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Insufficient funds?
Posted May 7, 2001
Analysis & Commentary by J.C. Huntington

       On April 19, Pinal County Planning & Zoning Commission heard a request to rezone 4,600 acres to allow construction of a large project to be located a few miles north of Oracle Junction. 

       The project is called the "South Village" and is the first phase of a multi-phase project called "Willow Springs." According to the backers, the full project is to eventually cover 18,000 acres and house over 100,000 people.

       At the hearing the backers told county commissioners they have $18 to $20 million to invest in the project. It was not clear if this amount was for the entire project for just for the initial South Village phase.

       According to the Planned Area Development (PAD) document for the South Village, the first phase will have 8,517 houses. Using the standard figure of 2.4 individuals per house, the estimated population of the South Village would be over 20,000 people -- roughly twice the population of Florence.

       The PAD says the South Village will have at least one golf course, but promises to provide an effluent recovery system and rainwater harvesting systems to reduce the overdraft on the regional groundwater supply from 1,629,255,000 gallons a year to "only" 651,702,000 gallons a year.

       The PAD also shows an extension to Park Link drive is required to provide access from Highway 79 to the border of the project. Backers told the commissioners the extension is about 5 miles long. 

       According to the Tucson office of Arizona Department of Transportation, a two-lane blacktop road would cost about $1.5 million per mile -- or $7.5 million for the 5-mile roadway. 
At $7.5 million, the cost of the road to provide access to the border of the project could consume over a third to almost half (37% to 42%) of the investor's entire bankroll.

       Assuming the $18 to $20 million is used for only the South Village and not for the entire Willow Springs project, spending $7.5 million for the road would leave between $10.5 and $12.5 million, about $1,350 per house, to cover the remaining infrastructure costs; items such as:

  • Design and construction of the effluent recovery system 
  • Connecting each house to the effluent recovery system 
  • Design and construction of the rainwater harvesting systems 
  • Construction of a water distribution system 
  • Construction of a power distribution system

  • . . . etc.

       Is it really possible to build the infrastructure for a city roughly two times the size of Florence -- a city that is supposed to reduce the groundwater overdraft by connecting each home to an effluent recovery system as well as providing advanced rainwater harvesting techniques -- for only $1,350 per house? 

An aerial view

The image below shows the approximate density of the proposed South "Village" of Willow Springs when viewed from above:

Phoenix, Arizona Circa 1997
Image Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

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