County seeks feedback on General Plan drafts<br>Consultant urges public to participate in workshops<br>

The Yavapai County Development Services Department will conduct two additional workshops for feedback on General Plan drafts – at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the County Board Room, 10 S. Sixth St., Cottonwood, and at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 11 in the County Board Room, 1015 Fair St., Prescott.

General Plan Consultant Dava Hoffman said the workshops are open to the public. She said she hopes residents will come to at least one workshop and preferably to both.

The General Plan is to be a statement of goals and policies for future development of the county's unincorporated areas, according to a form letter sent recently to workshop participants. The plan's four elements are land use, transportation, water resources, and open space.

The current drafts – a sample vision statement and draft goals with objectives for each of four plan elements – resulted from public input at area meetings in July and from questionnaires.

"We went to 12 communities and we e-mailed and mailed questionnaires to people," said Hoffman. "We got close to 400 responses."

The questionnaires were not a formal survey, she added, and were voluntary responses.

Asked about her overall impression of the reponses, Hoffman said, "The residents really understand and have some good planning ideas."

A majority of respondents' key desires, she said, were clustered locations for lots, to preserve open spaces, and public transportation.

Respondents indicated greenways need to be interconnected, not only for people's enjoyment but also to preserve wildlife trails and habitat, and as buffers to retain community identities, said the consultant.

Hoffman also said respondents are doing something not done before – tying in public transportation needs and planning with the idea of clustered housing.

Visions and goals

The most important words or phrases to be included in a Yavapai County vision statement are (in order): rural, ranches or farms; small-town images; historic; friendly; clean; visually attractive; community spirited; maintained roads; and (tie) family-oriented and outdoor living.

The county's greatest needs today, in order of importance, are: managing resources; traffic-congestion reduction; and recreation, parks or open space.

The county's current development concerns are: water quality and quantity; changing from a rural to urban character; and (three-way tie) increasing traffic, sprawl and impact on open space.

Yavapai County's strongest assets are: scenery or open space; Western or rural lifestyle; and air and water qualities.

The additional opportunities needed as the county grows are: health or medical care; parks and trails; public transportation; and (four-way tie) neighborhood shops or cafes, job variety, family-oriented communities, and housing and care for seniors.

Visualized desirable attributes in 2025 for the county are: large amounts of open space; well-maintained (visually attractive); Western character; and (three-way tie) relaxed or comfortable, educational excellence, and community spirit.

Of approximately 400 respondents or participants:

* 30 percent have lived in the county less than five years; 25 percent, 5-10 years; 25 percent, 11-20 years; and 20 percent have been residents for more than 20 years.

* 48 percent works in Yavapai County; of the 52 percent who don't work in Yavapai County, 12 percent work in another county and 88 percent don't.

* It takes less than 20 minutes for 70 percent to get to their jobs, and more than 20 minutes for 30 percent.

* 56 percent are retired and 44 percent aren't; 59 percent moved to the county for retirement years, while 41 percent didn't.

* 20 percent have children in Yavapai County schools and 80 percent don't; 19 percent or their children are attending a college in the county and 81 percent aren't.

* 95 percent said they intend to live many more years in the county; 3 percent said no; and 2 percent said maybe.

Phase I draft

The General Plan's Phase I draft lists these Yavapai County vision ideas:

1. Small-town feeling – Western,, rural or ranching; dark nights; quiet, friendly, easygoing, great place to raise a family or children; larger-town opportunities in a small town; nongated, nontract developments.

2. Natural environment – Wildlife, riparian areas, grasslands, Verde River; clean air.

3. Scenic vistas – Clean, well maintained; open space, roominess, elbow room.

4. Economic opportunity – Business and job expansion, better-paying jobs, more high-tech, aviation industrial parks; affordable housing and land, smaller home sites or houses.

5. Outdoor recreation – Biking, hiking and equestrian, public lands access, hunting or fishing, parks; arts and cultural activities.

6. Planned, managed growth – Higher-density areas coexisting with rural areas; differing levels of services or financing; avoiding sprawl, leap-frogging development and big-city image; planning for resources, septics, alternative building materials, solar energy, preserve what we have; focused sights on plans.

7. Clean water quality – Preserve available water; expand wastewater-treatment systems; discourage golf courses and lakes.

8. Lowered traffic congestion and traffic levels – Expand public transportation; safe, well-maintained roads; limited road development; additional connecting roads to communities.

9. Other qualities of life – Low crime, safe or secure; stable, open government; more input; communications and services; low taxes; educational institutions or libraries; good climate or weather; and historic values: mining; ranching; Fort Whipple; archeological sites; historic buildings; independent, self-reliant spirit and respect for individual rights.

10. Other – No growth; no new building; reduced population; no dictatorial powers of developers and officials.

Participants listed these ideas on the four plan elements:

Land-use goals:

1. Sprawl v. planned development/Open space.

2. Rural, low densities.

3. Business and employment.

4. Recreation, parks, trails and open space.

5. Agriculture.

6. Civic/Public uses.

7. Visual aspects.

8. Land-use decision-making.

Transportation goals:

1. Public transportation systems.

2. Countywide bicycle, walking and equestrian paths or trails.

3. Alternative routes, road safety or emergencies.

4. Other road or highway design and planning.

Water-resources goals:

1. Water-supply quantities.

2. Water conservation.

3. Environment.

4. Water quality.

Open-space goals:

1. Greenways and trails.

2. Parks and recreation.

3. Public lands.

4. Wildlife.

5. Plan for open space.

6. Property rights.

7. Visual aspects.

(For more information, visit the county's Web site at www.co.yavapai.az.us and select "General Plan Update, or call (928) 949-6281 in the Cottonwood area.)

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