A group of residents from the Doney Park/Timberline/Fernwood (DPTF) area gathered Thursday for the first meeting in up to two years of work to create their community’s new area plan, a document that sets its vision for the next decade or two. These guidelines are used by the Coconino County Board of Supervisors when making decisions.
The 13 volunteer members of this area plan committee present Thursday represent the different neighborhoods, businesses and county districts that form the DPTF area. Some have lived there for decades, others for just a few years.
“I’ve seen a lot of accomplishments in Doney Park, in our area, but a lot of things that still need to be improved and to question, and I want to be part of the solution,” Liz Baldwin said of her decision to join the committee.
All meetings are open to the public and will be held the second Thursday of each month from 5 to 8 p.m. As a starting point, the committee intends to have time for public comment at both the beginning and end of each meeting, with other opportunities to provide feedback beforehand. The committee will be chaired by one resident from County District 2 and one from District 4, which together comprise the area accounted for in the plan.
“We’re tied together and what happens in District 4 in terms of growth or non-growth impacts District 2 and vice-versa,” said District 2 Supervisor Liz Archuleta. Supervisor Jim Parks represents District 4, which includes the eastern side of U.S. Highway 89.
The area plan, which is an amendment to the 2015 County Comprehensive Plan that is required by state law, will also have to consider the 2013 Flagstaff Regional Plan, another amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, which stretches into the DPTF area, said Melissa Shaw, the county's long-range planner.
The 2001 area plan, an update to the previous plan from 1988, took three years to create.
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Although not the oldest existing area plan within the county, the Supervisors selected the DPTF as the next plan to be revised – following the completion of the Bellemont plan in October – because of factors including areas of activity and potential for growth, said Jess McNeely, assistant director of the Planning and Zoning Division.
Priorities and concerns
Although the committee will continue to update its priorities and concerns for the region in upcoming meetings, it has already outlined several starting points.
On Thursday, group members described the community by its relaxed, friendly and independent nature, noting it is a place for people to have livestock and to retire. Important features they hope to preserve include dark skies, access to public lands and wide open spaces. They also voiced concerns about maintaining the area’s rural character, the carrying capacity of the land and aquifer, public transportation, fire and flood impacts and road quality. These comments will guide the various chapters of the document, which can range from natural resources and environmental quality to a future land use map.
Unlike the 2001 plan, McNeely said the new plan will have to account for more modern issues, such as affordable housing. With updates made to the countywide zoning ordinance about four years ago, he said owners of single-family residential dwellings are now able to own one accessory dwelling unit (like “mother-in-law cottages”), increasing the housing options in the community and thus reducing price.
Even more recent zoning and development activities, such as the 14 acres off U.S. Highway 89 purchased by Navajo Gaming, are also likely to be addressed by the committee in the coming months, McNeely said. However, if the Navajo Gaming parcels were to become trust land – the first step to building an off-reservation casino – it would no longer fall under the County Comprehensive Plan.