by linda bentley | july 22, 2015

Beating dead horse over APS, anti-Semitism, and maybe a horse

Town hopeful new chemical treatment will remedy odor problems at wastewater treatment plant
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CAVE CREEK – Mayor Vincent Francia began Monday night’s council meeting by asking for a moment of silence for former Councilman Jerry Whitmore, whom he said passed away a couple of days ago.

tom davenportTom Davenport from Whispering Hills spoke during Call to the Public and said there were a number of things about the APs project that didn’t pass the smell test.

He said a project usually starts at one end and finishes on the other, not in the middle, indicating APS was installing poles adjacent to his subdivision.

Davenport questioned why the plan crossed over in the first place and asked why the city of Phoenix lied to them.

He said the solution was to underground the lines but stated APS had no interest in reducing the cost.

Davenport also said the state needs to remove APS’ eminent domain powers.

Carole Perry said she came to speak because Vice Mayor Steve LaMar said he was “tired of looking at the same faces at every meeting.”

Perry spoke about the horse sculptures at the ends of town and said Cave Creek isn’t just a horse community but also an art community and the horses are an “elegant welcome to our town.”

However, she added, the horse at the south end of town looks like it was “dropped in a ditch.”

Perry asked the town, before considering any radical measures such as moving the statue, if the town could add some landscaping and lighting and basically “finish” the installation.

Reg MonachinoRecalled former Councilman Reg Monachino complained about Sonoran News being “rewarded” with advertising, calling the newspaper an anti-Semitic tabloid.

He asked if that’s what council wanted for the town and requested it rescind the contract.

Paul Diefenderfer defended free speech but said council was not being good financial stewards by awarding the contract for advertising in Sonoran News when it cost three times as much as a Phoenix newspaper, despite being delivered to every address in town.

Bill Allen informed council that a water rights settlement had been reached with Spur Cross.

Allen said the town will receive one third of the 1,810 acre feet, originally classified as surface water rights in 1925 for mining and milling, despite being well water, and the county will receive

the other two thirds, which had been reclassified for recreational use.

Johnny Ringo told council “Our Cave Creek lifestyle is going away, one by one,” and said the town is divided.

He said, “Council has lost the trust of Cave Creek, one by one” and people say they are disgusted and that’s why they don’t attend meetings anymore.

Ringo stated, “We’re losing our Western heritage.”

The mayor thanked Town Marshal Adam Stein for keeping the town safe for fireworks on July 3rd and 4th.

As part of the consent agenda, council voted to cancel the Aug. 17 council meeting.

With Councilman Thomas McGuire absent, council voted unanimously to appoint Dick Frye and Susan Demmitt to fill the two vacancies on the planning commission.

bill mattinglyBill Mattingly, representing the Water Advisory Committee (WAC), made a brief presentation to council on proposed drought mitigation strategies.

Mattingly said he, along with members of town staff, attended a Colorado River water supply conference recently.

He said, unlike California, Arizona is not in a crisis and has two-year underground water storage.

According to Mattingly, because Cave Creek is not using all of its CAP allocation, it should explore opportunities to do exchanges for storage or water credits for its surplus.

He said the town should also look into ways to increase water conservation.

Francia asked, if council were to approve the item, how long it would take for the committee to come back with a report.

Mattingly responded it would take around 90 days.

Council voted unanimously, although Councilman Dick Esser said he was somewhat reluctant to go along with it, in favor of the WAC exploring those opportunities and coming back to council with a report the second meeting in October.

Francia mentioned a New York Times article: “How the West Overcounts Its Water Supplies,” and passed out copies to council and members of the WAC.

The article indicates, if current usage trends persist, Arizona will use all of its available water in less than a decade.

The article points out a variety of ways water in the West is being mismanaged, the most significant of which is its refusal to accept the fact that the West’s water resources are interconnected.

Finance Director Robert Weddigen presented the final budget, with which council had previously been presented in detail.

With no questions from council or comments from the public,
Esser, who commented, “It’s got to be the best budget I’ve ever seen,” moved to approve the final budget.

His motion carried unanimously.

david prinzhornCouncil voted unanimously to approve an expenditure of $50,000 to implement a chemical treatment system of Bioxide at the Rancho Mañana lift station, which Utilities Manager David Prinzhorn stated is a source of the odor problem.

According to Prinzhorn, the system, which changes the chemical makeup of the wastewater being delivered to the wastewater treatment plant, has been used successfully in Phoenix and Scottsdale to eliminate odor problems.

Another issue Prinzhorn brought up was illegal dumping by septic pumping companies throughout town, whereas they are emptying their tanks into manholes in the middle of the night, which either overwhelm the treatment plant or are connected to dry lines with nowhere to go.

The town is hopeful it can catch those who have been dumping and asked if anyone sees a tanker truck over a manhole in the middle of the night to get the company’s name and license plate number.

Councilman Mark Lipsky asked if the town could place cameras in various locations.

There was also discussion of possibly employing locking manhole covers. However, Prinzhorn said those cost approximately $600 apiece.

