P & Z Commission approves extension on ag project
Rezoning approved for North Main property; extension granted for vineyards on edge of Old Town
COTTONWOOD — Monday, the Cottonwood Planning and Zoning Commission proved it could accomplish two fairly opposite things at the same time.
The Commission approved an extension for an agricultural project, headed up by Bernadette Selna, while at the same time encouraging her to keep the project moving swiftly and to be a good neighbor to the residents who live near it.
Adding a stipulation that all trash and flammable debris and other materials be removed from the site within 60 days, the Commission allowed another extension for Selna’s project, which sits on about 28 acres across a part of South Willard Street, stretching from South Airpark Road and backing up to homes along Agua Prieta.
The Commission approved the extension by a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Thomas Narwid the lone dissenter.
“I haven’t seen much work done on this project in the past three years; I doubt we’ll see much in the next three,” Narwid said before voting against the extension.
The project, championed by Selna, was initially approved by the Commission in January of 2016. It’s a series of plots of land used to grow a variety of items, ranging from apples to peaches, apricots and possibly almonds.
Issues with removing large boulders and smaller rocks from the acreage, permitting and all that goes with using reclaimed water and upkeep of the property have all led to delays.
She even discovered a couple was living on the property, and they left considerable debris behind.
“That took some time to clean up,” she told the Commission.
Other commissioners who decided to vote in favor of the extension still took time to encourage Selna to pick up the pace on the project, and to ensure trash and debris are not on the premises.
Two residents whose properties back up to the eastern edge of the project came to Monday’s meeting to both encourage support for the project, but also to urge the Commission and Selna to keep local residents in mind.
Emery Seeley told the Commission he had seen a truck dumping brush and construction waste on the site that morning, while Wayne Ott said there is a tractor on site that hadn’t moved in about four weeks.
Selna said she is nearing the end of several processes needed to get the project moving, and believes planting can finally begin this fall, if enough rocks can be replaced at the site with soil.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the Commission approved a simplification of zoning of a parcel of North Main Street land as “commercial residential” and approved an extension on a multi-year project involving construction of a vineyard and winery at North Verde Heights Drive and Pima Street.
No report was given on the hot-button topic of hotel lodging tax rates versus short-term rentals, even though that item was on Monday’s agenda.