West side’s ‘ugly stepchildren’ speak out

Francia reminded everyone of the original purpose of the agreement and said it was an integral component of making Spur Cross a reality

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CAVE CREEK – During Monday night’s Call to the Public, Kerry Smith raised concerns about the draft general plan only just being made available with his understanding that it must be finalized by mid March.

He also asked why a redline version was not made available so citizens can see what changes were being made.

Brian Sirower, who couldn’t attend the previous council meeting, spoke in favor of the proposed water service adjustment policy.

His personal incident with a water line break spanned two billing cycles before he became aware of the problem and said he hoped council would reconsider the proposal to expand the policy from one billing cycle to two.

Terry Smith told council the citizens on the west side feel like the town’s “ugly stepchildren.”

He said there is 400 feet of water line that needs to be upgraded to eight-inch pipe in order for residents on the west side to get municipal water.

Smith said the cost would be $20,000, west side residents have been waiting nine years and it was time council took action.

He said, “If this line were on School House Road, it would have been done by now.”

Gary Becker, who currently has to haul water, said he was there again to plead with council to “please resolve this issue for the west side residents.”

Trails Coordinator Bambi Muller provided council with an update on the Surrey Hills Trail, stating they have a potential agreement with a property owner to relocate the trail easement.

However, she said the easement needs to be approved by the HOA.

She said if an agreement cannot be reached, the town will move forward with placing the trail in the current legal easement.

If they are able to reach an agreement, Muller said the reconfiguration can be done more easily, faster and at far less expense.

Muller said the town first became aware of the trail not being within the dedicated easement about four years ago.

Mark Lipsky asked if there was a possibility the HOA might object.

Muller said that was a possibility.

Terry Smith said Muller has been working on this for some time and the public needs to hang on just a little bit longer, stating, “Bambi will get it done right.”

Councilman Thomas McGuire said the relocated trail would be more aesthetically pleasing, safer for the town and the process was moving pretty quickly.

Mayor Vincent Francia jumped to agenda item three because the applicant Park West had requested a continuance until March 16, which council passed unanimously.

Building Official Mike Baxley presented an updated fee schedule for the rodeo grounds, which is currently being rented out for $100 per day.

He said after surveying what other arenas charge, the town could increase its fee to $300 per day and still be competitive with other arenas.

Baxley said seven facilities in Maricopa County responded to his request about fees, which ranged from $1,200 for a covered arena down to $350 for nonprofit and $400 for for-profit in New River.

He also proposed a $3 surcharge on ticket sales for large events.

The fees were being proposed with a May 15 effective date since the arena is booked through April.

Baxley said one of the items being proposed in the budget is increasing the 400 amp service, the equivalent to most residential services, to 1,000 amp service.

During public comment, a man suggested the town take a graduated approach to raising its fees, increasing them to $150 then $200, etc.

Town Manager Peter Jankowski said a rodeo contacted them earlier that day about doing an event in November. He also stated the town would like to do a lot of improvements to the rodeo grounds, so a graduated fee increase would not be something they would want to do.

Councilman Ernie Bunch, who moved to approve the new fee schedule, said he was glad the town was actually getting this done.

Vice Mayor Adam Trenk seconded the motion and suggested revisiting the fee schedule in a year.

Council voted unanimously to approve the new fee schedule.

During the site plan review for Tractor Supply some council members asked the applicant to provide more open space than the zoning ordinance requires.

Despite the applicant already exceeding the town’s landscaping requirements, Councilman Charles Spitzer complained about the vast area of paving.

David Long and Nick Brown, speaking for the applicant, said they had no presentation but would be happy to answer any questions.

When asked if they would be willing to provide additional landscaping/open space, Long said, “We’ve done the best we can. We’ve exceeded the requirements from 15 percent to 20 percent. I don’t think we can do more.”

Brown explained they met the town’s parking requirements, which exceed Tractor Supply’s parking requirements.

Associate Planner Luke Kautzman told council the town’s ordinance may have “over-parking” requirements.

Francia asked if council reduced the parking requirements would they be willing to increase the open space.

Brown said, “We certainly don’t want to be over-parked and we don’t want to be under-parked. The ordinance requires 87 spaces. Tractor Supply requires 65.”

The applicant stated they were certainly willing to work with staff on that.

