Forty percent of Cave Creek designated open space

By Linda Bentley | May 20, 2009

Annexation’s seven-year journey sails to an end without Meeth
Vince FranciaCAVE CREEK – During Monday night’s meeting, Mayor Vincent Francia said there would a special meeting next Tuesday, May 26 for the sole purpose of canvassing the election and announced there will be council meetings held on the first three Mondays in June.

During Call to the Public, Vice Mayor Gilbert Lopez told council what could be expected when one steps down from office – lower blood pressure and better nights’ sleep.

He then thanked the “many fine members of staff and numerous volunteers” and wished the new council well.

Charles Spitzer praised the “three valuable council members” who were stepping down. He said, “We’ve all heard about the Dark Side. But Grace Meeth and Gilbert Lopez are two council members who have seen the light.”

Patti Windes also thanked the three members of council who were stepping down, calling them truthful and dedicated in listening to residents trying to bring forth issues.

Gail Clement said, “I’m here solely tonight for the three council members leaving us. You were always willing to listen us with kindness and integrity,” and thanked them for their service.

Council voted unanimously to approve an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the Maricopa County Library District and the town of Cave Creek for the reciprocal borrowing program at no cost to the town.

According to Desert Foothills Library (DFL) Treasurer Judy Bailey, the IGA allows DFL to receive $26 from Maricopa County for each person from outside the district, which is about two-thirds of its patrons.

Planning Director Ian Cordwell introduced the balance of the agenda, stating, “The three annexations the town has been working on for seven years are before you tonight.”

He said the annexations received first readings in March 2008 while the rezonings received first readings in December of last year.

As he moved to approve the second reading of annexation ordinances, Councilman Ernie Bunch commented, “It’s been a long time coming. We just need to finish ‘er up,” adding, “I’m thrilled to add this to the town of Cave Creek.”

During public comment, Charles Spitzer said he wasn’t there for or against the annexation; citing being against it would be like being against “mothers and puppies.” However, he asked council what the additional costs will be to the town for fire, police and other services and said, “You don’t know … you should be asking those questions.”

Bill Allen asked about the area adjacent to Cave Creek Regional Park and said if it was added to the park it would require a lease from the state land department. He asked if the county would be paying for the lease.

Herb Natker said he didn’t know anything about that and asked council what the cost of the lease would be.

Town Manager Usama Abujbarah said there would be no lease. He stated the property is owned by the state land department and will remain state land until such time the town makes an application to purchase the land.

Abujbarah reiterated, state land after annexation will be treated the same as state land before annexation, whereas, if people want to access state land they still must obtain a permit from the state land department.

The only leases are a handful of grazing leases, which Cordwell said are about to expire.
Janet Mohr said, “I commend all of you for what you’re doing. I’m very excited to have this as part of our town.”

Councilwoman Kim Brennan asked, “What’s left to be done?”

Cordwell responded, “Nothing. This is it.”

With the annexation, Cordwell said 40 percent of town of Cave Creek will be designated open space, which he believes makes Cave Creek the only municipality in the country in that category.

With Councilwoman Grace Meeth dissenting, each of the ordinances passed the second reading with a vote of 6-1.

Councilman Dick Esser said, “For me, as a long time resident of the state and Cave Creek, it is amazing to me Cave Creek pulled this off.”

Brennan thanked Cordwell, Abujbarah and staff, both past and present, stating, “As a community, we’re really, really proud.”

Meeth commended staff, stating, “It’s been a long hard road.”

Although Meeth said she would have like to have supported the annexation, she stated, “The comfort level just wasn’t there.”

Francia referenced Meeth’s involvement with the annexation from the start and mentioned a letter of record to the state land department from the city of Phoenix, objecting to the town’s proposed annexation.

Francia said the city felt bruised by something that happened in 1986 when the town incorporated and promised not to annex anything south of Carefree Highway.

Phoenix suggested de-annexing that area to win their approval, which Francia said he and Meeth refused to do.

The town eventually made a concession to only annex to 28th Street along Carefree Highway instead of to 24th Street, lifting Phoenix’s objection.

Francia said, “This has been seven years and it’s been worth it every step.”

Photo: Cave Creek Mayor Vince Francia
Photo by Linda Bentley