past articles from The Courier archives
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
PRESCOTT VALLEY An ambulance en route to an injured child in Antelope Meadows fruitlessly drove up and down Poquito Valley Road Friday.
At street after street, homemade roadblocks and locked fences prevented paramedics from crossing east onto Antelope Meadows Drive.
Fortunately, paramedics with the Central Yavapai Fire District drove up Antelope Meadows Drive from Pronghorn Ranch Parkway to reach the child. Upon arriving, they called for a helicopter to fly the boy to a Phoenix hospital.
"If we were doing ground transport, that (the roadblocks) probably would have delayed it," CYFD Fire Marshal Charlie Cook said Monday morning.
The Friday morning response to Antelope Meadows, while not a disaster, illustrates worries about access to lot-split communities in counties across Arizona.
Because these communities use roads built on private easements, the residents can and often do erect fences and roadblocks to keep out through-traffic. Locally, Antelope Meadows is trying to keep heavy trucks and cars off the $800,000 main drag its residents chipped in to pay for in early 2005.
"If people would not use these every day, then property owners may be willing to leave them (cross streets) open for emergency access," said Dawn Neveau, an Antelope Meadows resident who contacted the Daily Courier. "And, if Poquito Valley Road was paved or properly maintained, all of the residents, including service vehicles Š would use it instead of our road."
Poquito Valley has discussed improving its road, but is facing a cost-prohibitive $3 million price tag from Yavapai County.
LifeLine Ambulance Service, which uses the same roadmaps CYFD does, spoke to the Daily Courier about the incident Tuesday morning.
"You expect something to be there, and it's not there," Communications Manager Glenn Kazprzyk said.
"This is what happens when you get into a rural area," Chief Executive Officer Cheryl Smith added. "Unfortunately, you don't find out until there is an emergency."
LifeLine has indicated it will work with the emergency dispatch center in Prescott to ensure callers give directions ambulance drivers can use if necessary.
Kazprzyk said LifeLine will also brief ambulance drivers on the situation north of Prescott Valley so they can prepare for blocked roads and use alternate routes.
"We can identify areas where we know there are problems like this," he said.
No one in Antelope Meadows has indicated they are willing to remove the roadblocks and fences. Residents of Poquito Valley contend they are concerned only with access for emergency vehicles.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Arizona's Legislature would do well to take note of the current controversy boiling between residents of Antelope Meadows and those on Poquito Drive.
It quintessentially illustrates the need for lawmakers to do something about unrestricted lot splits in the county.
Under current law, owners of land outside municipalities can split their land into five parcels, deed it to new owners and those owners, in turn can split theirs, and so on down to a minimum of two-acre lots.
Getting to and from the lots is a whole different matter than in a planned development. Antelope Meadows is a community that grew out of lot splits, but Antelope Meadows Drive has become an improved county road. Residents paid to accomplish that in 2005.
Poquito Valley Road, however, is on private easements. It's not a great road. People traveling in the area obviously would tend to use the improved road if possible and they have. Thus, Antelope Meadows residents have blocked routes from Poquito Valley Road to Antelope Meadows Road to avoid undue wear and tear.
That has raised concerns about emergency vehicle access that became reality this past Friday as a story in today's paper illustrates.
Lot splits are popular because it's cheaper and easier to build a house without having to comply with all of the development rules. It may have worked fine back in the homestead days and still may work in more remote areas.
But in densely populated areas near municipalities, we end up with exactly the issues unfolding in Antelope Meadows and Poquito Valley.
It's time to set up some more rules that resolve issues about roads and access before they reach the point they have in Antelope Meadows and Poquito Valley.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
PRESCOTT VALLEY Residents of Poquito Valley and Antelope Meadows argued across the makeshift roadblock dividing their communities Tuesday.
The brief exchange, which almost turned into a shouting match, is indicative of rising tensions between the neighboring communities about road usage.
Unlike a typical subdivision where a developer builds roads that become public rights of way, these communities and many others in Yavapai County have built a grid of unpaved roads on private easements.
Because these roads are private, residents often get upset when contractors and motorists from other communities use them as through-streets, especially when they have spent money to improve them.
