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The Summit Group Planning  a 162-room
 Courtyard by Marriott in Flagstaff, Arizona

By J. Ferguson, The Arizona Daily Sun, FlagstaffMcClatchy-Tribune Business News

July 23, 2006 - On a grassy knoll south of the Olive Garden restaurant on Beulah Boulevard, it is hard to tell that a thick patch of ponderosa pines stood there 2 1/2 years ago.

A planned hotel development at the denuded hillside may irrevocably change the landscape, adding, along with the mortar and brick necessary for the new hotel, hundreds of trees to be planted on the six-acre site.

The site was purchased in April by a South Dakota-based hotel investment company called The Summit Group for nearly $3.4 million.

Preliminary plans submitted to the city envision a 162-room hotel called Courtyard by Marriott, which is a type of hotel designed specifically for business travelers.

The future hotel would sit on the site of the infamous "Chainsaw Massacre," where hundreds of ponderosa pines were cut halfway through their trunks with a chainsaw by an illegal immigrant discreetly hired by the then property owner, George Nackard, according to police.

The deep cuts in the pines, made in April 2004, had their intended effect, killing the trees in just a few weeks, making way for Nackard's planned three-story hotel and convention center.

As the trees fell during strong winds, Nackard was given permission to bulldoze the site to remove the stumps and all traces of the trees.

Nackard's plan was discovered after a friend of Nackard's tipped off police.

He pleaded no contest and was fined $9,000 for masterminding the destruction of an estimated 250 trees on the parcel he owned.

City officials decided future development of the site would not reward anyone for Nackard's actions, requiring developers to restore a portion of the trees.

The city's land-use regulations require developers to preserve a portion of the trees as the area is developed.

In the case of the former Nackard property, the new property owners will be required to plan to conserve a number of trees based of an aerial photograph taken prior to the Chainsaw Massacre, city officials said.

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To see more of The Arizona Daily Sun, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.azdailysun.com.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff

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