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Northwest Regional Library

16089 North Bullard Avenue

Surprise, AZ 85374


December 20, 2005




Call to Order:


The Planning and Zoning Commission Workshop Meeting began at 6 p.m. at the Northwest Regional Library, 16089 North Bullard Avenue, Surprise, Arizona 85374, on Tuesday, December 20, 2005.


Roll Call:


In attendance with Acting Chair Jan Blair were Commissioners Skip Hall, Antonio Segarra, Lyn Truitt, and Fred Watts.  Chairman Ken Senft and Vice Chairman Randy Nachtigall were absent.


Staff Present:


City Attorney Scott McCoy; Community Development Director LaTonya Finch;

Planning Manager Scott Chesney; City Planner Adam Copeland; and Planning and Zoning Commission Secretary Carol Dager.


Council Members Present:  None




Planning Manager Scott Chesney talked about an engineering study conducted by HDR that commenced in 2003 and will be completed in 2006.   This study will contain data about what it really costs to develop a city.  The value of the study will help the City understand how city financial impacts relate to the actual cost of development. 


Issues that will be covered in the HDR study include: 


§         Link the demographic and economic forecast to the general plan.

§         Calibrate the fees to cover the cost of development.

§         Demographic and population growth rates.

§         General plan land use intensities.

§         Densities and quantities.

§         Service levels.

§         Timing/costs of financing and capital infrastructure.

§         Internal operating costs.

§         Purchase services.

§         Efficiencies of operation.

§         Revenue bases (property/sales tax, new development costs, and funding levies).


Mr. Chesney mentioned that it should be interesting and useful to review peer communities and get a feel of how Surprise compares with similar fast-growing areas.


Mr. Chesney explained that a model will be designed by HDR, and if it appears credible, it will be part of the general plan process and will be tested over a realistic timeline, such as one year. 


Commissioner Blair asked what would happen to the impact fees if progress stopped.  Mr. Chesney pointed out that the impact fees currently in place assume a specific level of growth that matches the general plan. 


Director Finch added that if the residential densities would be lowered, the City would have to review other ways to generate revenue.


Commissioner Truitt voiced his concern about impact fees not adequately covering the cost of infrastructure and other things needed to build the type of community desired.  He suggested that part of the City’s strategy should include bonding and limited CFDs; specifically, identifying what is needed in a particular area and spreading that cost through a CFD.   He also is concerned that the City should be charging higher impact fees.  Commissioner Truitt stated that he feels we should be fairly aggressive in how to fund the general plan. 


Commissioner Watts suggested that coming up with a model will be difficult since it is a moving target.  Mr. Chesney agreed that the model will need to accommodate any of the changes of the general plan. 


In response to Commissioner Hall, Mr. Chesney replied that the analysis does include sales tax.  He pointed out that on the revenue side of the model, any of the sources could be adjusted to balance the equation. 


Director Finch noted that it was anticipated that the study would reveal secrets of development deficiencies that would assist in updating the general plan. 


Commissioner Truitt indicated that when specifics are in place, it is easier to develop strategies to address the issues of costing to provide the amenities, facilities and infrastructure that is required. 


Mr. Chesney indicated that the chief advantage of the model would be trying to anticipate some of City’s operational costs.  Commissioner Truitt stressed that capital improvement and M&O are two different issues.  Anything built today will need to be maintained tomorrow and the costs will be borne by the residents of Surprise.


Mr. Chesney mentioned that the intention of the planning division in the 2006 update of the general plan will be to present a higher level of detail.


Mr. Chesney agreed with Commissioner Hall that a side-by-side analysis of the general plans could be completed.  


Mr. Chesney next talked about annexation strategies.  He mentioned that there would be a major annexation project in SPA1.  He also emphasized that managing the municipal planning areas will be important.  Surprise is extremely fortunate in having a large amount of area in the municipal planning area that will provide opportunities to balance a full range of products.  He noted that the municipal planning areas will allow the City to control growth.


Mr. Chesney stressed that annexation needs to be orderly.  He commented that the State Land Board has a mandate to obtain the highest and best use of their land, which will factor in the City’s growth.  The area around the White Tanks is suitable for resorts, as well as having some preservation areas.  SPA6 also has some similar types of areas.


Mr. Chesney suggested that the annexations will more than double the current size of the City.  Director Finch commented that the amount of land area currently pending annexation is enormous – over 25,000 acres of land in the planning area.  This will provide an opportunity to master plan the City’s utilities, schools, and other critical infrastructure.  She stressed that it is important to note that Surprise can no longer only react to growth.  Foremost and critical is the master plan of the infrastructure components that will create a desirable community.  The City will bear the burden of the growth if we do not aggressively design the annexation plan and try to control the growth.  It is important to redefine the City’s development processes. 


Mr. Chesney next talked about a more comprehensive annexation strategy emphasizing a quality of life. 


In response to Commissioner Hall, Director Finch explained that the benefit to annexing all this land is to assist in developing projects that will create the type of quality of life we want to pursue in Surprise. 


Commissioner Truitt suggested that the annexation plan looks fairly passive because it is developer driven.  He wondered why the City is not pursuing state lands around the White Tanks.   


Mr. Chesney agreed that this is a development-driven plan; however, Planning is working on targeting new areas that make sense to annex.  He also mentioned that the City is currently working with the State Land Department. 


In response to Commissioner Hall, Director Finch replied that the City has been working with the appropriate jurisdictions to discuss expansion of Grand Avenue; however, no annexations are contingent upon a Grand Avenue expansion. 





Pursuant to A.R.S. § 38-431.03(A)(3), the Planning and Zoning Commission may go into executive session with the City Attorney for legal advice on any item listed on the agenda.


There was no request made to call for an executive session.




Hearing no further business, Chairman Senft adjourned the Planning and Zoning Commission workshop meeting of Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 6:56 p.m.





  Scott R. Chesney, Planning Manager

  for LaTonya Finch, Director

  Community Development Department




Chairman Ken Senft

Planning and Zoning Commission