By Michelle Chance
The Planning and Zoning Commission made a recommendation to the city council for approval of a new subdivision pre-plat proposal in Tortosa Monday evening during its meeting at City Hall.
P&Z chair announces resignation
The chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission announced his resignation Monday during the commission’s meeting at City Hall.
Ron Batt said he will officially resign Feb. 20, and will sit as chair through one more meeting on Feb. 13.
Batt served as chair for the past two and a half years. Prior to that position, he had been commissioner on the board since July 2010.
After the meeting adjourned, Batt said his primary reason for resigning was so that he and his wife, Ann, could travel.
“I’m getting up in age. I’m 79 years old,” he said. “I think I’ve given my expertise for everybody at this point.”
Batt said he and his wife will spend time traveling and relaxing in Seattle as well as visiting his son in Colorado.
Commissioner James Irving addressed Batt directly during the meeting and expressed his gratitude toward Batt’s leadership on the commission.
“I’ve been on a lot of boards and commissions and this one runs extremely smooth. To me, it has run so smooth based upon your leadership,” Irving said.
During the meeting, Batt thanked the mayor, city council and his fellow commissioners for the opportunity to serve on the board. He also said he enjoyed his work there and his contributions to the city’s 2040 Vision and Strategic Plan that was approved in 2015.
Martin Scribner, development services director for the city, said he is sad Batt is leaving.
“Ron has been a great leader for this board and has been very active and involved and I appreciate everything he has done for the community,” Scribner said.
According to the City of Maricopa’s website, Batt’s term would have ended December 4, 2018.
Batt said City Council member Vincent Manfredi will be in charge of nominating a new chair to the commission.
The “Trails at Tortosa” subdivision would encompass 287 acres for 1,052 single family residential lots on the site, which is generally located at the northwest corner of Murphy and Honeycutt roads.
Construction would be broken up into three phases over six years, said Kazi Haque, zoning administrator for the city.
However, before that process begins, the commission recommended city staff research ways to improve access to the area for emergency responders.
Commissioners had concerns about an “undeveloped” portion of Bowlin Road south of the proposed subdivision.
Deputy Fire Marshall Eddie Rodriguez said if access through Bowlin Road was improved, emergency responders could access the subdivision much quicker should the primary route through Honeycutt Road be blocked because of traffic or an accident. Maricopa Fire Station 572 is on Bowlin Road west of Hartman Road. In the case described, emergency crews would have to take a secondary route three miles out of the way to access Trails at Tortosa.
Currently, the portion of Bowlin Road between Hartman and Murphy roads is obstructed by a canal and powerlines, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said obstruction of the primary route to the subdivision could delay the station’s normal three to five minute response time by 15 minutes, which could be serious for someone experiencing a medical emergency.
This delay is especially critical, Rodriguez said, because 90 percent of the fire department’s calls are for medical emergencies.
Additionally, Rodriguez said the development meets with fire code, providing primary and secondary access to the subdivision, but he stated the secondary route would take too long for responders to address an emergency.
“If we can’t get in one way, we do have an alternative way, but it is a delayed alternative.”
The first motion to recommend the proposal failed in a tie between commissioners.
“We cannot afford reduced call times or god forbid people die because a house burns because of delayed times,” Commissioner Michael Sharpe said during the meeting.
Haque, the zoning commissioner, said the developer of the subdivision, Communities Southwest, was not responsible for the road due to a stipulation in their contract.
A second motion was passed after the commission added the recommendation that the city be responsible for researching a solution to emergency responder access through Bowlin Road.
Ryan Wozniak, planner with the city said concerns about public safety will “definitely be addressed” as the process moves forward.
“There is no way to go from this approval to a building permit any time soon,” Wozniak said. “There is plenty of time built into the process to remedy the concerns that were voiced last night.”
Wozniak said he anticipates the city council will hear the commission’s recommendations on this issue at its meeting on Feb. 21.