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Willow Canyon High School

17901 West Lundberg Street

Surprise, Arizona


September 11, 2007





Chairman Lyn Truitt called the Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting to order at

6:02 p.m. at the Willow Canyon High School, 17901 West Lundberg Street, Surprise, Arizona on Tuesday, September 11, 2007. 




In attendance with Chairman Truitt were Vice Chair Blair and Commissioners Richard Alton, Jesse Conn, John Hallin, Steve Somers and Fred Watts.  


PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:  In lieu of the Pledge of Allegiance, Chairman Truitt asked for a moment of silence in honor of those who gave their lives for this country.


Chairman Truitt announced that they will first hear Item 6.   




Item 6:  GPA07-235 – Discussion Only – BNSF Commercial Major General Plan Amendment


Planner David Neal presented the project to the Commission. 


Chairman Truitt opened the meeting for public comment. 


Pat Stewart, Wittmann resident, stated that she lives north/northeast of the BNSF area, on an old paved trail.  She is extremely concerned, worried, and upset about the railroad coming so close to her residential home.  She stated that she lives in a unique area that was broken up approximately six years ago into one and one-quarter acres.  There are lovely homes in this area and everyone feels very threatened by the railroad coming close.  Especially hearing the other day that two Mexican immigrants were found stowed away in railroad cars.  This (project) is only going to be thousands of feet away from their homes.  They are also concerned about the hazardous materials and propane being so close to their homes.


Chairman Truitt suggested that the speakers structure their comments as questions.


Hearing no further comments from the public, Chairman Truitt closed the public hearing.






Item 1:  GPA07-078 – Discussion Only – City Initiated General Plan Text Amendment


Planner David Neal presented the project to the Commission. 


Chairman Truitt opened the meeting for public comment.  Hearing no comments from the public, Chairman Truitt closed the public hearing.


Item 2:  GPA07-201 – Discussion Only – Churchill South Major General Plan Amendment


Planner Vineetha Kartha presented the project to the Commission. 


Chairman Truitt opened the meeting for public comment. 


Sandy Wilk, Wittmann resident, stated that she does not have a concern about the commercial area; however, she is concerned that the realignment of Dixelta comes right through their property.  She wondered about the timetable of that realignment.


Director Scott Chesney replied that the timing of the roads in the area is dependent entirely on the adjacent development.  While the City’s Transportation Plan shows that alignment, there are no firm plans in place, nor is that a firm alignment.  Those are conceptual studies that will be further defined. 


Paul Kudel, Wittmann resident, stated that he lives close to the affected area and wondered if this is C1, C2 or C3; it is not specified; it is very vague.  He wondered if the model for this is to look like Bell Road or Grand Avenue going towards Youngtown.  It seems you are trying to put commercial everywhere.  The people who have moved out there did not do so to have the City come to them; rather they want to keep the City away.  There seems to be commercial property a mile and one-half above that, a mile below it, and a mile below that there is more commercial already exists.  Don’t see a need to make that whole area commercial. 


Director Chesney addressed the concern about the issue of intensity (C1, C2, C3).  He stressed that the general plan amendments are to change the overall land use pattern from, in this case, low-density to commercial.  The type of commercial is not part of today’s discussion; that will be handled later in full consideration of impacts to neighbors.  For clarification, the amendments being heard tonight are at the request of the property owners.  These are not city-initiated amendments other than the amendment to change the date of hearing. 


Hearing no further comments from the public, Chairman Truitt closed the public hearing.







Item 3:  GPA07-211 – Discussion Only – Broadstone Ranch Major General Plan Amendment


Planner David Neal presented the project to the Commission. 


Chairman Truitt opened the meeting for public comment.  Hearing no comments from the public, Chairman Truitt closed the public hearing.


Item 4:  GPA07-221 – Discussion Only – Schuff Properties Major General Plan Amendment


Planner Vineetha Kartha presented the project to the Commission. 


Chairman Truitt opened the meeting for public comment. 


