VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 12   |   MARCH 23 – 29, 2011


Planning commission continues review of zoning ordinance

bambi mueller and maria carsiaBambi Muller (l) and Marie Carsia took copious notes as the commission made comments and recommendations during its review of the zoning ordinance.  Photos by Linda Bentley

CAVE CREEK – With Commissioner Ted Bryda absent and before picking up where they left off in February, the planning commission revisited a couple areas of Chapter 3 during the March 17 meeting that pertained to zoning districts.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend a separate line item for pet resorts in commercial and commercial buffer zones but not allow them in the town core.

peter omundsomPlanning Director Ian Cordwell, in response to Commissioner Peter Omundson (l), who questioned the 5 percent under-roof lot coverage in Desert Rural 190 (5 acres) zoning districts, while DR 90 (2.5 acres) zoning allows for 10 percent, said there is only a 600 square-foot increase in lot coverage allowed in DR 190 under the current ordinance than in DR 90.

According to Cordwell, the percentage of allowable lot coverage was adopted from the county ordinance when the town incorporated.

However, he also pointed out lot coverage in residential zoning districts has never been an issue.

Omundson said he didn’t know what the right number should be, whether it should be 6 percent or 7 percent.

The commission also brought up Bryda’s comments from prior meetings regarding lighting in commercial parking lots for safety.

Commenting on the expense involved in adding lighting to existing parking lots, Omundson questioned whether such lighting would be mandated for existing businesses or only if changes were being made to the property.

dan baxleyChairman Dan Baxley (l) wanted to know, if the commission wanted to recommend modifications to the lighting ordinance how much longer they had so that the changes could be made to help Walmart.

Cordwell stated Walmart was restricted to 10-foot lights in the parking lot and “not a very good design.”

He and Associate Planner Luke Kautzman presented a couple of options to the commission if they wanted to move the commercial lighting section forward to council separately.

Kautzman proposed holding a special session of the planning commission on April 7.

However, Cordwell said it may already be too late to make any changes, since Walmart expects to complete construction by Aug. 17, and he would contact Walmart.

After speaking with a representative from Walmart earlier this week, Cordwell learned it is well beyond the time to propose any changes to Walmart’s construction plans.

The commission may still opt to hold a special session on April 7 in order to move through its review of the ordinance.

reg monachinoVice Chairman Reg Monachino (l) wanted to know why schools weren’t allowed in the commercial core and his motion to recommend schools be allowed in the commercial core with site plan review passed unanimously.

Omundson suggested allowing playhouses, performing arts theaters and movie theaters by site plan review in the town core and commercial buffer, stating, “We’re not going to get a big box megaplex.”

He asked to make performing arts theaters and movie theaters separate line items and made separate motions for each.

Commissioner Shelley Anderson voted against the recommendation for movie theaters, while the commission was unanimously in favor of the motion regarding performing arts theaters.

Moving on to Chapter 5, Development Standards, Cordwell stated, “I don’t believe any changes were made, it’s just reorganized.”

The commission had no recommendations for changes to Chapters 5 and 6 and moved on to Chapter 7, the hillside ordinance.

Cordwell explained how the hillside ordinance involved numerous reviews and variances and said it specifically has to do with disturbance requirements and, by restricting the amount of disturbance allowed, it pulls the house down on the lot.

“Staff has gone to great lengths to clarify issues regarding hillside property,” said Cordwell.
Monachino asked where the 15 percent allowed disturbance came from.

Cordwell stated it came from the county and has worked, as it “encourages building into the site rather than on it.”

The commission had no changes to recommend for Chapter 7 and continued on to Chapter 8 addressing landscaping.

Cordwell stated a great deal of effort went into the landscaping ordinance and said the design guidelines were meant to provide some flexibility.

Monachino suggested the town reference the forms of financial security acceptable to the town under that section.

The planning commission will hold a special session on March 31 for the purpose of reviewing the medical marijuana ordinance that staff will be bringing forward and it appears another special session may be held on April 7 to help move the zoning ordinance through the review process so it can be brought to council.

Anderson, who was congratulated by the chairman for her election to council during the March election, will most likely get to review the ordinance again as a council member.

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