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Letters | Our voices as homeowners are being ignored

To Mary Beth Sage, president, St. Michaels Chapter:

It has come to my attention that potential land development plans to occur on land surrounding the Karigan Estates Housing area, located within the St. Michaels Chapter jurisdiction.

Many homeowners, such as myself, were not aware of such development occurring. Last week I encountered Mr. Victor Cordova as he was using a jackhammer to remove large boulders in the drainage arroyo next to my house.

In this exchange he told me that he bought 10 acres of land and plans to remove the culvert on Narbona Circle, remove the fire hydrant that is next to the arroyo, and remove the boulders so that he can create an access road to the hills behind the Karigan houses in order for heavy equipment to enter.

I explained to him that he should not be removing the boulders as this is a natural drainage area for the rain runoff (especially now as we’ve been getting lots of rain) and that removing the fire hydrant is not a safe measure to take.

At the end of this exchange, he told me that the Navajo Nation cannot tell him what to do and that he will be doing whatever he wants since he owns 10 acres of land around the neighborhood.

We did not have an opportunity to learn how this person will be affecting our homes, potentially our home values, the public amenities such as the fire hydrant (and this in particular affects our house insurance costs) and culvert, and adding in additional traffic of heavy equipment and what will be developed. It seems like our voices as homeowners, especially Navajo homeowners, are being ignored.

I am writing to you because our form of local government is the chapter and, as a concerned homeowner, I would like my voice to be heard and placed for consideration.

I am concerned that placing an access road in a natural drainage arroyo, especially since we are in monsoon season, will cause flooding to not only my home, but three other homes located near this arroyo.

I am concerned that removing a fire hydrant raises immense risk to public safety to those in this neighborhood and thereby increases house insurance policies for everyone.

I am concerned that NTUA is not aware of this individual who plans to tamper with NTUA infrastructure lines such as water/waste water lines, natural gas, and electricity lines in order to meet his need of access.

I am concerned that NDOT is not aware that this individual plans to remove a culvert that was placed in this neighborhood by subdivision developers who understand the drainage required in guiding runoff from winter snow and monsoon rain to the larger arroyo in the neighborhood. In the original plans of this subdivision. This arroyo was never meant to be an access area for a road, it was meant for drainage.

I am concerned that this individual does not respect or understand the right-of-way/easement restrictions that are part of the deeds involved with this subdivision and every house. You can buy land but you also need to ensure access and easements are part of the purchase. I am concerned that he does not understand this and may not have this at all.

I am concerned that our neighborhood roads that are often maintained by our own homeowners are not sufficient to meet the needs of heavy traffic and for heavy equipment to be constantly coming through.

I am concerned for the safety of the people and children who often run, bike, and walk this neighborhood and feel a sense of safety that we will no longer feel this sense of safety if this access road is built. We often talk so much of the Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and who is to say that this will become a big concern for this neighborhood once this access road is built?

I am concerned that we are in a drought and where will the water come from for any large development in the area behind Karigan?

I am concerned that my voice and others are ignored by our own Navajo government and that if the point of tribal government is representation of the people, we in this neighborhood are the people, and where did we get a chance to have our voices heard?

I am concerned that this access road will negatively impact the home values in this neighborhood and that current developers such as Navajo Partnership for Housing is not aware that this may impact their programming and pricing of current houses being built.

Finally, when I did encounter Mr. Cordova when he was using a jackhammer to remove boulders on July 25 and 26, he came across as threatening and even told me to “clean up your dirt s***, you are on my land” and to “F***off and mind my business” because he owns this land and that the Navajo Nation cannot tell him what to do.

From all of my concerns, I do not support this individual, Mr. Cordova, or any of his related business partners or entities in building an access road off of Narbona Circle East in Karigan Estates.

He not only verbally harassed me, an older Navajo woman, but also has shown that he does not respect Navajo people, its land, or the Navajo government itself.

It seems that rules and procedures of land development are being violated and I would request that an inquiry and investigation be made on this land project so that our community can be fully informed.

Thank you for reading my concerns and taking this into consideration for this related development.

Karen Johnny
St. Michaels, Ariz.

P.S. – I have contacted JT Willie, DED executive director; Navajo Nation President/Vice President office, St. Michaels Chapter/Delegate Edison Wauneka; Chapter President Mary Sage; DOJ, Doreen McPaul, attorney general; NTUA, Regina Martinez, legal counsel; and Navajo Nation Land Department, Mike Halona, director.

No response as of Aug. 8, 2022.

On Sunday, Aug. 7, the corridor drainage was made into an access road. Fire hydrant to be removed and culvert to be removed next.


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