Local News

Better Options Await For Affordable Housing

November 16, 2013

By Mike Scerbo

A land exchange with the Forest Service or invoking the Townsite Act would get Tusayan needed land without devastating the environmentally fragile areas adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

Stilo obtained lucrative zoning that would create three million square feet of commercial space. Now Stilo wants a blank check on its development. Stilo is in default of an agreement with the Town of Tusayan for failing to deliver land it had promised for affordable housing and failure to identify a water supply. Instead of apologizing, Stilo is holding the land hostage by demanding they get vested zoning, which would rob this Town Council, or any Town Council, the ability to have any major input as to how the land is developed. It’s rarely if ever done in Arizona because it’s wrong.

The Town of Tusayan does not have to sell its soul for a few acres of land.

As we reported earlier the Thurston family is offering to facilitate a land exchange with the Forest Service in order to help the Town obtain needed acreage for affordable housing.

Here is a portion of  Clarinda Thurston Vail’s letter to the Council:

“We ask the town to consider a land exchange with the Kaibab FS for housing property adjacent to Tusayan. My family has over 1,500 acres surrounded or adjacent to the Kaibab National Forest Service and other entities have inholdings as well. One particular 160 acre parcel, we believe the FS would really want and we are willing to discuss the options with the town."

Vail has also asked the Town Council to consider invoking the Townsite act. Basically, the Town may petition the Forest Service and could very well obtain up to 640 acres. In April of 2010, Tusayan’s then Town Attorney researched the matter.  Here’s what he wrote:
“A state or municipal government can acquire land from the National Forest System upon a favorable decision by the Secretary of Agriculture “that transfer of such land would serve indigenous community objectives that outweigh the public objectives and values which would be served by maintaining such tract in Federal ownership.” 

Either plan would open the door to land for affordable housing. They would do so without Stilo and its broken promises.