ARIZONA NEWS

Development south of Grand Canyon could be making progress

Oct 7, 2020, 6:00 PM

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The public soon will have a chance to weigh in on a request for an easement that would pave the way for development in a tiny town outside the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

Tusayan’s economy and — to a big extent — its existence depend on the millions of people who drive through it every year on their way to the national park. An Italian real estate company has been seeking to capitalize on the tourist traffic for decades.

Its plans for hundreds of homes, hotels, a cultural center and commercial space in Tusayan are getting a closer look after the U.S. Forest Service agreed to conduct an environmental analysis.

“We’re happy to see we’re at least getting an opportunity to move forward here,” said Andy Jacobs, a spokesman for Stilo Development Group USA, the Italian real estate company.

Four years ago, the Kaibab National Forest rejected a proposal from Stilo and supported by the Tusayan Town Council for access to private parcels. Forest Supervisor Heather Provencio said at the time that the development would “substantially and adversely” affect the Grand Canyon and nearby tribal lands.

The developers reworked the proposal and pledged to decrease the density, realign roads, and ruled out groundwater for commercial spaces but not for residential use. Provencio has asked Stilo for more information on the water supply and sewage but agreed to move the request forward.

“These concerns, along with any others identified, will need to be addressed in detail during the evaluation of your application,” she wrote to the town and developers late last month.

Stilo has said it would truck in water for the commercial development. Environmental groups, like the Grand Canyon Trust, wants assurance that the development won’t affect the availability of water at the national park.

“This development could deplete seeps and springs within the canyon, and that’s our No. 1 concern,” said Travis Bruner, the group’s conservation director.

The Forest Service’s review could move along quicker after President Donald Trump rolled back federal environmental regulations earlier this year. The changes put a presumptive limit on page numbers and on the time it takes to conduct environmental reviews at between one and two years.

On average, reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act take four-and-a-half years and frequently are challenged in court, delaying projects, the administration has said.

Tusayan won’t be able to use 20 acres of land that Stilo donated to the town in exchange for annexing its properties unless the Forest Service agrees to the easement. The town had started an off-grid housing project on another parcel, but it was halted because Tusayan didn’t have authority to build in a flood plain. Mayor Craig Sanderson said the town is working on the needed studies.

Most of the housing in the town that has about 600 residents is company owned.

Incoming Tusayan Mayor Clarinda Vail has been a vocal opponent of the Stilo development. But she has said she will uphold any agreements made by the Tusayan Town Council.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Phoenix Fire Department photo)...
KTAR.com

Fire at Phoenix scrap yard sends smoke billowing for miles

A fire inside a Phoenix scrap yard Tuesday afternoon had smoke visible for miles.
17 hours ago
Jessica Wittner, left, and Christina Birch, right (NASA Photos)...
KTAR.com

2 UArizona graduates selected to be NASA astronaut recruits for future missions

Two University of Arizona graduates were selected from more than 12,000 applicants to be part of the next class of NASA astronaut recruits for future missions.
17 hours ago
(File photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)...
KTAR.com

Phoenix pauses COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees after federal court ruling

The city of Phoenix announced Tuesday it will pause the requirement that city employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 following a federal court ruling temporarily blocking a requirement for all federal contract workers to get the shot.
17 hours ago
An Arizona Department of Transportation worker puts the finishing touches on a Pearl Harbor Memoria...
KTAR.com

Pearl Harbor has been memorialized all across Arizona

Pearl Harbor is 3,000 miles from Arizona, but the naval base that came under attack 77 years ago has been memorialized all across the Grand Canyon State.
17 hours ago
A laboratory technician isolates COVID-19 samples at the Genview Diagnosis lab on August 13, 2021 i...
Kevin Stone

Phoenix-area health official on omicron: ‘It’s probably already here’

A high-ranking metro Phoenix health official said that while the omicron variant of COVID-19 hasn’t yet been confirmed in Arizona, “it’s probably already here.”
17 hours ago
(Phoenix Fire Department Photo)...
KTAR.com

Fire whips through 2 apartments in Phoenix; 16 displaced

Fire tore through two upper-floor Phoenix apartments late Monday and affected six neighboring units, but no one was injured.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Canvas Annuity

Annuity basics: how to retire with a guaranteed paycheck for life

Does the thought of retirement fill you with stress or with happiness? Everyone wants to spend their retirement in a way that brings them the most joy, whether that’s traveling the world or spending extra time at home with grandkids.
...
Arizona State University

Gain insights on next year’s trends at 58th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon

Employment is recovering from the severe contraction induced by the pandemic, but it is still way below levels at the start of 2020. Can it fully recover in the coming year?
(Facebook Photo/NHTSA)...
Sweet James

Upcoming holiday season is peak time for DUI arrests

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most dangerous time of the year to be driving. That’s why it’s important to remember to call Sweet James Accident Attorneys if you’re injured or arrested because of a DUI accident.
Development south of Grand Canyon could be making progress