Christopher Weise, Surprise resident, mentioned that they get notices in the mail, but what are the  timeframes for these projects.  120 acres may be sold; may be commercial, could be low-density residential.  Need timeframes; is it going to be five years down the road; are house values going to drop; are we panicking?  Mr. Schuff’s property is beautiful; he has four houses on them; he owns them all; that is about as low as you can get.  He stated that he believes before amendments are submitted, timeframes need to be submitted.  Road increases; what are you going to do with Cotton Lane.  We have a hospital going across the street, a Fry’s Marketplace.  What commercial, 1, 2, or 3; is it going to be medical?   What are the options to the homeowners?  Is a sound wall going to be built; is it two- or three-story commercial?  He indicated that they are all in a panic over this because they moved out there for the quite; and it is all gone.  He said that he wanted to know from the Commission what is their plan, is it commercial after commercial?  Do you have a continual plan for a certain amount of commercial building, certain amount of tax dollars?  He said that he feels that should be explained to the Surprise residents.  Every time you turn a corner, there is a building; we have now turned into Phoenix, almost Los Angeles.  He stated that to ease some of the panic, it should be explained to the residents what the Commission’s goal is ten years from now; is it 10% commercial; 13% housing?  Houses are not selling now.  Someone needs to explain the long-term plans.  I appreciate the amendments; but there are no dates.  More explanation would be appreciated.


Chairman Truitt reiterated the items that need to be covered:  Noticing, timeframes, and overall plan for the area.


Director Chesney commented that referring to the timing aspect, this is a property owner driven process for a general plan amendment.  There is no pending property development program.  It is up to the property owner to decide when to bring a project forward.  There is no expiration date on the general plan action.  At this point, the City has no control over what is going to come forward or when it is going to come forward. 

The overall plan is what the staff is working on for Commission and Council consideration the first of next year with the intention that if the amendments are adopted, the plan will come before Commission before June.  That plan would be the 20-year plan for the entire City that would be more comprehensive than these individually driven plans.  The plan for where the City wants to go will be ready for adoption next year.


Stephen Limmex, Surprise resident, commented that he does not support the change of use from low-density to commercial.  He stated that he believes the current general plan has more than adequate amount of commercial areas zoned.  Prior to moving to Surprise nearly four years ago, he printed the plan and agrees with it.  He said that he does not believe there is a need for more commercial.  Currently, there is a plan for Prasada which is going to be beautiful.   He said he feels the benefits to the community are going to be great.  There is going to be an automall and hospital; great plan.  But he does not agree with changing this area from low-density to commercial.  He wondered how this will benefit the residents; what makes it unique?  If the property owner wanted commercial, they should have bought land 20 years ago in commercially zoned area rather than try to benefit from the economic opportunity. 


Hearing no further comments from the public, Chairman Truitt closed the public hearing.


Item 5:  GPA07-211 – Discussion Only – Zanjero Trails Major General Plan Amendment


Planner Vineetha Kartha presented the project to the Commission. 


Chairman Truitt opened the meeting for public comment. 


Bob Carlisle, Surprise resident, stressed that he has been fighting this for four years.  The applicant for Zanjero Trails keeps changing their mind.   First it was 1 house per acre; now it is 5 houses per acre.  They are going to deck the Beardsley Canal; they are not going to deck it.    They are going to run Waddell Road all the way through; now they are not.  He mentioned that there is no market for housing right now, stating that there are 5,000 houses in Surprise in foreclosure.  He said that he is getting tired of this.  There is no water to supply anything else.  Digging three more wells near my house; but not getting anything.   The so-called open space; the only thing I see is the green belt which are basically useless to anyone; have never seen anyone on them.  I moved out here when there was no one.  Now there are approximately 15,000 cars.  I am not happy; probably will move again because you are pushing me out; that is not my call.  Do know why the applicant is presenting this?  There is wildlife to be concerned about.  Zanjero Trails wants to level out McMicken Dam so they can have a serene plot to build on.  They are going to amend everything and do what they want.  He said that he does not know why Dave McGuire keeps sending it to the City.  It’s not annexed into the City yet.  He said that he is not happy and will keep coming to these meetings because Dave McGuire is leading everyone astray.  There is a lot of wildlife and archeological sites to be concerned about.   Before you get all happy, City of Surprise, and decide to annex and rezone everything, until there is another Wal-Mart on the other side of the Beardsley Canal, just think about what you are doing.  Because this isn’t just now; it is going to be 30 years from now.  And then you’ll be asking what did we do wrong?  Want you to think about that. 


