Planning commission seeks half-mile notification for all cases

‘We need to draw the line on costs somewhere’
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CAVE CREEK – During the Nov. 21 meeting, with Vice Chairman John Ford and Commissioner Dan Baxley absent, the planning commission voted unanimously to table the general plan amendment and rezoning applications for Carefree Highway Community Church until Jan. 16, the next meeting, because the applicant, Pastor Norm Suratt, was recovering from a heart attack.

eileen wrightDiscussion ensued regarding changes to the notification process under Chapter 15 of the zoning ordinance with Commissioner Eileen Wright (l) asking to increase all notifications from 500 feet to one-half mile, along with a recommendation to eliminate the wording “at least one of” in the sentence “The town shall provide notice to real property owners pursuant to at least one of the following procedures.”

That meant a recommendation to require all notifications be done by mail, inserted into utility bills or other periodic mass mailings, and publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the town.

Wright also asked that the language be changed from property “directly governed” to “directly affected.”

When she asked if the newspaper ads could be increased from on-eighth page to one-quarter page, Planning Director Ian Cordwell responded, “We need to draw the line on costs somewhere.”

And while Wright advocated for the same notification process for text amendments, Associate Planner Luke Kautzman explained, for example, if they had a case that affected all Desert Rural property, the town would be required to send mail notifications to every Desert Rural property owner in the town.

During public comment, David Smith said Wright identified some of the issues but stated the current ordinance indicates the property owner must be the applicant, which he said has not been the town’s practice.

Smith said the town should either follow the ordinance or change it, stating, “The issue I’ve had for a long time is the person purporting to be the owner signing a statement saying they are the owner.”

ted rydaChairman Ted Bryda (l) suggested changing the language to owner or authorized representative.

Commissioner Ray Fontaine asked if Wright’s suggestions would be all-inclusive, meaning a requirement to utilize all the means of notification for zoning cases and text amendments.

Bryda stated, “I don’t see putting additional costs on the town. I would not support that.”

Commissioner Rae Iverson offered a possible solution, which Kautzman explained, under Section C, deals solely with town initiated ordinances.

Bryda asked if the notification process could then utilize two of the notification procedures rather than all of them.

Clarification was made that only a property owner or his authorized representative could initiate amendments to the zoning map, while anyone could initiate a text amendment.

The recommendations were approved unanimously.

The next agenda item addressing the 12-foot native habitat corridors was for discussion only. It was continued from the Sept. 19 meeting due to lack of the commission’s adequate understanding.

Cordwell explained the request came from Councilman Mike Durkin.

Cordwell provided a history of how the ordinance came into existence in July 1994.

Iverson said she was happy with the 12-foot corridor and stated, “I don’t know why we would want to alter the rustic nature of this town.”

Bryda said it allows coyotes and other animals to get through and didn’t see why they would want to change it.

All on the commission agreed.

During public comment, Janet Mohr stated she hasn’t had any complaints from clients and said, “I hope this goes away and we keep it the same.”

Bob Voris said he seemed to be the lone dissenting voice on the issue and stated his comments were specific to his property in the Arissona subdivision.

Voris said none of the non-domestic animals respect the boundaries and called the ordinance “overkill.”

He said I don’t see a need to give up any more of my property and asked that the corridor be reduced from 12 feet to three feet.

Voris read from prepared statements, during which he documented numerous wildlife encounters within his courtyard and yard, without regard to the corridor.

Continuing to describe each incident during which non-domestic animals appeared on his property rather than the 12-foot corridor supposedly set aside for their use, long past the three-minute limit for comments, Voris would have gone on had Bryda not stopped him.

Fontaine said the 12-foot corridor was established as an emergency escape hatch for wildlife.

Bryda said, “I think we have to stick to the 12 feet. He said there were only two things he didn’t want when he moved to Cave Creek, grass and living too close to his neighbors.

Since the item was for discussion only, Cordwell said he would bring the commission’s comments to council.

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