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Thu, Feb. 20

More water needed for new development

PRESCOTT – The details and final approval are still to come, but the developer of the Granite Dells Estates subdivision got a tentative go-ahead this week to work with city officials on a plan to acquire 210 acre-feet of additional water to service more homes.

That would be in addition to the 248.5 acre-feet that the city already has allocated to the northeast-Prescott development, and would allow for a total of 1,399 residential units (1,090 single-family homes and 309 multi-family units).

During a report on the water needs of the subdivision at a study session on Tuesday, Dec. 20, Granite Dells Estates owner Mike Fann urged the council to tie planning for the land with a related plan for water.

“I think good planning in any community plans for the land and plans for the water, and they plan those two together,” Fann told the council.

In the case of Granite Dells Estates, however, he said, “Right now, we’re out of balance – we’ve planned for the land, but what we haven’t done is have a commensurate plan for the water.”

The existing water service agreement between the developer and the city commits enough water to the project to service 710 single-family homes, and provides that upon final platting of the 400th home, the owner may apply to the city for an increase in the water allocation to service the balance of the homes being proposed.

Meanwhile, Fann has asked the city to modify that agreement to increase the water allocation to allow for 1,399 homes, which would require a total of about 459 acre-feet of water. The request is for the additional 210 acre-feet to be allocated in 50-acre-feet-per-year blocks, beginning in 2019.

Fann, who noted that the first phase of the subdivision is currently underway, added, “I think not planning the (water and land) together, you end up having a land plan that gets started, and if it doesn’t have the commensurate water, you’re going to have half-finished projects. It’s just bad business.”

Prescott Water Resource Manager Leslie Graser told the council that one possible source for the additional water allocation would be the city’s reservation for vacant residentially zoned tracts of land, from which the council previously agreed to transfer 50-acre-feet increments to the “general pool” of alternative water, where it would be available to new development requests.

That prompted Councilwoman Jean Wilcox to ask about long-term planning for the city’s remaining alternative water. “What other plans are in the works in this area that will need water?” she asked, adding, “It does seem like our policy is – the first guy to the well gets the water, right?”

Councilwoman Billie Orr added that the situation with the city’s dwindling alternative water “points out again how important it is to get that Big Chino (Water Ranch) going.” (The Paulden-area pipeline for importing Big Chino water to the Prescott area is currently on hold).

No vote on the Granite Dells Estates water request occurred at this week’s meeting, but Mayor Harry Oberg told Fann that the council appeared to agree that the city should continue working on a plan for providing the water allocation for the subdivision.

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