New development in Benson one step closer to becoming reality

Published: Jun. 1, 2016 at 11:22 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 2, 2016 at 12:57 AM MST
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BENSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The City of Benson held a special meeting to adopt a new plan for the Villages at Vigneto project Wednesday night.

They unanimously voted to pass the development plan between the city of Benson and the developer, El Dorado Benson LLC. 

Officials with the city said a community master plan is in the works and is the next step. 

The development plan includes policies for things such as road improvement, parks improvement and other amenities as the community grows once this development is built.

The 12,500 acre development will include 28,000 homes as well as commercial space.

Population is expected increase from 5,200 to about 70,000. 

Six conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The lawsuit alleges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not consider the impact groundwater pumping would have on the San Pedro River as well as the wildlife in the area.  

It also alleges the developer, El Dorado Benson LLC, is relying on a Clean Water Act permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2006 but the plans for the development have changed since then. 

New endangered species have been found in the area since the permit was issued, according to the Centers for Biological Diversify.

Toney King Sr., mayor of Benson, said the Villages of Vigneto will attract not only retirees but also people with families to the area.

"Things that people go out for now in our community, our people will be able to stay in our community," King said. "In 25 years, Benson is going to be absolutely beautiful. Our kids will come back. We'll have medical facilities, we'll have schools, we'll have things for our community."

As for the lawsuit, King said he believes there is enough water to be able to sustain this new development.

While some residents welcome this development, others said they are concerned.

John White, who lives in St. David, between the San Pedro river and the site of the development said he and others are concerned about what effect the development will have on their water supply.

"What it's going to do to my well? I have a small ranch in St. David. If the well runs dry, well that's not a good thing," White said. "We don't have the infrastructure from the city that would supply the water. We'd have to drill another well."

White also expressed concern over the wildlife in the area.

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