Council voted 5-2 to approve the site plan as presented with Spitzer and Councilman Mike Durkin dissenting.

The next item on the agenda was for a special use permit (SUP) for Tractor Supply to allow for outside display and storage of merchandise.

Spitzer asked what the six-foot screen wall was screening.

Brown said it was screening the loading dock area from the neighboring residential area.

The merchandise display areas would be fenced with eight-foot tall faux wrought iron, powder-coated, aluminum fencing.

During public comment, Marsolo said the town has come a long way since the Chevron Station and said it was “just appalling” council would approve an eight-foot fence.

Cheryl Carmitchell said she strongly opposed 15-foot high lighting and disagreed with the lack of landscaping.

Eileen Wright, vice chair of the planning commission, said she was quite concerned the minutes of the planning commission were not included in the packet.

She said the heat island effect of all the paving will make the area 20 degrees hotter in the summer.

Wright said they asked the applicant a lot of questions, such as providing additional landscaping and a split rail fence and they said “no” to all of them.

Long said the building is substantially upgraded from their Prescott and Wickenburg locations, landscaping exceeded the town’s requirements and they upgraded the galvanized chain-link fence to faux wrought iron.

He said Cave Creek has some of the most stringent development requirements.

Bunch moved to approve the SUP and said, “This was passed 6-1 by the planning commission. That was the dissenting vote you just heard.”

Durkin stated they lost an opportunity on the last vote to trade parking for open space.

He said the applicant definitely needs the fence and won’t build without it and encouraged council to vote against the SUP.

Spitzer said the fence was needed but will do nothing to screen anything from neighbors.

Durkin said it was council’s job to make certain these things happen but what they passed was exactly what was in the packet, without binding the applicant to do anything.

Trenk suggested delaying the vote to a day certain until the applicant can work something out with staff.

Francia said the applicant was following the rules and suggested he could ask for a motion to reconsider their last vote.

Trenk stated they could do that with the SUP and said it would be inappropriate to reconsider the previous vote.

Jankowski said the applicant was working on a timeline with other factors such as annexation into the town for a portion of the property currently in Maricopa County. He said there were four other PADs council will be able to deal with in a development agreement if they wanted.

Bunch said it would cost the applicant less money to put in less parking, indicating that should be incentive enough for the applicant.

Bunch, who made the original motion, didn’t wish to amend his motion by reducing the number of parking spaces to 67 in exchange for open space.

The vote on his original motion failed by a vote of 3-4, with McGuire, Spitzer, Trenk and Durkin dissenting.

Trenk moved to continue the matter until March 16, which also failed by a vote of 1-6, with only Spitzer voting in favor.

After a short break, Trenk’s motion to approve the SUP by adding conditions five, six and seven, which included: increasing open space by 2,400 square feet, replacing the concrete sidewalk along Cave Creek Road with a decomposed granite trail and raising the height of the screen wall from six to eight feet, carried unanimously.

After lengthy discussion and comments from 14 citizens, the majority of which were opposed, council voted unanimously against extending a 25-year pre-annexation agreement with property owners along Morning Star and Honda Bow roads for ten more years.

Although he said he was not going to support extending the agreement, which doesn’t expire until 2022, Trenk said he placed it on the agenda because citizens were so scared of the toxicity and possibility of a new council after the recall election.

He said the important thing was that they put it on the agenda.

McGuire told Trenk they were not there to discuss toxicity or the election and asked why they were considering something that only restricts the town?

Trenk chastised McGuire for his comment.

Bunch stated 5,000 people live in this town, not just the 39 people who signed the petition.

Francia reminded everyone of the original purpose of the agreement and said it was an integral component of making Spur Cross a reality.

He said he was glad it was put on the agenda but the only way to resolve it was in a workshop environment and it was indeed resolvable.

Council voted unanimously to authorize an expenditure of $103,168 to Cactus Asphalt to complete this fiscal year’s road repairs.

Trenk and Durkin made a big deal about clarifying how the town didn’t spend $80,000 on road maintenance software but as Town Engineer David Prinzhorn pointed out, the software was free from the government (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and the town paid $80,000 to consultants from whom they acquired the software.

Council also voted unanimously to authorize an expenditure of $205,744 for water line improvements on the west side of Black Mountain, which Prinzhorn said would reduce calls for repairs by 50 percent.

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