About 30 years ago, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors approved plans for a Sizzler Restaurant in Uptown Sedona in the area where the community post office is located today.
The approval came amid an avalanche of protest.
It was one of the sparks that ultimately ignited the fire that led to the incorporation of Sedona in 1988, which was the community’s second attempt at establishing self-government.
The incorporation of Sedona allowed the community to have full control over the development issues that previously were decided by eight county supervisors, five in Coconino County and three in Yavapai County (Yavapai expanded to five county supervisors in 2012).
One can’t help but wonder if Tuesday’s decision on a signage plan for the revamped Sedona Vista Village in the Village of Oak Creek will be the kind of spark needed to light a fire for a movement toward self-government in VOC.
Many of the complaints expressed Tuesday echoed those heard so many years ago when the Sizzler Restaurant was being debated in Sedona. Residents claimed they had been left in the dark about the development plans for Sedona Vista Village. Others claimed they were poorly represented by the county. Others said the community’s quasi-government, the Big Park Regional Coordinating Council, is more focused on the needs of the business community than it is the residents.
All of which is highly questionable.
Our own newspaper in the Village of Oak Creek, The Villager, published six stories in the past year on this development, with many of those coming from public discussions on the project during meetings of the Big Park Council.
Sedona Vista Village was discussed at five Planning & Zoning Committee meetings in the VOC and four Big Park Council meetings. One of those meetings saw each and every sign for Vista Village discussed for three hours.
Developer Marty Aronson attended three of the four Big Park Council meetings and took questions from the public until each and every issue was discussed to the audience’s satisfaction.
As for lack of representation from the county, it’s unreasonable to expect a rural county supervisor to be as hands-on with this project, on a daily basis, as would be the mayor, city council or city manager of an incorporated community.
County government by its very nature is a rural service provider. Once the line is crossed to where those services fill an urbanized need, the community needs to take a hard look at self-government.
That feared word called incorporation.
The growth, transportation and traffic issues that currently confront VOC are all classic urbanized government challenges. They are best dealt with by a self-governing municipal government.
But even if that were to happen, the impetus for defining the way growth happens in any community lies with the residents.
Government representation is a two-way street. Community members have an equal share in the responsibility to be informed and participatory in the process.
In the case of Sedona Vista Village, this process has been ongoing for the past year, and clearly has been well-documented and communicated to the public.
Showing up at the last minute and falsely claiming you’ve been left in the dark is lousy citizen participation.