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Markets & more planned for increasingly busy 89A and Bill Gray Road intersection

The intersection of Bill Gray Road and Arizona 89A may get a bit more lively in the future, with open-air markets, gazebo-style structures, teepees and possible special events being planned in conjunction with Tao Fellowship, also known as Mago Gardens.

The Cottonwood Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved amendments to the fellowship's conditional use permit Monday night to allow for outdoor events such as farmers markets.

Upon obtaining special events permits, other activities such as art shows, weddings and other public or private events could be held there as well.

"We are hoping to bring local people and the general public here to enjoy this area," Amy Ko with Tao Fellowship said. "We are working with the (Immaculate Conception Catholic) Church to work out parking issues, since we have heard that when you have a farmers market around here, people really come out."

The parking issue is in fact one of the stipulations for approval. Ko was informed that a written agreement with the church would have to be obtained before any kind of event could be held.

Last year, the City of Cottonwood allowed for the manufactured home to be used as a caretaker's residence. Later, it was approved as a shuttle station for the fellowship's main facility Mago Gardens -- a 150-acre educational facility located approximately 12 miles down forest service roads from the shuttle station.

In September, a pair of Harubang statues were unveiled at the Korean-American Cultural Park for Peace -- a title given for the entire area. The South Korean State of Jejudo gave the park the statues that can easily be seen from Arizona 89A.

According to the city's development department, no other structures were approved Monday by the commission and future zoning considerations and other issues would have to be brought before the city before anything else could be constructed. A lodging facility, visitors center, conference facility, museum and other additions have been discussed as part of the peace park's master plan.

Ko said she hopes the master plan and additions could be done within the next three to five years.

Community Development Director George Gehlert identified the Arizona 89A and Bill Gray Road intersection as being "a major signalized intersection."

In a staff memo, Gehlert noted other developments planned for the area including a 2,100-unit subdivision (Bella Montana) proposed across the highway from the peace park and church, a possible new fire station, and additions to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church such as ball fields, a school and cemetery.

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