Fri, Jan. 17

Council hears revisions on Bashas’ Center<br>Neighbors still opposed to store location

The first reading of a proposed rezoning ordinance clearing the way for a new Bashas’ Center and shopping center in northwest Cottonwood was revised from the Cottonwood City Council’s Nov. 13 public hearing for its regular meeting Tuesday evening.

The proposed rezoning would change the property from R-1 (single-family residential), R-2 (single- or multi-family residential) and C-1 (light commercial) by reclassifying it to PUD/C (planned unit development, commercial) and PUD/R (planned unit development, residential).

The revisions were made by city staff in an effort to further mitigate effects of the proposed development on its Verde Heights neighbors.

Those changes (in italics) involve three of the 31 stipulations or conditions imposed on the proposal:

Item 11—An 8-foot-high split-faced block wall with landscaping shall be provided along Parcels 1 and 8 that border Apsco Lane as indicated on sheet “SP 1” by Kurt D. Reed Associates, Inc., dated Aug. 14, 2001, and shall be constructed as a part of the initial site grading.

Developer Howard T. Grace, vice president of W.M. Grace Development Co., Phoenix, asked the city if the wording could be further changed to read “and shall be constructed within 120 days of the initial site grading.”

“We will get it done as quickly as possible,” he said, adding that it takes “about 30 days” to do the initial grading.

Item 24—Prior to the issuance of a building permit on Parcel 1, the developer is required to dedicate up to an additional 25-foot-wide right of way, from North Organ Pipe to the north property line of the Parcel 1 development, along Apsco Lane, and construct a one-half-width street improvement including curb and gutter to Apsco Lane from North Organ Pipe to the north line of Parcel 1, as required by the city engineer. The right of way must include a 100-foot taper to the existing right of way.

Item 28—The westernmost driveway to PAD A, as shown on the preliminary site plan labeled “SP” prepared by Kurt D. Reed Associates, Inc., and dated Aug. 14, 2001, will not be allowed. Further, all driveways shown to (Arizona) 89A, as shown on the Groseta Ranch Master Plan land-use plan by Kurt D. Reed Associates, Inc., dated Oct. 12, 2001, and stamped Nov. 1, 2001, shall not be allowed unless approved by ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation).

A group of Verde Heights neighbors have voiced opposition to the development as proposed. Assisted by area resident and architect Joseph Smyth, the neighbors offered an alternate plan at previous city Planning and Zoning Commission meetings and hearings. They had hoped to at least see the store location moved 1,300 feet farther back on the 144-acre site.

The 144-acre property is along Arizona 89A, from Verde Heights Drive (across from Black Hills Drive) to approximately one-third mile north of Groseta Ranch Road.

Verde Heights resident Cherie Ryan, also treasurer of Cottonwood Citizens for Public Participation, asked council members Tuesday evening, “Why this location on the 144 acres?”

Mayor Ruben Jauregui said council members could answer that question when they vote on the issue.

At the Nov. 13 hearing, Cottonwood Citizens for Public Participation presented a letter to the city council, citing:

• A petition with 115 signatures of neighbors, opposing the development as proposed, that was presented Oct. 15 to the city Planning and Zoning Commission.

• Traffic-safety concerns, including for neighborhood school children.

• Concerns about placing heavy commercial next to residential areas. “Good urban planning calls for buffer zones between commercial and residential areas. The current proposal totally disregards this standard and patronizes those who live closest to the proposed Bashas’ site.”

Tuesday evening, Jauregui also read a letter received by the city council from the Runke family, longtime land owners, and signed by several family members. The letter voiced support for lifelong resident and land owner Andy Groseta and the proposed Bashas’ Center development.

“This development will be a valuable asset to our city and the Verde Valley,” the mayor read from the letter.

Residents “would be greatly served by this development,” the mayor quoted. The letter also urged city officials “to allow the development to go forward as presented.”

The proposed ordinance’s second reading will be at the council’s Nov. 29 special meeting. The council is expected to vote on the issue then.

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