Local News

Tusayan Sends Amended Application To Forest Service For Stilo Project

January 29, 2020

 The Tusayan Town Council has submitted a revised roadway easement proposal to the Forest Service that could help facilitate a controversial and environmentally damaging development at the doorstep of the Grand Canyon.  Italian developer Stilo needs Forest Service road access in order to move ahead with plans to build thousands of homes in the area and three million square feet of commercial space.

Once Stilo gets its access, the developer will free up more land to enable Tusayan to move ahead with plans to build several dozen affordable housing units. Stilo continues to hold much of the land for affordable housing hostage but it did free up about 20 acres at 10X. plans to build a dozen homes there have cost the Town hundreds of thousands of dollars despite the fact that no homes have been built. The prior Town Manager;s decision to ignore flood plain rules is responsible for much of  the extra costs.

The Forest Service “returned” a similar road access proposal in 2016 after receiving more than 300,000 messages in opposition. The Town and Stilo submitted a modified plan in September in which Stilo promised to reduce proposed commercial space and pledged not to use groundwater for commercial projects. There is no such promise for the residential component.

On January 23rd the Town submitted yet another modified plan which would divert traffic away from the Town Park and make alignments so that the projects would not bypass local businesses.

The Town said meetings with the Forest Service led to many of the changes in the new proposal. Mayor Craig Sanderson noted this is a continuation of a lengthy process. Vice Mayor Brady Harris calls this a step in the right direction.

Tusayan business owner Clarinda Vail noted that Stilo’s promises to reduce its commercial space and not to use groundwater are not set in stone, “To me it’s not real. They have the zoning. They can build to the maximum density. Anybody can. If they have the property. If they sell the property, anybody can.”

Sierra Club Chapter President Alicyn Gitlin told the council. “You have the power to defer this, to say no to Stilo, to say that this is unacceptable, that the impacts on the Grand Canyon are just too much.” Gitlan says the water use would be so great that it would “be a death sentence to the springs at the Grand Canyon.” She asked the council to consider what their children would think if the Grand Canyon were to become a highly developed area.

Councilman Al Montoya said he is thinking about  the children. He notes that his own children are unable to find housing in town and he cannot live in Tusayan when he retires. Councilmember Becky Wirth said, “We care about the Canyon and we care about the people who live and work here.”

The Town Council vote to send the revised plan to the Forest Service was unanimous.