Since 2006, Candy and Jim Bridges have operated the Breath of Life Retreat in Pine under the terms of a Gila County special use permit which allows them to operate a business in a residential zone.
Small groups have used the facility for quilting and scrapbooking workshops and adult church groups have made use of it for retreats.
Following a query, the county’s Community Development Division staff made an inspection and concluded the owners hadn’t followed the restrictions in the permit. No one has actually complained, however, according to a report presented to the Gila County Board of Supervisors.
The owners asked for a new conditional use permit, which won the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission. P&Z then gave a unanimous recommendation for approval by the supervisors.
One neighbor did file a letter in opposition, planning director Bob Gould told the supervisors. However, his inspection revealed nothing to substantiate the concerns in the letter.
The conditional use permit limits the number of guests to 16 and the length of their stay to no more than 10 days; places noise and light restrictions on the property; requires the owners to get necessary licenses for operating a business and serving food. The owners will need to renew the permit in two years. The property must also comply with building codes for businesses, such as being handicap accessible and meeting a higher standard for safe occupation.
The Bridges agreed to all the conditions.
The supervisors then voted unanimous approval.
• Supervisors voted to support Payson’s effort to add the Tonto Apache Indian Tribe to its application to the federal Rural Water Supply Program for loans to provide a permanent water supply and water right in the C.C. Cragin Reservoir (formerly Blue Ridge Reservoir). The Tribe will pay a portion of the cost of the pipeline and get up to 200 acre-feet per year.
• The supervisors approved the purchase of four new all-wheel drive vehicles for the Gila County Sheriff’s Office at a price of about $32,000 each from Berge Ford, based on competitive bids. Also bidding were McSpadden Ford, Steve Coury Ford and Autonation Chevrolet.
• Gila County is supporting the Arizona Board of Regents’ budget proposal for the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service. The proposal includes $3.8 million to increase work in food and bio-security and $4.2 million to transform veterinary medical education in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The county gives the extension service office space and also makes a $60,000 contribution each year.
The letter of support addressed concerns about the possibility of reorganizing the extension service into regions — currently the service is provided in each Arizona county. “Any reorganization of county extension units must not reduce the individual attention and effectiveness of the Extension in Gila County. We would request written assurance that the $60,000 financial assistance we currently provide to the CE will stay in Gila County and support only programs provided in Gila County.”
In making the report and recommendation on the matter to the supervisors, County Manager Don McDaniel stated:
Because of the Cooperative Extension in Gila County:
• Ranchers can evaluate ecological processes and manage adaptively through participation in rangeland assessment and monitoring;
• Beef cattle mineral nutrition supplements have been developed in concert with a major feed company consulting with UA scientist that match Arizona range conditions;
• Each year 800 elementary age children in Gila County receive instruction and hands-on experiences in agriculture awareness and mining;
• The San Carlos Apache community members get help that increases literacy in classrooms and at home;
• Youth gain important life skills through 4-H and school enrichment activities in such areas as public speaking, record keeping, community service, and leadership;
• Nutritional education is being provided to both adults and youth in Gila County and on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation; and,
• Initial outreach to wild land urban interface communities helps facilitate fuel reduction activities on over 100,000 acres.
The letter supporting the budget proposal will be sent to the governor and the nine members of the Legislature representing Gila County.