Sedona City Council scrapped a resolution regarding National Scenic Area designation Wednesday, Oct. 7, when Sedona resident Angela Lefevre told it draft legislation was already on its way.
Council met in a special meeting to listen to public comment regarding a resolution council intended to send to U.S. Rep. Ann Kirpatrick [D-District 1] based on its opinion of how legislation should read. However, council dropped the resolution and voted unanimously to send Kirkpatrick a letter instead that neither supports or condemns NSA.
Lefevre said someone from Kirkpatrick’s office contacted her Tuesday morning, Oct. 6, to ask about a different issue regarding the NSA and she asked how Kirkpatrick’s draft legislation was coming along. The aide told her they were done with it.
“That floored me,” Lefevre said.
The aide said staff needed to check a few legal issues and the draft would be out in a couple of days, according to Lefevre.
Based on Lefevre’s revelation, council decided to write a letter to Kirkpatrick which states it supports land trade provisions in Amendment 12 of the forest plan for Coconino National Forest. The letter, however, does not say council endorses NSA.
The first motion of the evening, made by Councilman Cliff Hamilton after over two hours of public comment, stated council supported NSA legislation and listed five items council wanted to see included. The motion failed 3-4. Councilmen Dan Surber and Mark DiNunzio and Councilwomen Nancy Scagnelli and Pud Colquitt voted against it.
“Forever is a long time, people,” Scagnelli said. NSA legislation would be intact permanently unlike Amendment 12, which is reviewed with the forest plan and can be adjusted.
“I’m still not comfortable with forever,” Scagnelli said. Council can only understand the world in the context of what it is today and the stamp of forever doesn’t work.
Colquitt and Surber agreed with Scagnelli and said they too were worried about sacrificing flexibility with implementation of NSA legislation.
The U.S. Forest Service likes flexibility but also does not think land trades are good for this area, said Heather Provencio, district ranger for the Red Rock Ranger District. The district has not taken a position on the issue.
“I’ve been asked by our Washington office to remain neutral,” Provencio said.
At the beginning of the meeting Mayor Rob Adams said the purpose of the meeting wasn’t to debate NSA but later said it appeared that was what the discussion turned into.
However, the main objective was to allow the public to comment, which was achieved, according to Adams. He said he’s never seen a conversation this in-depth during his time on council and that in itself has great benefit.
Sedona residents for and against NSA legislation voiced their opinions.
“Amendment 12 is not strong enough,” Al Spector, owner of Sedona Center, said. Normally, he’s against anything involving the U.S. Congress but NSA legislation takes away the potential for bad change to occur.
Two members of the Sedona- Oak Creek School District Governing Board spoke out against NSA. The school board itself has not yet taken a position.
SOCSD board President Bobbie Surber said she must be younger than Spector because she still doesn’t trust Congress.
“I trust in Amendment 12,” Surber said. Surber expressed concern regarding land trades to build new schools. Under NSA designation it would be much harder, if not impossible.