General plan update meeting off to rocky start

‘We want to be a part of Cave Creek. Not putting access from one side to the other in the general plan is a crime’

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CAVE CREEK – Last Thursday’s poorly attended general plan meeting kicked off the first of many opportunities citizens will have to participate in updating the town’s general plan, which, by statute, must be updated every 10 years.

Mayor Vincent Francia said the general plan is an important document that serves as a mission statement to guide the town for the next 10 years.

ian cordwellPlanning Director Ian Cordwell (r) said the plan has been sent out to adjacent municipalities and other agencies to collect any comments or feedback they may wish the town to consider.

Although the general plan expires in May, Cordwell said there is no penalty for extending the process.

He said the town wants to make sure there’s plenty of time for citizens to review and submit their input.

Cordwell provided copies of redlined versions of the plan, which he said consisted of staff’s updates to things such as population data, the town’s boundaries since completing a few annexations and removing items already completed, such as building a new wastewater treatment plan and general plan amendments that have already been approved during the past decade.

katya kincelKatya Kincel (r) interrupted, “The process is owned by the planning commission, not you,” adding, “unless the new council dissolves the planning commission,” as she passed out highlighted copies of sections of the town code and state statute referring to the planning commission.

Cordwell responded, “We’re following the process as outlined in statute.”

Planning Commission Chair David Smith said he received the proposed staff revisions at the same time they were sent out to the various agencies and stated, “Everybody is going to get a chance to look at this.”

Kincel stated the process was not being followed and said DR-190 zoning designations had been removed from the general plan land use map and said they needed to be restored.

She said restoring those specific designations would prevent projects such as Enchanted Canyon from happening.

Cordwell explained the land use map in the general plan is different from the zoning map as it only shows general categories, not specific zoning.

Kincel disagreed and raised the same arguments about specific zoning categories, Enchanted Canyon and other proposed projects that were brought up by Planning Commission Vice Chair Eileen Wright during a recent general plan workshop.

Terry Smith asked if the general plan included a circulation plan and if it showed possible future connections through Morning Star Road to connect the west side.

Cordwell said no changes had been made to circulation from the 2005 general plan.

Cordwell said if anyone has suggestions for changes to the general plan they could write them down on the sign-in sheet provided at the meeting.

Smith said the town needs to bring in the west side to keep the town from being divided.

J Smith said they had issues with the general plan in 2001 and stated, “We need a community that’s knitted together … we need to have access … We should have access to every parcel of land that is considered open space.”

Terry Smith said, “Our hands have been tied for 25 years (referring to the pre-annexation agreement with Morning Star Road property owners). Morning Star residents don’t want traffic but have no problem with funneling traffic down our dead-end road. We want to be a part of Cave Creek. Not putting access from one side to the other in the general plan is a crime.”

Smith also suggested a new zoning category to allow for equestrian use on one-acre parcels and said every other municipality allows for horses on one-acre zoning.

Smith also recommended a loop water supply line for backup in an emergency.

Kincel reiterated her concern that DR-190 and 70 were removed from the general plan and insisted they needed to go back in.

Cordwell explained the general plan is a land use plan, not a zoning map and said, “It does not give anyone a right to change zoning.”

Planning Commissioner Ted Bryda said they should add words to the vision statement describing Cave Creek as a low-density community.

Sunny Davis, who recently moved to Cave Creek from out of state, said the vision seemed more focused on business rather than the people who live here and said there appeared to be “more hogs than horses.”

Everett Bell said he wasn’t sure if the vision statement was a picture of “who we are” and suggested forming a focus group.

He said managing growth should be included in the mission statement.

Because the majority of people in attendance hadn’t reviewed the general plan, Francia suggested reconvening in two weeks.

He said, “We need to be very clear on our vision statement.”

As they began reviewing some of the staff changes, Kincel took issue with a change from the word “rezoning” to “zone changes.”

Cordwell stated land use elements in the general plan describe the land use in general, not zoning. He said there are eight different land uses.

Kincel stated, “This is not fair. This is a total disservice to citizens.”

Cordwell stated, “I’m perfectly willing to continue this meeting to give citizens more time to review.”

Francia asked for a show of hands of people who wanted to continue the meeting.

He then called for a continuance to 6 p.m. on April 2.

Cordwell passed out business cards and said meanwhile people could submit comments any way they wished – in writing at town hall, using the online comment form, via e-mail to, or by phone to 480-488-6614.

Links to the draft general plan, redlined version and to submit a comment are all located on the town’s website.

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