Star Valley wants to attract new business, but avoid big box operations in favor of mom and pop stores and a country feel to match the rural lifestyle, according to a draft of the general plan.
The general plan covers multiple areas of town development, such as land, environmental and water use for the next 20 years. The plan has been in the works for the last two years as a board of more than 10 community members worked to hash out what the town will look like and how it will develop.
In a four-part series, the Roundup will look at Star Valley's general plan, starting with economic development plans and the area's demographics. The second part of the series looks at land use development, the third at circulation and community development and the fourth at water resources.
The general plan community planning team recommended the council delay adopting the plan until an independent water survey is completed in a month. The plan was originally scheduled for review by the public in August, but may now be pushed back a month.
Consultant Peter Armenta, community development director for Central Arizona Association of Governments, presented the plan to the planning team July 28, highlighting key points to the town's development.
In terms of economic development, the town wants to:
- Diversify the local economy
- Maintain the small-town feel, while encouraging economic growth
- Phase out heavy industry
Sarah Luckie, town clerk and community planning team member, said the town wants to eliminate some of the current gravel pits because they "deface the community, are noisy and create dust."
The town would focus more on developing light industries, such as tire, lube and oil shops and light assembly. Heavy industry, like mining, would be minimized.
Vito Tedeschi, town manager, said two types of mining operations exist in the area. The first is full blown mining with crushing machines and hammering happening all day. The second, the type occurring in Star Valley, is more minor.
The town would like to support itself with light industries, instead of mining, he said.
Along with attracting new industry, the town would like to set up standards new businesses would have to follow to "fit" into the town.
"Businesses would have to keep the same feel, such as the country look and colors," Luckie said.
While the town wants to bring in small businesses, it does not want big box retailers moving in and taking over the landscape. The plan favors independently owned and operated companies.
Luckie said the town would like to see a country store, drugstore, assisted living facility and professional office park established. Currently the town has issued 125 business licenses and wants to expand the number of businesses so residents do not have to travel out of town for basic services.
The three car dealerships in town are major economic drivers and among the top 10 employers in town, Tedeschi said.
Diversifying the business market so the whole economy does not suffer when one area is doing badly is needed, Luckie said.
"We don't want to depend on one thing," she said. "We have a lot of car lots and when sales are down, like they are, it is difficult on business and the economy."
"We want our top 10 employers to be diverse in nature," Tedeschi said.
The general plan states, "a healthy economy is one that is diversified and does not rely solely on one economic driver. An economy that contains various prosperous sectors can usually weather "hard times" as, generally, not all businesses are affected similarly by downturns in the economy."
To encourage growth, the town plans to expand commercial development in four areas of town all along Highway 260. The areas are located away from residential areas to cut down on noise and light pollution.
Luckie said with new development, the town hopes to attract younger residents and encourage residents to stay after high school and "get a job in our community."
Over the past several years, the labor force in Star Valley has grown steadily, according to figures from 2000 U.S. Census for Sun Valley, with an increase of 5.5 percent or 29 people.
The labor force represents 6 percent of the region. The majority of civilian workers, more than 300, are private wage and salary workers. A total of 121 are government workers and 44 self-employed. According to the census, 27 percent of the population has a high school diploma, 38.5 percent have some college education and 9.3 percent have a bachelor's degree.
Luckie said the town has a high education level because of retirees and second-home owners.
However, data from the census is, "not very accurate," Luckie said.
The 2000 census data actually designated the area as Sun Valley. Although the Sun Valley boundaries and Star Valley town limits are not the same, the geographic areas are similar enough for the general plan to use Sun Valley.
In Star Valley, second-home owners also contribute to the high number of housing vacancies, she said. Of the 1,000 housing units, 33.4 percent are vacant, according to the census.
Luckie said she has seen an increase in the number of vacant homes as residents leave homes they can no longer afford. The houses are boarded up and left to sit.
"They couldn't afford to fix or pay for them, so they left," she said. "I have seen quite a few homes just left."
Luckie said she would like to see more full-time residents move into the area and reduce the number of vacancies.