of houses. It has varied from the original request of 10,500, to the 4,500 recommended by a 4-3 split P&Z, to the recently re-negotiated 8,000.

The debate has encompassed traffic impacts and concerns, proximity to the airport, and availability of water, among other things. And, it has been clear from all sides that buildout is not expected for more than 40 years.

What also exists — but has been left unspoken — are two things: private property rights, in which the owner could have sold 40-acre parcels that no one could control; and the constant complaints of some who move here and then cry foul when any developments are proposed.

Too often people want the door shut and locked behind them, and they proclaim doomsday prophecies about

lack of water and a traffic explosion, sometimes exaggerating that the Prescott area will become like Phoenix. They do this as though they were on the Congressional stage debating health care, death panels, and taxes.

Yet, those prophecies go unfulfilled again and again.

They often point to water studies, including one recently, that claimed the headwaters of the Verde River would be drastically affected by growth, development and “a $400 million pipeline” on the west side of the Bradshaw Mountains. Yes, there are no fewer than 18 subdivisions growing or forming north of Prescott and Prescott Valley. But the Big Chino pipeline has been on a shelf or in a drawer for years. It may also be cost-prohibitive.

Plus, few noticed the retraction by the Center for Biological Diversity one day after the above warning: “There may be an imputing error in (the water) model that could affect the results ‘significantly.’” We have heard no more since then, and all of that casts doubt on the water study results.

Frankly, there are benefits to having a development like Deep Well under the city’s control. That ranges from seniors who need the services, products and economic strength that growth can bring, to preventing wildcat development.

As for the council, the current members are intimately familiar with the proposal and its nuances. To leave it for the next council, which will be sworn in at the end of Tuesday’s voting session, would simply be a waste of time. It also assumes we will have a council that is different philosophically. Yet, voters earlier this month approved a mayor and council members who appear to be pro-development, like the current council.

In the end, a delay will only build in delays for the landowner. Again, after two months of P&Z meetings and many on the part of the City Council, this has been no rush job.

Go ahead and vote, councilors, vote in favor.