Camille Cox, President
Village Preservation and Stewardship in a Changing World
Ruminating on the return journey to visit two beloved California cities where I previously lived – Thousand Oaks in Ventura County and Del Mar in San Diego County, reinforced my appreciation for the importance of the work that our Community Plan Committee is tackling.
The current issue of a local community paper in Thousand Oaks, similar to The Villager, included pages of submitted letters decrying a proposed new General Plan – raising allowable height allowance of buildings (now only 3-story), increased density, development of open space. Same-same-but-different. It’s no longer a bucolic college town surrounded by protected wilderness and agriculture, home to Blue Ribbon schools… like our community, it’s now largely retirees, schools have been closing for years, and a $25M bridge is planned to span a freeway so the mountain lions can survive. Sound familiar?
The sleepy beach town of Del Mar is no longer recognizable from the 80’s when it was my home town – the ocean is inaudible over the din of traffic. You’ll find plenty of restaurants and starter condo’s in the $1M range, but the charm that endures smacks of Disneyland. There is no longer a “community” – just residents and loads of visitors – same short-term rental scene we face here.
Beautiful, charming locations – like our Village – are never untouched by change. But taking inventory of what is threatened, exploring options to preserve and protect what is special, and engaging as a community to take what measures can be taken, CAN be done. We cannot alter the 300 per/day influx of new residents to Maricopa County who will come here to recreate and refresh themselves (as did we) – but we CAN investigate the various impacts and work together on smart solutions to protect the vistas, the dark sky, the strain on the environment and more.
Please stay attuned to the progress of our Community Plan (villageplan2022.org) and involve yourself by participating in our surveys, volunteering to help, and attending events that will be announced in the future.
May 13th MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
Public Agency Reports Sgt. Brandon Rumpf from the Yavapai County Sheriff’s office reported that with the lifting of COVID restrictions, the VOC substation is back to normal office hours (8a–4p M-F). He explained that the increase in visitors from other states has increased incidents of trespassing on private property to access trails. He recommended posting “Private Property – No Trespassing” signs, and those in violation of the signs can be cited and/or arrested. You may contact him personally at the substation to answer further questions.
President’s Report Camille Cox reported that the Executive Board discussed potential for in-person meetings and recommends revisiting the matter again in August to consider hybrid meetings commencing in September. The Council agreed that this was a good course of action due to safety concerns and representative absences during the summer months.
She further reminded the Council that in August three volunteers will be needed to serve on the Nominating Committee, which is responsible for assembling a list of officer candidates for 2023. Representatives, Alternates and/or members of Member Organizations may serve. Anyone interested in learning more about serving on the committee or as an officer is invited to observe the monthly executive board meeting.
Secretary’s Report Mary Pope welcomed Chris Hartman as the new Alternate for the Pinion Woods III HOA. She thanked John Swingle for his years of service as an Alternate for that organization and for serving as Council liaison to the Verde Valley Transportation Projects Organization. The Annual Report has been filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Treasurer’s Report: Patty Reski reported that the bank balance is just under $6,000 and the 990 forms have been submitted.
Bylaws Committee Mary Pope, co-chair of the committee, acknowledged Co-Chair Nancy Maple and members Phil Feiner, Carolyn Fisher, Margie Gershtenson, Lenore Hemingway and Camille Cox for their dedicated service, which has been a 2-year effort for some.
NOTICES of changes to Articles III, IV, V, VI, VII were reviewed in advance of scheduled discussion and vote in June. Member Organizations were encouraged to review the documents and instruct their Representatives on voting.
Decision on APS Powerline Duane Thompson, chair of the APS Powerline Subcommittee, summarized the project noting that the US Forest Service is the authority for allowing the transmission line across Forest Service land. The USFS will be publishing a draft Environmental Assessment for public comment as early as next month. As the comment period is limited to 30 days, it is important for the Council to have its position on record when the EA is released. (Full information on the APS proposal can be found on the Meetings page of the Council website)
APS has declined to provide technical data of power usage in the VOC and the information that was provided has complicated comparison of outages to other communities. There were two outages reported to the Arizona Corporation Commission for the last three years. APS has said there have been 16 outages in the last 10 years, but has not disclosed the cause of those outages. It was noted that at least one major outage was caused by local transformer box failure and not powerlines. A Council member clarified that APS does not acquire Forest Service land, but is granted easements, typically with 40’-wide right of way and is responsible for restoration of areas impacted by installation.
A question was raised about projected electricity demand in the VOC by APS. APS projects a 5% increase by 2031, relative to current use.
At the close of discussion, a motion to approve the position recommended by the P&Z Committee passed, all in favor with two abstentions.
The Big Park Regional Coordinating Council supports an underground powerline from the intersection of Cornville Road and Beaverhead Flat Road into the Village of Oak Creek to the Oak Creek substation (as indicated on Exhibit A), while permitting above-ground construction on the other side of Cornville Road.
Further, as an alternative to partial burial of the new powerline, the Council supports studying the feasibility of a microgrid community containing a solar-generated source of energy and relying, as needed, on conventional power from APS.
Community Plan Committee Chair Camille Cox reported that results of the recent community survey were published and distributed to the community, including the newspaper, website and email. The committee meets the first and third Mondays at 4pm at the Sedona Arts Academy. A Vision Statement is expected to be completed shortly. The Committee has its own email list with more than 800 subscribers and a dedicated website – www.VillagePlan2022.org.
Upcoming Meetings Regular Council meeting is June 10th, 9am via ZOOM; Executive Board meeting is June 1st, 2pm; P&Z Committee meeting is June 18th, 10am via ZOOM. Check the website calendar for other committee meeting dates.