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12425 West Bell Road, Suite D-100

Surprise, Arizona 85374


July 17, 2007




Call to Order:


Chairman Lyn Truitt called the Planning and Zoning Commission workshop meeting to order at 5 p.m. in the Surprise City Hall, 12425 West Bell Road, Suite D100, Surprise, Arizona 85374, on Tuesday, July 17, 2007.


In attendance were Commissioners Richard Alton, Jan Blair, Jesse Conn, John Hallin, Steve Somers, Lyn Truitt and Fred Watts. 




Scott Chesney, Planning and Community Development Director, presented an overview of the Economic Position Framework, a study prepared by Vandewalle and Associates, which assists in identifying the economic opportunities that have the greatest potential for growth in Surprise.


With an estimated population of 4 million in 2006, the Phoenix region is the 13th largest metro area in the United States; and Surprise, with a population of 100,000 is the 11th largest city in Arizona.  The population of Surprise could reach 400,000 by 2030, making it the 4th largest city in Arizona.


The building blocks of a Regional Economic Foundation include: 


·      Rapid population growth and growth-based economy

·      Sonoran desert landscape and warm climate attraction

·      Primary United States destination for retirees/”boomers”

·      Global trade connections

·      Southwest United States economic relationships

·      State capital and major university synergies

·      “Import” Economy


The key place-based assets:



·      Available/affordable land within the Valley

·      Affordable cost of living within the Valley

·      Expansive mountain views

·      Intact native desert environment

·      Extensive state trust lands

·      Powerful electric grid infrastructure

·      State-of-the-art Surprise Stadium

·      Regional waste management facilities


·      Concentrated “boomer” knowledge and capital

·      Cutting edge healthcare and wellness infrastructure

·      Rapidly expanding tech IQ/intellectual capital

·      Growing young, educated workforce

·      Recognized business-friendly environment

·      Solid rail infrastructure

·      Superior internet connectivity and capacity



·      Global air transportation

·      World class higher education system

·      State capital

·      Strong finance sector

·      Leading aerospace, defense, and vehicle research and development cluster

·      Well-established semiconductor and electronics cluster


Director Chesney discussed how the various North Valley and Hassayampa Valley areas could connect to Surprise, allowing the City to become an economic metropolitan/urban trade area for approximately three million people.


Place-Based Economic Opportunities:


1.                  Grow Emerging Economic Clusters

·      Sustainable city development and high performance

·      Medical/biomedical research and development

·       Renewable energy and energy conservation technology

·       Water use research and development

·       Eco- and experience-based tourism

·       Waste stream utilization technology

·       Vehicle/aircraft engine technology research and testing


2.                  Build Innovation Capacity

·      Become a centerpoint of “open innovation” and technology transfer

·       Boost academic and corporate research

·       Capitalize on knowledge and resources of the “boomers”

·       Facilitate new business development

·       Secure capital and finance


3.                  Enhance Economic Climate and Quality of Life

·      Getting it right the first time: proactively plan for and manage development of a dynamic, vibrant city in a unique desert environment.

·      Provide choices: jobs, lifestyle, housing, recreation, health and wellness.

·      Strengthen regional connections: promote passenger rail, plan Grand Avenue,   complete key regional highway connections, and install communications infrastructure.

·      Develop “smart city” infrastructure – internet connectivity and reliable and clean power.

·      Foster life-long learning and higher education opportunities.


Director Chesney next talked about regional connections; how Surprise can connect to various places; expanding beyond the “live, work, and play” idea.


·      Promoting implementation of a passenger rail system that includes a line extending from Surprise to Phoenix, connecting with major activity centers in Peoria, Glendale, downtown Phoenix, Sky Harbor International Airport, and ASU at Tempe.


·      In addition to providing critical transportation options to residents and businesses in Surprise, this initiative provides opportunities to create dynamic, transit oriented development at key stops in Surprise, consistent with the goals in the City’s General Plan.


