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Fri, Feb. 21

Developers take first step in dividing Granite Dells Ranch

Granite Dells Ranch Holding LLC acquired a 16,340-acre tract of land when it bought the Granite Dells and the Point of Rocks ranches north of Prescott.

Scottsdale-based Cavan Real Estate Investments leads the group of investors that formed the holding company.

Now the company is taking the first steps to divide portions of the property into 36-acre parcels.

Company officials June 22 and 27, filed land surveys with Yavapai County identifying the 36-acre parcels.

Yavapai County Development Services Director Ken Spedding said at this point the only thing Granite Dells Ranch officials did was to "record a record of surveys. They may not do any subdivisions. They may do more lot splits."

Spedding said the land surveys involve at least 17 sections. However, he said, at this point no new parcels exist.

The director said that if property owners "continue with land divisions there would be no need for water studies. They could drill exempt wells, as long as they meet the requirement."

County Cartographer Karen Barker said, "A land survey just means that the property has been surveyed and parcels have been set at 36 acres or more. A land survey is not assigned an assessor's number until a deed document is filed. A subdivision plat includes dedications and must be approved by a municipality. It has legal status, an assessor's number, as soon as it is recorded."

Chief Cartographer Gary Smith said, "At this time, there is no public report. The land cannot be sold as a subdivision through the Arizona Department of Real Estate.

"What they have done is set in place their intent (design)," Smith said.

If the owners follow through on that intent for splitting 17, 36-acre parcels into 18, two-acre lots each, it opens the possibility for each of the resulting 306 lots to have an exempt well from which the owners may pump 35 gallons a minute which ­ if they pump 24 hours a day for 365 days ­ would lead to 57 acre feet of water per lot per year.

That would be a total of 17,442 acre feet per year. The City of Prescott currently pumps about 8,000 acre feet a year.

Each individual lot also would have a septic tank.

In May, The Daily Courier reported that the answer to the question of whether development would take place with Prescott, Prescott Valley or Chino Valley boundaries remained unknown.

For years, the two ranches have been the topic of debate as all three entities eyed the land for future annexation and development. The bulk of the property is in unincorporated Yavapai County, except for about 5,200 acres within Chino Valley's town limits.

A February 2004 agreement between the city and the owners of the Point of Rocks and Granite Dells ranches set the terms for the city's annexation of 7,200 acres of ranchland northeast of Prescott into city limits.

During the 2005 City Council election, a number of candidates maintained the agreement was harmful to the city, especially the portion regarding Prescott's obligation for providing water to the development.

City officials backed off from the agreement and council members indicated a new, reworked agreement was in order.

City Manager Steve Norwood said this week that nothing has changed since May and no new agreement is in effect. He said Granite Dells Ranch Holdings "has to submit a conceptual plan, (and) a land use plan."

Norwood said city officials do not want the development to happen on county land.

"Water is the big question. We cannot really guarantee anything until the Big Chino issues are settled. Everyone, city staff and the applicant, needs to meet. They know we have a situation with water, and we know they do too," Norwood said.

Repeated attempts over the past two weeks to contact Cavan Real Estate Investments founder David Cavan to talk about the company's plans were unsuccessful. His assistant said he was unavailable for comment.

Contact the reporter at prhoden@prescottaz.com

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