Miller Road Residents Stage Walk Out


Well over 100 concerned citizens of the Hidden Valley area packed the Picacho Room at Harrah’s Ak-Chin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 18, 2004. Most of them were there for information regarding the proposed route of a 500kV electrical transmission line scheduled to be completed in 2007 by the Salt River Project (SRP). The existing 115kV line is at capacity due to new developments and new dairies in the area.

Debra Buckhanan, her mother, Eaudau Buckhanan, and Harold Brereton live at Sage and Desert Valley. According to Ms. Buckhanan, “We’re here to find out why one route is favored over another.”

Hidden Valley residents pinpoint their locations.

Dennis Peed, organizer of the event, told the crowd, “SRP is putting a power line through our neighborhood.” He asked that residents of the Hidden Valley area sign up for a “Save Our Valley” Association for which he would fund legal counsel.

Rob Knorr, representing Knorr Farms, explained, “We all use electricity. We all use power. But we want a responsible location where our property rights are preserved. We are here to share our knowledge and get your input so we can have a united voice.”

Rob Knorr speaks to the large crowd.

Rod Morris, CEO of Del Mar Develoment, told residents that his firm has put 1,100 acres (Knorr Farms) under contract to develop a master planned community within Hidden Valley. The community would incorporate improved streets and drainage as well as a golf course and upscale homes. In April the firm learned of the SRP hearing on the Pinal West (west of Hidden Valley) to Browning (in east Mesa) Project. His firm is interested not only in the routing of the power lines but also in the community’s input regarding the proposed development.

Environmental group consultant Roger Ferland told the crowd, “We have the information you need for conscious decisions.” He explained that SRP has the right of eminent domain (government taking private land for public use with just compensation), but, he added, “we have been ignored by SRP.” According to Mr. Ferland, there are three problems with the routing of the line: (1) it would destroy the mountain views of the residents, (2) it would devalue property and (3) it would go over four natural gas pipelines.

Proposed 190-foot mono and lattice electrical poles on display.

“There are alternatives available,” Mr. Ferland stated. The line could use BLM land with no environmental value or all lines could follow the existing APS corridor so the mountains would mask the lines and provide a buffer zone. Proposed routes to the north or south would be prohibitive due to cost. “Miller Road is the only route from east to west that is possible. It is the route that would protect most people’s rights.”

Hearing that comment, Miller Road residents walked out of the meeting. One woman said as she left, “We might as well leave. Our homes mean nothing.” Dawn Johansen, a Miller Road resident, stated, “I’m very concerned. I’ve even heard that my house could be condemned!”

SRP plans to file for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility in September 2004. A group, “Save Our Valley” represented by legal counsel Chris Coury of Ryley, Carlock and Applewhite, would have to propose an alternative route in an evidentiary hearing. If unsuccessful there, an appeal could be made to the State Corporation Commission.