Little America’s plan to anchor a major planned expansion with an 18-hole golf course continued to land in the rough with two members of the Flagstaff City Council Tuesday.
But all the other members provided the bare minimum of five votes needed to amend the Flagstaff area’s land use and transportation plan to accommodate not only a golf course but also a second hotel, a shopping center and 1,400 homes.
Little America still needs to obtain a rezoning and other approvals from the city before the project can begin.
Voting no on the 5-2 vote were Councilmembers Celia Barotz and Coral Evans.
“I could get behind this project, but for the golf course,” said Barotz, citing concerns over the amount of reclaimed wastewater it would require for irrigation.
But other councilmembers noted that under current zoning, Little America could convert its property to more than 300 single-family homes on 1-acre lots, all of which would use potable water.
The Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce reiterated its support for the expansion as fitting with the city’s growing appeal as a recreational destination.
But representatives of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, along with several other citizens, questioned whether the city needed increased tourism, especially if it overtaxed local water and sewerage systems.
Wally Huffman, who said he spoke for the Holding family, owners of Little America, said the hotel and other resort amenities would not be built without a golf course. That would leave the residential and commercial parts of the proposal, but not necessarily to be built by the Holdings.
“It’s not in the DNA of the Holding family to do that kind of project,” Huffman said.
Huffman said Little America was prepared to proceed with the project even without a city guarantee at this time of reclaimed wastewater for the golf course, adding that he expected more effluent to be available several years from now.
Mayor Jerry Nabours said it wasn’t up to the council to tell Little America whether its golf course would be feasible.
“We shouldn’t be saying we know more about golf courses than you do,” Nabours told Huffman.
The council’s vote to change the area planning map to reflect the Little America project may only be temporary. The council is considering a new regional map with a more flexible designation of “suburban” for the 500-acre Little America property that would not lock the resort into a golf course. The project, however, would still need to be formally rezoned by the council under the city land use code for specific commercial, residential and recreational uses.