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Wed, Oct. 16

Mason's Ridge plat gets eight more years

PRESCOTT - A 13-home project Rex and Lucy Mason hope to develop near Rosser Street now has an additional eight years for planning.

By a 4-1 vote on Tuesday, the Prescott City Council approved the eight-year preliminary plat extension the Masons requested for Mason's Ridge, a 10-acre subdivision planned south of Rosser Street and east of Eagle View Drive.

That means the project will retain the water allocation it received in 1998 prior to the Arizona Department of Water Resources' declaration of groundwater

mining in the Prescott Active Management Area.

This week's extension is the second that Mason's Ridge has received. A previous City Council also approved an eight-year extension in 1999.

The council first discussed the extension request at this past week's study session when local resident Howard Mechanic pushed instead for a two-year extension, after which all of the pre-1998 water allocations would expire.

Several council members voiced objections to that, however, maintaining the pre-1998 water allocation was a property right.

This week, Mechanic continued to urge the council to close the "loophole" he said the city created when it allocated water for thousands of new homes under the pre-groundwater-mining rules.

ADWR's 1998 groundwater mining ruling declared that the Prescott Active Management Area was taking more water out of the aquifer than was going back in, either through natural means or artificial recharge. After the declaration, new subdivisions had to ensure their water supply through a source other than groundwater from within the AMA.

In about 1999, the city began allocating water from its limited amount of alternate water credits, which come from a variety of sources, including the effluent (treated wastewater) the city regularly recharges back into the aquifer.

Noting that the Mason's Ridge water allocation would deplete the AMA's groundwater further, Mechanic noted: "The question is, do you want to close the loophole?"

By continuing to extend the groundwater allocation, Mechanic said the council was "digging us deeper in a hole" in the AMA goal to reach safe-yield (the condition in which a balance exists between the amount of water the area draws from the aquifer and the amount going back in) by 2025.

Councilman Robert Luzius pointed out that while he does not oppose extending the preliminary plat, he favored a two-year extension. He ultimately voted against the action.

Councilman Jim Lamerson abstained from the vote after declaring a conflict of interest, because Rex Mason has helped with his re-election campaign. Councilman Steve Blair was absent from the meeting.

At this past week's study session, Rex Mason said he and his wife (Arizona State Rep. Lucy Mason) needed the extension because they were not yet ready to begin development of the project.

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