Local News

Council Ponder's Stilo Deal As Stilo Honcho Tom DePaolo Checks his Investment

October 19, 2011

By Mike Scerbo

The voices of opposition were loud and clear at the October 17th meeting of the Tusayan Planning and Zoning Commission which is made up of the Tusayan Town Council. You may remember the Council sacked the old Commission members months ago. But in the end, those voices were ignored and the Stilo development plan is heading to the Town Council.

At issue is the rezoning of hundreds of acres at Camper Village, Kotzin and TenX all to accommodate a group of Italian investors who want to exploit the gateway to the Grand Canyon. They funded the incorporation election and with the help of  an out--of-state business partner, Elling Halvorson.
As legal experts, members of the local community, the Sierra Club, and the Havasupai Tribal Council pointed out that this plan would have major environmental impacts, and fails to follow the Tusayan Area Plan, Stilo honcho Tom DePaolo drove up from his Scottsdale office to check on his investment.
One of the major challenges in the development is where Stilo will get the water. So far there is no answer from the well-heeled developer other than to say they will eventually make an application for it to the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Also left unresolved are specifics on the types of commercial uses that will be part of this plan.
The local school district is also concerned that the development will bring more children to its classrooms at a time when budgets are shrinking. To date, Stilo has made no firm commitment that it would set aside land for a new school.
Perhaps the biggest question mark is when will Tusayan see any actual housing. Stilo's own Phoenix area development attorney admitted that it will be at least four years before we see any housing that is not of the mobile home variety.
Remember, Stilo sold the plan to voters with the promise of real housing.
We do have some concrete answers from Stilo, and they are not pretty. In order to squeeze the most out of the land at Camper Village, the plan does include parking garages. Those multi-level garages will look great as folks drive to the Grand Canyon. Another concrete answer from Stilo is that housing in TenX will also consist of a bunch of pre-fab and mobile homes. Isn't that what the residents objected to at the start of the debate?
Speaking of TenX, the town will have to annex thousands of Forest Service acres just to reach the strip of privately held land. And while zoning can be reverted if the development plan falls apart, it's very difficult to undo an annexation. Red Feather Property Attorney Carolyn Oberholtzer summed it up best when she told the commission, "TenX is a unique one because to consider the rezoning for it, you also have to consider the fact that you are annexing 5,500 acres just to get to it. When you consider what's being requested on this plan, you should really ask yourself, is it worth it."
So far support for the Stilo plan is virtually nonexistent. Letters have come in expressing concern or opposition from the local school district, the local  fire district, the local sanitary district, the Havasupai Tribal Council, and the Sierra Club. He is a link to those letters.
Oberholtzer points out the development project violates the Tusayan Area Plan on a number of fronts:
  • High Density housing is not permitted in remote areas
  • New Business that would not serve the local community are not permitted
  • Limited accessibility concerns
  • Commercial development in remote areas is not permitted
  • Speculative zoning is not permitted
  • Entertainment attractions are not permitted
Despite the opposition, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the land use plan. Bill Fitzgerald was the only no vote. Councilman John Reuter, who has declared a conflict, was not at the meeting.