The Sierra Vista City Council approved the final plat for the Buffalo Soldier Ranch Subdivision this month. The development will be located to the east of the Holiday Subdivision off of State Route 92 at the south end of the city.
The final plat plan from developer Canyon Vista Land, LLC plans to use the nearly 111-acre development for nearly 350 homes.
City of Sierra Vista Senior Planner Jeff Pregler said in a city council meeting earlier this month that the preliminary plat and development agreement was originally approved in 2006.
"In 2010, the developer requested a postponement of the review at that time due to the slow market conditions," Pregler said during the November 9th meeting. "And so, the property has remained vacant ever since. However, the owner did obtain a letter of water adequacy from the Arizona Department of Water Resources on June 6, 2011.”
With any discussion surrounding housing subdivisions in Arizona, a discussion about water inevitably follows. During the work session earlier that week, Pregler said that a question was raised concerning whether the Buffalo Soldier Ranch development's water adequacy designation from the Arizona Department of Water Resources had expired.
After city staff consulted with ADWR following the work session, Pregler reported to the council that the department “Did indicate that there was no expiration date on the letter of water adequacy and that the letter is still valid."
Cochise County was designated as a mandatory water adequacy jurisdiction in 2008, which means all developers regardless of where they are in the county have to go through the water adequacy application process.
Concerns about water use and housing subdivisions were the subject of litigation between two other housing developments in Cochise County; the Villages at Vigneto in Benson, which currently is in limbo due to a suspended Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the Tribute development in Sierra Vista was the subject of a lawsuit that was resolved by the Arizona Supreme Court in 2018, which surrounded concerns about the development's water needs and its proximity to the San Pedro River. Developer Castle and Cooke Arizona pulled out of the Tribute housing development in September of this year after nearly 20 years of planning for the project.
The City's Community Development department told AZPM that before the developer for Buffalo Soldier Ranch can break ground on the project, it still must obtain a right-of-way permit and provide a native plant salvage plan.