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Development to Spur Benson’s Economy

Scenes of a stretch of property, the proposed future home of 28,000-home development Villages at Vigneto- Whetstone Ranch project in Benson, Arizona. Photo credit: Ron Medvescek/Arizona Daily Star

By Tony Davis for Arizona Daily Star

The Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is pushing hard for the 28,000-home Villages of Vigneto project in Benson, asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to back it.

The Hispanic chamber’s letter to the Corps says the Benson project promises $20B in badly needed economic benefits for Southeast Arizona, big increases in property and sales tax revenue, and more regional demand for goods and services.

It will help create thousands of construction jobs, the letter says.

In an email to the Arizona Daily Star, Marquez Peterson said the $20B figure was discussed by project developers at public hearings this spring in Benson, and that the number also will be in a soon-to-be-released economic analysis of the project.

On water issues, she referred in part to the Vigneto developer’s preliminary community plan for the project, which the Benson City Council approved in April.

The plan, from Phoenix-based El Dorado Holdings Inc., says the project will “maintain sensitivity to water usage” by using reclaimed water for landscaping and water features.

Marquez-Peterson’s letter is among several letters and emails the Army Corps has received on Vigneto since the Tucson Audubon Society asked the Corps in May to revisit a Clean Water Act permit.

The project has been opposed by several environmental groups from the Tucson, Sierra Vista and Cascabel areas, which fear its water pumping will dry up the neighboring San Pedro River.

Before the project proceeds, many of the opponents want someone to fund a U.S. Geological Survey computer model study that could help predict whether pumping would affect the river.

In advocating for the Vigneto project, Marquez Peterson notes that 20 percent of Benson-area residents live in poverty, compared to 15 percent statewide.

Read more at The Arizona Republic

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