UPDATE: Discussions of Fry’s store in Queen Creek in starting stages, Brown says

Representatives from the Fry’s Food Stores chain on April 26 met with members of the Queen Creek Town Council and town of Queen Creek staff to discuss the possibility of building a new store, which Fry’s would like to build on the northeast corner of Riggs and Ellsworth roads, Councilman Craig Barnes said during a phone interview.

Councilman Jeff Brown, however, has been critical about the wording Councilman Barnes used to announce the meetings on Facebook.

On his Facebook page April 26, Councilman Barnes wrote: “Well, it’s official. Fry’s is coming to Queen Creek. They will build on the northeast corner of Riggs and Ellsworth if everything goes through. Opening in 2018,” the councilman wrote.

After reading the post, Councilman Brown called the Queen Creek Independent to clarify that the new Fry’s store is not a done deal. He said there are still many steps in the application process – such as neighborhood meetings – companies must follow before a request is approved by the town council in a formal meeting.

“I am strongest proponent of transparency. Nothing is a done deal until I vote on it at the town council meeting,” Councilman Brown said during his phone interview.

Councilman Brown expanded his comments on a Facebook post to a closed discussion group to say a new Fry’s store is not official. He did not refer to Councilman Barnes directly, saying instead, “A fellow council member has taken to social media to say ‘It’s official,’ and ‘that Fry’s Grocery is opening in 2018.'”

Councilman Brown in his Facebook post noted there has been no formal application, the developer has not finished introducing the potential project to individual council members, there have been no neighborhood meetings to solicit input from neighbors about the potential impact, and that the parcel being considered is on a Maricopa County island.

When asked by the Independent to respond to Councilman Brown’s comments, Councilman Barnes explained by phone that his Facebook post said, “if everything goes through,” meaning if the discussions and application go through the formal process and the proposal is approved by the town council, he said.

“Maybe I should have said, ‘It’s official that Fry’s is interested,’ but I think everybody knows nothing is official in stone until it comes before the council and we make sure everything is good,” Councilman Barnes said during the later interview. “Everyone has to agree on it and then we have to vote on it.”

In his earlier phone interview, Councilman Barnes said the Fry’s representatives held several meetings that included some town staff members and  some council members.

Councilman Brown told the Independent he and Vice Mayor Dawn Oliphant also met with the Fry’s representatives April 26. He said he could not confirm who else met with the reps that day.

“Anytime anybody comes to the town to build a commercial building, they meet with the council and staff to see what we have to say,” Councilman Barnes said during his earlier interview. “They want to know if we’re in favor of it or if they’re running up against a brick wall.”

Councilman Barnes said he suggested to the Fry’s representatives that the lanes between the gas pumps at the Fry’s gas station in Queen Creek be built large enough to accommodate horse trailers used by residents and at Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Center in Queen Creek.

Councilman Barnes said the Queen Creek store is expected to be the largest of any Fry’s stores in Arizona and is expected to have a sit-down dining area.

Councilman Brown included some details of the Fry’s proposal in his post to the closed Facebook discussion group. He provided a copy of the post to the Independent. In it, he included the following information:

•Not yet proposed project: Fry’s Marketplace commercial and multi-family residential.

•Project location: Northeast corner of Ellsworth Road and Riggs Road. Total project site includes 40 acres. The Fry’s commercial development would include approximately 22 acres. The multi-family component would include approximately 18 acres.

•The multi-family site may be proposed to include approximately 320 units, which would equate to about 18 units per acre.

•This site is currently in an unincorporated area in Maricopa County that the town could consider annexing in the near future. The project would need to annex into the town to utilize the its water and sewer services.

•The county zoning is Neighborhood Commercial and R1-35. The project would need to rezone to Planned Area Development to accommodate the development.

•The proposed development would include a pre-annexation development agreement that would come before the council.

•All applications (i.e. annexation, rezone, site plan, conditional use permits) could be reviewed and administered concurrently in an effort to expedite the approval of the proposed project.

The Queen Creek Independent has reached out to the Fry’s representatives for more information.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123.

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