COTTONWOOD – A plan for a new Starbucks at the SR 89A and SR 260 intersection moved forward in Cottonwood Planning & Zoning Monday with traffic questions still unanswered.
P&Z voted 4-2 recommending Cottonwood City Council approve the project. Commission Member Tom Narwid and Vice Chairman Judd Wasden were the nay-sayers in the vote. They both cited traffic problems as their reason for voting no.
The business is slated to take the place of the former Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce building at the corner of State Route 89A and 260 -- sandwiched between Black Bear Diner and Home Depot.
The area is located near one of the busiest intersections in the Verde Valley.
A city staff report on the SR 89A and SR 260 intersection concluded:
• The growing congestion in the intersection is not only an inconvenience to the traveling public, but becoming a threat to public safety personnel’s ability to respond quickly.
• This intersection services the main commercial corridor of the Verde Valley and will have a substantial impact on business and business development in the area.
• As normal growth continues, the intersection level of service will continue to decrease.
• ADOT is planning on directing traffic from I-17 to Sedona through Cottonwood after the SR 260 project is complete, which will substantially increase the load on this intersection.
Developers have been working with the Arizona Department of Transpiration to mitigate the traffic problem at the 89A-260 intersection. There were no representatives from ADOT at the meeting Monday.
“The missing element for me was ADOT,” Narwid said.
Wasden cited similar concerns.
“Once we move forward with this, there’s no turning back,” he said. “One of the biggest problems is getting out of there and people cutting through parking lots … I would like to see a solution put together to solve it instead of saying, ‘hey, this is a great project.’”
Narwid asked representatives from Starbucks if they considered any other location.
Matt Shelley, one of the developers on the project, said Starbucks felt the proposed location had the “best visibility.”
P&Z Chairman Robert Williams said the traffic problems have always been an issue.
“I lived here in the 80s and I’ve been back here now full-time since 2005,” he said. “This has been an issue since I’ve been here. You can’t do anything to get this intersection to mitigate that problem other than build a bypass road.”
Members of the Chamber spoke during a call to the public. Christian Oliva del Rio, the CEO at the Chamber, said he has only seen two accidents at the intersection while working there.
In an earlier Verde Independent story, Oliva del Rio said the intersection was very difficult for tourists.
“Anything that goes into that corner is going to have an impact on traffic,” he said at Monday's meeting.
The proposed project will take the place of two Chamber-owned properties totaling up to .82 acres. According to the proposal, the property will have a 300-square-foot patio for customers to sit outside.
Pedestrian walkways will also be provided through parking areas for building access.
Exterior lighting will be placed to provide safety and security.
According to the proposal, the drive-thru entrance will begin at the south side of the building bordering State Route 260 and circle around the building. The drive-thru will exit at the west side of the building.
A landscape buffer and masonry wall will provide screening from lights along the highway.
P&Z’s vote isn’t the final step in the process as the project still awaits city council approval.
The commission also approved a conditional use permit for the development of a new Dairy Queen. This Dairy Queen will take the place of the current one at 102 S. Main St. but with new improvements.
The existing Dairy Queen and adjacent single-family residence will be demolished with the proposed restaurant taking their place.
The proposed restaurant is a 2,842 square-foot building with 33 parking spaces. Parallel parking spaces will be located at the north and south side of the new building.
The project is slated to begin in January or February of next year and is estimated to take three to four months.
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