Westside residents restate unfulfilled water promises

‘That doesn’t sound much like a conspiracy, much less a great conspiracy’

CAVE CREEK – During Monday night’s meeting, Mayor Vincent Francia announced council had completed its review of the general plan and would be presenting it to the public on April 4 along with the reauthorization of Home Rule, a local alternative expenditure limitation, both of which need voter approval in November.

Call to the Public brought Planning Commission Chair David Smith to the podium to express the inaccuracy of the statements made in a recent “Pony Express” mail piece.

Smith said, after reading the article, the only thing accurate was the quote of a statement he made during a recent general plan workshop when asked why the land use map did not show the lot-size-specific breakdown of Desert Rural zoning.

Smith was quoted as responding, “If the map was specific relative to DR-190, 89, et al, every time a zoning change would be made, the general plan would need to be modified.”

He went on to state the author (Eileen Wright) of the article also claimed Arizona law requires the land use map to list all four Desert Rural categories.

Smith stated, “The reality is that Arizona law does not require such categorization on the land use map.”

Smith said all four Desert Rural categories are included in detail in the general plan land use narrative, in compliance with state statute.

He said the present 2005 general plan, which has been in effect for nearly 11 years, displays Desert Rural, Open Space and other zoning categories with no further detailed breakdown on the land use map.

Because the general plan has been developed in accordance with the law, Smith stated, “That doesn’t sound much like a conspiracy, much less a great conspiracy,” referring to the article’s headline.

William Basore told council he lives in the farthest west northern corner of the town and a house recently burned down near him.

He said another house previously burned down in the area near the Cahava Springs project’s still dry water lines.

Basore noted hydrants are there and joked that they bring satisfaction to the dogs in the area, but said it would be nice if they were hooked up to water.

He pleaded with council, “Don’t forget about us.”

Terry Smith, who owns property along 26th Street, said several people were present that are upset about being promised, year after year, water would be brought to the west side of town.

Now, after being told they would have water in March, he said they are being told June.

Stating two houses have already burned down, Smith said it was a health and safety issue and asked why the town can’t find the money to get water to them.

Ron Garlick, who also lives on 26th Street, said he bought his property five years ago and built a house three years ago and was told there would be water in the lines to the street.

As he was building, Garlick said he was told he needed to install a fire suppression system.

However, he said, his well would not provide sufficient water pressure for it to operate without a boosting system.

Garlick said he wasn’t required to install a booster because he was told he would have municipal water soon.

Meanwhile, like many west side residents, Garlick said his well has gone dry and, while thankful to live where he does in Cave Creek, pleaded with council to expedite getting them water.

Gary Becker said he has come before council many times on this water issue.

Becker, whose well has gone dry, said he runs a business at his property on 26th Street that requires him to haul approximately 40,000 gallons of water per month, expressing it is very large expense.

He said all they’ve gotten so far is lip service from the town.

Kathy Smith, who owns four properties along 26th Street, said she appreciated everything that had been said so far about water.

She said during the recent house fire she saw embers landing on her patio.

Following an inspection by her insurance agent, because of the water issue, she had to get new insurance policies for all of her properties at much higher rates.

Jim Welsh said he’s seen council stand on its head to get Cahava’s project moving again and complete the water line.

He stated the town should have the financial resources to get it done and claimed the town “has never won a lawsuit.”

Steve Grimes, a 15-year resident whose well has gone dry, said he was there for all the same reasons.

J.D. Smith said it is “inevitable” that people will be killed if there’s another fire due to the lack of water in the area. Francia said council may not respond during Call to the Public but he was going to make an exception in this case.

He asked Town Manager Peter Jankowski to set up a meeting with Mark Stapp from Cahava as soon as possible and promised the west side residents, if the timeline isn’t acceptable, “We will do something.”

Vice Mayor Steve LaMar reiterated the mayor’s promise and agreed with citizens the issue has continued for too long.

The first regular agenda item was a presentation by Kevin and Kyle Meyers of Boy Scout Troop 15.

The brothers explained their Eagle Scout project entailed enhancing the two horse monuments at each end of town by adding landscaping that had been removed from some of the medians in town for the bike lane project and installing solar lighting to make the monuments visible at night.

Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution updating the town’s hydrant meter policy and fees.

Councilman Thomas McGuire asked if the proposed fees were in line with what other towns charge.

Jankowski stated they were and directed McGuire to the last page of the proposal, which included a comparison of fees charged by other municipalities.