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Yuma County Supervisors vote against approving Foothills rezoning

Supes Foothills rezoning.jpg
Victor Calderón/KAWC
The Yuma County Board of Supervisors moved part of its meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023 to the Yuma City Council chambers to accommodate a larger than usual audience to discuss a request to rezone hundreds of acres in the Foothills area for future housing.

A future housing development in the Foothills in eastern Yuma County will have to wait.

In separate 3-2 votes Monday, county supervisors voted against approving requests to rezone hundreds of acres in the Foothills area to allow for future housing.

The meeting was standing-room only as officials representing Granite Yuma LLC said their request is in the planning phase and that objections over traffic, water usage, public services and more are premature. The meeting had been moved to the Yuma City Council chambers to accommodate a larger than usual audience.

More than 630 letters were sent to the supervisors in opposition to the rezoning. The county's planning commission recommended denial of the rezoning request.

Foothills residents including Walt Bonneau said they are not anti-development, but they want the Foothills to be developed responsibly and transparently.

“What you saw (today) was unanimous, almost 300 people in here opposed to the rezoning. Not because we’re against development. We’re against unknown development.”

Supervisors Darren Simmons, whose District 3 includes the Foothills, Tony Reyes and Lynne Pancrazi voted no on the requests. Reyes told developers if they bring forward a more concrete plan, he would support it.

Kevin Dahl from Dahl, Robins & Associates, the agent for Granite Yuma, said the rezoning request was part of a 10-year process, during which residents could continue to have their say and impact studies would be done as required.

"There is not a lot of land in the Yuma area where you can do a development like this," Dahl told supervisors.

He added that Granite Yuma only wanted the same opportunities previous developers in the Foothills had. Dahl said Granite Yuma was being penalized because it was the last development in.

Julie Engel, president and chief executive officer at the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation, said the Yuma area is in need of more housing options as the area has lost doctors, teachers and other professionals because of that.

Bonneau said Yuma is more affordable than other areas he's lived in. He said there are more than 1,200 homes for sales in the Yuma area and said in his Las Barrancas community there are 23 unsold homes.

A couple of sticking points for residents were the expressed need from developers to build a crossing over the Fortuna Wash near 40th Street. They also objected to the Recreational Vehicle Subdivision (RSV) zoning designation, which could allow up to 14 dwelling units per acre. Developers said they believe they would only be able to build four units per acre.

Supervisor Reyes, who is executive director of the Comite De Bien Estar which assists residents in San Luis, Ariz. with housing, said he trusts Granite Yuma to do the right thing.

"But will it be what the other residents there (in the Foothills) want?" Reyes said.

Victor is originally from West Sacramento, California and has lived in Arizona for more than five years. He began his print journalism career in 2004 following his graduation from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Victor has been a reporter for the following daily newspapers: The Monterey County Herald, The Salinas Californian and the Reno Gazette-Journal, where he covered stories including agriculture, education and Latino community news. Victor has also served as a local editor for Patch, a national news organization with hyperlocal websites, in Carmichael, California in the Sacramento area. He also served as the editor for The New Vision, the newspaper for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, which includes Yuma and La Paz counties. Victor lives in Somerton. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends and following most sports.