12/13/2010 & 12/16/2010 Town Council Study Session & Meeting

OPERATION WELCOME HOME CEREMONY.
This was the first ceremony of its kind in Gilbert occurring at 5:30 pm on 12/16/2010, as residents gathered in the rain to welcome Sergeant First Class James Hall and his family. He was escorted by the Arizona Patriot Guard Riders, who stayed for the 45-minute ceremony, providing the occasional, spontaneous “Ooh-rah!” The ceremony, led by Mayor John Lewis, was humbling, profound...and very moving. Many businesses and service organizations, ordinary citizens and Gilbert staff came together to make it so. It was clear that it was not just for Sergeant Hall, a very fine example of military honor, but it was also for many others who serve, and have served, honorably in the defense of our country. Jessica Thomas sang the National Anthem, without music, and her voice still rings in my memory true and pure.

THINK GREEN RENEWABLE ENERGY, LLC – PILOT PROGRAM.
In an effort to save energy costs, Town staff has been analyzing a proposal from Think Green Renewable as a pilot program which could possibly save the Town 30-40% on energy costs related to street lights. The program was discussed by Council in detail. There is no cost to the Town, per Staff. The pilot will run from December 2010 through March 2011. For more information go here: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/boards/staffreports/council/010-12-16-10sp.pdf
Council approved 5-1 (John Sentz dissenting and Ben Cooper absent)

GENERAL PLAN: CHANGE ZONING FROM COMMERCIAL TO RESIDENTIAL.
This concerns 21.2 acres of real property located at the SW corner of Recker and Baseline Roads. Attorney Goodwin explained that when first rezoned from residential to commercial, the stipulation with the developer was that right-of-way would be dedicated to the Town. This was some years ago, and although the developer wants to dedicate the property, he cannot obtain lender releases. Since the dedication of right-of-way is a condition of the original rezoning, the only legal remedy for the Town to acquire right-of-way at this point is to revert the zoning.

Jerry McBee spoke out against the rezoning, concerned that zoning this piece of property to residential will not be in the best interests of the Town.

Council voted to continue this discussion to the Council meeting of January 13, 2011.

HERITAGE DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT IN LIMBO.
Back in September 2007, before the economy began its downward spiral from which it has yet to recover, the Town entered into an agreement with Heritage Marketplace, LLC for the development of Town owned property at the NW corner of Gilbert Road and Vaughn Avenue. It was going to be great! Job creation, eateries, shopping. It would attract future employers, retail, office…. Construction was to begin no later than 12/31/2010. This won’t happen. The project developer is regrouping with a new joint venture partner, LGE, and asked for an extension of the contract.

The Council voted to extend the time limit to 1/31/2011 while Staff researches LGE.

There is another component to this project which concerns the Council’s approval, in years past, to build a 365-space parking structure adjacent to this property at a cost of $7.6 million. It was noted that the parking structure has already received design review approval and has bond funding allocated to it. The bonds for the parking structure have been sold. The Town is paying approximately 5% interest rate on the bonds and is earning an average of 1% on the bond money in the bank.

The Council requested a parking study to be completed by 1/31/2011 also.

(Can we park at the Greenbelt? Lots of empty spaces there. Or not.)

COUNCIL APPROVED STRATEGIC PLAN 2011-2016.
To view this document, go here: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/boards/staffreports/council/024-12-16-10sp.pdf