Letter: Cornville Community Assn. weighs in on APS Substation

Editor:

On behalf of the Cornville Community Association (CCA), I offer this statement regarding the proposed APS Substation in Cornville. Considerable misinformation has been circulated in the community. I want to clarify the facts relating to CCA efforts over the past 18 months, working on behalf of the entire community, to study and provide opportunities for public input on the proposal.

Because Cornville is an unincorporated community, a main purpose of the CCA is to represent residents and work with Yavapai County to review and respond to applications for use permits and other development proposals, using the Cornville Community Plan as a guide. CCA is a non-profit organization of about 300 members, guided by a Board of Directors representing a cross-section of the community.

A volunteer Planning and Zoning (P&Z) committee reviews proposals and makes recommendations for Board action. P&Z meeting notes are recorded and posted on the CCA website. The Association hosts monthly public meetings that attract anywhere from 40 to 80 people, on topics of community interest. The meetings are announced in advance through the news media, website, signs, posted notices and local newsletters.

The CCA position on the substation is based on the results of discussions with APS at P&Z committee meetings (9-6-06 & 10-3-07) and public community meetings (9-13-06 & 11-14-07). During the initial meetings in 2006, APS explained the proposal, why it is needed and how it will impact the area by bringing higher voltage and fewer power outages. APS actively sought input and ideas about placement of the substation on the parcel, the best access route, a wall, and landscaping possibilities.

APS explained its intention to apply for a County use permit and to have the substation operational in 2008. During the next set of meetings in 2007, APS responded to the concerns and ideas expressed at the earlier meetings with the project features described below.

APS has gone well beyond what is required to accommodate community concerns and minimize impacts on neighboring properties by choosing to install a low-profile substation; installing a high wall painted in earth tones surrounded by a landscape buffer of native plants and decomposed granite; providing irrigation from a water tank and pump that will be placed inside the substation wall; removing nearby transformers and poles; and placing the access driveway away from busy Cornville Road. All of these features have been carefully considered and negotiated in good faith by APS officials and active volunteer residents who care about the Cornville community.

I would like to respond to claims in a petition now being circulated in the Cornville community. Research about "health hazards" is questionable and inconclusive. Folks are living healthy lives near substations everywhere in our country. It is highly speculative as to whether a substation will "lower real estate value." An argument can be made that better electrical service would increase property values. With the features described above, the substation is not likely to "ruin Cornville" or "scar rural landscape." The substation will bring better service to rural residents; and is a much better fit for the site than a busy commercial enterprise that would bring more traffic to Cornville Road.

The idea of placing the substation "out of sight" on National Forest land is problematic to say the least. Substations simply cannot be built anyplace. The power grid and locations of demand dictate how the system must operate. APS is a private company with a responsibility to provide a necessary public utility service. It is highly appropriate for the facility to be placed in an economically feasible location.

There has been nothing "sneaky" about CCA efforts to fully understand and provide input about the substation. It is unfortunate that more people do not participate in community meetings. We hope that all the people who are expressing concern will take the time to participate in the future.

In summary, change is happening in the Cornville community. Can we stop growth? Probably not, but we can do our best to manage it. The need for a new power substation was acknowledged (p. 17) in the Cornville Community Plan; and the substation "addresses rural residential needs," also called for in the Plan (p.28). Electricity is certainly a growing need; and we know that many residents now suffer power interruptions on a regular basis. With the new substation, the area will have better electrical service. The CCA recommends Yavapai County approval of the Cornville APS Substation Use Permit.

Deanna G. King

President

Cornville Community Association

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