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Fri, Nov. 15

UPDATE: Camp Verde unanimously opposes Verde Connect project

Middle Verde resident Eric Eberhard tells the Camp Verde council why he opposes Yavapai County’s connector road plans, a project known as Verde Connect. VVN/Bill Helm

Middle Verde resident Eric Eberhard tells the Camp Verde council why he opposes Yavapai County’s connector road plans, a project known as Verde Connect. VVN/Bill Helm

CAMP VERDE – A room full of people laughed as Camp Verde Mayor Charlie German asked whether anyone was in support of Yavapai County’s Verde Connect project.

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Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Randy Garrison tells the Camp Verde Town Council on Wednesday that “nobody wants to see the open land spoiled. But that it’s “an unfortunate byproduct of growth.” VVN/Bill Helm

But Randy Garrison, the county’s District 3 supervisor, wasn’t laughing.

“If you don’t want a road through your area, that’s great. But you’re overstepping your bounds,” Garrison told council Wednesday before it voted unanimously to support a resolution to officially oppose a possible connector roadway and bridge across the Verde River that would connect Cornville Road to SR 260.

Before council’s vote, Mayor Charlie German said he was “in favor of protecting our residential neighborhoods.”

“That’s why I support [the General Plan’s] character areas,” German said. “All too often, political leaders don’t listen to their constituents. My concern is for the voices we haven’t heard.”

German also said that he “think[s] it’s inappropriate to dictate to another government body how they should conduct their business.”

The resolution, sponsored by Council Member Joe Butner, was approved with two amendments.

Camp Verde will oppose “any new regional connector (connecting road) through the confines of US 89A, Highway 179, Interstate 17, and Highway 260 that is in significant conflict with the adopted General Plan.”

Council also will direct Town Manager Russ Martin to support Verde Connect’s no-build option.

The resolution does allow Martin to “provide any agency proposing such a road with copies of the Town of Camp Verde General Plan and shall further take all action possible to cause said agency to comply with the general plan.”

The resolution also explains that Camp Verde also opposes the “takings” of any of the town’s public or private land for the Verde Connect project, and opposes any additional taxes or any matching funds “or any action that will cost the Town of Camp Verde additional expenditures, as well as any reduction in county funds for other project needs in the Town of Camp Verde.”

Public sentiment

Former Camp Verde Mayor Tony Gioia said that though he “appreciate[d] the county’s efforts, he was “personally opposed to the connector road project.

“It’s just not right for us,” he said.

One community member said an “urgent” issue was the “potential flooding by putting roads through those hills,” while another person said a connector road would “significantly and negatively affect our lifestyle.”

“It would be a formidable task to build through these hills,” Rick Brady said. “We bought [property] knowing it was a dead-end road. It makes no logical sense to me to proceed.”

Admitting that he knew “nothing about the terrain there,” Jim Meredith said there was “no need for the road.”

“I just know you should pass this resolution,” Meredith said. “Cottonwood maybe needs it. But it’s not going to bring anything to us.”

Verde Connect

On June 11 and on June 12, Yavapai County held public forums to solicit public feedback on eight options the county has identified for the connector road.

Of the eight options, two are not recommended by the county, and a third is to not build the road. The other five utilize Beaverhead Flat Road as a connector, with two options also using Coury Drive, two using Old HWY 279 and one using Thousand Trails Road.

Should Yavapai County decide to build one of the roads, the project would be funded in part by a $25 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant for a new bridge over the Verde River.

“Nobody wants to see the open land spoiled,” Garrison told council. “It’s an unfortunate byproduct of growth.”

According to Yavapai County Public Works Director Don Cherry, the county is “hoping to make a decision on moving a preferred alignment forward” in the next month to six weeks.

Garrison also said that the county hasn’t “made our minds up yet” on which option.

“There are very few opportunities to put roads in that move traffic in and out in an orderly manner,” Garrison said.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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