Chairman Truitt reiterated the items that need to be covered:  water, zoning, densities, archeological sites, and wildlife. 


Stephen Limmex, Surprise resident, stated that we currently have the 2020 plan and this property is just west of the prior agenda item.  Valid points were previously stated regarding wildlife and the dam.  How is this going to benefit the neighborhood?  What will make this change better for our city and the neighborhood?  Prasada is going in.  This is so close to my home and thousands of others as is the previous item.   


Hearing no further comments from the public, Chairman Truitt closed the public hearing.


After consulting with City Assistant Attorney James Gruber, Chairman Truitt reopened item 6 to allow additional speaker comments. 


Elizabeth Oldham, Wittmann resident, commented that she has a child who attends Nadaburg School, which will be less than 2,500 feet from the BNSF Railway.  After spending two weeks looking on the City of Surprise website for the questions and comments from the meeting on August 11 at Nadaburg Elementary School, she is disturbed.  Trying to determine how to ask this question without being rude, did you only want to show the questions that you had good answers for when you published these notes?  Or was it because the two ladies taking the notes were talking so much, asking why we were asking “so many stupid questions” that they couldn’t write the questions down?  I have a witness who will attest to what they were saying.  


Regarding the City’s signs, the lettering on the signs that were updated is less than half an inch tall.  You cannot read them going 65 mph; 35 mph.  There are two signs in the vicinity of Nadaburg School which show two different dates; one for a meeting tonight; one on the 13th.  I am glad I got on the website and saw that this meeting is being held.  As for mailings, she stated that she has not received any mailings.   Been on the mailing list for seven years; have not received anything.  Husband checked mailbox today but still did not receive anything about this meeting. 


In regards to the petition that she personally handed in, Ms. Oldham stated that was handed in November of 2005 at a City Council meeting to the secretary.  I was told that if I give them the information they will look to see if they can find it. 


Public input and involvement.  Has the City of Surprise formed a city committee for this area?  We asked at this meeting that we will come up with ideas and we will put it on a map, can we submit it to be included in the general plan.  We were told ‘absolutely not.”


Cannot find the public comments from anyone regarding the general plan.  She said that she would like an actual search spot because she has spent approximately 20 hours looking for it. 


One of the questions asked at the Nadaburg meeting - What stipulation: the city has to comment on all permits that are asked for in an unincorporated county which includes Wittmann, Morristown and Circle City.  On a lot of those comments that we have pulled up from the county website, it says that the builder must be willing to annex into the City of Surprise.  Why is that? 


Ms. Oldham mentioned that Arizona is in a ten-year drought.  This year we had a “nonsoon” not a monsoon.  Why are we still finding all these reasons to spend and waste our water on these new developments?  Like Mr. Carlisle said, we have 5,000 houses in foreclosure.  We are building more developments with waterfront property because of our green zones because we have to keep them green.  Where is the water going to come from?  Surprise does not have its own little rain cloud over it.  Surprise is in Arizona; that is included in the ten-year drought.   It would be nice if someone thought about that when they are planning these. 


Ms. Oldham asked where can she find the website addresses and search engines to find the public comments from the residents regarding the general plan.  I went on the survey; that was pretty cute.  If anybody here has been on that general plan survey, it has nothing to do with the general planning for Wittmann, Circle City and Morristown


Chairman Truitt mentioned that the commissioners do have four pages of questions that were asked at the community meeting.  He stated that the responses from the City staff are valuable to the residents.  He suggested finding two methods of getting that information out to the residents.  One method would be to have the information printed and available for residents to pick up at the next Commission meeting.  The other method would be to have the information on the website. 


Ms. Oldham commented that they do have a resident who is willing to bring a tape recorder to each meeting so that all the questions are addressed and put on the comment sheets.  


