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Fri, Feb. 21

Prescott Valley council OKs 43-unit apartment complex near park

PRESCOTT VALLEY - A 43-unit apartment complex that the landowner proposed near the urban forest area of Mountain Valley Park gained preliminary approval for the Town Council Thursday.

However, council members also peppered property owner Bob Duffel of Mountain Rose Properties LLC with a number of questions after three nearby homeowners spoke out against the rezoning request.

Homeowners expressed concern about more traffic and the caliber of tenants who would rent at the 3-acre site on the northwest intersection of Navajo and Lakeshore drives.

Opponents walked out of the council chambers in the library auditorium before the council voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance to rezone the property from single-family to multiple dwelling units. The ordinance requires a second reading and adoption, likely on March 22.

"The traffic is one thing," opponent Richard Harley said after the public hearing. "My concern is the park is going to go to hell."

Opponents spoke out after planner Joe Scott discussed the history of the site and previous plans by Duffel and his wife, Peggie, to develop it.

The Duffels, of Prescott, sought to rezone the 3 acres in 2004, but concerns over access and traffic congestions prompted the Planning and Zoning Commission to defer a decision until further information became available.

Meanwhile, the town acquired property to widen Lakeshore Drive and install storm drains. The Duffels put their project on hold because of the economy, according to a staff report to the council.

The Duffels submitted a new request, and the commission voted unanimously Feb. 13 to forward a positive recommendation to the council.

One neighbor, Corky Gonella, spoke out against the rezoning request before P&Z, and repeated her opposition at the council meeting.

Gonella expressed concerns that the two-story apartment complex would block her view of the water features in the pond at the urban forest.

Referring to potential tenants, she said, "We have a pedophile epidemic in this country and a school right (near) this property."

Gonella discussed rush-hour traffic at the intersection, and urged the council to reject the rezone.

Bob Duffel responded, "I think a lot of those concerns have been handled."

Responding to a question from Vice Mayor Patty Lasker, Duffel said he will rent to anyone who can afford to pay the rent and has a "decent job," and to retirees.

He said townhomes are out of the question for now because he could not secure a water source for them. He previously said apartments qualify for water because they are considered a "commercial" use.

Town Attorney Ivan Legler corroborated Duffel's explanation after the public hearing, saying, "We don't have any more water for residential. The groundwater that we use is currently committed to the current residential areas."

Legler said Duffel would need to obtain water for condos or townhomes from another source, such as the investment group that bought effluent credits from the town in 2007.

Duffel fielded more questions from Lasker about potential tenants, and Councilwoman Lora Lee Nye questioned him about landscaping and maintenance.

Councilman Michael Whiting, who put in his final night as a P&Z commissioner Feb. 13, repeated his suggestion that the Duffels conduct another neighborhood meeting as their designs progress.

Duffel said after the meeting that condos are "not out of the question."

He explained the difficulty in obtaining financing will slow any plans to build.

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