Local News

Stilo Wins. Tusayan Loses. Town Council Approves Amended Stilo Development Plan

January 27, 2014

by Mike Scerbo

Which takes longer to happen? Our sun exploding after burning all of its hydrogen, or the zoning to expire for the Stilo project in Tusayan? It’s the latter. At its January 22nd meeting the Town Council rewarded Stilo for going into default in its previous deal with the Town.

Stilo now has vested zoning, which means it can’t be substantially altered. And it has that zoning forever. If that sounds unusual, it is. Permanent zoning simply isn’t done, but somehow the Italian developer Stilo managed to convince the Town Council that all is well. It now can move ahead with its controversial plan to add three million square feet of commercial space to the doorstep of the Grand Canyon.

After a lengthy executive session, the Town Council voted to give Stilo these generous provisions even though Stilo failed to deliver promised land for affordable housing and identify a water supply. Stilo held the land hostage in exchange for the better deal. It has yet to come up with a water supply.

Even so, Mayor Greg Bryan insisted that this deal will “bolster the town’s position.”

The general public attended the meeting had no way of knowing this because changes were not disclosed to the general public the night of the meeting. There was only one copy available to look at and it was available right before the vote. That didn’t seem to bother Stilo representative Andy Jacobs (pictured right) who basically remained silent though most of the meeting. Here is a link to the deal.

Still there could be problems with permanent vested zoning because it binds future councils to the deal.

And the water issue remains unresolved. It’s a safe bet that lawsuits will be filed if Stilo or one of its operatives makes a run at groundwater supplies that feed springs at the Grand Canyon National park and the Havasupai Indian community.

Alicyn Gitlin of the Sierra Club said no water solution has been presented by Stilo and she is “very concerned about irrevocable zoning.”

The only member of the Council who spoke out against this plan was Bill Fitzgerald. He noted that he did his best to act in the Town’s best interest but he could not support this deal. He said, “The developers have requested many things, and some things I feel that have given them too much control over this town.”

As Fitzgerald continued to speak Vice Mayor Al Montoya( pictured right) interjected, “Mayor is this going to take much longer.”

Mayor Bryan told Montoya Fitzgerald could complete his statement which included concerns that no other options for affordable land were considered including the Townsite Act which could provide land for low income housing without the many strings attached by the developer. In light of Councilman Montoya’s attempts to silence Fitzgerald, here is a portion of his statement in which he asks Mayor Bryan why no other options were made public. Here is the link.

Mayor Bryan noted that, “Stilo knows how disappointed I am in the time and the lack of action and failure to do even minimal things.”

Despite those failures Stilo got its better deal, permanent and irrevocable zoning for a land use plan that will place three million square feet of commercial space at the doorstep of the Grand Canyon.