Oxbow Estates Flinches From Growing Pains

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A brown and cream-colored van sits abandoned among piles of warped lumber on the dusty graded earth of an aging RV park in Oxbow Estates.

It's a place where million dollar homes shadow sagging trailers only a few feet away.

Owner Gary Rovetto, who seeks to clean up the neighborhood and develop the land, requested a zoning change to rebuild the 2.5-acre parcel off Nottingham Lane. The hearing took place Dec. 17 in Globe.

"There were eight spaces when we bought it almost a year ago," Rovetto said. "We want to put in an RV park correctly, composed of 25 units."

The county requires the zoning change, said project engineer Ralph Bossert, to discern the best use of the land while conforming to legal standards.

"The owners are removing old dilapidated RVs," Bossert said. "Even though there was an RV park already there, any improvements to it would have to be rezoned."

Eighty-year-old Duane Smith lives in a small aging trailer and raises guinea hens on Rovetto's land. He's glad someone is cleaning it up.

"Trashy people," Smith said. "The guy next door used to go to the thrift stores and throw everything in his backyard, and throw his trash in the woods."

But not everyone near Nottingham Lane is thrilled about the changes. Phil Spencer lives in a house a few clicks down Oxbow Estates Road. He said he drives by the property every day.

"There were six trashy mobiles, and the trash around there was knee deep," Spencer said. "The people who have been cleaning that up have done a great job, but when you start bringing in transient folks, you don't know who you're bringing in."

Spencer said he is also concerned about the area's natural resources.

"We're drinking out of different sized straws out of the same glass," he said. "I don't know how they're going to handle the waste situation -- human waste -- they're all septic in Oxbow. From a water standpoint, and a population density standpoint, it makes no sense."

Dale Sicore and his dog Lucy, live on Rovetto's property in a trailer on a hill. He's been cleaning up the trash ever since Rovetto purchased the land.

"There was a septic tank that hadn't been pumped in 20 years. It took them three visits to pump it out," Sicore said.

"If they have to do a new septic system, that's what they'll do."

Meanwhile, Terry Smith, with the Gila County Planning and Development Office, said sewer systems, water supplies and density are a ways off.

"This was just a rezoning hearing on whether to allow an RV park," said Smith. "It does not in any way mean that the 25 units will be approved. It's just a land-use issue at this point. If the supervisors approve the rezoning, (the owners) have to provide engineering plans, health department reports and water requirements."

Duane Smith, who has lived in the RV park for the past eight years, said he loves his trailer and he intends to stay.

"I'd like to see improvement," said Smith. "I just don't know how they're going to do it."

Rovetto said he strives to improve his slice of the Oxbow community, and hopes to upgrade the infrastructure of the land, which currently contains three separate wells.

"I intend to replace the septics regardless," Rovetto said. "The first step is getting zoning. I think in the long run (the county) will have to look to a water system for the community, but that's for the community to figure out -- it's not going to be based on what I'm doing."

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