Patrick Leadabrand, Wittmann resident, stated that he has 350 feet that borders the BNSF project.  So obviously it is touchy to me.  Our way of life is more than likely going to be severely impacted by this project.  He said that he does not think a project of this magnitude should be allowed by a blanket annexation.  He thinks a detailed plan should be set forth before an annexation like this should even be talked about.  He said that he does not know what the impact is.  He hears that the switching yard is going to be closer to Grand Avenue.  Do not know if it is a band aid to calm the people that would be impacted by this particular situation?  Would like to see something that would ease us to ensure they will not have trains in their backyard.  He said that he was at 19th Avenue and McDowell today; does not want something like that in his backyard.  He stated that he has paid good money for his property; not a Surprise resident so I do not have a say in this. That kind of burns.  Water is another big issue; wells are running dry throughout the valley.  What is going to happen to my water supply?


Renee Simpson, Wittmann resident, mentioned that she has questions that she is not getting answers to.  She is concerned about BNSF coming in behind her property.   She said that she also has 40 acres directly behind her that they are trying to rezone for employment which she guesses would work for BNSF trying to become industrial.  This butts right up to her property where she has horses and livestock.  She said that she does not understand why they cannot have a say in what is going to be in their backyard.  When she purchased six/seven years ago, it was her understanding that this was going to be rural.  She said that those who have already purchased and built their livelihood should have a say.  She said she is not getting answers as far as the water, resources, lighting.  All we are told is trust us.  She stated that she does not feel she can trust anybody until she can see something concrete. 


Chairman Truitt emphasized that the intent of this meeting is for the residents to voice their concerns and ask questions.  Regardless of whether someone lives in Surprise or one of the surrounding areas, potential decisions that will be made by the Commission do impact residents.  We do want to hear what the residents say; we are listening; and some of the issues will be addressed at our next meeting. 


Director Chesney clarified that the general plan process is not zoning or site development.  This is simply changing the overall pattern of land use.  There will be other times to discuss how this happens and the impacts to adjacent owners.   


Cinnamon Swayzee, Wittmann resident, stressed that she has only lived in her house for nine months; however; this was not disclosed when she bought her home.  She said that she is emotional about this.  She has asthmatic children that she moved out there for.  The comments on your website I found much easier than other people.  She said that she knows three letters of comments that were not posted on the website.  She stated that she feels that is a huge lack of response for the City of Surprise.  Feels the city is not doing their due diligence.  In one of the meetings, we asked for reports from the railroad about how the railroad affected other areas where they had built this station house.  They were told those were not for public record.  We want to know why it is not for public record.  Yes, it is their own in-house; however, she is requesting from the City of Surprise to find out this information.  Know what the theft rates are going to be.  Look into the people you are bringing in. Yes, they are bringing in their own security.  Who is monitoring their security?  The graffiti; the gangs, the transients; that all comes aboard with this.  Have you driven down Grand Avenue?  None of that is a pip; Glendale, Peoria, pallets and pallets   What happens when their buildings get filled?  You can’t control them.  They are more powerful, from what I am told, then the city of Surprise.  Are you going to be able to control them?


Byron Gibbs, Wittmann resident, commented that he also has concerns about the impact BNSF will have on the area.  He said that he moved out there for one reason only; peace and quite.  He mentioned that he spent 30 years in law enforcement; 27 years in Phoenix.  He said that he knows what goes on in railroad yards; has investigated lots of crimes in railroad yards; he knows the types of people that come into railroad yards looking to commit crimes.  Unless you can assure the residents in our area that there is going to be a buffer zone between the industrial area that BNSF is proposing, we will fight this as much as we can.  There is no way you can bring BNSF in there and not cause severe degradation to the surrounding property values.  That is just the way it is.   That is going to impact our way of life.  The reason I moved out there is for peace and quite; I do not want to hear trains.


Chairman Truitt asked that the buffer zone be addressed.




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.


No request was made to call for an executive session.






Hearing no further business, Chairman Truitt adjourned the regular Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at  6:50   p.m.




Assistant City Attorney Jim Gruber, Assistant Fire Chief Clint Mills, Traffic Engineer Tracy Eberlein, City Planner Janice See, City Planner Vineetha Kartha, City Planner David Neal, City Planner  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


 Lyn Truitt, Chairman

 Planning and Zoning Commission