Council returns Wild West Days to CCMEA

Citizen declares his loss of confidence in town’s planning staff

CAVE CREEK – During Monday night’s Call to the Public, Dan Devlin, who introduced himself as chair of the Canyon Ridge Estates Trail Committee, said the community has elected a new board and has approved the Surrey Trail reroute to Lot 37.

Devlin thanked council, staff and the community for their patience while they “got their house in order.”

Kerry Smith read from a prepared statement regarding the general plan and stated the planning commission concluded it had received sufficient public input to allow the general plan to be forwarded to council.

Requesting council allow more time for public input, Smith stated there had been significant changes in land use and felt it was desirable to have more discussion with the public.

Smith said, “I no longer have confidence in the town’s planning staff,” and claimed “council has been placed in a reactive mode due to a series of unfortunate decisions made by the planning staff.”

He said the most unfortunate of those decisions had to do with the Schulze property on Fleming Springs Road, whereas the owners were given permission to undertake commercial activity with the provision vehicles being repaired would be placed in garages.

He said that did not happen and vehicles of all types littered the property.

Smith stated the owners were given until the end of 2015 to remove the vehicles but were granted an extension until Jan. 18, 2016.

He said no action has been taken by the owners to remove the vehicles and while planning staff had the opportunity to use the owner’s request for a permit to construct additional berms as an incentive to respond to the earlier order to remove the vehicles, that approach was not taken, they were instead granted a permit and the vehicles have increased.

Smith stated, “Thus, my conclusion is the planning staff acts selectively, often in ways that are inconsistent with the actions of the town council. As a result, citizens must be given the opportunity to consider modifications to the general plan that might give the planning staff more authority to act in ways that are inconsistent with the objectives of maintaining Cave creek’s rural, western environment.”

Town Manager Peter Jankowski advised council it had two general plan workshops scheduled for Feb. 22 and 29 with a public hearing scheduled for March 21.

The first item on the agenda had to do with the town returning Wild West Days to the Cave Creek Merchants and Events Association (CCMEA).

CCMEA Treasurer Marc Peagler told council taking a break for a year while CCMEA was reorganizing helped a lot.

But they are now in a position to take it back and make it a great event.

He said the biggest expense was insurance. According to Peagler, there are only three insurance companies willing to provide insurance for the event and it cost them $9,900 last time.

Mayor Vincent Francia questioned why the cost was so high.

Peagler said because it’s “Wild West Days” insurance companies look at it as a rodeo and because there are reenactments with firearms.

He said it also has to do with the fact activities occur throughout town and not just in one venue.

Jankowski said the town might be able to provide coverage through its municipal insurance at far less cost.

Francia joked by questioning if it would cost less if they called it “Laid Back Days” instead and asked when the town would know if it can cover the event under its policy and how much it will cost.

Jankowski said they would find out when CCMEA submits its application for the event.

Town Attorney Bill Sims said he believes the risk pool can provide coverage for far less than $9,000 and recently provided similar coverage for Tombstone.

Francia explained the town took the event over after there was a “hiccup” by CCMEA and didn’t want another poor showing since the town’s image is at stake.

Councilman Ernie Bunch joked the town should call it the “Town Too Tough to Govern Days” and moved to hand it back to CCMEA.

Councilman Mark Lipsky, who was appearing telephonically, agreed they were “putting it back in the hands where it belongs.”

The motion carried unanimously.

Finance Director Robert Weddigen introduced an item to amend an existing loan agreement with WIFA (Water Infrastructure Finance Authority) for the Desert Hills Water System and bring the loan into compliance by redefining the source of revenues pledged to the payment of the loan agreement as the town’s excise taxes.

Weddigen said the change doesn’t affect the loan balance nor does it affect the town’s payment of its debt service.

During public comment, Kerry Smith said maybe he was misunderstanding but was confused by Weddigen’s comments.

He said, “This reduces the discretion the town has for the use of those revenues.”

Francia said he got lost in Smith’s comments and asked if he could re-explain.

Smith stated revenue is not sufficient to meet WIFA requirements and made additional comments about the wastewater treatment plant.

Weddigen said the reserve is already set aside and all the town is doing is switching the source of revenue.

Jankowski explained the revenue generated by the water utility used to cover the operating costs, unlike the wastewater treatment plant, which the town has been subsidizing.

Katya Kincel questioned, “Wastewater treatment plant?”

Kincel said she thought she understood the agenda item until there was mention of the wastewater treatment plant.

Jankowski said he was only addressing what Smith brought up and the agenda item had nothing to do with the wastewater plant.

Council voted unanimously to approve the amendment.

Last, council voted unanimously to amend the name to the name of the current owner of three parcels on a development agreement that was to run with the land.

Bunch stated it was just a matter of straightening out some paperwork.