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P&Z

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Tortosa Trails is planned for the northeast corner of the Tortosa subdivision.

The Maricopa Planning and Zoning Commission approved a one-year extension of the preliminary plat of Tortosa Trails, a planned area development on the northeast section of Tortosa.

Tortosa Trails is a 287-acre platted subdivision which will add 1,052 single-family homes to Maricopa’s eastern edge, near the Volkswagen Test Track. It neighbors the Gila River Reservation to the north.

The Commission approved the measure 6-1 as the developer, Communities Southwest of Scottsdale, asked for extra time to complete its plats. Their two-year plat planning phase was about to expire.

“We expect to submit our 1A and 1B plans in the next couple weeks,” said Stefanie Crerie, project manager. “We will then move forward with the project.”

She said it took longer than expected to gather comments on the plan. Construction costs rose about 40 percent as they were going through planning stages.

“With that in mind, it basically blew our budget,” Crerie said. “We had to redo our plans in different areas to cut costs.”

She said other developers and builders are experiencing the same thing, higher costs and a shortage of labor.

“It is what it is, so we are going to move forward. The other part of it is the market,” Crerie said, adding the properties were marketed last year, “and we really didn’t see much interest in it.”

She said that market wasn’t there last year, but the developers are hopeful it is there this year.

In all, 60 of the development’s 287 acres will be reserved as open space with an average of 3.62 dwellings planned per acre.

Four lot sizes are proposed, 60×120, 50×120, 45×120 and 55×120 feet.

Jason Thuneman of Global Water Resources talks to Planning & Zoning Commissioners (pictured Leon Potter and Ted Yocum) about expansion plans. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With one dissenting vote, the Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission approved the recommendation of an expansion request for Global Water Resources’ wastewater treatment facility.

Global Water had a previous expansion plan in place in 2006, but that “never panned out,” senior city planner Rodolfo Lopez said. Now the company has a new master plan that would allow the wastewater facility to treat about 60 percent more effluent.

“The retention area is being completed at this time,” said Jason Thuneman, vice president of project management. “We expect construction to be complete at the end of October.”

That is also when that part of the expansion is expected to come online, he said. Global Water has an industrial use permit for its expansion tanks worth $1.8 million. It will have two basins on the south end of its campus and four storm-water retention areas.

“The storm-water retention basins on the west side, those are always dry. In the event it rains, those are where the site will drain to,” Thune said. “The two basins on the south side, after we treat the wastewater and are ready to send it to a community, those are storage ponds – collectively 3 million gallons.”

Along with the development review permit request, Monday’s meeting included a public hearing on Global Water’s request to be rezoned general industrial to meet the new code.

Commissioner Michael Sharpe was not satisfied with the plans for the west border of the property, which neighbors a residential area. The Lakes property on the east side of Global Water is not yet developed, but Global Water completed a 1,200-foot perimeter wall there.

That east side is also to include a landscape buffer that does not exist along the west wall.

“I’m concerned about the number of residents along that wall,” Sharpe said.

Those residents are in the easternmost neighborhood of Rancho El Dorado, which backs up to the west side of Global Water. Sharpe said they would have to see the wastewater facility with no trees or other landscaping to hide the view.

Running along the Global Water side of the wall is a drainage channel rather than foliage. No landscaping is planned for that part of the property.

A third Circle K is planned for Maricopa, this time on Honeycutt Road.

Plans for a new Circle K go before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday. It will be the first Maricopa gas station not on John Wayne Parkway,

The site is on the southeast corner of Honeycutt Road and Porter Road, 41433 W. Honeycutt Road. The store received its liquor license nearly a year ago.

The current proposal is for a 5,881-square-foot convenience store with a fuel canopy for seven gas pumps. The site is on 1.8 acres.

The P&Z Commission will consider recommending a development review permit. The store would be the third Circle K in Maricopa.

Monday’s agenda includes a public hearing for Global Water’s request to rezone its property on Powers Parkway from C1-2 Industrial to General Industrial. The company is also asking for a development review permit for its facility expansion.

The planned Anderson Russell subdivision will have a public hearing on its request to rezone as a Planned Area Development. The property is 776 acres on the far southeast end of Maricopa just south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

P&Z meets Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.

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The Anderson Russell Planned Area Development site is on the extreme southeast edge of Maricopa, outlined in red on the map and in the inset.

A cursory presentation delivered by city Development Services personnel to the Planning & Zoning Commission on Monday exposed concerns about the future development and annexation of a large parcel of land to the east of town.

