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Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission

Commissioners Michael Sharpe, Linda Huggins (chair), Bob Marsh, Jim Irving and Bryon Joyce mull the application from Apex Motor Sports. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Despite a letter of opposition from some residents and an argument from attorney Grant Woods, the Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission recommended a use permit for Apex Motor Club Monday.

Owned by Private Motorsports Group, Apex is planned as a private club where members can try out their luxury sports cars. The property is 280 acres sitting west of Ak-Chin Southern Dunes and north of State Route 238 and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Trains played a role in the request to grant the permit.

The application required a noise study because Apex will have high-performance cars driving fast on a road course within the property. For the noise study, decibel readings were taken at the railroad tracks and, for comparison, at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Complex, where there is open-wheel and other types of racing.

The study found the trains were louder than the racecars would be.

Saying he was speaking on behalf of several business owners in the area, Woods dismissed the acoustics analysis as “a three-page alleged noise study” that could have been completed for $100. But Commissioner Bryon Joyce, an architect, said it was a “very complete report.”

Grant said Apex’s development process was being rushed through without proper planning or consideration of “serious ramifications.” He said city staff members “haven’t done the work.”

City planner Rodolfo Lopez said Apex followed all codes and procedures. Apex Motor Sports President Jason Plotke said the group has never made a secret of its plans in Maricopa and had news stories written about the development last fall.

By code, there had to be notification of Maricopa property owners within 300 feet of the parcel, a site posting, public notice, neighborhood meeting and public hearing. Commissioner Leon Potter said he was concerned Ak-Chin Indian Community, being outside but sandwiched by city limits, might not have been included in the process.

Cameron Carter of Rose Law Group. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Commissioner Bob Marsh brought up the nearby golf course in what has been a relatively quiet area aside from the trains.

“I hope the council will consider Ak-Chin’s input going forward,” he said.

Lopez said Apex has been asked to inform both Ak-Chin and the Gila River Indian Community, which borders the property on the north side.

Cameron Carter of Rose Law Group, representing Private Motorsports Group, estimated the $30 million project will employ 150 people during the three-phase construction and permanently hire another 30 workers as staff. The project plans include a clubhouse, garage condos, maintenance department and track.

Zoning allows operation from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Part of the recommended use permit included a traffic study, as well. Woods argued there could be a large impact on the highway.

Commissioner Jim Irving said he understood the neighbors’ concerns “but people won’t be flooding out there, because it’s private.”

City code also limits the number of any public events Apex might host, Lopez said.

The next development hearing on the project will include a report on drainage.

Lopez said the coincidence of having the golf course and a sky-diving business nearby had created “a unique corridor of activities.” Commission Chairperson Linda Huggins said she looked at it as a “fun area.”

With Commissioner Ted Yocum absent, the commission voted 6-0 to recommend approval of the use permit to city council. Four members of the city council attended Monday’s meeting, and Mayor Christian Price was also in the building.

Elevation of planned stores at the Edison Pointe development.

Though worried about the traffic flow, Maricopa Planning & Zoning commissioners approved a development review permit for the proposed Edison Pointe south of Fry’s Marketplace.

The commercial development is designed for stores and shops, an auto-repair business, a sit-down restaurant and a fast-food restaurant. The property is on the northeast corner of the intersection of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road.

As VP Edison 15 LLC, Vintage Partners is developing the property. The plan calls for 130,000 square feet of retail space.

City planner Rudy Lopez said there would be one access off John Wayne Parkway, possibly three access points plus the delivery road off Edison, and entry from the Fry’s lot.

“I believe they captured the spirit of the zoning code we carefully wrote,” Commissioner Bob Marsh said.

Lopez said the city wants to “de-emphasize” parking so there is not the appearance of a sea of cars. An alternative design element includes a raised walkway.

Edison Pointe site location
Edison Point site location

Commissioner Ted Yocum called the plans “very well thought out and designed.”

“This is something that we need for economic development,” Commissioner Michael Sharpe said, adding he felt it was forward thinking to include possible electric car charging stations.

But Sharpe also raised the issue of traffic access by vehicles southbound on John Wayne Parkway. He said he could foresee the same issues the city has with Maricopa Station but on a property two or three times larger.

He asked Lopez whether a U-turn would be created.

Lee and Barbara Murray, who live in The Villages at Rancho El Dorado, also told the commission they were concerned about the traffic. Lee Murray said the traffic on Edison already backs up.

Commissioner Jim Irving, also a Villages resident, said the idea of a U-turn at the intersection “really scares me” because he frequently cycles on Edison and his wife walks. He wanted to emphasize traffic review as the plans move forward.

Edison Pointe site plan
Edison Pointe site plan

“How in the world are people going to get in and out of this place?” he asked.

Lopez said traffic review is built into the conditions of the property development. He also said any traffic configurations affecting John Wayne Parkway, a state highway, must be reviewed by the Arizona Department of Transportation.

VP must present the plans to ADOT for review. Maricopa City Council must also review and approve plans.