During public comment, Mike Beckham, president of the Las Ventanas HOA, which is adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant, said, “Plan B is not going to be manhole covers. It’s going to be a second scrubber.”

He said the wastewater treatment plant cost $26 million and stated the town can’t afford to nickel and dime it.

Beckham, who said there are times when it “smells like holy heck” in his back yard, also stated the Bioxide treatment will work.

Councilman Ernie Bunch said the treatment was a good idea overall while Esser and Vice Mayor Steve LaMar both agreed fixing the odor problem was long overdue.

Francia said plan B should be to hook up the dry lined communities but said they will need to give citizens at least 18 months because there was an expense involved.

Associate Planner Luke Kautzman provided background for an application for a special use permit (SUP) to install two faux saguaro antennas at a residence near School House Road and Secco Place for Verizon.

He said the planning commission voted 4-1 to recommend approval providing the generator meets the sound ordinance.

Esser said he went to the site and his cell phone worked perfectly.

Luke said he didn’t believe the SUP was contingent on how many bars one has on his cell phone but deferred to the applicant.

Lipsky said there were some neighborhood concerns and noted technology moves very quickly. He asked if they could review the SUP in a couple years.

Kautzman said SUPs run with the land unless the use is abandoned for one year.

Town Attorney Bill Sims said if the applicant meets the requirements and the zoning ordinance specifies SUPs run with the land, other than asking the applicant for aesthetics, once the SUP is granted, council can’t reconsider the application.

Garrett Blair from Wavelength Management, the applicant on behalf of Verizon explained why they selected that particular area and the additional antennas were to address capacity due to more demands for data.

He said Verizon likes to have 20 MPS and when it drops below five they start looking for sites to install new towers.

Blair also said when this was presented to the planning commission, the representative misspoke and the generator kicks on once a week, not once a month, for 30 minutes, otherwise it will only run when there is a power outage.

He also said the generator they will use has a dB level of 55.

The owner of a rental property directly to the south of the proposed installation said he didn’t have a problem with the aesthetics but was concerned about the noise.

He asked council to consider having the applicant move the generator farther north near the second saguaro.

Martha Arnold said she lives across the wash from the project and stated she has seen too many SUPs in town get abused.

She questioned whether it was a legitimate use in residential zoning and stated the generator would come on when there are power outages, of which they have had many.

Arnold responded to the property owner Mike Kane’s comments from the planning commission meeting when he said no one complained about the noise when he was building his house and had a generator, sometimes two, running all the time.

She said that’s true because they all knew there would be an end to the noise when his home was completed.

If council approved the application, Arnold recommended the SUP be reviewed every two years.

Sims reiterated that was not something council could do without changing its zoning ordinance.

Blair said moving the generator would require a complete redesign of the plan and the location suggested by the neighbor to the south was not a practical location as the homeowner uses that area for trailer storage, the driveway is very steep and it was not a good spot.

“We would prefer not to,” said Blair.

Council approved the SUP by a vote of 5-1 with Esser dissenting.

Esser said if they approved this application more [cell phone carriers] will come.

Town Manager Peter Jankowski introduced a development agreement between Mark Bradshaw and James O’Toole, owners of the Tap Haus, and the town.

Jankowski said the agreement memorializes the monument sign, which the Tap Haus replaced about five years ago, is in the right of way. It also addresses shielded LED lights on the back of the building which were at a height of 15 feet instead of 10 feet as required by the zoning ordinance.

He said if the town were to do something about, it should have done it five years ago.

Council voted unanimously to approve the resolution with Bunch stating, “This is one of those … it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”

Council voted unanimously to approve three backup replacement pumps for the utilities department at a cost of $53,700, a replacement high pressure control valve for the delivery of treated effluent to Rancho Mañana Golf Course at a cost of $10,453 and a replacement rotary screen for the wastewater treatment plant at a cost of $20,451 for the utilities department.

Jankowski said it might be a good idea for Prinzhorn to put together a list of critical backup parts and/or equipment that are either in stock or needed.

Council voted unanimously to approve an expenditure of $14,980 for kitchen cabinets and counter tops as part of the second phase of remodeling at town hall.

Jankowski introduced proposed changes to the town’s personnel manual, which included considering holiday hours as time worked for the purpose of calculating overtime; requiring salaried employees to use paid time off for absences more than half a day; all new employees must live within 50 road miles of town hall; 12 month probation period for hourly employees reduced to six months; training reimbursed by the town costing more than $500 must be paid back to the town if the employee leaves within 24 months; and other changes.

During public comment, David Smith said he met with Jankowski and made a couple suggestions, which he assumed were included.

Smith noted all the paid holidays the town gives employees, which include the day before Christmas, the day before New Year and their birthday, which he said comes to 15 days.

Smith said he comes from the liberal state of New York where they only received eight and they may want to reconsider.

Bunch said it’s a way of attracting and keeping good people.Council voted unanimously to approve the changes with a change to the reimbursement policy for training if an employee leaves from 24 to 12 months.

Councilwoman Susan Clancy said 24 months starts to sound like indentured servitude.

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