·      Improving Grand Avenue as a key arterial parkway serving as the Northwest Valley’s “Great Street.” Because Grand Avenue serves as a central spine for both Surprise and the Northwest Valley, it should be developed as a multi-modal parkway prominently featuring continuous native landscaping and designed to promote concentrations of mixed-use, multi-modal activity centers at its key nodes.


Successful implementation of the Surprise Economic Positioning Framework hinges on identifying strategic areas within the community where the key Place-based Economic Opportunities can develop and grow. Five strategic areas in Surprise emerged with the greatest potential for catalyzing economic growth, helping to Shape a Dynamic City of Choice and Opportunity.


1.                  Innovation and research Park at Surprise Center

·      Mixed-use project incorporating a City Hall campus, medical facilities, an office 

park, and retail.


·      Combines with surrounding assets in transportation, cultural resources, recreation, and housing.


·      Offer an ideal setting to build ASU’s physical presence in Surprise.


·      Ability to attract businesses and employment.


·      Intersections of the rail line with Bell Road and with Greenway Road – and   loop/feeder buses connecting them directly to the activity areas within Surprise Center.


2.                  Energy Innovation Center

·      Establish large research and development facilities focused on solar energy, waste to-energy conversion, distributed energy, energy conservation, and cogeneration.


·      Partner with the Arizona State Land department to strategically plan for the commercial use of Trust lands to help establish this Innovation Center.


·      Successful business start-ups in Surprise Center focused on renewable energy technology that need room to grow should be targeted for this area.


3.                  Uptown Surprise

·      Businesses that are incubated at the Innovation and Research Center at Surprise 

Center and positioned for future growth should be targeted for eventual permanent locations in Uptown Surprise.


·      Prime candidate for a major rail station and interchange with Grand Avenue.


·      Promote TOD and concentrations of activity and density while preserving washes and other natural features throughout the landscape.

4.                  White Tanks Gateway

·      Offers a unique opportunity for Surprise to expand its eco-tourism and resort and executive living offerings.


·      North slope of the mountain of the White Tanks Gateway should capitalize on the visual, environmental, recreational and adjacent real estate assets.


·      Celebrate this unique desert and foothills environment with a lower density.


·      Will provide sustainable, development form through the use of open space preservation and clustering.


5.                  Supplier Park

·      Regional rail transshipment hub where goods sent in bulk to the Phoenix-area via the BNSF rail line can be offloaded, broken down, and shipped by local trains and over road to destinations in the Valley.


·      BNSF is developing a 700-acre site along their line west of 211th Avenue with the intention of consolidating its many smaller transshipment facilities located in the Valley.


·      Will create a demand for adjoining operations Including large scale warehousing and distribution terminals, wholesale businesses, and enhance and include “value added” businesses.


Director Chesney mentioned that to accomplish these tasks, an implementation management project team will be established.  These implementation teams will be responsible for coordinating overall management and implementation of the following items:


Medical/Biomedical Team

·      Refine the plan for the innovation and Research Park at Surprise Center.


·      Determine the feasibility of and a building program for a speculative medical‑related research facility with wetlabs and incubation space as the initial lead building in the Park.


·      Seek partnerships with universities and other research institutions in attracting additional users to the initial facility and the Park.


·      Determine infrastructure needs, including telecommunications, for the Park and other key research and health care locations and forward those to the City Growth Cabinet.


·      Determine needs of potential research and health care staff (such as housing and other lifestyle requirements) and forward those to the General Plan Update Team.


Sustainability Innovation Team

·      Undertake implementation of the Sustainable Surprise initiative in partnership with the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability; identify opportunities for implementing sustainability demonstration projects in Surprise and strengthening educational connections with ASU as well as establish partnerships with key research, non‑profit and private corporations involved in the development of sustainable building materials and infrastructure systems.


·      Determine the feasibility of and a building program for an Innovation Center and Sustainability Demonstration Pavilion within the Innovation and Research Park at Surprise Center and work with the Medical/Biomedical Team to identify a location for same.


