Cave Creek Council wants Federal Mandates Reevaluated

At the Cave Creek Town Council meeting on Monday, May 7, Water Advisory Chair Bob Morris addressed the Council during the call to public. Citing the May 2nd article in the Sonoran News regarding the Town of Carefree initiating action to explore taking over the water delivery service for Carefree residents currently served by Cave Creek Water Company, he asked why the system was allowed to get so bad that the Cave Creek Water Company could now lose 20 percent of its customers and lose up to 274 acre feet of water. He said, ‘We’re to tiny towns who should be cooperating, instead we’re fighting with each other.’ Morris added ‘This is going to be a disaster for the Town.’

Vice Mayor Sova responded to Morris’s remarks by explaining that there is a 50 year Intergovernmental Agreement regarding the water service that was done in 2005. There are options for the Town of Carefree to change the agreement. He likened it to puts and calls in the stock market and Carefree is exercising one of those options.

In the Town Manager’s report, Carrie Dyrek said the Town had received a lot of questions and concerns about a building project off East Grapevine Road. She said it is a large single family home and they are also getting permits for allowable accessories. (According to other sources, those accessories may include a horse barn, a 12 – 14 car garage to house a private auto collection, a pool house, and/or a studio.) Dyrek said less than 10 percent of the total acreage is being affected.

The Council quickly approved a #6 Bar Liquor License for Outlaws Cave and the renewal of off track wagering at Harold’s Cave Creek Corral to coincide the permit from the Arizona Department of Racing.

Councilwoman Eileen Wright’s presentation on the Colorado River, drought, and Lake Mead was next. She said there is a real and immediate threat of a water shortage according to the Bureau of Land Management. According to her report, Lake Mead is over allocated and more water is promised from the lake than what flows into the Lake. Her illustrations showed the height of Lake Mead at 1081 feet and that a tier one shortage would be declared at 1075 feet. Another slide showed Bureau of Reclamation statistics that predict a 17 percent chance of a shortage in 2019, 49 percent chance of a shortage in 2020, the chance increases to 58 percent in 2021, and 63 percent in 2022. Wright said the Town is working on a water sustainability plan. One option being explored is interconnecting with another city or town, also being explored is recharging the aquifer or water banking.

Councilman Smith said he, Councilwoman Clancy, and Vice Mayor Sova, recently attended a presentation from the Central Arizona project where they were told that municipalities did not have anything to worry about in the near future as initial water cuts would be made in agricultural customers of the CAP. Wright related a meeting that she attended that had a much more grim prognosis. Mayor Bunch likened the differences of the presentations as glass half full vs. half empty.

Councilman McGuire made a brief presentation on what is happening with Black Mountain Trail. A new road is being put in as driveway for a new home being built and for four other properties. The old road did not meet Town standards for a driveway as it was too steep. He showed photos of spider trails, where people have gone off the trail to follow what appears to be an easier path. He also illustrated where foot traffic and erosion has moved the trail downhill. There were several illustrations of the trails being rerouted by hikers over time.

Councilman Smith asked what the next step is, ‘Is there something that can or will be done?’ McGuire said, ‘Eventually I think we need to try and make a trail that is sustainable.’ Adding that banks below the trails may need to be built up to keep the trails from moving downhill. He said about half the trail that is within town limits needs attention. He cited the trail from the parking lot at Jewel of the Creek as a good example of a well constructed trail and would like to see the same type of trails on Black Mountain.

The council approved a settlement in Haff, et al. v. Town of Cave Creek. The case was originally filed in 2016. The complaint asserts the town is in violation of the various development/annexation agreements (AA) and ordinances and states the town made a series of covenants with respect to Cave Creek Crossings, Honda Bow Alignment, Morning Star Road and Spur Cross Road.

The property owners claimed the town breached its commitments and none of the property owners in Area 96-1 have consented to the town’s actions. Claiming the town acquired rights-of-way on both Honda Bow and Morning Star roads “via exaction as a condition for the grant of a building permit for homes or structures within the AA,” plaintiffs believe the town is prohibited from doing so and demanded the town relinquish all acquired rights-of-way obtained after the AA was approved by the town, maintaining they were acquired illegally.

Plaintiffs noted a June 29, 2016 e-mail correspondence from Town Manager Peter Jankowski to Smith-Haff saying the town had been asked by Tom Lehman to extend the existing Honda Bow right-of-way (ROW) to his property and, in order to do so, the town first needed to determine the location of the ROW, and conducted a survey in consideration of the request.

However, according to the complaint, the town is prohibited from planning, designing, or acquiring ROW, and plaintiffs claim this was not the first time the town has expressed its intent to extend the Honda Bow ROW to the Lehman property. Terms of the agreement were not announced. The plaintiffs had originally sought nearly $1.6 million for diminution of property values.

The final item on the agenda was a resolution to request the Federal Court reevaluate rulings that are negatively impacting the Town. Lawsuits brought against the previous Maricopa County Sheriff’s administration are deterring current Sheriff’s Deputies from performing traffic enforcement to the fullest, according to Mayor Ernie Bunch. He said Deputies will not speak on the record, but readily admit off the record that certain components of the Federal Court order have made it less likely for an deputy to make a traffic stop.

Bunch said one requirement is that the stops must match the statistical makeup of the community. Letting out his inner Star Wars geek, Bunch used the example if the community was 65 percent Earthlings, 25 percent Klingons and 10 percent Vulcans, statistics for tickets issued would have to match. Also the Deputy is required to do paperwork on the stop that includes, what race did the deputy believe the operator to be prior to the stop and what the race actually was. The Mayor said this results in micromanagement of law enforcement.

There is also a ‘customer complaint’ addition to traffic citations. He likened this to a yelp review of the officer. However, if there is a complaint the officer has to go through internal affairs and even if no wrongdoing is found still shows on their personnel record as an internal affairs complaint and can have a negative impact when being considered for promotion or transfer.

Other councilmembers echoed the Mayor’s sentiments. Councilwoman Wright said she needed details and documentation before she could vote to support the resolution. Bunch said deputies will not go on record for fear of consequences, so there is no documentation. The resolution passed by a six to one vote with Wright casting the only no vote.