260 property owners say no to consensus

It seems that most of the property owners along the section of Arizona 260 running through Camp Verde's commercial corridor are not in consensus with the agreements made last week with the cities of the upper valley.

In fact, it would seem they are not even in consensus with their own town council.

Last Wednesday, County Supervisor Chip Davis held a meeting with representatives from Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Yavapai County, Yavapai-Apache Nation and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

The meeting was called so the parties could come to some consensus on the alignment and access plans for the widening of Arizona 260.

Among the items that were agreed to was the idea that Camp Verde would have just four intersections between Western Drive in Cottonwood and 260's intersection with Interstate 17.

Although Vice Mayor John Reddell stated that four intersections, with an unspecified number of right turn-ins and right turn-outs, was acceptable, the decision appears to have been his and that of three other council members.

The council's decision was under fire even before Wednesday's meeting ended.

Toward the end of the discussions on Wednesday, Camp Verde realtor Rob Witt, speaking in the interest of several property owners on 260, asked for a clause in the consensus agreement that would assure all property owners on 260 reasonable access to the roadway.

The parties at the meeting, including Reddell, did not approve Witt's clause.

The decision by the council to ask for only four access points was arrived at in a brief special session of the Camp Verde Town Council, an hour and a half before the meeting in Cottonwood.

Present at the meeting were Reddell, council members John Kovakovich, Chet Teague and Howard Parrish, and a member of the Yavapai- Apache Nation.

Absent from the meeting were Mayor Mitch Dickinson, Mayor-elect Tony Gioia and council member Jackie Baker. No members of the public were present and several members of the property owners groups said they did not know about the council's special session.

Whether the decision by the council marks a split or a failure to communicate, it is clear that two different points of view from Camp Verde will only serve to complicate an already complex decision-making process.

Monday morning, about 15 property owners and residents along the 260 corridor in Camp Verde met with Camp Verde Town Manager Bill Lee to voice their dismay with the idea that the town could survive on just four intersections.

"No one is asking for curb cuts every 100 feet," said Andy Groseta, who represents property on the 260 corridor, "We are only asking for reasonable access. Furthermore, we should plan for reasonable full access intersections now. It's a lot cheaper to do it right the first time."

The group's complaints centered on Groseta's call for reasonable access and a general feeling that four intersections would be a safety problem.

Before the meeting ended, the group had identified 11 critical access points, starting at the Steve Coury auto dealership and going east to I-17, the town would need to provide reasonable safe access and economic prosperity.

Much of the discussion centered on the need to identify all of the access points necessary to join the commercial and residential parcels to 260 without having to build expensive bridges to span numerous gullies and washes that run perpendicular to the roadway.

"Topography should dictate the location of access point," Camp Verde council candidate Ron Smith said.

The participants at the meeting identified specific locations of the proposed intersections, although they did not call for traffic lights.

"These are intersections we are asking for, not traffic lights," said Russ Muellenberg, a property owner on 260. 'They would allow safe left turns onto 260. The current plan seems to call for convenience and speed over safety."

Muellenberg pointed out that in some instances, with the current four-intersection limit, vehicles would need to travel several miles and take two U-turns to access property just down the street on the same side of the highway.

"How safe is that?" he asked.

A few residents of the area voiced concerns with the safety of having to make U-turns to and from town and the critical amount of time that would be lost by emergency vehicles.

Witt, who has been staunch advocate for more access, said it all boiled down to a philosophical difference over what type of road Arizona 260 should become.

"What has to be decided is whether the road is a rural highway or an urban highway," Witt said. "It needs to be designated as an urban highway and then use the design specs that apply to urban highways to the roadway."

Supervisor Davis hosted another meeting on the design of Arizona 260 on April 26. It ended after press time.

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