Goldfield Ranch project gets OK

Beth Duckett, The Arizona Republic

Plans to build 1,000 homes east of Fountain Hills got the initial thumbs up Wednesday from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Overlooking complaints from the nearby Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the supervisors voted 5-0 to approve a master-plan amendment for the Preserve at Goldfield Ranch, a subdivision headed by developer and former Phoenix Coyotes co-owner Steve Ellman.

The project would cover more than 2,000 acres in western Goldfield Ranch, a desert community of 90 homes about 5 miles east of Fountain Hills, along Arizona 87, the Beeline Highway.

Echoing Fort McDowell’s concerns about the Preserve’s lack of fire protection, the board required Ellman to establish fire coverage before seeking later to rezone the property.

Fort McDowell, which provides fire services to the Goldfield Ranch Fire District, has refused to serve the Preserve, a member of the district.

“The burden of fire protection will be borne by the developer,” said Don Kile, president of Goldfield Preserve Development for Ellman. “We’re going to rely on an agreement with the district.”

Concerns about the project’s water supply are up in the air. While the developer wants to drill wells, Salt River Project officials claim the plans might illegally draw on the underground flow of the nearby Verde River. Fort McDowell, whose water supply comes from the river, is “deeply concerned,” said tribal Director of Government Relations Carole Klopatek.

The plan passed Wednesday superseded a 1995 master plan that called for twice the number of homes and a golf course, but was never built.

Kile said the new plan cuts the water budget requirements by 65 percent.