BY LINDA BENTLEY | SEPTEMBER 22, 2010
Bullingtons no closer to agreement with Walmart
‘I don’t believe the negotiations are serious’
Attorney Paul Gilbert (r), pictured with Dr. and Mrs. Robert Bullington, requested another 60 day continuance for his clients’ site plan for Black Mountain Plaza. Although the case was continued from the May planning commission meeting, Gilbert indicated his clients had not come any closer to an agreement with Walmart.
Photo by Linda Bentley
CAVE CREEK – A planning class from ASU attended the Sept. 16 planning commission meeting, providing a larger audience than generally in attendance.
However, the planning commission voted unanimously, with Commissioner Shelly Anderson absent, in favor of staff’s request to withdraw an ordinance to repeal and replace Chapter 8 Open Space Zoning Districts from the agenda.
Planning Director Ian Cordwell stated the ordinance would be brought forward within the proposed amended zoning ordinance, in its totality, which is scheduled to be presented to the commission at a future date.
The commission also voted unanimously in favor of continuing its review of amendments to the town’s subdivision ordinance to Oct. 21.
Attorney Paul Gilbert, who was celebrating his 67th birthday, requested a 60-day continuance for Black Mountain Plaza site plan review, citing their traffic engineer could not be present and his clients the Bullington family, have been meeting with Walmart and needed more time for dialogue.
“The negotiations are a challenge,” said Gilbert, who said his clients may be making some changes to the site plan with respect to the proposed traffic signal, adding, “Our preference is to have a 60-day continuance.”
Commissioner Bob Williams asked what sort of progress the Bullingtons had made since they asked for a continuance in May.
Gilbert responded, “We have tried to meet with Walmart. Their schedules are challenging. I don’t know why you’re trying to force us to go down this road when we need more time.”
Commissioner Ted Bryda said, “I don’t believe the negotiations are serious,” considering nothing had been accomplished over the past four months.
“We’re simply not in a position to go forward,” said Gilbert.
Commissioner Bob Ford, noting it had been four months, asked if there had been any resolution regarding the traffic signal.
Gilbert indicated the Bullingtons’ and the towns’ traffic engineers were in agreement but there was no agreement from Walmart.
Representing Walmart, Tyler Wright apologized for Attorney Sean Lake being unable to attend that evening and said, “We fully support the Bullington project” but would like to see resolution to the traffic signal 80 feet north of Walmart’s entrance.
Ken Bro, who owns the Chevron station at the southwest corner of the intersection, said the median had cut off left turns in and out of his business and stated he was in favor of the continuance so they could work something out.
He stated, “I’m in favor of getting a resolution to the traffic signal.”
Dr. Robert Bullington stated, “We welcome Walmart. It will help the town. We thought we’d have peaceful competition. We told Walmart we were willing to compromise but Walmart wouldn’t budge.
“When we presented this in May, the traffic engineers said a traffic signal would work in this location.”
He said he finally had a meeting with Josh Rogers of Walmart on Aug. 4 and stated, “I thought we’d made a lot of progress … The main reason we wanted a traffic signal was for safety.”
Bullington said he’s talked with Bro, Ben Pearson and the neighbors and concluded a light at that location would help them.
“We’re asking for 60 days,” said Bullington, “We ought to get this wrapped up by then.”
Bob Bullington, Jr. told the commission he didn’t find out the site plan review was on the agenda until last week and said, “We didn’t have much time to prepare. It’s just a matter of Walmart being willing to negotiate with us.”
Bob Moore spoke during public comments to say he attended the May meeting and found it stimulating.
He said the agreement between the town’s and Bullington’s traffic studies too coincidental, claiming only one party [Walmart] objected to three traffic lights at this location.
Moore said people who have to drive through that intersection object to three traffic signals in such short succession and stated, “These properties need to get into position to tax production.”
Williams moved to continue the case for one week, Sept. 23, based on the ability of getting a quorum.
Commissioner Reg Monachino seconded the motion for the purpose of discussion.
However, motions to continue, he was told, were not debatable.
The commission voted 1-5, with Williams the only one voting in favor.
Bryda then moved to recommend approval with Williams seconding his motion.
After first confirming with staff that the parties would still have the ability to negotiate the traffic signal, Bryda said there were several items in the narrative that were not true and he probably couldn’t support his own motion.
He said the application states it is not asking for any variances or deviation from the ordinance but the Bullingtons were asking for seven years when the ordinance allows one and what the site plan refers to as a service driveway is not a service driveway but the main entrance, along with other misstatements.
Williams pointed out that four months later, the traffic engineers still had not met with Walmart’s traffic engineer and said, “The site plan itself; I have lots of issues with it.”
Monachino asked what the ramifications would be if they did not recommend approval.
Cordwell said it could still move forward to council with a recommendation for denial and council could deny, approve or continue the case.
Omundson stated, “I would hate to see us not recommend approval and it move forward to council without it coming back to us.”
Cordwell assured him that council would send it back to the commission if changes were made.
The commission voted unanimously against recommending approval.