Fri, Jan. 24

Editorial Spring Creek ‘victory’ only first battle in development war

People own land for one of two reasons.

The first is to provide space for a home. People buy land to live there.

The second is for investment purposes. There’s an old saying about the wisdom in buying land “because they’re not making any more of it.”

That’s why any victory folks in the Verde Valley claim in the current trio of major land developments in the region can only be viewed as a battle in a war.

Land development issues are not won and lost in one single battle. The reason? The folks who own the land did not purchase it to sit on it and admire its serene beauty. Nope, this is about making money. One little planning and zoning setback will not dissuade the developers from massaging, modifying and re-inventing their plans as the means to an end.

We’re already seeing that with the Spring Creek planned area development. At first thought, the Yavapai County Planning Commission’s 5-4 rejection of Spring Creek marked the end of this plan to commercialize large tracts of land between Cottonwood and Sedona. The speculation was the project would either fade away or be rejected flatly by the Board of Supervisors.

Instead, the developer is now going back to the drawing board, asking for a two-month delay on the supervisors’ hearing. What all that means at this point is pure speculation, but the odds-on bet is that the developers will massage their plans, lighten up the project’s density and go on the public relations offensive with the community.

In other words, it’s Round 2.

As the new battle lines are drawn in this second phase of the Spring Creek war, you can bet the folks rolling the dice with Villa Bellagio and Primrose Peaks will be watching closely. If the folks hoping to develop Spring Creek can find a way to win political favor with their project, you can bet the Villa Bellagio and Primrose Peaks developers will steal a page or two from their playbook.

The other factor in this real live game of Monopoly is the fact that 2020 is an election year. Jobs very well could be on the line depending on the ultimate outcome of these three development projects in 2020.

Spring Creek opponents won an important battle in convincing the Planning Commission that this development is a bad fit for the Verde Valley.

But that’s all it was – a battle. There are many more to come in the months ahead.

Develop opponents had better be ready for a marathon.

That’s the race being run by the developers.

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