The “high altitude” overview of the project raised questions among commissioners, who seemed worried about infrastructure installment costs and, above all else, about public safety.

Located at the nexus of Anderson Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway south of the Ak-Chin Regional Airport, the 776-acre Anderson Russell Planned Area Development site is slated for the eventual development of 2,000-3,000 homes as part of the City’s 2040 Vision plan.

Commissioner Michael Sharpe, who at the same meeting was elevated to the position of vice chair, is one of several commissioners who expressed concerns over the project. He is worried about both the cost of infrastructure development and effects from the eventual widening of the highway.

“[It] requires investment in the necessary infrastructure, and that’s going to be difficult,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe asked if the city was “considering when Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway eventually gets expanded.”

Recently-appointed P&Z Chair Linda Huggins raised concerns about emergency situations that could arise due to the proximity of the airport and the subdivision’s distance from first responders.

“With this amount of area being developed, we definitely need to have the Transportation Department look at the egress and ingress,” Huggins said. “We can’t prevent first responders from being able to respond.”

Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said he, too, is concerned about the implications of such obstacles. Though he believes in the city’s development, he said in its current state the MPD would be unable to properly serve the addition of so many homes.

“The way it sits right now there is a high probability that we would not be able to provide the appropriate amount of resources,” Stahl said, “both police and fire.”

Stahl also expressed concern about the isolated nature of the area.

Not only would it become inaccessible in the event of a flood, he said, but the railroad, which currently has trains traveling through Maricopa 40 or more times a day, could further isolate the subdivision, which would reside on the south side of the tracks with no current alternate access.

Development Services staff said they didn’t have all the answers to those questions and were giving only a loose overview of the proposal. A detailed report is due to come back to the commission at a future date.

If the commission decides to move forward with rezoning, public hearings will be held to allow for public input.

The Trails at Tortosa subdivision is north of Honeycutt Road across from Desert Wind Middle School.

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.

Trails at Tortosa (outlined in orange) is at Honeycutt and Murphy.
Trails at Tortosa (outlined in orange) is at Honeycutt and Murphy.

ADOT is using an agricultural motif in its design for the overpass. Bryon Joyce (right) was among P&Z commissioners who eyed the proposed design Monday.

Visions of rivets and cotton blossoms may be dancing before Maricopans’ eyes soon.

Design concepts for the upcoming overpass on State Route 347 have been making the rounds through Maricopa officials. Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) designers are trying to incorporate symbols of the area into the bridge, piers and roadside.

That includes images of cotton, corn, crop rows, wheat sheaves and scythes, plus visual elements of the old water tower and the railroad.

The Maricopa Development Services Department took the ADOT concepts before the Heritage District Citizen Advisory Committee, the Planning & Zoning Commission and a portion of the city council. Senior Planner Rodolfo Lopez said it was giving the officials a heads-up on the direction of the motifs.

Lopez said one of the design goals is to make the overpass aesthetically pleasing. It minimizes the number of panels but leaves room for public art.

Officials, however, are afraid graffiti artists might think that includes them.

P&Z Commissioner Bob Marsh said the overpass will be “a good target for tagging.” He said the city needs to be able to clean up any defacement quickly and cheaply. Commissioner Linda Huggins said it was “screaming target.”

Lopez said the pattern was meant to deter the idea of a blank canvas.

Huggins also said she did not like the number of cotton blossoms initially designed on the wall, a complaint that echoed feedback from councilmembers. Lopez said that was part of the commentary he would relay to ADOT.

“I like the idea of adding texture to the MSE (mechanically stabilized earth) panels, but has there been any thought if they need to replace a panel?” Commissioner Bryon Joyce asked. He is a new member of the commission and an architectural designer. “They are basically anchored together.”

Lopez said such questions would be taken back to ADOT.

The overpass essentially belongs to ADOT, which is responsible for its maintenance.

When Lopez spoke about being able to change out lights under the bridge for special events, the commission questioned if Maricopa was allowed to do that.

The highway over the bridge will include room for a bike lane but not the markings, at this point. However, there will be a grade-level crossing for bicycles and pedestrians. Several Maricopa High School students must cross the tracks to go to school, and not all of them drive cars.

“I can’t see kids going up and over the bridge when they can go down and around,” Huggins said.

About 60 percent of the design of the grade separation to lift SR 347 over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks has been completed. Groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for September.