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cityofsedonalogo.gifLack of creek access at 7.8 acres of creek-front property offered to the city became the deciding factor for Sedona City Council to not accept the land.
By Trista Steers
Larson Newpapers

Lack of creek access at 7.8 acres of creek-front property offered to the city became the deciding factor for Sedona City Council to not accept the land.

Cole Sedona Preserve owner Scott Cole told council the public wouldn’t be allowed to use Oak Creek at the property if it was accepted in lieu of approximately $844,000 in parks and recreation development impact fees.

A unanimous vote to reverse council’s 4-3 May 8 decision to accept the property made it clear creek access was important.

Vice Mayor Jerry Frey, Councilwoman Nancy Scagnelli, and Councilmen John Bradshaw and Ramon Gomez had voted in May to accept the land.

“It was never intended or agreed to be Slide Rock [State Park],” Cole said.

Bradshaw, who originally voted in favor of accepting the property, said one of the major reasons for his initial vote was he thought the public would be able to access Oak Creek.

Cole told council he compromised with the city regarding restrictions on the property and the only way for the donation to work was to keep it a passive-use preserve.

Passive use means maintaining property in an undeveloped state without vehicle access, City Attorney Mike Goimarac said. Small improvements, such as trails, drinking fountains and trash cans, could be made.

Councilman Rob Adams brought the creek access issue to council after realizing he also misunderstood. Adams said he previously asked city staff about access. Staff told him the public would have access. Cole was never asked.

Under the development agreement, if the council accepted the property, Cole would’ve had discretion over who used the creek and the authority to kick users out.

Council revisited the issue after a claim of adverse possession against 4,577 square feet of the property came to light June 14.

Cole offered council a proposal in which he would handle the claim and then compensate the city for any land lost.

On July 24, council voted 4-3 not to accept the offer. Frey, Adams, Mayor Pud Colquitt and Councilman Harvey Stearn  killed the proposal.

At the time, council started looking closer at the entire issue and discovered the creek access concern.

Cole said he didn’t care if council accepted the property or not, as long as it made a decision.

“Whatever decision you make tonight [Tuesday, Sept. 11] is fine with me,” Cole said. “All I want to do is move forward.”

According to Cole, it was city staff’s idea to offer the property to council in the first place. When staff recommended offering the property, development impact fees didn’t bring as much money to the city.

The project is much simpler for Cole and has less impact on future preserve residents now that council decided not to accept the property, Cole said.

Now, approximately $844,000 that the city receives in parks and recreation development impact fees from the preserve condominium project can be used to develop other parks in the city.

Council had to first vote to amend the development agreement, which stated council had to make a decision by the end of May. The amendment passed unanimously.

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