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Fri, Feb. 28

Granite Dells Estates plat, rezoning get first review

PRESCOTT - Plans for the project that would bring hundreds of homes, as well as new commercial and industrial uses, to Prescott generated some questions this week, but ultimately received a generally positive review from the Prescott City Council.

While council members took no official vote on the Granite Dells Estates' proposed plat and zoning change at Tuesday's study session, they did opt to put the two items on their consent agenda for next week.

That usually indicates that the council is in agreement on an action and will conduct no further discussion.

The matter involves more than 1,000 acres of northeast Prescott ranchland, which local businessman Mike Fann owns. In late 2007, after months of deliberations, the City Council agreed to annex the land into Prescott city limits.

The next step for developers is securing the proper zoning. When the city annexed the land, the property carried a two-acre rural-estate zoning designation.

While the developers plan to maintain that large-lot zoning for some of the development, they also are seeking about a half-dozen other zoning categories, including single-family and multi-family residential, business general, and industrial light and general.

Along with the proposed zoning change, the city is considering a preliminary plat for the Granite Dells Estates.

Much of the discussion at Tuesday's meeting centered on aspects of the plat, such as the plans to mass-grade some of the property, as well as the developers' intention to construct "rural" roads in areas.

Jason Gisi, the agent for the project, said developers are seeking the ability to mass-grade some of the land to allow for flexibility for future property owners.

Depending on who buys sections of the property in the future, Gisi said, mass grading might be desirable for the new owners.

"We're looking for maximum flexibility, because we don't know how the property will be developed," he said.

But local resident Leslie Hoy expressed concerns about the plans to grade large sections of land, rather than building the homes to fit the terrain.

"I'm very concerned with the mass grading," Hoy said. "Do we want to look like Queen Creek or other hideous communities in the Phoenix area?"

On the issue of road standards, Gisi stressed that developers would build the roads that they intend ultimately to dedicate to the city to meet Prescott's urban-road standards.

On the other hand, developers have proposed building some of the private roads in gated areas as rural sections, which would include no curb, gutter or sidewalk.

Former City Councilman Robert Behnke questioned whether such roads could create future drainage problems for the community.

"If you put ditches out there instead of concrete ... there will be no controlling the water," Behnke said, adding, "This project is not in accordance with the (city's Land Development Code), period."

But city officials have pointed out that the road standards were part of the development agreement that the city entered into with Granite Dells Estates at the time of the annexation.

"There was a full disclosure of the content (of the development agreement)," Nietupski said of the discussion that occurred during the annexation proceedings. He added that city officials "discussed the road standards that would be part of the agreement."

The Granite Dells Estates project will lie on land that previously was part of the Granite Dells/Point of Rocks ranches, near the old section of Highway 89A and Side Road.

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