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Before another bridge is constructed over Oak Creek, Sedona City Council asked area land owners Tuesday, April 10, to try to negotiate access to landlocked property via the Oak Creek Cliffs Drive bridge.

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Before another bridge is constructed over Oak Creek, Sedona City Council asked area land owners Tuesday, April 10, to try to negotiate access to landlocked property via the Oak Creek Cliffs Drive bridge.

In the past, a deal between the Oak Creek Cliffs subdivision and owners of the landlocked property — Bruce Tobias and Robert Flynn — could not be reached.

The United States District Court for the District of Arizona then ordered the U.S. Forest Service to grant access to the 27-acre parcel through USFS land.

Council asked representatives from Oak Creek Cliffs, Tobias and Flynn to try one more time to compromise.

?Both parties have something to give,? Councilwoman Nancy Scagnelli said. ?Both parties have something to gain.?

Council?s official comment to USFS will ask these parties to renegotiate use of the Oak Creek Cliffs bridge.

USFS is in the middle of the National Environmental Policy Act process for a route to the landlocked property that crosses Oak Creek south of the Oak Creek Cliffs low-water crossing.

Council has no jurisdiction over the issue and simply provides comment as any member of the public is permitted to do.

However, council encourages the neighbors to find a solution that doesn?t include construction of a 70-foot tall bridge over Oak Creek and a 3/4-mile road on USFS land.

?It?s a shame two neighbors can?t cooperate,? Councilman Harvey Stearn said.

Paul Laef, president of the subdivision, said in the past Flynn and Tobias only offered the neighborhood $4,000 to use the existing low-water crossing bridge and 1/4-mile of one-lane road.

A lawsuit resulted in which the court said Oak Creek Cliffs didn?t have to grant access to its bridge. Laef said litigation cost Oak Creek Cliffs homeowners $100,000.

Current relations between the neighborhood and owners of the landlocked property aren?t good, according to Laef. Striking a deal now is unlikely, Laef said.

?I think with the current owners it?s a dead issue,? Laef said.

Also, Laef said the low-water crossing and small road wouldn?t feasibly serve additional traffic.

Mark Thatcher, Oak Creek Cliffs resident, said he is against construction of another bridge because it crosses the creek in what he deems the most pristine part of Oak Creek. Other neighbors had similar comments.

Tobias nor Flynn spoke during public comment.

?In my mind, it doesn?t make any sense at all to have two separate bridges,? Stearn said.

USFS, as ordered by the court, has to find a way to grant Tobias and Flynn access, according to Judy Adams of the Red Rock Ranger District.

The property was part of a land trade between USFS and the Babbit family, Adams said, and it didn?t include access.

Since USFS didn?t grant access in the 1960s when the trade was made, the court said it has to now, according to Adams.

?There?s not a good spot. There?s a ?better than some others? spot,? Adams said.

Council held its direct comment of the proposed bridge and road USFS is currently analyzing until negotiations have been exhausted and council receives more information surrounding the issue.

?If we can find a way to use existing roadways or keeping from crossing the creek, that?s our best option,? Councilman John Bradshaw said.


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