Petition Drive Could Stall Arizona KOA Project

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September 1, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

A citizens group filed petitions Tuesday morning (Aug. 31) to overturn a town council decision that allows an RV park in Chino Valley, Ariz.

Candy Blakeslee of the Protect Our Rural Lifestyle Referendum political action committee filed the petitions with Town Clerk Jami Lewis, who said the review process can take 38 days. Lewis said the referendum would be unlikely to appear on a townwide ballot until next March, when council seats are up for election, The Daily Courier, Prescott, Ariz., reported.

Blakeslee said she submitted 446 signatures, well above the 188 minimum to qualify the referendum for an upcoming ballot. At 15 signatures per page, Lewis estimated the committee gathered even more signatures – about 464.

The committee is seeking to overturn council approval of an ordinance July 22 to rezone 17 acres to allow Kampgrounds of America (KOA) to open an RV park with 32 cabins and 119 campsites. The ordinance rezones property on the south side of East Road 3-1/2 North, about 400 feet east of Highway 89, from commercial light/agricultural residential with a minimum of 5 acres to commercial heavy.

"We really feel that commercial-heavy zoning next to residential is not right for Chino Valley," Blakeslee said before she submitted the petitions to Lewis. Her group began the petition drive Aug. 5.

Committee treasurer Mitzi Bonn also expressed concern about the effect of the project on sewer service for nearby homeowners, who are on septic systems.

"Part of the objection is we have not been told what the sewer plan is," Bonn said, adding, "We are not against growth."

Project backer Charlie Arnold, who is representing property owner Jack Tuls Jr. of JT Properties in Las Vegas, Nev., acknowledged Bonn, Blakeslee and others "have the right to pursue this direction. I'm not fully aware of what their position is."

Arnold, who also heads the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce board, defended the project, saying it would be located within a commercial zone next to the highway.

"The project will create sales tax and employment opportunities as well as boost the region's tourism," he said.

Arnold said he has worked "diligently" with town staff to create a pressurized sewer line that would not require connection to nearby homes.

"We are not pursuing a manufactured home park at this time," Arnold said. "We have tabled indefinitely that proposal."

Arnold continued, "As far as I am concerned, we have gone above and beyond satisfying the needs of the neighbors, who are an entire parcel away from this project."

Mayor Jim Bunker said he is aware the committee filed petitions but reserved judgment.

"I'll just see what they have and we will go from there," Bunker said.

Councilwoman Linda Hatch, who cast the sole "no" vote on the rezone, joined the committee members when they gathered at Town Hall.

"I voted 'no' against the density," she said. "I think it is outstanding that people in the community care enough to put this to a vote for the people."

However, Hatch stopped short of saying she would vote with the wishes of the committee if they succeed in qualifying the referendum for the ballot.

Blakeslee said the committee hired Lisa Hauser from the law firm of Grady Gammage & Burnham in Phoenix.

"We are passionate," Bonn said.

Bonn, Randy Corbett, Amanda Fancher and teenager Zack LeRoy accompanied Blakeslee when she presented the petitions to Lewis and Deputy Town Clerk Cecilia Watts, with the Town Manager's Office.

"If there is a challenge to this (petition drive), I want to be notified," Blakeslee told Lewis.

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