Northern AZ Subdivision proposal breaks development dry spell

A 115-acre subdivision proposed for the Timberline-Fernwood neighborhood would be built on one of the last large lots that has the potential to be developed in the Doney Park area.
A 115-acre subdivision proposed for the Timberline-Fernwood neighborhood would be built on one of the last large lots that has the potential to be developed in the Doney Park area.

The Arizona Daily Sun is reporting the first new subdivision to be proposed in Coconino County in at least seven years is headed to the county Board of Supervisors later this summer.

The 61-lot Johnson Ranch subdivision would be located on 115 acres at the intersection of U.S. Highway 89 and Landfill Road in the Timberline-Fernwood area.

The proposal is part of what is beginning to look like a resurgence in development activity in the county, said Jay Christelman, community development director with the county.

And the fact that it will occupy land that was affected by flooding after the 2010 Schultz Fire could be a sign that such a threat has been reduced enough for developers to finally move back into the area.

Christelman said his department is also seeing a renewed interest from developers in reviving building plans for “zombie subdivisions” in places like Bellemont and Kachina North that were approved for building but never completed.

“Most seem to be something that existed before and are coming back, they’re resurrecting themselves,” Christelman said.


Bob Short, principal planner with the county, agreed that development seems to be picking up.

“I think there are some indications that things are changing a bit,” he said. “It has been a long time since we’ve had a subdivision.”

The community development department has seen a general rise in activity this year compared with last year. Preliminary data show that permits issued from all divisions, including planning, building and engineering totaled 1,261, with 163 pending. So far this year, the community development department has tallied 844 permits issued, with 288 pending, Christelman said in an email.

The Johnson Ranch subdivision is also significant because it will occupy one of the biggest undeveloped properties in the Doney Park area that could potentially be turned into a subdivision, Short said.

“There’s nothing of this size left,” he said.


Developer D & G Development‘s plan to build in the floodplain has been the most contentious issue with the application so far, Short said. Some downslope homeowners were concerned that development would affect them if water streaming down from the San Francisco Peaks did reach them, he said. Part of that issue was resolved by designating known drainage areas and floodplains as open space, he said.

The lot sizes will range from 2.5 acres to 1 acre, Short said. The layout of the development will include about 40 acres of open space, as required by Coconino County code because of the zone type. A large chunk of that will be concentrated in one of the areas significantly affected by the post-Schultz fire flooding, Short said.

Because the subdivision would be situated in a wildlife corridor, county code will require the subdivision to install wildlife fencing that does not have barbed wire on the top or bottom rungs of the fence. There also will be trails through open space that connect to national forest access and the county will provide sustainable building recommendations, though those are not mandatory, Short said.

The Board of Supervisors will hear the subdivision proposal on August 18.

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