Council approves commercial zoning south of city hall

The city council approved rezoning of two parcels south of City Hall Tuesday to Neighborhood Commercial zoning, which will allow for the growth of small business in the area, creating a walkable village. [City of Maricopa]

The Maricopa City Council took a step toward one of its village concepts becoming a reality Tuesday night as it approved the rezoning of about 23 acres south of City Hall to neighborhood commercial.

The council approved a zoning map amendment to rezone a total of 22.87 acres on both sides of West Bowlin Road, between North White and Parker Road and West Civic Center Plaza from the existing “Transitional” to “Neighborhood Commercial.” It then approved an ordinance adopting an amendment to the City’s zoning map to rezone that land to “Neighborhood Commercial.”

The zoning will allow for the placement of the upscale Mexican restaurant, Cocina Madrigal, on a half-acre parcel directly south of the library. It also opens up over 22 acres south of Bowlin to “neighborhood” commercial zoning, meaning it will consist of small businesses without the presence of big-box stores.

The “Neighborhood Commercial” zoning allows for neighborhood businesses such as restaurants, nail salons, physical therapy centers or chiropractor offices to be developed in the area. It would not allow for big-box retailers or even a large grocery store such as Fry’s or Sprouts.

The sites are across White and Parker Road from the Desert Cedars community.

“A small grocer would be allowed under Neighborhood Commercial but a larger one would not,” said Byron Easton a senior planner in the city’s planning department who made the city’s presentation to the Council.

The city’s development plan calls for several urban “villages” around the city that provide residential, recreational and commercial opportunities within the village, removing the need for residents to travel to a single area of town to get needed services.

Councilmember Rich Vitiello praised the change but had a concern about access.

“I appreciate the fact that you’re actually moving traffic off the 347, and I’m sure everyone else will be glad to hear that,” Vitiello said. “But you’re going to have one way in and one way out, it looks like on Bowlin Road is pretty much it.”

Easton responded:

“This is a pre-emptive zoning to provide a commercial opportunity,” he said. “It would ultimately be up to the individual developer how they would propose to provide access on Bowlin. Looking at it there could possibly be access, maybe a right in, right out only access on White and Parker.”

Vice Mayor Vincent Manfredi shared Vitiello’s enthusiasm for pulling traffic off SR 347.

“It’s good to see that we’re pulling people off the 347 and hopefully giving other people an opportunity to open a business in the city of Maricopa that has the office space and or the commercial,” Manfredi said. “The approximately .52 acres, that’s currently slated to be a restaurant, Cocina Madrigal is the one we’ve been hearing about, and everyone is all excited about, because it’s the number-one Yelp reviewed restaurant in the nation. Across from that is a bunch of other commercial space, which the city is starving for, I work with businesses every day and the first question I get is, ‘where can I open my business?’

“I’ve been working with a company out of Casa Grande who wants to open a store here and they have been looking for over a year to find a storefront. I think they’ve found one now, but we need places for smaller businesses to open and this is a great opportunity for that to happen.”

According to the staff analysis of the rezone, the proposed zone change will establish commercial zoning at the neighborhood level that will support future residential developments to the north, east, and south. The commercial rezone will work in tandem with a zone change application seeking to establish high-density residential development north of City Hall.

“The zone change amendment proposal will additionally contribute to the balance of commercially zoned lands within the City by expanding the overall acreage, and locations, of commercially zoned lands,” the staff report said. “As other commercially zoned properties elsewhere in the City have been rezoned to residential and mixed use, this application seeks to re-establish commercially available lands in support of the localized residential development in the City Center area. As such, the rezone will establish opportunities for easily accessible commercial activity for nearby residents without the residents having to traverse to other areas of the City. This, in turn, will assist in alleviating cross City traffic for access to neighborhood level commercial activities.”

–Vincent Manfredi is part owner of InMaricopa.