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Yuma County supervisors approve controversial Foothills rezoning request

The Yuma County Board of Supervisors listen to public comments regarding a rezoning request for multiple acres in the Yuma Foothills area during a meeting on Monday, Oct. 16, 2023 at Yuma City Hall.
Victor Calderón/KAWC

(Editor's note: Audio above is of resident Anne O'Leary speaking at Monday's Yuma County supervisors' meeting.)


Yuma County supervisors voted Monday to approve what they say is just one step in a long process regarding acres of land in the Yuma Foothills area, as area residents groaned their disapproval.

By a 3-1 vote, supervisors approved Rezoning Case No. 23-07, which covers land along South Frontage Road and Avenue 14 E, roughly between the Desert Foothills and Las Barrancas neighborhoods. Supervisor Darren Simmons, whose District 3 covers the area in question, was the only no vote. Supervisors Tony Reyes, Jonathan Lines and Lynne Pancrazi voted yes. Supervisor Martin Porchas was not in attendance at the meeting and did not participate in the vote.

At issue was a request to rezone about 16 acres from a rural area designation to a general commercial one and 411 acres to a Recreational Vehicle Subdivision. That would mean a possible mixed-use residential/commercial development.

A dozen residents who spoke at the meeting, which was moved to Yuma City Hall from the usual county supervisors meeting location on Main Street, spoke in opposition to any rezoning or development. Their main points of dissent were what they say is a lack of infrastructure in the area, a lack of transparency and no meetings with the public to date and some also made it very clear that they are upset with the sewer smell at night, which they said has not been addressed despite many complaints about the issue.

"Please do not approve this rezoning case," said resident Marilyn Cox Whitenton. "The landowner has never been transparent... they have never reached out to anybody in the Foothills."

Gabriel Martinez, a wastewater system manager with Foothills Utilities, said he’s heard the concerns about the sewer system in the area. Martinez said $7 million has been spent to fix the sewer system on things like hiring engineers and installing odor control equipment. He said at least $4 million more will be spent and invited residents to tour his facilities.

Kevin Dahl, a civil engineer and the president of Dahl, Robins and Associates Inc., is the agent for applicants Granite Yuma LLC, Desert Properties Development LLC and Granite Yuma LLC Delaware. Dahl said transparency is going to come and that this was the first step in a long process that will include public forums and addressing necessary traffic improvements in the area.

In explaining her yes vote, Supervisor Pancrazi, who did not attend the meeting in person, said Monday’s vote was not a yes or no on a specific development but that it was a necessary step if the residents wanted what they said they wanted- namely, more transparency from developers and traffic and water impact studies.

“If there are not significant improvements regarding the sewer system and other changes (in the future), I will not be voting in support of any future development there,” she 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.
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