KINGMAN, Ariz. — Las Vegas developer Jim Rhodes’ effort to build a master planned community in northwest Arizona cleared a significant hurdle late Friday night.
The Arizona Corporation Commission, by a 4-1 vote shortly before 11 p.m., approved a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the Perkins Mountain Utility and Perkins Mountain Water Company to serve the 25,000 home and golf course development called Pravada.
Commissioner Kristin Mayes cast the dissenting vote after failing to pass an amendment that would have stalled construction of the golf course until enough homes were occupied to generate effluent to water the course. She said it would be “immoral” for Rhodes to waste groundwater on a golf course in the parched desert.
“Anybody who drives through Golden Valley knows this is the area where we need aggressive conservation,” Mayes said. “Unfortunately, what we did today is we blessed off on the use of 900 million gallons of groundwater in Mohave County for a golf course.”
Chairman Mike Gleason and Commissioner Jeff Hatch-Miller said there is nothing wrong with using groundwater for the course. Both said Rhodes and his staff had proved a sufficient water supply and that he is legally entitled to use the resource to build an upscale development unrivaled in the area.
“Mohave County generally hasn’t had that luxury, a large master-planned community with a golf course and other amenities that people really want,” Hatch-Miller said. “This (Pravada) affords that opportunity.”
Jeffrey W. Crockett, attorney for the applicant, argued the golf course is the development’s centerpiece and will attract homebuyers. He said uncertainty would hang over the project if the golf course were shelved for a number of years.
Commissioner Bill Mundell supported the failed Mayes amendment preventing initial use of groundwater on the golf course. Both expressed dismay that the commission previously approved the Talking Rock Golf Course near Prescott that is guzzling groundwater while companion homes are selling more slowly than expected, bringing several years delay in converting to watering with effluent.
The commission approved three amendments regarding the golf course.
It must be developed as a “target-style” course, minimizing turf surface area to conserve water.
Without commission approval, Perkins is prohibited from selling additional groundwater to water the course eight years after initial irrigation. Construction of the second nine holes cannot begin until the first nine holes are being watered with effluent.
The consensus was that the amendments put pressure on Rhodes to advance home sales and build population to generate effluent to wean the course off groundwater.
Crockett said Pravada is the most water conservation-minded large scale development to date in Arizona.
“There will be no turf in the front yards of any of the homes,” Crockett said. “In the backyards, we have limited turf to only 50 percent of the landscapable area … or not more than 900 square feet of turf.”
Crockett said low pressure plumbing systems will extend to the homes that will have water conservation friendly toilets, faucets, showerheads and appliances.
“There is a substantial commitment on the table here to water conservation,” he said.
Approval of the certificate for Perkins came after 41/2 hours of discussion and debate before the commission on an application that was filed 31/2 years ago.
“This has been a hard case for all of us,” said Commissioner Gary Pierce. “We have gotten as much correspondence from residents in this case as any other.”
Pierce said the 2010 completion of the Hoover Dam Bypass bridge will accelerate a building boom between Kingman and Las Vegas.