May 13, 2014


Planning & Zoning: May 2014

City of Coolidge
The City of Coolidge Planning and Zoning Commission was presented with a draft of the new Coolidge 2025 General Plan for review at the beginning of March. The presentation of the draft document initiates a two-month review period, during which edits may be made to the document, where considered appropriate, in order to produce a final version to be approved by the Coolidge City Council. Once approved, the document will be sent to the state and Coolidge voters will decide whether to approve it at the general election ballot in November. What makes this general plan different from past plans is that its creators have included simpler and more inclusive, flexible land use classifications. Land use classifications have been reduced from 17 categories to six: agriculture, rural ranchette, urban neighborhood, downtown core, business and commerce, and industrial and manufacturing. The urban neighborhood classification includes all residential uses, offices, stores and restaurant, and churches but would not allow for large shopping malls or retail/employment centers which are restricted to the business and commerce classification.

City of Glendale
In 2009, the Tohono O’odham Nation proposed plans to build a casino on a county island near 95th and Northern avenues near Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District. The issue was presented to the City of Glendale in the form of House Resolution 1410, which would block the building of casinos on land within metro Phoenix designated as reservation after April 2013. Existing agreements between the state and Native American Communities seem to have limited or capped the number of Phoenix metro casinos and proponents of the bill have indicated that the proposed casino would violate the agreement. However, a federal judge has ruled that the nation’s planned casino would not violate the agreement. In its March session, the city council opposed the bill in a 4-3 vote. The vote indicates a major shift for the city that has often been involved in lawsuits with the Tohono O’odham Nation and has avoided discussions with the nation’s leaders. City leaders believe the casino operation would compete with Westgate and nearby businesses, drain sales tax revenue and increase demand for city services. The city council member majority of four consider the casino and resort as a potential boon for the city’s economy and have recently directed the city’s staff to begin negotiations with the nation. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the bill and the measure now awaits consideration from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

City of Scottsdale
A vote on the City of Scottsdale General Plan, which was planned for this November, has been postponed until 2015 or possibly even later. This decision comes after months of work by the city to develop a new plan, with much public input, after the previous effort was defeated by voters in 2012. The plan has been involved in controversy for two years amid concerns that it could fail again at the polls and negatively impact a possible Scottsdale Unified School District override vote. In a letter from the school district, officials have asked the city to consider a new date for the general plan vote other than November when the district most likely will have an override on the ballet. The general plan outlines a path the city intends to take into the future to accommodate growth and is required to be updated every 10 years and also requires voter approval. These proposed plans are typically approved with little controversy, but critics opposed to the plan are saying the plan does not do enough to protect the city from unchecked development. In the past two years the voters have rejected the property tax that funds the override for the school district’s budget and if it is not renewed this fall it will expire. As such, the school district has requested a clear November ballot, free of any City of Scottsdale initiatives, moving the general plan to a different ballot, where it wouldn’t conflict with the override.

Town of Gilbert
Earlier this year Gilbert’s Town Council adopted most of the provisions in the 2012 International Building Code, with the exception of the energy conservation and “green” construction regulations which were adopted but only as voluntary codes. A majority of the Valley’s municipalities had already adopted these new building standards months ago. However, unrest among opponents to the regulations who considered them an overextension of government power delayed and even threatened to defeat their approval for the Town of Gilbert.

City of Maricopa
As in many other Valley municipalities, the City of Maricopa is proposing to install an online portal for builders to electronically submit building plans to the city for review in an effort to initiate a more efficient and cost saving process. The system would accommodate plans for both small and large buildings and for new houses or just small improvement projects. City leaders indicate that the city would save in printing costs, travel costs and time taken to deliver and pick up plans and could potentially review more plans per person then they currently do. The initial cost of such a system is estimated to be less than $100,000 and it would take approximately 30 to 90 days to implement.

Town of Florence
In January 2013, the Florence Town Council approved multiple text revisions to its downtown commercial (DC) zoning district. These allowed for hotels, bed and breakfast facilities, movie theaters and grocery stores as permitted uses; providing consistency in setback requirements for uses; and eliminating a majority of the on-site parking requirements. There has been much interest in the DC district, and these applications are being combined by the town for a single town application for rezoning to DC zoning. Because it is a town application, residents can file without a fee.