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COMMUNITY NEWS, Page
Three (Back To Page One)
(AS WE READ IT, SEE IT, HEAR IT, OR IS SENT IN TO US)
POSTED TO WEB SITE ON NOVEMBER 7, 2006
PALOMINAS COMMUNITY MEETING
Alternatives to high density development in the Heart of Palominas
Monday, October 30, 2006.
The First Assembly of
God Church in Palominas graciously offered their chapel as the meeting
place for the community on Monday, October 30th at 7 p.m. There
were over 100 community residents in attendance.
A plat for the proposed
development of the 285 acre parcel was available for viewing. The proposed
development includes 95 homes with open space along the flood plain.
This development is permitted under the current RU-4 zoning and is
considered as Conservation Development under County regulations.
The County will be accepting community comments on this plan until
November 13th. A
copy of the plat has been placed at the Trading Post for viewing.
Comments can be submitted by writing
to Susan Buchan, Cochise County Planning Dept. , 1415 Melody Lane,
Bisbee, AZ 85603 PLEASE
take the time to send a comment to them!
Judy Anderson from County
Planning & Zoning outlined what the developer can legally do with this
property under current zoning. RU4 zoning allows one house per 4 acres or,
under a Conservation Development, an average of one house per 3 acres with
50% of the property held as open space. Individual lots can be as small as
one acre as long as the average for the property equals 1 to 3.
Holly Richter, Technical
Committee Chair for the Upper San Pedro Partnership and San Pedro Program
Director for The Nature Conservancy, presented information from USGS
surface and ground water studies showing the hydrologic significance of
this property in relationship to the San Pedro River.
Dr. Richter went on to
outline some of the options that can be used to preserve the property as
open space for conservation purposes. She emphasized that she was merely
presenting possibilities. The three alternatives discussed include:
Purchasing the property to be
held privately, protected by a conservation easement.
Purchasing the property for storm water
recharge and/or open space
Purchasing the property for storm water
recharge and/or open space WITH public access
The majority of the group
offered applause and encouragement for the concept of
trying to acquire the property
for some combination of stormwater recharge and open space.
were completed by attendees which confirmed support. Note:
Survey results are attached and can be viewed at
For Information: Chuck
& Susan Ostrander, 366-0360
Results Below (A survey taken during the meeting)
Community Meeting (10/30/06)
A total of 70 surveys were collected at a recent
Palominas community meeting. Participants were asked to rank development
options for the 285 acres northwest of Palominas Road and Highway 92.
Results are listed below in order of group preference.
Greatest support Support
the property for stormwater recharge and/or open space, to help the
the property for stormwater recharge and/or open space WITH public access
Purchasing the property to be held privately, protected by a
under current zoning
to leave the way it is (grazing)
of dark skies
setting w/educ. slant on water, conservation
State land to owner
for Fort preservation
at higher density than currently zoned
Some people ranked options 1-6, including “Other” in their raking.
Some ranked 1-5, excluding “Other” from their ranking. Some ranked
only their top 1, 2 or 3 choices. Percentages in all cells are based on
the total surveys collected and the total number of responses in that
care if we have public access, as long as the land is used to keep the
stay open space—could be utilized for water retention
the beginning of such opportunities in Palominas/Hereford. We should
consider processes that can be used in the future on other parcels as they
become available for development. A legal entity here may help with the
access should be controlled-only access that supports the prime focus of
public access to non-motorized travel
is public access—preferably limited access
will be other properties in similar circumstances and can we afford to
repeat this process?? Is this developer creating a crisis in order to
inflate his price? Private property rights are also at stake, so the issue
is not a simple one. Is there a legal entity that can actually speak for
we do when other property owners wish to develop their property? Do we buy
them as well? Who pays? I believe in property owner’s rights. He has the
right to do whatever he likes with his property. We should not be involved
without the owner present. I am disappointed. It appears this meeting is
to promote certain pre-determined agenda, which is conservation.
of public access would have to be determined
be possible to get a Bond to purchase the property?
this County is ridiculous. They have too much control. If the man owns
this property, it is his business. This county is afraid of growth. How
about repairing these terrible dirt roads!!! I think the County needs to
replace some of their employees that will care about the people.
KEEP PALOMINAS AN RU-4
Housing Development in Palominas
Update as of August 2006 Drafted by Chuck & Susan Ostrander)
In June, some of the residents of the Palominas area were invited
to a neighborhood meeting to hear about the proposal for a high-density
housing development to be located near their homes.
The meeting was conducted by EEC (Engineering and Environmental
Consultants, Inc.) representatives of the owners of the property.
The Sierra Vista Herald covered the meeting and an article appeared
in the newspaper (link on this website).
The location of the proposed development is the 285-acre parcel
north of the Palominas District Office and School at the corner of
Palominas Road and Route 92. The
proposal unveiled in June is for about 400 houses on half-acre lots.
The proposal contained plans for a central water system with two
master wells being situated on the northwest corner of the piece of land.
