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Sedona City Council accepted the 7.8-acre Jordan Preserve, possibly forfeiting approximately $845,000 in parks and recreation development impact fees. On May 8, council voted 4-3 to take the land Cole Sedona Preserve offered in its development agreement with the city for the Preserves at Oak Creek, a 158-unit condominium project.

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Sedona City Council accepted the 7.8-acre Jordan Preserve, possibly forfeiting approximately $845,000 in parks and recreation development impact fees.

On May 8, council voted 4-3 to take the land Cole Sedona Preserve offered in its development agreement with the city for the Preserves at Oak Creek, a 158-unit condominium project.

Mayor Pud Colquitt and Councilmen Rob Adams and Harvey Stearn voted against the city taking ownership of the property, located on the east bank of Oak Creek in Uptown.

Council had to make the decision by Saturday, May 26.

Arizona state statutes require the city to now credit the value of the land to the developer’s development impact fees, according to City Manager Eric Levitt.

Levitt said the Cole Sedona Preserve will set a land value, and then the city will determine if it is reasonable through an evaluation process.

The property itself isn’t worth the entire $845,000, according to Levitt, but any money the developer gives for improvements — such as construction of a bridge to access the property — also has to be credited.

The money council would have received had it not accepted the property would have been used to fund other parks projects — possibly the Creekwalk and ball fields at the Wastewater Reclamation Plant west of Sedona — Levitt said.

Stearn said the city is in a “financial straight-jacket” and the money should have been used on other projects.

If the property is developed into a park, the city will probably have to use some tax dollars to fully fund the project, Levitt said.

Council didn’t decide what the property will be used for.

“The developer didn’t want this land. The U.S. Forest Service didn’t want this land,” Colquitt said, and she asked why the city should want it.

Levitt said, a few years ago, the city talked to USFS about the city possibly dedicating the property to USFS if council decided to accept it.

USFS told the city it would have to show USFS how the land fit into its mission, but at first glance, USFS didn’t feel accepting the property was a good idea, Levitt said.

A USFS representative wasn’t available to comment before press time.

Stearn and Adams agreed that the land, while on Oak Creek, isn’t prime real estate.

“This is exactly the kind of land a developer doesn’t want to hang onto,” Stearn said.

The entire parcel is located in either the flood plain or flood way on the east side of Oak Creek, according to Director of Community Development John O’Brien.

Even though it’s creekfront property, Adams said acceptance wasn’t logical.

“If this thing made sense, I’d be all over it like a chocolate chip cookie,” Adams said.

Councilman Ramon Gomez and Councilwoman Nancy Scagnelli said council needed to think of the city’s future when considering acceptance.

“I think this question is about vision and what we can envision for that property,” Gomez said.

According to Gomez, acceptance or denial came down to whether the public should be able to access Oak Creek in Sedona or only those staying in resorts along the creek.

Scagnelli agreed with Gomez. Scagnelli said she thought the public should have access to the creek.

Some council members worried encouraging public use of the property could create a mess for the city’s parks department to deal with.

“Yeah, we [the city] will have to clean up after them, but that’s our job,” Scagnelli said.

Levitt said development options for the park will come before council at a later date. At that time, council will decide what to do with the property.


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