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Thu, Oct. 17

Overland Trail subdivision to get water after settlement with City of Prescott
City will supply service to 195-home project

Local businessman Howard Mechanic points out the land along Overland Trail in the Government Canyon area where he plans to develop a residential project. A July 9 settlement of a lawsuit with the City of Prescott secured the right to city water for the 195-home project. (Cindy Barks/File/Courier)

Local businessman Howard Mechanic points out the land along Overland Trail in the Government Canyon area where he plans to develop a residential project. A July 9 settlement of a lawsuit with the City of Prescott secured the right to city water for the 195-home project. (Cindy Barks/File/Courier)

A lawsuit filed a year and a half ago by local water advocate Howard Mechanic has achieved its goal: acquisition of city water for a 195-home subdivision.

A settlement that both sides termed the preferable option received approval last week from the Prescott City Council.

And that is expected to bring as many as 195 new homes to a 46-acre parcel of land at 507 Overland Trail. The tract is outside Prescott city limits in the Government Canyon area.

In a unanimous vote and with no discussion on July 9, the City Council agreed to settle the lawsuit that Mechanic (as trustee of the Social Justice Charitable Foundation) filed against the city in December 2017.

In short, the settlement provides water and sewer service to the property, with the owner covering all infrastructure costs.

The water and sewer service will incur a 15% surcharge over the city’s in-city water rate.

The vote occurred as a part of the council’s consent agenda, which is a list of routine items that typically are not discussed separately.

The lawsuit claimed the city was in breach of a contract of agreements that dated back to the 1960s between the city and previous property owners.

Mechanic said in early 2018 that he had filed the suit to secure the right to water for the project that will benefit his Social Justice Charitable Foundation.

He explained last week that proceeds from the development will go to seven or eight different charitable causes, one of which is the Coalition for Compassion and Justice.

Because the land is outside city limits, Mechanic said he would be working with Yavapai County on the engineering for the subdivision.

He expects it to include clustered homes that would allow for the preservation of more open space.

“It will be 50% open space, and there will be trailhead leading to the (Prescott) Circle Trail at the Turley Trial,” Mechanic said, adding that construction is still more than a year ago.

The property likely would be developed either as a joint venture between a developer and the Social Justice Charitable Foundation, Mechanic said, or it would be sold to a developer.

The settlement agreement states that the water rights would transfer to a new owner if the property is sold, he added.

After the meeting, both sides said the settlement was a better option that proceeding with continued litigation.

“I was glad to be able to work it out with the city and not to through litigation,” Mechanic said. “It’s good for both parties.”

City Attorney Jon Paladini said after the meeting, “It was in the best interest of the city not to prolong the litigation.”

He pointed out that if the City Council opts to approve a change in the city’s water policy that would allow for water service outside city limits, Mechanic’s water service would have been allowed by right.

“It essentially would allow the deal (with Mechanic) to happen,” Paladini said of the proposed changes.

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