Stilo Development Group, an Italian real estate company, and the town of Tusayan have asked for permission from the U.S Forest Service to develop a RV Park, a resort, lodging, and housing on two pieces of land.
Stilo has been trying to develop land around the Grand Canyon’s south border for years. In 2016, the Forest Service denied them and said the development would be “substantially and adversely” detrimental to the Grand Canyon and its surrounding tribal lands.
The newest proposal has been revised to lessen water use and size. Stilo has agreed to bring in 275,000 gallons of water in per day via truck rather than pump water from the ground. They also reduced the area in which they will potentially commercially develop.
“We’ve learned that water always was, always will be the No. 1 concern, and we’d like to address that upfront this time just to make sure that everybody understands that there is some willingness on the developer to do what’s right,” Tusayan Mayor Craig Sanderson said.
Tusayan is a town consisting of about 600 people. Over six million people pass through Tusayan on their way to the Grand Canyon each year. The town was integrated nine years ago in order for Stilo to develop two pieces of land called Kotzin and Ten-X. Tusayan land is mostly owned privately, and employees mostly live in company housing.
To ensure the proposal meets current laws and regulations, the Kaibab National Forest will analyze its contents. If it does not, it will have to be amended by developers. If it passes, the forest will conduct an environmental survey and take public opinion into account.
“We are at the very early stages,” forest spokeswoman Jackie Banks said.
According to Stilo spokesman, Andy Jacobs, the company wants paved forest roads, running water, natural gas, sewer and telecommunication lines along the development sites. They envision over 2,500 hotel rooms, 250 RV camping spots, a resort, a conference center, a spa, and a ranch on one property. On the other, a place for pedestrians and tourists to learn about the region’s Native American culture and geology among other things.
It is currently unclear when development would begin if they get the green light.
“I would hope in the next couple of years we can get a shovel in the ground and make it through all these processes. But they’re impossible to predict,” Jacobs said. “When you look at full build-out, that’s into years and decades.”
Grand Canyon National Park has voiced their concerns about the possible development. Traffic, congestion, air quality, water, pollution, noise and the protection of sacred archaeological and cultural landmarks and sites are just a few of their many worries.
“We will always have concerns about the integrity of park resources. That’s our job,” senior adviser Jan Balsom said.
Click here for more information on the City of Tusayan.