The result is a series of homemade roadblocks and locked gates. The unintended result is that they also block access for firefighters, paramedics and police.
"We need to resolve this problem," Central Yavapai Fire District Fire Marshal Charlie Cook said recently. "Someone is going to lose a life or their property because of these fences. It could be the person who put up the fence and locked it."
The current hotspot of contention is on Memory Lane, the dirt road connecting Poquito Valley Road and Antelope Meadows Drive.
Antelope Meadows residents dumped a load of fill dirt on the road recently to prevent Poquito Valley residents from crossing over. They used to have locked gates, but someone, presumably from Poquito Valley, yanked them out of the ground.
Antelope Meadows contends it is protecting its investment an $800,000 paving job on Antelope Meadows Drive that contractors finished in February 2005.
"If the main access to Poquito Valley was taken care of, this wouldn't be an issue," said Mark Coldiron, an Antelope Meadows resident living just east of the roadblock. "The only person that can make us do anything is a judge."
Poquito Valley residents currently have only one point of access to their homes, Poquito Valley Road, a rough dirt extension of Viewpoint Drive with countless potholes that rainstorms make almost impassable.
Two years ago residents formed a road improvement district with Yavapai County, but still are in the planning stages. The $3 million price tag the county quoted them is slowing progress.
At an estimated cost of $3,250 per acre, each resident in Poquito Valley would have to pay a minimum of $6,500 toward the road.
"My concern is that that's going to be pretty steep for a lot of people," said Jack Russell, chairman of the Poquito Valley Road Improvement Committee. He added that the committee is planning an Oct. 14 block party fundraiser to pay for 1,200 cubic yards of aggregate as a temporary fix.
A few years before Antelope Meadows had its own paved road, it faced a problem similar to that of Poquito Valley.
With no reliable access to their homes, many residents drove up Coyote Springs Road before cutting across to Antelope Meadows on side streets such as Dog Ranch Road.
That road now features an imposing steel fence with a smaller, broken fence lying in the weeds just a few feet away.
"That was a battle," Cook recalled while driving down Coyote Springs Road to the next roadblock. "It was never an issue before any of these roads were paved."
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Friday, May 27, 2005
Janet Lincoln, who has been serving as the interim Yavapai County public defender, received a vote of confidence Wednesday afternoon when the Board of Supervisors made her appointment permanent.
The supervisors unanimously approved Lincoln's appointment, at her existing pay rate, after an executive session.
Lincoln thanked the board for its acknowledgement of the job she is doing, not only for herself, but also for the rest of the staff members. "Thank you. I appreciate your support," Lincoln told the supervisors.
The executive session included discussion of a resolution restating the establishment of the public defender's office and a personnel matter involving a county department head.
The board unanimously approved the resolution establishing the public defender's office. When the office became part of the 1997-98 budget year it had a budget but no resolution establishing it officially.
The resolution authorizes the continuation of the office to provide indigent defense services. It defines the responsibilities of the public defender, including the performance of legal work and managerial work in administering, supervising and providing criminal defense services.
The Board of Supervisors oversees the operation and has budgetary control over the public defender's office.
The board also accepted the resignation of Medical Assistance Director Mona Berkowitz, effective May 26, with one-month severance pay, by a vote of 2-1. Supervisor Chip Davis voted "no."
As part of the consent agenda Wednesday, the board approved a request from the Development Services Department to submit a $10,000 grant application to the Arizona Department of Commerce for the Verde Valley Regional Plan. The board also committed to a $10,000 county match if the grant wins approval. The match would include $5,000 for in-kind services and $5,000 in cash, which would come out of the outside services account.
The board also approved establishment of the Poquito Valley Road Improvement District. Residents of the proposed district filled the supervisors' hearing room to show their support for the proposal.
Tuesday May 14, 2002
Welding accident starts small fire near PV
PRESCOTT VALLEY – No one suffered injuries when a brush fire burned 1.5 acres in Poquito Valley, near the Viewpoint subdivision, Monday afternoon.
Officials said the fire did not threaten any structures. They believe a welder accidentally started the fire.
Firefighters were able to put out the flames quickly but stayed on the scene for about two hours to make sure it did not ignite again.