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Know the West

Developer told to scale back

  Developer Jim Mehen hoped to build a golf course and gated community of 300 luxury homes on his 407 acres near Flagstaff, Ariz. He'd revised his plans repeatedly in the past two years to meet county concerns. But misgivings about development in the volcanic caldera and wetland remained, and opposition to the project gathered momentum.

In the morning hours of Sept. 2, after 12 hours of testimony at a hearing attended by hundreds of people, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors turned down Mehen's 18-hole golf course and allowed him to build only 42 homes.

"We were just thunderstruck," says Mary Sojourner, a founder of Friends of Dry Lake, a grassroots group that fought the project planned for the bowl of an ancient volcano (see essay page 16).

Before the county's decision, some believed that development in the Flagstaff area would proceed unchecked. But hundreds of people wrote letters, Sojourner says, and thousands more signed petitions. "The community, which was lolling in apathy as we watched our community turn into Vail, got off its ass," she says.

While some opponents believe last month's vote ends Mehen's development prospects for Dry Lake, he can always revise them. As Rick Moore of Grand Canyon Trust says of the vote, "It means what he submitted has been finally rejected. He can resubmit. He can resubmit forever."

*Karen Mockler