·      Develop a program to identify and recruit; retired and active researchers, engineers and similar highly skilled and educated individuals; potential venture capitalists, investors and other new business finance providers; and entrepreneurs and small businesses interested in sustainable development.


·      As the Sustainable Surprise initiative is advanced, establish Sustainability sub-groups to focus on particular issues, such as energy, water, urban design and buildings, and education.


City Growth Cabinet

·      Determine key telecommunications infrastructure needs for the City and establish a technology sub‑group, bringing in others with technology expertise, to oversee preparation of a feasibility study and a funding and implementation plan for providing broadband and other needed telecommunications services throughout Surprise.


·      Determine infrastructure needs and prepare a funding and implementation plan to support the place‑based opportunities described in the Economic Positioning Framework as well as coordinated planned infrastructure extensions and expansions with the other Framework implementation teams to ensure a maximum return on investment.


·      Complete the ongoing Surprise Transit Plan and coordinate recommendations with the other Framework implementation teams.


·      Work with the General Plan Update Team to determine infrastructure needed to support the level of development intensity/density proposed for Uptown Surprise, the Energy Innovation Center, the Supplier Park, in addition to providing alternatives for the use of environmentally sensitive, on‑site systems for the White Tanks Gateway area.


General Plan Update Team

·      Coordinate with the Surprise Train Team to develop standards in the General Plan and zoning code for transit‑oriented development for application in Uptown Surprise, the area adjoining the Grand Avenue and Bell Road intersection, and other key rail stops. 


·      Coordinate with the Sustainability Innovation Team to develop standards in the General Plan and zoning code for large, energy innovation and production facilities in the area identified for the Energy Innovation Center.


·      Develop standards in the General Plan and zoning code the rail Supplier Park and the large land area users and buildings that would locate around it.


·      Develop standards in the General Plan and zoning code for resort and tourist development in the White Tanks Gateways that focus on environmental protection, open space and view preservation, off‑street trails, outdoor recreation, and sustainability.


·      Coordinate with the other Framework implementation teams to have the General Plan Update and zoning code address their other needs and goals.


Surprise Train Team

·      Continue the ongoing pursuit of state and regional funding for passenger rail service along the BNSF main line from Surprise to Phoenix.


·      Refine locations and concepts for transit‑oriented development and park & ride facilities within Surprise and coordinate those with the Growth Plan Update Team.


·      Prepare a feasibility study and a funding and implementation plan for a loop/circulator bus system connecting the major activity centers in Surprise with the key rail stops.


·      Coordinate rail‑served industry for freight service along with passenger service.


Grand Avenue Parkway Team

·      Prepare a corridor redevelopment study for the entire length of Grand Avenue from Highway 74 to West Van Buren Street identifying general redevelopment opportunities, key sites and intersections, multi‑modal options within the corridor, and concept corridor cross-sections and interchange/intersection designs.


·      Based on the outcome of the study, obtain regional agreement through MAG on the general function and design of Grand Avenue throughout the metro area and develop a funding and implementation plan.


·      Coordinate with the Growth Plan Update Team to develop appropriate standards in the General Plan and zoning code for key intersections/locations along Grand Avenue for higher levels of density/intensity (such as the intersection at Grand and Bell Road, the intersection at Grand and Greenway Road, the interchange at Grand and 303, Uptown Surprise, etc.).




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, the Planning and Zoning Commission workshop meeting was adjourned on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 at 5:46 p.m.




Assistant City Attorney Jim Gruber; City Planner Dennis Dorch; City Planner Lance Ferrell; City Planner Nicole Green-Catten;  City Planner Adam Copeland; Planning & Development Services Manager Berrin Nejad; Planning and Community Development Director Scott Chesney; and Planning and Zoning Commission Secretary Carol Dager.





       Scott R. Chesney, AICP, Director

       Planning/Community Development Department