Yavapai Ranch owner wants approval to develop commercial centers and 12,500 homes

Plan envisions solar and wind power but doesn’t commit to it

By Joanna Dodder Nellans

The Daily Courier

Fred Ruskin

Fred Ruskin has officially withdrawn from the huge Yavapai Ranch Land Exchange and now wants county permission to develop 12,500 homes and three commercial centers on his remote 51,000-acre ranch.

His application for county planned area development (PAD) approval says the land exchange could still occur, along with commercial wind towers and an astronomical observatory. But his letter to Prescott National Forest Supervisor Betty Mathews says the Ruskins are withdrawing from the land exchange.

The ranch is located along a dirt portion of Williamson Valley Road about 35 miles north of Prescott and 12 miles south of Interstate 40.

Ruskin is seeking only half of the homes that could legally be built on the ranch by him and subsequent property owners. It is zoned for two-acre home sites but currently surrounded by other large ranches, 40-acre ranchettes and the Juniper Mesa Wilderness Area.

The ranch’s one-square-mile sections create a perfect checkerboard pattern with sections of the Prescott National Forest, prompting the idea for the largest land exchange in Arizona history.

If Ruskin develops homes without consolidating his property through the land exchange, as many as 50,000 acres of the Prescott National Forest could be landlocked by homes and riddled with new housing access roads. Ruskin’s PAD application says he would try to stick with existing primitive roads as much as possible.


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September 2012