Queen Creek council OKs moving forward with new equine center, discussion of impact fees

Wendy Feldman-Kerr, former mayor of the town of Queen Creek, spoke in favor of the proposed Desert Mountain Equine veterinary center during the April 5 meeting of the Queen Creek Town Council. (Independent Newspapers/Wendy Miller)

Members of the Queen Creek Town Council on April 5 voted 6-0 to approve the release of a transportation impact fee study April 6 for the public to review and offer comment.

All members of the town council were present at the meeting, which was held in the council chambers of the Queen Creek Town Hall.

They were: Mayor Gail Barney, Vice Mayor Jeff Brown and council members Robin Benning, Jake Hoffman, Dawn Oliphant, Emilena Turley and Julia Wheatley.

Mayor Barney recused himself from the discussions regarding the transportation impact fee because his family’s land in Queen Creek is undergoing development options, Marnie Schubert, the town’s communications, marketing and recreation director, said in an e-mailed response to a question.

Changing the transportation impact fee requires a series of public hearings held over several months.

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Impact fees are a one-time fee assessed to new development to pay for the proportionate share of infrastructure costs new developments place on a community. The town has eight impact fees: wastewater, water, parks and recreation, transportation, library, fire, town facilities and public safety.

The process to change an impact fee is defined by state law. The two-phase process takes about 11 months to complete and requires four public hearings and extensive input by stakeholders and the public, Queen Creek Finance Director Scott McCarty told the council at its March 15 meeting.

The first of the hearings for July 19. Over the next few months, extensive public outreach will be completed to gather input from residents, the development community and stakeholders.

In December, the town council unanimously approved the Queen Creek Transportation Master Plan, which serves as a comprehensive document that helps guide multimodal transportation. The 10-year plan totals $195 million for 41 projects and builds 91 new lane miles.

The study, available online at QueenCreek.org/TIFS, analyzes the town’s transportation impact fee. The preliminary findings of the study indicated that in order to build the $195 million roadway plan, the fee charged to new growth may possibly need to increase.

The study identifies $195 million of costs for roadway projects divided between non-growth (existing residents and visitors) and growth (new residents and developments), according to a press release.

The non-growth portion is $79 million, or 40 percent, which will be funded through the town’s operating budget, according to the release. The growth portion is $116 million, or 60 percent. It will be funded through transportation impact fees, construction sales tax and other governmental entity contributions, according to the release.

The town’s transportation impact fee, adopted in 2014, is $1,263 for a single-family home. The study concludes the town’s transportation impact fee could be $3,927 per home for new growth to pay their proportionate share of new roadways, Mr. McCarty told the council at the April 5 meeting.

The study also accounts for non-residential growth as part of the fee structure.

Other funding methods are being considered. No changes can be made to the transportation impact fee until approved by the town council at the fourth public hearing. No date has been set for that meeting.

Other council actions

The council unanimously approved items on its public hearing consent agenda, They were:

•P16-0082, Remington Heights Wall Amendment Planned Area Development Rezone. The amendment to the Emperor Estates PAD allows a 6-foot-tall solid wall to be built along the rear property line of nine residential lots in Emperor Estates Phase III, Lots 159-167, adjacent to Rittenhouse Road.

•P16-007 (Conditional Use Permit) and P16-0078 (Major Site Plan) for Wendy’s Restaurant. The Conditional Use Permit allows a drive-thru at the restaurant, which is planned on Lot 2 in the Heritage Town Square Center, east of the southeast corner of Ellsworth and Rittenhouse roads.

Prior to the vote, Councilwoman Wheatley asked that the third item — a request by Ralph Pew of Pew and Lake PLC, for a Minor General Plan Amendment (P17-0002) and Ordinance 625-17 Rezone (P17-0001) for Desert Mountain Equine Center proposed at 24760 S. Ellsworth Road — be pulled from the public hearings consent agenda vote for discussion.

The approval allows the property to be rezoned from R1-43 to C-2 for a 9.3-acre site for the equine veterinary facility and future commercial development.

Queen Creek resident and landowner Jack Reed spoke in favor of the proposed Desert Mountain Equine veterinary center during the April 5 meeting of the Queen Creek Town Council. (Independent Newspapers/Wendy Miller)

Councilwoman Wheatley said she was looking forward to the new center, but wanted to know what types of businesses were being considered for the commercial development.

Mr. Pew spoke on behalf of center owner Dr. Scott Meyer. He said Dr. Meyer is very busy and not focused on the commercial uses at this time, but if he did, it would be something non-controversial.

“He does not want to offend his neighbors,” Mr. Pew said.

He said he anticipated the center would look at low-intensity uses such as a small retail center, bank or something compatible with the surgery center.

“We’re here to get the surgery center going. That’s the best I can do tonight,” Mr. Pew said.

Two members of the audience spoke in favor of the project.
“It’s a wonderful addition to the town of Queen Creek,” Wendy Feldman-Kerr, former Queen Creek mayor, told the council.

She said Dr. Meyer is her family veterinarian.

“From personal experience in discussions with Scott, he would like everything on the property to be compatible and, of course, be good neighbors. You’ll find him to be an exemplary citizen.”

“I believe (Dr. Meyer) is a stand-up kind of gentleman,” Jack Reed told the council.

He said he thought the equine center would “benefit the town greatly.”

Following the discussion, the council voted unanimously to approve the request.

In addition, the council unanimously approved items on the consent agenda, which includes matters considered to be routine and can be enacted by one motion and one vote. Members of the council and or staff may comment on any item without removing it from the consent agenda or remove any item for separate discussion and consideration.

They were:

•Paying $100,000 to HD Supply for water distribution parts.
•Paying $210,000 to Southwest Waterworks for well maintenance and repairs.
•Paying an amount not to exceed $72,792 and necessary budget adjustments from contingency for an on-call project order with Logan Simpson Design Inc., for archaeological monitoring services during construction of the water and sewer lines along Riggs Road.
•Paying an amount not to exceed $106,876 and corresponding budget adjustment from contingency for a professional services contract with Clear Creek Associates for construction management and evaluation services for the construction of the West Park lake well.
•Paying an amount not to exceed $31,500 to Sunrise Engineering and the necessary budget adjustments for engineering design of utility improvements for Empire Road and Hunt Highway and corresponding budget adjustment from contingency.
•Paying an amount not to exceed $115,335 and the necessary budget adjustments to Vincon Engineering LLC, through a city of Chandler cooperative contract for temporary improvements to Queen Creek Road and Ellsworth Road.
•An easement to be granted to Salt River Project for undergrounding electrical lines on the southeast corner of Sossaman and Queen Creek roads for the Fire Station No. 3 project.
•An intergovernmental agreement with Pinal County for the use of temporary traffic control signals at the intersection of Queen Creek and Signal Butte roads.
•The 2017 council strategic planning session and summary action plan.
•Resolution 1143-17 supporting the Department of Defense aviation mission in Arizona.

Town council meetings are generally held starting at 5:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at the Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road. Public hearings are not held before 7 p.m.

Agendas and live streaming video of the meetings may be viewed on the town’s website at www.queencreek.org.

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