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Mon, Sept. 23

Council OKs rezoning, plat for Granite Dells Estates

PRESCOTT - Grading plans, and how they would affect more than 1,000 acres of ranchland in northeast Prescott, dominated much of the Prescott City Council's discussion this week on the Granite Dells Estates.

Ultimately, the council approved the requested zoning change and preliminary plat for the project that developers plan on land that was previously a part of the Granite Dells and Point of Rocks ranches.

Before the votes, however, the council discussed the preliminary plat and how the city should handle the grading of the land for nearly an hour.

At this past week's study session, Jason Gisi, agent for the project, asked the council for flexibility in handling the grading, pointing out that developers do not know at this point whether future owners would want to mass-grade the land to prepare it for development.

This week, council members said that they had heard from a number of local residents about the prospect of mass grading - especially the residential areas.

"You have to understand that we're very sensitive about that term - mass grading," Councilman Bob Roecker told Gisi.

Councilwoman Lora Lopas added that the larger-lot residential phases in the project, such as the area in the southeast portion of the 1,118-acre parcel, should not be subject to mass grading.

"I wouldn't see a reason for doing mass-grading in that area," Lopas said. "I think we should be very firm on that."

To give the council maximum authority on the matter, Mayor Jack Wilson told Gisi, "I think we want to see a grading plan associated (with the plat)."

But Gisi and other members of the development team pointed out that they submitted the preliminary plat application as city officials had requested. That included a conceptual grading plan, but not an actual grading plan.

Wilson voiced concerns, however, that by approving the preliminary plat, the council would give up its authority over the grading.

"Our control is at the preliminary plat stage," Wilson said, noting that if the final plat is in substantial conformance with the preliminary plat, the council must approve it.

But after hearing a suggestion from Planning and Zoning Commissioner Len Scamardo, the council unanimously agreed to approve the preliminary plat this week, with the requirement that the future grading plan would have to go to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council for approval.

After the meeting, Community Development Director Tom Guice explained that that differs from most projects, for which the city approves the grading plans administratively, without further consideration by the commission and the council.

Guice added that while the commercial and industrial land in Granite Dells Estates would be subject to mass-grading, the grading plan for the residential areas would have to get the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council, along with the final plat.

Developers plan the Granite Dells Estates project on property that the city brought into city limits in November 2007 as a part of the long-discussed Fann annexation.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com

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