CITY OF SURPRISE
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION
Bell Road, Suite D-100
Surprise, Arizona 85374
May 15, 2007
Call to Order:
Chairman Lyn Truitt called the Planning and Zoning Commission workshop meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. in
the Surprise City Hall, 12425 West Bell Road, Suite D100, Surprise, Arizona 85374, on Tuesday, May 15, 2007.
In attendance with Chairman
Truitt were Commissioners Richard Alton, Steve Somers, Wayne Tuttle and Fred
Watts. Vice Chair Blair and Commissioner Skip Hall were absent.
Bart Wingard, planner for parks and open space projects, announced
that he has been working for several months with EDAW who has been commissioned
to conduct research on the City’s parks and trails plans.
Planner Wingard noted the following dates when presentations
of the EDAW report will be held:
May 31 City Management
June 12 CRS Board and Public Review
June 14 City Council Workshop
July 17 P&Z Commission (recommendation
for approval of plan)
August 23 City Council (adoption of plan)
Conrad Smith, EDAW, provided some background
information about their international firm, noting that they currently have
approximately six parks and recreation master plans throughout the United States. He mentioned that the EDAW’s Phoenix office staff has been working
diligently on the Surprise project.
Mr. Smith talked briefly about the economic value of parks
and open space, indicating that it is a challenge to place an economic value on
parks and open space. Developers do not readily envision the value, although
they charge higher premiums for the properties that face the open spaces. It
is EDAW’s responsibility to assist and teach planners and developers that there
is a value, how the City can implement the plans, and how to pay for parks.
He mentioned that the National Parks and Recreation
Association (NRPA) sets the standards, specifically identifying how many acres
per person per park should be planned. At this point in time, EDAW is at the
assessment stage and will follow with a proposed implementation of services. It
is EDAW’s expectation to review the City’s current situation and plan for the
In response to Commissioner Alton, Mr. Smith replied that
the EDAW study was authorized by City Council in January, 2007. The study is
currently being prepared and will be ready for public review at its
Jim Atkins, EDAW planner, provided
a background of his experience and explained the beginning process of the
study. He presented an overview of the approach to the plan:
Existing Parks Inventory
Park Ranking System
Proposed Trail System
Trail System Standards
Parks Maintenance and Operations Costs
Mr. Atkins mentioned that they did an assessment of the
existing parks that the City currently maintains, which includes:
3 Pocket Parks
4 Neighborhood Parks
3 Community Parks
After the assessment of these parks, they did a benchmark
comparison with other valley cities (including total acres of park and
residents per acre of parks):
There were also national comparisons, reviewing cities of
similar population size:
Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Mr. Atkins stressed that it is important for Surprise to
establish benchmark standards for the types of parks they want to have in the
City. To this end, he suggested that the NRPA standards should be the basis
(considering it is a national standard) and the City can expand on those.
He pointed out that Surprise is somewhat behind in its
number of parks; however, it is understandable considering its rapid growth, often
known as one of the fastest-growing communities in the country.
Mr. Atkins next covered park classifications, explaining
their recommendations for Surprise, projecting the number of parks in each
category that should be considered through 2030. Recommendations included 9
acres of open space per 1,000 residents (6 acres of active space and 3 acres of
In response to Chairman Truitt, Mr. Atkins replied that they
do recognize that the HOA parks are included in the neighborhood parks
recommendations. Mr. Smith mentioned that maintenance of these parks do become
an issue, noting that the minimum recommendation of 5 acres for a neighborhood
park is most cost effective.
In response to Commissioner Alton, Mr. Atkins stated that
the study did include the White Tanks Mountain Regional Park, although it is outside
Surprise’s planning area. Mr. Smith added that the survey did include the
service area which is based on the City’s population and covers a 5-mile
radius. Mr. Atkins suggested that there is a potential for a new regional park
in the northwest planning area.
Mr. Atkins went over the existing community parks, which
includes the recreational campus and Marley Park, as well as another park
projected for Surprise Farms. The study considers available land, projecting
locations for future parks and strategically placing them throughout the City.
Mr. Smith commented that part of the study’s process is
considering a funding mechanism for purchasing land for potential future
Mr. Atkins indicated that a major component of the plan is
to develop a park ranking system which will promote a high standard for new
parks because Surprise planners are interested in creating above-average parks
for its residents. This plan would provide an incentive to developers who go
above and beyond (although the incentive has not been determined at this
Responding to Commissioner Alton, Mr. Atkins explained that
NRPA has proposed a ranking system matrix that they designed. He stressed that
this matrix includes a set standard of minimums for amenities that can be
expanded. Mr. Smith added that this matrix was specifically designed for
Surprise to use as a marketing tool, as well as a performance tool.
Parks and Recreation Director Mark Coronado added his
comments about the matrix, emphasizing that it appears to be a good planning
There was some discussion about the proposed trail system
standards and the connectivity of an 89.3-mile uninterrupted regional trail
throughout the City. The plan proposes connecting to existing and future neighborhood,
community and regional parks.
In response to Commissioner Alton, Mr. Atkins noted that the
plan does include horse trails, as well as pedestrian and bike trails.
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.
Hearing no further business, the Planning and Zoning
Commission workshop meeting was adjourned on Tuesday, May 15, 2007 at 5:50 p.m.