Originally Published: September 21, 2017 6 a.m.
On Sept. 12, at a study session of the Prescott City Council, Jason Gisi, CEO of Arizona Eco Development (AEC), introduced his company’s plan to ask the city to annex 2,400 acres near Prescott Airport and the Granite Dells. This is the first step in a massive development that would build 4,800-plus housing units in mostly ranch and agricultural land. The land is owned by AEC, but encompasses: sensitive watershed, animal habitat, and the 1.4 billion-year-old Granite Dells. AEC plans include a hotel-resort complex near Point of Rocks and houses lining the Peavine Trail.
After questions about public access and negative impact on the area’s natural character, Councilman Lamerson spoke sarcastically, “Shame on you for having an idea about how best to use your property.” “How presumptuous of you to have ideas on how to use your land.” “I think it’s rather arrogant of you to even stand before God and Country and say I own it, I can use it.” And, “Some of our ordinances and codes are actually nothing more than public extortion.”
This sort of clear bias toward the developer is completely inappropriate. Mr. Gisi owns his property. He has a right to propose its use. Annexation by the City of Prescott, however, is a huge commitment that requires endorsement of AEC’s narrow vision of our city’s future and obligations to unknowable future taxpayer costs. Weighty issues and decisions should not be approached with tongue-in-cheek quips and favoritism. Our City Council must be better than that.