In the proposal, the sewage/septic systems are unlike traditional
septic systems and would be individual units on each property to process
the waste for each home. The
individual units are to filter the waste out and treat and filter the
residue water and then there is a proposal to put the resulting water into
“recharge pits” that return the water to the aquifer.
of concern regarding the proposed development are enhanced by its
location. The eastern border of the proposed development is 6/10s of a
mile from the San Pedro River and the entire development would fall within
two miles of the river. There
is a recognized floodplain through the property and it was necessary for a
retaining wall to be constructed along the western and northern border of
the Palominas School property to keep the floodwaters out of school area
after heavy storms. The
County just approved a water control project through the property just
east of this piece of land to move the floodwater through to the San Pedro
River. These issues will be
discussed more later.
The piece of land designated for the development was classified as
Category C property on the Southern San Pedro Area Plan approved by the
Board of Supervisors in 2001. The
Category designations of the County Comprehensive Plan note the current or
projected land use. Categories
A and B tend to be residential. Category
D is rural in nature. The
Category C designation is usually used for land around small rural
communities that has the potential for further development should the
community desires it. These designations do not dictate nor change the current
zoning on a piece of property but suggest appropriate land use
possibilities. The maps
generated to accompany the Southern San Pedro Area Plan designate this
entire 285 acres parcel as “Business/High-Density Residential”, but
our review of the Category descriptions in place with the County at the
time the Plan was generated define Category C as potential for Low to
Medium Density development. It
is suggested that the label of “high-density” was inappropriate.
The zoning on this piece of land was – and remained – RU-4
(Rural development – one house to 4 acres).
Any development to a denser ratio than one house to four acres
requires a zoning change.
When we review the Southern San Pedro Area Plan, we are unsure as
to how the need and desire for High-Density Residential housing was
questionnaires returned and tabulated at that time indicate the importance
of High-Density Residential was recognized by a mere 1.5% of those
responding. The only item
rating lower was Heavy Industry.
Some of those that served on the Committee to develop the Plan
report that there was never an intent for the entire 285 acres to be
Business/High-Density Housing – but perhaps a strip along Rt. 92 could
carry that designation. The
map generated to accompany the Plan does designate the entire piece as
Category C, however.
When the Sierra Vista Sub-Watershed Water Conservation and
Management Policy Plan was developed and passed in 2006, the possibility
of rezoning to a higher density was prohibited “within Category D
areas” when pumping would be required within two miles of the San Pedro
Riparian National Conservation Area boundary.
We could not understand why Category D property would be prohibited
from endangering the water supply to the river – but Category C property
was not mentioned at all. We
heard that the County “intended to exempt” the Category C from the
language prohibiting rezoning when pumping was necessary.
We could not understand why that would be true when it seemed that
a high-density development would significantly endanger the water supply.
But in subsequent conversations with those in the County who wrote
the Water Conservation Plan
we have come to understand their intention to “exempt” the Category C
explanation is that they had in-hand the Southern San Pedro Area Plan that
indicated the community wanted this piece of property to be considered for
Business/High-density Housing. [As
we have noted, the appropriateness of this designation is in question to
us – but, none-the-less, that is the information available to the
authors of the Water Conservation Plan.]
By not including the Category C property within two miles of the
Riparian Area in the blanket prohibition of rezoning requests, the Water
Conservation Plan “preserved the opportunity to request a rezoning to a
higher density level” for the owners of the Category C property in
question. The authors
of the plan knew that the already established review processes of the
Planning & Zoning Commission, the Board of Supervisors approval, and
the Master Plan requirements would still be in place to evaluate the
appropriateness of the zoning change and any future development.
That process is currently engaged as the Category C owners have
held the neighborhood meeting to advise the residents in close proximity
of the proposed development of their plans.
to the revealing of the development plans, we, residents of the Palominas
area, have begun a grassroots effort to make known our opposition to a
high-density residential development on this 285 acre piece of land.
We have made available a petition for community support that says
we “request the current RU-4 zoning be maintained in Palominas where it
To date, we have over 900 signatures
to the petition and it continues to be available in several neighborhood
establishments. If a rezoning
request comes before the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Board of
Supervisors, we feel that there will be overwhelming community opposition
attending those meetings and filing written positions.
We feel these are the issues that are relevant to the proposed
development of this piece of property:
- Palominas is a RURAL community that values the open
spaces and unhindered views available.
People move here to enjoy the quiet and solitude.
If we wanted more people and high-density housing – we would
settle in Sierra Vista or Bisbee.
- Since the Southern San Pedro Valley Area Plan was
developed in 1998-2001, there has been a vast amount of knowledge
added regarding the fragile state of the San Pedro River and the
aquifer we all depend upon for our water.
We do not feel it is appropriate to allow much development
within two miles of the San Pedro River – and especially not
development of any type that would necessitate pumping when land will
be rezoned to less than RU-4. There
have already been several times when there was no surface flow
recorded in the San Pedro River.
- The individual waste processing units suggested in the
proposal presented at the meeting is of major concern to us.
The safety and effectiveness of these treatment facilities will
be completely dependent upon the knowledge and diligence of individual
and filtration will supposedly remove the contamination from the water
before it will be deposited in “recharge pits” that will return it
to the aquifer. We
question whether the “recharge” would actually occur – but
perhaps our greatest fear should be that they are correct and it will
re-enter the aquifer. The
potential contamination of the aquifer by improperly operated and
maintained systems are a concern – chlorine or e-coli could enter
the water supply of the entire area.
