OVERGAARD — The folks who sold Sheryl Filliater the house got her in trouble.

And her neighbors bailed her out.

And in the process demonstrated the particular joys of living in a little bitty town – and perhaps the flexibility of the Navajo County Board of Supervisors.

Ah, well, let’s back up.

Daniel Miller and Filliater in 2012 bought a nice little house on an acre on Little Hawk Trail in Overgaard a couple of years ago. She’s a math teacher and he’s an auto shop teacher at a high school in the Valley, but come up to stay in their second home every chance they get.

The home had a wooded acre, a main house and a little guest house, with its own kitchen and bathroom.

In 2015, the couple went to the county to get a permit to add a metal carport next to the garage.

That’s when the trouble started.

County planning officials discovered the guest house in the carport permit process.

Turns out, the guest house violates the zoning for the neighborhood – which allows only one dwelling unit per parcel.

This commenced some serous head-scratching. The couple couldn’t make any improvements to the property so long as the were in violation of the zoning ordinance. What could be done?

Assistant County Engineer Sandra Phillips finally came up with an idea. The couple could ask for a rezoning – from R1-10 to RU-1, which would allow for the guest house. Only hitch – they’d need the approval of their neighbors and the board of supervisors. Moreover, the zone change would technically conflict with the general plan for the area – so the county planning staff would be legally obligated to opposed the zone change.


Well, time ground on – and last week the issue finally came before the august Navajo County Board of Supervisors.

Granted, it took almost four years of back and forth for the poor folks to get their carport – but in the end the solution was more neighborly than bureaucratic.

Miller and Filliater both made the trip up from Phoenix to appear before the board.

“We don’t really use the guest house unless my sister and her husband come up. We don’t have any intention of living there or renting it out. We’ve just been working diligently to make this right.”

But here’s the small town kicker: Neighbor Walter Royal also took the time to make the drive across the high desert to Holbrook.

“We have no objections at all,” he said. “They’re good neighbors.”

And in Overgaard, that’s pretty much all you need to know.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the zone change, so the couple can keep their guest house and still have a carport and make other improvements in the fullness of time.

Peter Aleshire covers county government for the Independent. He is the former editor of the Payson Roundup. Reach him at paleshire@payson.com

Peter Aleshire covers county government for the Independent. He is the former editor of the Payson Roundup. Reach him at paleshire@payson.com

(1) comment


Assistant County Engineer Sandra Phillips showed compassion and common sense which dare I say are both rare qualities in government employees. And I say that as a retired government employee. I have met her regarding an issue of my own and she is firm but fair. J Kent Horn

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.