Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., to correct a 40-year-old land-survey error that placed private properties inside the boundaries of U.S. Forest Service property. This is Kirkpatrick's second piece of legislation to pass the House in as many days. On Friday, her VA backlog legislation passed the House as an amendment to the Defense reauthorization bill.
Today's successful bill, HR 862, corrects an error that's been in place since 1960, when 25 properties were surveyed as part of the Mountainaire development near Flagstaff. Incorrect corner monuments were used in that survey, and a recent Bureau of Land Management survey found that these properties are encroaching into the Coconino National Forest.
"These folks have been in limbo for too long, so today's House vote is a big step forward," Kirkpatrick said. "This problem was created decades ago, but today it hangs over each of these homeowners. Congressman Gosar and I are working together to offer a common-sense solution, and we are eager to get this done for the people of Coconino County."
Some of these parcels are undeveloped, and some have portions of owners' homes within the encroachment area. The owners have invested in and maintained these properties for years, so the discovery of the land-survey error has created economic burdens and uncertainty. HR 862 conveys ownership back to the property owners by authorizing "the conveyance of two small parcels of land within the boundaries of the Coconino National Forest containing private improvements that were developed based upon the reliance of the landowners on an erroneous survey conducted in May 1960."
After the legislation passed, Coconino County Supervisor Matt Ryan said, "This action by the full House of Representatives provides much-needed relief to the residents of the Mountainaire subdivision. Many of these residents have lived and developed these parcels as their own and have no assurance that they own their land or the home. Passage of this legislation provides these homeowners hope that this issue could be resolved in their lifetime."
The legislation, which passed 395-1, now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration.