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Benson Considers 28K-Home Development

Dormant vegetation of the St. David Cienega marshland meets the lush green of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Environmentalists are concerned a proposed 28,000-home development in Benson could dry up the marshland. Photo credit: Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star

By Tony Davis for Arizona Daily Star

A proposed 28,000-home development in Benson is heading for the City Council with a unanimous recommendation from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The commission voted 6-0 in favor of a Phoenix development firm’s preliminary plan for Villages at Vigneto, despite requests from many speaking in the audience to hold off.

The council will vote on the development plan on April 13.

Those seeking a delay wanted more information about the project’s impacts on the water table and the San Pedro River. It would be “reckless” to assume the development’s water pumping won’t affect the river without getting more information, said an advocacy group representing the rural Cascabel area.

But many others urged the commission to support the project as a boon for economic development.

The developer’s representative, Mike Reinbold, also pointed out — and many commissioners echoed this comment — that the property already has zoning to build 60,000 homes. So the current plan would result in the use of much less water than the earlier proposal would.

Reinbold, of El Dorado Holdings Inc., testified the project would use about 6,200 acre-feet of water.

That compares to about 9,800 acre-feet that the project’s original developer, Ernie Graves, was planning to use at what was formerly known as Whetstone Ranch, Reinbold said.

If it’s approved, the project is slated to break ground in late 2015 or early 2016. He promised more detailed answers to questions about water in two months.

Read more at Arizona Daily Star

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