- The Palominas School is immediately adjacent to the
proposed development and the school obtains its water from a well.
We cannot tolerate a potential of contamination of the
school’s well from e-coli that inadvertently enters the water table.
The health and financial issues are staggering.
- There is an identified floodplain through this
property and it was recognized by the development plans presented.
The County has just approved a flood control plan for the
property adjacent to this proposed development and, as previously
mentioned, it was necessary to construct a retaining wall to protect
the Palominas School property from flooding.
If this 285 parcel is developed into residential housing with
the unavoidable reduction of absorption potential, the danger of
flooding will only be increased.
The developers recognized the need for a channel to allow the
water that enters the property from the west to transit the property
to the east side. But we
have major concerns about the increased run-off that will be generated
from the non-absorbent areas that will result from development.
And this run-off will contain the pesticides and fertilizers
that accompany residential development.
Even with suggestions for no fertilization of external
plantings, it will be impossible to guarantee that this will not occur
to some degree. Pesticide
usage is inevitable with residential development.
All these contaminants will enter the stream within a mile of
the San Pedro River and in an area immediately adjacent to the
elementary school. If
the stream flow is left unabated, they will immediately flow into the
river and if small retention basins are added to the design – the
contaminants will be encouraged to sink into the ground near the
school and the water supply for it.
Neither option is acceptable.
- Should the County approve a housing development within
the already identified floodplain – and subsequent flooding of the
homes built there should occur– the County would potentially be
liable for damages to the effected property because they approved the
building of homes in that area.
It seems that, in essence, the County is underwriting the
design of the engineers for the development.
The flood control project approved by the County immediately
east of this piece of land is designed to accommodate the regular
water flow, and perhaps the 10-Year flood, but is recognized to be
inadequate for the 100-Year flood.
- Dark-skies are greatly prized in Arizona and
especially in the Palominas area.
The local observatories depend upon dark skies and were
deliberately situated in this area because of this feature of the
environment. But a
high-density residential development, even with the light-pollution
design features to be recommended, will assuredly contaminate the
skies to some degree with the quantity and close proximity of exterior
- We believe in the rights of a property owner to do
with their land what they wish. But
those rights only extend to the point that they interfere with the
rights of other stakeholders.
We recognize that the current owners of the 285 acres in
question purchased the land with the understanding that it was
designated as Category C and had the potential for development to
High-Density residential housing.
We also recognize that they purchased the property knowing it
was zoned RU-4 and they would need to change that to complete their
development. While they
have the right to request that change, we feel the reasons to deny
that request are overwhelming.
The location of this particular piece of property – within
two miles of the fragile San Pedro River and within a floodplain –
make any proposed development worthy of critical review.
- At stake is not just the Palominas area.
The continued mission of Fort Huachuca is dependent upon the
area appropriately addressing the maintenance of the aquifer and the
flow of the San Pedro River. Both the ecological and the economic well being of the
San Pedro Valley is at issue.
of us in the Palominas area would see this piece of property as an ideal
location for a water retention project.
If the flow of the floodwaters running through the property could
be detained to allow for absorption, it could potentially augment the
aquifer and/or the surface water available to the San Pedro River.
Instead of rushing directly into the San Pedro River unobstructed,
the absorbed water could slowly enter the river to sustain the flow after
the initial rush of water following monsoon rains.
This would also relieve some of the pressure of flood waters from
the retaining wall around the school and from the drainage system under
construction east of Palominas Road. Perhaps some modifications to the floodplain could be
engineered to relieve the flooding that occurs on Cana Road and on the
northern edge of Miracle Valley during heavy storms.
It would seem to many of us that leaving the entire 285 acres
undeveloped with residential structures would be the most beneficial to
the San Pedro River. Any
development would introduce potential contaminants that have a direct
conduit to the river. Maximum
absorption of rainwater is desired and any concrete or tile surface
interferes with that process.
We ask that the owners of the
property in question evaluate the options available to them with a view of
preserving the ecology of this fragile area as a primary goal.
They are in a position to make a lasting impact upon the health and
future of the San Pedro River – either positively or negatively.
Please leave a positive legacy,
KEEP PALOMINAS AN RU-4
(Read A S.V. Herald article
about a pending rezoning request)
CALL - WRITE - EMAIL.....the County Board of
Supervisors and let them know WE WANT RU-4 TO CONTINUE IN PALOMINAS. This
is such a beautiful rural area...let's keep it that way!!!
(Especially, contact Supervisor Pat Call - he does represent us!)
Pat Call: Supervisor District 1, 1415 Melody
Lane, Building G, Bisbee, AZ, 85603 Phone 432-9200 FAX: 520-432-5016
Paul Newman: Supervisor District 2 ; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Searle: Supervisor District 3; email: email@example.com
(addresses and phone numbers are the same for the
CALL AND EMAIL THE PLANNING & ZONING
DEPARTMENT: JUDY ANDERSON, DIRECTOR; 432-9240 firstname.lastname@example.org