An unusual and very large residential and commercial project, designed to resemble an Italian Tuscany village, could see infrastructure work beginning before summer.
The Villages at Vigneto will go up in the city of Benson in southeast Arizona and will see at full build-out the construction of some 28,000 homes.
Slated for a mostly desert area along Arizona State Route 90 just south of Interstate 10, the master-planned community will include four golf courses, a resort, commercial space, and a 40-acre park.
The project, to be developed by the Scottsdale-based El Dorado Holdings, will eventually span more than 12,000 acres and will also include orchards, vineyards, trails, and effluent-filled lakes.
Because of its size and scope, the project has met with opposition from conservationists and environmentalists who are worried about, among other things, the impact it would have on the northward-flowing San Pedro River.
Several groups, including the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Lower San Pedro Watershed Alliance, have said that the groundwater needed for the development would most likely over time deplete the river.
Although the U.S. Corps of Engineers announced its approval of a water permit for the project last November, a host of environmental groups have now filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Tucson.
That lawsuit charges that the Army Corps, in failing to undertake a comprehensive environmental analysis of the entire project site, violated both the Clean Water Act as well as the National Environmental Protection Act.
Despite the litigation, reports indicate that road, water line, and sewer work on the big project could begin sometime this summer, with actual home construction starting next year.
By Garry Boulard
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