Queen Creek planning commission OKs Zoning Ordinance changes

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A comprehensive update of the town of Queen Creek’s Zoning Ordinance is one step closer to taking effect now that the Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission has approved it.

At their July 8 regular meeting held at the Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road, commissioners voted 6-0 to approve TA15-017 Zoning Ordinance Amendment after final discussions about RV parking, landscape buffers, agri-tainment districts and time limits regarding the zoning-use approvals and permits.

Commission Chairman Steve Ingram, Vice-Chairman Gregory Arrington and commissioners Susan Denton, Alex Matheson, Ryan Nichols and Kyle Robinson were present at the meeting. Commissioner Steve Sossaman was absent.

Queen Creek Town Council members Craig Barnes and Emilena Turley were present in the audience.

The document is scheduled to be on the agenda for the council’s July 15 meeting, Queen Creek Planning Administrator Brett Burningham confirmed in an e-mail July 9.

The council meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. at the town hall.

The proposed text amendment is intended to be a comprehensive update to the town’s Zoning Ordinance, which was originally adopted on Jan. 6, 1999, according to information in the commission meeting packet.

The 452-page packet can be viewed on the town’s website by visiting the calendar listing for July 8 and clicking the planning and zoning meeting entry. It includes a timeline of previous amendments made to the ordinance as well as a copy of the Zoning Ordinance with the proposed text amendments.

This most recent effort to update the test began in February 2014, according to information in the packet provided by Mr. Burningham. Since the first draft was completed, the town staff has received about 600 comments from the town staff, the public and the planning and development community, Mr. Burningham told the commissioners at their June 10 regular meeting, according to the meeting minutes.

The commission discussed the proposed changes and held public hearings at their monthly meetings on Feb. 11, April 8, May 13 and June 10. The town council also discussed the proposed changes and held public hearings at its meetings on March 4, May 6, May 20 and June 17.

On March 4, the town council approved the Operation Signage portion of the text amendment; on May 6, it approved the Sign Regulations portion, according to the timeline in the commission packet.

Items discussed at the July 8 planning and zoning meeting reflected comments voiced by the commissioners and the public at the commission’s June 10 meeting. At the July 8 meeting, the commission approved the following:

Zoning approvals, permits
The proposed amendment doubles the amount of time allowed for developers to submit a final plat after receiving an approval of their preliminary plat and, once a final plat is approved, to initiate construction of improvements and to complete the construction of improvements. The current ordinance specifies 12 months in all instances; the revised text amendment allows 24 months in all instances.

At the July 8 meeting, Commissioner Nichols requested the town council clarify whether the proposed time limit gives a developer 24 months to begin construction after the town approves the final plat or after the final plat is recorded with the county.

“Once it’s recorded, it has legally divided the land,” he said during an interview after the July 8 meeting.

RV parking

At the June 10 meeting, Mr. Burningham told the commissioners six Queen Creek residents had contacted the town staff and asked that the town allow more than one RV to be stored on 1-acre lots or larger, according to the meeting minutes. The planning administrator said he had also heard from other residents who asked that the number of RVs that could be parked on a property be limited to one, but he clarified that these requests came from residents who lived in production home areas with smaller lots.

Mr. Burningham told the commissioners the town staff were concerned that the 1-acre lots could turn into RV parking lots.

At the July 8 meeting, he said the proposed ordinance would require RVs be parked behind the front setback; however, in larger lots, RVs may be stored in front of the home as long as they were behind the minimum front-yard setback area.

Commissioner Matheson said he would rather see RV parking as an issue for homeowners associations, saying he would prefer to allow a lesser governing body to regulate that issue.

•No more than one recreational vehicle may be parked for short- or long-term purposes at any time, except for lots zoned R1-35, 1-acre or larger, on which more than one RV can be stored provided it is not parked in the required front setback.

•RVs must be parked behind the front yard setback, and where possible, screened through the use of masonry fence walls, solid gates and landscaping.

•Homeowner associations may have additional requirements.

Landscape buffers
The proposed amendment eliminates a requirement that an entire landscape buffer be installed by the initial development. It replaces it with “a proportional share of the required setback shall be installed by each development.”

Agri-tainment District
This provision was added to the Zoning Ordinance to provide for land uses that support and enhance agriculture use for the town, according to Mr. Burningham’s presentation July 8.

The amended ordinance would require the land uses be compatible with agriculture and may include uses that support open space, natural resource management, outdoor recreation, enjoyment of scenic beauty and commercial and resident uses.

It also requires agri-tainment districts to have a Planned Area Development overlay. The latter is an area of land zoned and improved as a development for which the otherwise applicable bulk use and other requirements may be modified in order to allow for more flexible planning in conformance with the development approval process, according to the current Zoning Ordinance.

The Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission typically meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road. Study sessions, if scheduled, start at 6 p.m., prior to the regular meeting. To view agendas and commission packets, visit the town’s website and click on the Calendar.

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