NAVAJO COUNTY — Please, Sir, we’d like some more. As in, some more time to build a subdivision in the high desert near Holbrook.

Forget it – said the Navajo County Board of supervisors last week – enough’s enough.

The sad little exchange between the would-be developer of a subdivision approved in 2006 testifies to the still uneven fortunes of rural Arizona, in the long shadow of the 2008 Great Recession.

Phoenix is booming — one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. But rural Arizona hasn’t quite gotten over the real estate crash. In Apache and Navajo counties, the situation’s compounded by the steady shut down of coal-fired plants and mines, which have undercut the never-sturdy job base.

Back in 2006, a developer got county approval to build the optimistically named Perkins Valley Estates — an 11 home subdivision on 14 acres. The related Mesa Hills Estates just north of I-40 envisioned 16 homes on 23 acres on the high planes near Holbrook — where the legendary Aztec Cattle Company once laid the foundations for the enduring myths of the Wild West.

Mark Hermann, the current project manager for the two parcels, last got an extension of the right to build the approved development back in 2017. Last week, he sought another extension for year or two. Hermann noted that the developer still hasn’t gotten an electrical design from Arizona Public Service.

“We would add that Holbrook’s economic outlook has diminished over time and believe that it would be to the Holbrook area’s benefit to have a shovel-ready project, ready to go, when the economic outlook improves,” he said.

The county planning commission had already rejected the request. The board of supervisors followed suit.

Even residents didn’t see the point of drawing out the process further.

Elvira Hall lives nearby in a straggling little subdivision that dates back 40 years.

“We were all excited and all they’ve done is one lot. They’re not going to do anything. Nothing is growing in Holbrook. I’m sorry. You’re going to have to start over,” she said.

The developer could maintain rights to the approved plat map by sending in the bulldozers and starting work. Otherwise, they’ll have to start over and go through the whole county approval process over again.

“There’s nothing to keep them from doing their (electrical) study and going forward” in the future, said Supervisor Daryl Seymore, the former Mayor of Show Low recently appointed to the board of supervisors.

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

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