Rare Earth Gallery gets nod to build permanent home across street

Susan Demmitt
Susan Demmitt

By Linda Bentley

CAVE CREEK – With Commissioner Peter Omundson absent and an announcement that there were no cases scheduled for the April planning commission meeting, Associate Planner Luke Kautzman introduced the first agenda item, a site plan review for a new commercial building on the southeast corner of Cave Creek and School House roads.

He said the application is for 1.25 acres of a 7.5-acre parcel and is subject to a lot split.

The proposed building height is 19.5 feet to the top of parapet, which is well below the allowable building height of 25 feet plus parapet to screen mechanical equipment.

Kautzman said the parking calculations of 38 spaces, 32 for customers and six for employees is based on 8,931 square feet of retail space and does not include the balance of the square footage that will be used as warehouse and storage space.

Commissioner Ted Bryda said there was an error on plan that showed a screen wall at the rear of the property as three feet tall when it should be six feet.

Kautzman said that can be easily corrected.

Commissioner Dick Frye stated, “I assume this is the building that will be replacing the tent.”

Dick Frye
Dick Frye

Planning Director Ian Cordwell responded, “Yes.”

Frye then stated, “I assume this cannon be completed before the tent permit expires.”

Cordwell said he was correct, stated the town and town attorney are working with the applicant for a solution and would have an answer before the application goes to council.

Frye asked if there were any negative impacts.

Kautzman said the only negative impact would be access on School House Road but that would be addressed with a turn lane.

Greg Zimmerman, appearing on behalf of applicant Wayne Helfand, answered questions about how crating and uncrating occurs and what Frye called the “unsightly” display of merchandise outside.

Greg Zimmerman
Greg Zimmerman

Zimmerman said the outside display will be addressed with the new building, which he stated would be large enough to house the merchandise.

Addressing access questions from Chairman Bob Voris, Zimmerman said the egress and ingress to the site is over 150 feet from the intersection.

Considering the parking lot surface will be asphalt, Voris asked what they were planning to do to mitigate the heat effect.

Zimmerman said there will be planters and the way the parking is structured they were able to reduce the amount of asphalt by 40 percent.

During public comment, Kerry Smith first touted what a wonderful business it is and said it brings people to town.

However, Smith said the temporary permit for the tent expires June 10 and they have requested an extension to October.

Voris stated, “This is not something we are considering.

Smith said although there’s a stop sign at the intersection, it seems to him that a left turn onto Cave Creek Road would be a problem, adding even a left turn out of Red Truck is very difficult.

Voris asked Zimmerman if the applicant were amenable to no left turns out of the Cave Creek Road driveway.

Bryda claimed they would then need to do that for every business in town and noted the bike lane project removed medians from various places in town to allow for left turns into businesses.

Voris stated they weren’t reviewing other businesses.

Kautzman said the town has determined it is suitable for left turns.

Voris confirmed, “So it’s supported by our transportation guidelines.”

Bob Voris
Bob Voris

Zimmerman stated, “We’re actually more like 200 feet from the intersection.”

Commissioner Susan Demmitt moved to recommend approval.

Commissioner Reg Monachino stated, “I always looks for benefits to these proposals,” noting it will bring revenue to the town, benefit 5,000 citizens and benefit Helfand.

Monachino said, “He could have built this in any city or town in Arizona and chose Cave Creek.”

Council voted unanimously to recommend approval.

The next item was discussion of the general plan timeline.

Voris said nothing had really changed other than a minor change to item number two on the last page.

Cordwell said staff would wait until after community input is incorporated before they send it out to other agencies for review.

Demmitt confirmed that it would be sent out to referral agencies after the September workshops.

Monachino questioned why nothing was happening during the months of April, May and June.

Cordwell stated that time was allocated for the water advisory and open space committees to complete their recommendations.

Demmitt asked if the timeline can change.

Voris replied, “Yes, if something comes up. But you need to have a plan.”

With three dates scheduled for public input to address three separate topics, Voris stated he’d prefer to have one workshop after each input session rather than one at the end addressing everything at once.

Cordwell said he believed the thought was to hold meetings earlier in the day and go into workshops immediately afterward.

Voris suggested they schedule workshops three weeks after the public input sessions to afford staff time to incorporate citizen input.

But said they could be flexible in the event only three people show up with two comments.

Commissioner Paul Eelkema stated the material from the committees may require some time to review.

The workshops were scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 10, Sept. 7 and Oct. 12, each three weeks after public input sessions.

Monachino asked if the workshops were open to the public.

Voris responded, “Yes.”

Voris went on to state the first public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 18, 2018, the second on Feb. 18 and the general plan will go to council for final approval to submit to voters in March.

The commission then discussed a newsletter it plans to distribute to the public to inform them about the general plan so it is better understood.

Monachino proposed a masthead for the newsletter with a picture of the stainless steel horse that states, “Cave Creek” and “Where the Wild West Lives.”

Eelkema suggested an alternative masthead.

However, commissioners favored the horse.

Demmitt suggested it say something other than “Where the Wild West Lives” that is more generic to provide information about the general plan due to the town being so eclectic and because they worked to move away from all the “Western” references in general plan to be more inclusive.

Bryda suggested it say, “Where we all live.”

Demmitt stated the masthead should say, “Cave Creek General Plan Newsletter” followed by something like, “The Future of Our Western Heritage.”

Eelkema said he liked the tagline, “Where the West continues to grow.”

The commission opted to use Demmitt’s suggestion, which would also make it clear the newsletter is an official publication of the Town of Cave Creek Planning Commission adding a volume number and date.

Voris stated they have five newsletters planned with a sixth if needed.

Demmitt said she would do a mockup and send it to Cordwell.

Cordwell noted it needed to go to the printer this Tuesday to meet their deadline for distribution.

Demmitt said they need to tell people in a few sentences what the general plan is.

The commission discussed who would be responsible for drafting sections on the various subjects.

On to the next agenda item, Voris said he would like to recommend adding a stock condition for new development that the developer would be required to bring his own 100-year assured water supply and they were waiting for the town attorney to provide the wording.