By Linda Bentley | April 20, 2016

Council upholds previous vote on Meritage Homes

Stating Steve Betts will be coming to council to address the state land, Francia said, ‘It should put some of this fear mongering to rest’

Larry Wendt

CAVE CREEK – Buffalo Chip owner Larry Wendt spoke during Monday night’s Call to the Public first to thank the town for its support during Bike Week, stating business was very steady throughout the week.

Wendt also wanted to update everyone on the rebuild and assured people that it will be coming back as the Buffalo Chip and when they see names like Cowpunchers on applications it’s just the name of the LLC.

He said he is hoping to break ground mid May and despite block construction, the building will look like the Buffalo Chip with all the walls sheathed in reclaimed wood.
Hideaway and Roadhouse owner Mark Bradshaw told council he had a very eventful Bike Week and said, “Every year it seems to grow.”

Bradshaw said he was putting together a slide presentation he could bring back to show council.
Town Manager Peter Jankowski updated council on the bike lane project and said the slurry sealing should be done by the end of the week and all the striping and landscaping to be done by the end of May.

With both Councilman Mark Lipsky and Councilwoman Susan Clancy absent, council voted unanimously to accept Lipsky’s resignation.

Town Attorney Bill Sims said statute requires council to formally accept resignations.

Francia said council may submit nominees to Town Clerk Carrie Dyrek by April 25 and she will contact those nominated to see if they have any interest in serving out the remainder of Lipsky’s term.

If so, the nominees will be presented to council for a vote next month.

During the April 4 meeting, council voted to reconsider its decision against Meritage Homes’ rezoning application from Desert Rural to Commercial Buffer.

Sims advised council any change, such as consideration of a lesser intense category such as Multi-Family Residential, would have to first be noticed to neighbors and completely vetted by the planning commission.

Since the planning commission never considered any other zoning category for the application, Sims said the only options council had was to affirm its prior decision, refer the application back to the planning commission or do nothing, which would fail for lack of a motion.

Cheryle Carmitchel

During public comment, Cheryle Carmitchel said she was committed to no zoning changes to the parcels and stated they should never have been included in the SAP (Specific Area Plan) in the first place.

She said there were many holes in the SAP process with a lack of responsibility on council’s part by not listening to its citizens.

Carmitchel also said she didn’t see an ordinance that fits the proposed project.

Kerry Smith said he spoke against the project, which the planning commission opposed by a vote of 7-0, because of the additional water supply it would require.

Steve Ogel

Steve Ogel said he spoke in opposition to the proposed rezoning at both the planning commission and council meetings.

He said the density does not fit the character of the town.

Ogel stated the project seemed to be an attempt for developers to profit at the expense of citizens and would be an enclave isolated from the rest of the neighborhood.

Calling the rezoning a “disservice” to those who moved to Cave Creek because of its rural, Western lifestyle, Ogel urged council to uphold its prior vote of denial.

Reg Monachino read the vision statement from the general plan that council recently approved to refer to voters for ratification and said the Meritage project does not fit that vision.

Reading the section on reasons for reconsideration from Roberts Rules of Order, Anna Marsolo stated council did not make a hasty decision, one that was ill advised, based on erroneous information, or presented with new information.

She said, “This is a neighborhood, not and intersection,” and hoped council would vote to deny.
Eileen Wright said she wanted to add on to what Marsolo said and wanted to know what the legal basis was for reconsideration.

Lisa Blood asked that council not amend, approve or reconsider the application.

Jane Rhodes said council and the planning commission made a good decision when they denied the application.

Troy Hill from Meritage Homes said he understands the neighbors concerns and that the density is higher than they’d like.

He said water was something they will have to work out with the town but they agreed to reduce the density from 56 to 52 homes.

Sims said Marsolo’s recital of Robert’s Rules on reconsideration was pretty accurate as he reiterated council’s options.

He cautioned council that it could not act on a less intense use because none was considered by
the planning commission or properly advertised.

Vice Mayor Steve LaMar moved to refer the application back to the planning commission to review for a less intense use.

He said when people spoke against the project, it was his impression they didn’t want Commercial Buffer zoning and he didn’t see anything wrong with sending it back to the planning commission to review.

Councilman Ernie Bunch, who seconded the motion, said he wasn’t real fond of the project and didn’t vote for reconsideration.

Vincent Francia

Mayor Vincent Francia said he believed the only fair way to deal with the issue was to go along with LaMar’s motion, which failed by a vote of 2-3.

Finance Director Robert Weddingen presented the second reading of the Home Rule alternative budget limitation which he said needs to go to voters every four years.

He briefly explained the town’s need to have an alternative budget limitation and said the Home Rule option has worked well for the town since 1999.

Kerry Smith

Kerry Smith questioned whether the town could separate the water and sanitation enterprises from the budget and if that could be an alternative to the Home Rule option.

Weddingen said the budget as currently drafted was the clearest way to go and the sanitation enterprise was not feasible at this time to be self-sustaining.

Jankowski said the wastewater treatment plant operates at a $1.4 million annual deficit.

Marsolo said she’s had conversations with Jankowski over the subject and he told her the town would go broke in three years.

She said, “Under Home Rule we’ve gotten into a lot of trouble.”

Council voted unanimously to approve the second reading of the ordinance to send the Home Rule alternative to voters.

Council voted unanimously to grant the Cave Creek Museum $10,000.

Evelyn Johnson, the museum’s executive director, told council the museum was just putting the finishing touches on its annual report.

She said visitation was up and invited council to the museum to host their next retreat.
Marsolo commented the museum serves as the “caretakers of our heritage,” in support of the grant.

Francia asked Jankowski if other nonprofits would be coming to ask for money.

Jankowski said no and stated the only items budgeted were the museum and Fiesta Days.

LaMar said the town had decided on a policy that it would only fund nonprofits that larger cities and towns provide as services to the community.

Noting the last time the library came to council for a grant it was turned down, LaMar said, “We shouldn’t be picking and choosing without a policy in place.”

Francia agreed with LaMar and, addressing Jankowski, said if they have criteria to go on, it makes it easier for council and citizens.

Council voted unanimously to accept a water line easement for Tractor Supply and Auto Zone.

Council also voted unanimously to authorize execution of the Arizona Mutual Aid Compact.
Jankowski introduced what he considered a housekeeping item as far as water meters are concerned.

He proposed having an account associated with every water meter, even those that are not being used.

The account would then be billed the base fee of $50 each month and nothing for usage if not being used.

Currently, there are meters, which Jankowski said are owned by the town, at vacant properties that are not being billed.

He said if the owner does not wish to establish an account the town will remove the meter at no charge.

He said setting up an account would require a two-month deposit of $100 and a $20 setup fee.
Council voted unanimously to approve the first reading of the ordinance amending the section on services to be metered.

Council also voted to approve the first reading of an ordinance addressing the refund of deposits.

Because Jankowski explained it was primarily renters who have had their deposit refunded after 12 months of good payments that subsequently skipped out on paying their last month or two’s water bills.

The proposed ordinance amended the section on refunds so that the town would retain the deposit and apply it toward the customer’s final bill before refunding the balance.

Marsolo balked at the notion and stated all utilities return deposits after a year.

Sims advised council the ordinance could be revised before the second reading and narrowed to apply only to renters.

LaMar moved to approve the ordinance with the change to apply only to renters.

Francia announced there will be a budget workshop at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 25.

He then said a bundle of papers were left at his doorstep recently with a note to read them.

Stating Steve Betts will be coming to council to address the state land, Francia said, “It should put some of this fear mongering to rest.”