Share this story...
Latest News

Small town near Grand Canyon rejects push for taller buildings

This photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 urges people to vote against a building height increases in Tusayan, Arizona. A vote in favor would pave the way for development at an RV park in town. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Voters in the small town Tusayan rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that would have led to big changes for the gateway town to Grand Canyon National Park.

The all mail-in election asked residents to decide whether they wanted buildings heights up to 65 feet. Of the 131 people who cast ballots, 60 supported the measure, while 71 opposed it.

Italy-based Stilo Development Group USA asked the Town Council for the change after the U.S. Forest Service blocked access to two Stilo properties in town.

The company teamed up with another landowner, Elling Halvorson, in pushing for the higher buildings to develop their property at the edge of town.

It has plans for apartment buildings, retail shops and lodging at the site.

Opponents have said it’s the wrong kind of development for a town that relies on Grand Canyon tourism. They say Tusayan should support, not detract from the national park, and are worried about impacts to water, traffic and the skyline.

The Town Council unanimously approved the increased building height earlier this year but was challenged in a petition drive led by Clarinda Vail, whose family settled the area in the 1930s.

The town clerk and Coconino County officials initially rejected the petition over a signature a judge later deemed to be valid.

Months later, the Town Council voted to settle the question through a ballot measure.

Signs went up around town urging voters to say yes to higher buildings to bring jobs, independence and housing to the community of about 550 people. Other signs asked voters to reject the measure to protect the Grand Canyon.

A political action committee funded by a Stilo and Halvorson company, Logan Luca LLC., spent hundreds of dollars on voters lists and the signs, and about $100 on promoted posts on Facebook, Stilo spokesman Andy Jacobs said.

Much of the $12,000 reported in campaign finances went to the consulting firm that employs Jacobs.

A separate committee on which Vail serves as treasurer spent $22,000 on attorney’s fees for the legal fight against the ordinance approved by the Town Council, according to campaign finance reports.

About $100 went to obtain the names of registered voters.

Related Links