Walmart moves on to council with P&Z’s unanimous approval

By Linda Bentley | January 20, 2010

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sean lakeWalmart Attorney Sean Lake presented a broad overview of the project to the planning commission last Thursday and said Walmart appreciated all the time and effort by staff, which he stated “did an outstanding job of analyzing the site plan.”
Photos by Linda Bentley

CAVE CREEK – With Peter Omundson absent, Dan Baxley and Reg Monachino were unanimously reelected as chair and vice chair of the planning commission, respectively, while John Ford was welcomed to the commission, replacing Dr. Bill Allen, who recently retired after 10 years of service.

Associate Planner Luke Kautzman presented the staff report for Walmart’s site plan review, the only item on the agenda.

Kautzman said the store would have a footprint of approximately 124,000 square feet and the Nov. 3 election upheld council’s decision to amend the general plan and rezone the property.

He said the height of the building was 25 feet and 29 feet to the top of the parapet screen walls.

According to Kautzman, all of the parking requirements and zoning requirements had all been met. Responding to Commissioner Shelley Anderson’s question, Kautzman said there were 559 parking spaces.

Walmart Attorney Sean Lake stated he appreciated the time and effort by staff and said, “They’ve done an outstanding job of analyzing the site plan.”

In presenting a broad overview of the project, Lake said the parking lot lights would be a maximum of 10 feet high and there would be a 10-foot high screen wall across the southern boundary to serve as a buffer and screen.

He said Walmart would be maintaining 165 feet of open space buffer to the south, which would be supple-mented with additional vegetation salvaged from the building site.

The entrance from Cave Creek Road on Olesen Drive was realigned with no access to Olesen to the east. It was also designed with a landscaped birm to block vehicular headlights entering the parking lot.

Lake said Walmart, responding to a request by the neighbors to the south on Olesen Drive to put those items in writing, had done so.

He said they’ve completed the salvage plan and traffic study and went over the proposed off-site transportation and roadway improvements, which included dedicated right turn lanes on Cave Creek Road, Carefree Highway and 56th Street, so as not to impede the flow of traffic.

Lake said Walmart has agreed to the 28 conditions of approval recommended by staff.
Commissioner Bob Williams asked Town Engineer Wayne Anderson if he anticipated any right-of-way issues.

Anderson responded, “No,” and said they had talked to just about all the neighbors.

Lake said there was still a small amount of right-of-way they still needed to obtain.

robert bullingtonDuring public comment Dr. Robert Bullington, Sr. stated, “We’re here in support of Walmart – half way. But there’s a huge wall between Cave Creek and Walmart headquarters.”

Bullington said they were originally told there would be access between the two properties. Then he said they were told there wouldn’t be cross access. “If this goes through and one of our stores is Trader Joe’s and they want to go to Walmart, they have to go back out on Cave Creek Road.

“I don’t fault Sean,” said Bullington, “They need property from us … It’s really kind of a bait and switch deal. I’m asking Sean to get in touch with Rob Walton and … tear down that wall.”

Dr. Robert Bullington, Jr. asked that the town condition approval on a development agreement being reached between the two properties.

Lake refuted any claim that Walmart will not provide cross access to the Bullington property and said, “I commit to you on the record, there is no irreparable structure or wall.”

As far as the .97-acre parcel goes, which Walmart purchased in conjunction with the approximately 20 acres for the store site, Lake said it would need to go before the commission and council first for development review.

Answering Natker’s question, Lake said there was not yet a development agreement with the town.

Commissioner Ted Bryda moved to recommend approval of the site plan. Commissioner Anderson seconded the motion.

Williams said it was a “satisfying process,” adding, “We did get a peek at the architecture, although it’s not before us tonight.”

Monachino, stating town staff did an excellent job and Walmart put a lot of time and money into the project, said, “Let’s hope that this is the best Walmart in the State of Arizona.”

Baxley said, “I’m amazed at what’s happened here,” told Bullington, Sr. that he had written down his comments and asked engineering staff if the town had the resources to contribute to the roadway improvements.

Anderson stated the development fees for the project would be substantial and should cover the town’s responsibilities.

The commission voted unanimously in favor of recommending approval of the site plan.

Photo above: During the Jan. 14 planning commission meeting, Dr. Robert Bullington, Sr., whose family owns the property on the southeast corner of Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway that abuts the Walmart site on the north, said, “We’re here in support of Walmart – half way.”