Special events, problematic policies and a water line for arsenic blending

By Linda Bentley | October 21, 2009

CAVE CREEK – After being continued from the Sept. 21 meeting, council voted 6-1, with Vice Mayor Ernie Bunch dissenting, to accept roads from the North Mountain Reserve Homeowners Association as a deed of gift to the town and accept a letter agreement between the town and HOA for maintenance of the access roadway to the roads.

According to Town Engineer Wayne Anderson, the town had a policy at the time the subdivision was annexed into the town to take over roads for maintenance. However, the homeowners were told at that time the roads needed to be brought up to MAG (Maricopa Association of Governments) standards before the town could accept them, which he said was completed in 2007.

Herb NatkerDuring public comment, Herb Natker said, “I am amazed that we’re even considering this. The town should keep its eye on the ball … We cannot afford anything more.”
Councilman Ralph Mozilo said he was struggling with the notion, because two of the three easements were still privately owned.

Councilman Adam Trenk asked if there was an estimate on cost to the town.

Anderson stated it would probably cost between $1,500 to $3,000 every three to five years for crack sealing and/or slurry sealing.

Scott Dahne, a North Mountain Reserve resident, said the homeowners began working on this in 2006 with a goal of turning the roads over to the town.

Councilman Steve LaMar asked how much they spent to bring the roads up to MAG standards.

Dahne responded, “The town estimated $69,000 but we were able to get it done for $50,000.”

Town Manager Usama Abujbarah reiterated, “We’ve had this policy since incorporation.”

Councilman Dick Esser moved to accept the deed of gift, with Councilman Jim Bruce seconding the motion “for the sake of discussion.”

However, Bruce stated, “I guess it’s not the time to question policy. The homeowners followed the process and spent $50,000.”

Mozilo said, “In 2007, you didn’t speak to this council. I struggle with this because of the two easements,” but said he agreed with Bruce.

Bunch said he had a problem with the policy because the roads only go into the subdivision and didn’t go through to anywhere else.

“In a town that has no property tax,” Bunch stated it made no sense to divert sales tax dollars for road maintenance and said, “I can’t support it.”

Although Mayor Vincent Francia noted “every dollar counts,” he said citizens followed the policy.

Rather than further amending the Special Events ordinance, to which numerous changes had been made since the last meeting, Town Clerk Carrie Dyrek said staff was suggesting council rescind the previous ordinance presented and do a whole new ordinance.

Cordwell said staff listened to concerns raised during the last meeting and incorporated those changes into the new ordinance.

The new ordinance stated no permit would be required on property located within a commercial zone that has a primary commercial use.

Permits would be required for temporary uses involving retail with more than 10 vendors.
Mozilo asked, “The issue of the town reserving the right to limit the number of events, why was that not included?”

Cordwell said it was difficult to limit unless an event required off-site parking and otherwise would not have an impact on others.

Mozilo wanted to know why the town doesn’t have the ability to make that decision and asked, “Is there a point where the town can say no?”

Town Marshal Adam Stein indicated chances were slim that all businesses in town would have an event at the same time and said when staff discussed the issue they asked, “Why should we limit what they can do on their property?”

Mozilo asked, “Why not the three strikes and you’re out?”

Cordwell said staff didn’t have an objection to that, although he said it was already addressed in the town code.

ralph mozilo and steve lamarConfirming the purpose of the changes was to make things less restrictive for businesses, Trenk asked why things listed in the old ordinance, such as races, rallies, parades and rodeos, were eliminated from the new ordinance and asked that they be added back in.

Bunch said he had a problem with section 1(b) stating special events would only be allowed on private commercially zoned property providing it has an established primary commercial use.

He said that would eliminate a property owner (Bob Kite) that has been extremely generous to the town by allowing his property to be used for a variety of events, including fireworks displays. Bunch cited the amount of property taxes the owner paid each year and said the way the ordinance was written would take away a right the property owner currently has.

Francia said if there wasn’t anything in the ordinance giving the town some way to control the number of events, there wouldn’t be anything it could do.

LaMar said if the town decided to lop off one event because it felt there were too many, it could seem arbitrary and capricious.

During public comment, T.C. Thorstenson said the town, by requiring a primary commercial use, was limiting the amount of money the town could make and, with a four-day limit, the types of events.

Naktker stated special events were a great idea but said, “We need some kind of protection,” suggesting that the event holder provide the town with an assurance bond.
Abujbarah said when events are organized by professional promoters it can have a large impact, if the town were to allow special events on vacant property.

Francia suggested an amendment, seeking a way to combine 1(a), which requires the event to be held on commercially zoned property, and (1(b) some means for the town to regulate, if necessary, the number of events held in town at the same time.

Town Attorney Fredda Bisman confirmed that could be done by saying 1(a) or 1(b) and “subject to council approval,” but said the town would need to set some standards, or that too would be arbitrary. She suggested criteria be developed before the ordinance came back for a second reading.

Council unanimously approved the first reading, incorporating the suggested changes.

Council also unanimously approved the awarding of a contract to Cactus Coyote Contracting in the amount of $153,061.29 for the construction of an eight-inch water line for blending of a high-arsenic well in the Desert Hills Water System, a lower cost alternative to constructing an arsenic treatment plant. Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow said the amount was budgeted and had already been approved for a WIFA loan.

Last, before adjourning, council unanimously approved a recommendation for a permanent extension of premises/patio permit for Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue.

Top Photo: During Call to the Public, Herb Natker told council it will need three Walmarts to pay for the wastewater treatment plant and said, “Thank you for the financial position you’ve gotten us into.”

Lower Photo: Councilman Ralph Mozilo (l) asked why reserving the right to limit the number of events was not included in the revised Special Event Ordinance, while Councilman Steve LaMar expressed concerns that lopping off an event because there were too many might appear arbitrary and capricious.

Photos by Linda Bentley