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BellaTerraConcep.jpgRepresentatives of BySynergy, the company building Bella Terra, deny that the development went back on promises to preserve a ?historical? homestead, use lots next to Oak Creek for a park and use water from the existing wells on its property.
By Mike Cosentino
Larson Newspapers
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Representatives of BySynergy, the company building Bella Terra, deny that the development went back on promises to preserve a ?historical? homestead, use lots next to Oak Creek for a park and use water from the existing wells on its property.

Bella Terra, the 53.5-acre residential development on the Red Rock Loop Road, has been the object of intense scrutiny since its inception in 2001-02 and has been the site of one of the most highly regulated developments in the Sedona area regarding its hydrology issues.

The management of BySynergy believes it has developed at the highest standard in other areas as well.

?We have met and exceeded the requirements of every law, rule and regulation of the county, state and federal levels,? Steve Bernard, a spokesman for BySynergy, said.

?We are completely in favor of higher Arizona Department of Environmental Quality standards for wastewater

treatment,? BySynergy CEO Michael Zito said.

?And when they have them, we will not hesitate to implement them immediately,? he said.

From Bella Terra?s, view, ?We are doing so much more than is required,? Zito said.

Septic systems, which other developments in the area have opted for, do much less to protect aquifers, he said.

?We have reclaimed and preserved these 60 acres,? Donna Michaels, executive vice president of BySynergy, said.

?By developing under the Planned Area Development rules and by voluntarily implanting

higher standards,? we have improved and cleaned up this property, she said.

ADEQ held two public meetings attended by over 200 residents. Experts from Northern Arizona University and other institutions; Howard Shanker, the

attorney for the Sierra Club and the Rural Red Rock Community Association; local geologists; and many others made comments regarding a host of

environmental, health and legal issues related to the development.

In approving the Aquifer Protection Permit, ADEQ answered every one of the comments in its 54-page report.

In a statement from the Rural Red Rock Community Association, Brian Myers cited several residents whose wells were dry or in trouble. He said the concern of the group is that additional pumping for the subdivision will further lower the water table. Myers cited the effect of a neighboring well as the cause.

Zito said that the Jackl well, located at the Sedona Cathedral Hideaway Bed and Breakfast, was not cased in a timely manner and the result of a lower water table had nothing to do with Bella Terra. The aquifer has since recharged, he said.

The hydrology investigation, prepared by Southwest Groundwater Consultants of Prescott for BySynergy, found that even with a maximum level of pumping for 100 years, the drawdown will be less than 7 inches of the aquifer.

The aquifer in the area is 400 feet deep, according to the March 2002 report.

Regarding the attempt to bring in water from Arizona Water Company lines, Zito said that the U.S. Forest Service denied the request and said in its report that since there were wells in the area that were already serving as drinking water sources for developments, Bella Terra should use its existing wells.

Michaels said that there was never a public park planned by the creek. She said that the 24 lots some critics thought was a designated park area has never been shown as such on any plat nor referred to at any meeting.

Zito added that there will be a 4-acre park in the subdivision for residents of Bella Terra. Bernard said that ?45 percent of the subdivision will be vineyards, orchards, picnic areas and green belts,? in addition to the park.

Members of the RRRCA have also lamented the loss of the Schuerman home. Bernard said that ?the home was not structurally sound and not inhabitable according to Yavapai County,? and that only after checking with state historic registry, he said, BySynergy removed it. He added that they have preserved the materials from the home for future use.


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