10/17/2011 & 10/20/2011 Town Council Study Session & Meeting

Global Village Festival.

The Council approved an agreement with Marketing Ideals for marketing, public relations, and advertising of the Global Village Festival in an amount not to exceed $10k.

Council Member Petersen questioned why there was no agreement between the Town and Global Village Festival (GVF) that spells out how money is spent, and he stated that he wanted to ensure that taxpayers were not at risk in funding this event. He wanted to be sure that all special events are treated equally.

Community Services Director Jim Norman advised that since the group is not a 501(c)3, the Town holds funds that have been provided by GVF, and the Town handles the funds. It has been a verbal arrangement for several years. He further stated that GVF has provided the Town with $13,268 for the event, plus $30,000 carried over.

Vice Mayor Daniels stated that she would like to see something in writing that clarifies the arrangement between the Town and GVF, and an educational piece on how the money is raised.

Town Manager Patrick Banger advised that staff is working on compiling a list of all special events in which the Town is assisting in any way. Currently, some events are required to cover their entire costs, while others are subsidized with Town (tax dollar) assistance. The report will be provided to the Council so that there will be a uniform policy across the board so that all special events are treated equally and fairly.

GW: In the past, Global Village Festival has been provided with nearly $30,000 in Town staff time that is not reimbursed to the Town.

Council approved the contract with CS Construction in the amount of $1,099,268 for the street light replacement project.

This project allows the Town to replace 100 older lights with 70 watt new induction lights. Management Assistant Maruyama stated that it will reduce maintenance costs in the amount of $1.5 million over the next 10 years, which will directly reduce the General Fund expense. It will also reduce the cost of electricity. Funding for this project is from the federally funded Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.

Council approved a contract with Ayers Associates, Inc., in an amount not to exceed $99,998 for the Intersection & Circulation Improvement Master Plan.

Staff advised that intersections congest the most and produce the most emissions, which is why this master plan is important.

Council Members Petersen and Cooper questioned why this project wasn’t bid? Assistant Town Manager Ryall stated that, because this is a Professional Services contract, they are required by law to not even ask about fees. First, they look for the most qualified, then they negotiate scope.

GW: Stop right there. “Required by law to not ask about the fees.” I don’t know about you, but that one needs more study.

Staff advised that there are few vendors who can do this specialized type of work. Ayers is very familiar with the Sutheast valley and particularly Gilbert. Staff felt it appropriate to “direct select” Ayers due to the contractor’s expertise and familiarity with the project’s details. Ms. Ryall advised that staff saved time and money in direct selecting Ayers. Also, she stated that issuing a Request for Qualifications, in terms of price, would not have been an advantage.

Council Member Petersen voted against the contract, stating his concern that it’s important to follow the process to ensure that the best company is chosen.

Council Member Cooper stated that a discussion needs to take place at the Council level regarding when and under what circumstances the Request for Qualifications should be waived.

Change Order. Council approved increasing the contract amount by $18,727 to Dibble Engineering for additional design services for Higley/Baseline Intersection.

Council Member Petersen questioned why there was a need for additional work and why it wasn’t part of the original contract. He asked what could be done in the future to avoid this type of change order? Staff noted that most items within the change order could not have been foreseen. There was, however, one component relating to additional plan preparation for slurry sealing, etc., that was part of scoping the project that could have been foreseen.

Change Order. Council approved increasing contract amount by $110,674.77 with Sunland Asphalt for additional placement of ultra thin bonded wearing course & utility adjustment on residential streets.

Vice Mayor Daniels asked how this happened and how could it be avoided in the future?

Streets Manager Yardley said staff calculated the square yardage based on numbers used five or six years ago. The contractor discovered the discrepancy. Staff did the actual measurement and found the contractor was correct. Manager Yardley stated that since the project was bid out at a square foot price, the same contractor would be the lowest bidder. Vice Mayor Daniels pointed out that the difference in square yardage might have made a difference.

Request to Rezone a portion of Commercial Property on the NW Corner of Higley and Guadalupe from Community Commercial (CC) with a Planned Area Development overlay zoning district to a Community Commercial zoning district.

This was the most contentious issue of the evening. It lasted nearly two hours. I have to admit that at first, I would have voted to deny the application, but after studying the documents and reviewing one more time the video, I changed my opinion and would have voted in favor of the applicant. There is no doubt that this decision was very carefully thought through by each Council Member. It was a very difficult decision.

The Council vote was 3-3. Mayor Lewis, Vice Mayor Daniels, and Council Member Eddie Cook voted against the rezoning. Council Member Cooper recused himself due to conflict of interest.

TJ and JD’s Service Station wanted to rezone 1.93 acres next to their gas station/convenience store, and add a car wash to the west wall. The request for rezoning had been approved by the Planning Commission Hearing on 2/2/2011, with a 5-2 vote.

Town Staff supported approval, noting among other things that there would be potential additional sales tax revenue. Also, the rezoning would not be detrimental to public health, safety, and general welfare of the persons living or working in the surrounding area.

Vice Mayor Daniels read 29 names of people who were for the car wash but did not speak. (It should be noted that most of those people did not live in close proximity to the car wash.)

She also read another 6 names of residents who were against the car wash but did not speak.

Many of the neighbors in the adjoining community Tone Ranch Estates who did speak were emphatically against the car wash.

The attorney for TJ and JD’s Service Station (the Applicant), Mr. Jarvis, advised that, since February 2011, the applicant had met with neighbors to address their concerns, which included: Noise, light pollution, potential loss of property values, and chemicals used for the car wash. One of the concerns was that the car wash would be only 52 feet from the nearest homeowner’s property line. Of all the car washes in Gilbert, this one would be the closest.

To accommodate the neighbors, the applicant had agreed to make changes that would cost him about $150k, including building an 8’ wall next to the home closest to the car wash, as well as burying some features underground to meet noise abatement stipulations.

A professional noise analyst spoke, stating that because many features would be buried, the noise would be below that which is allowed normally. He called the proposed car wash the “Taj Mahal” of car washes, due to the many measures being taken by the applicant.

Six residents spoke out against the car wash, restating the concerns that the applicant had resolved. As the residents continued speaking out, the attorney for the applicant agreed to close the car wash at 6 pm in the winter, to reduce light pollution. He also agreed to add a solid roof and canopy to cover the entire prep area.

The sticking point centered on Ordinance 1197, passed in 1999, that had been crafted by property owners in Tone Ranch Estates which specified only 1 drive through at that corner. It specifically referenced “drive through restaurants.” Drive through restaurants frequently have long lines of customers, and they are open at night, creating light pollution.

In 1999, a car wash was not considered a drive through. A car wash could have been built at that corner and it would have been completely within the Ordinance. With the adoption of the Land Development Code in 2005, it was considered a drive-through.

The applicant sought his original approval for the gas station in 2006. It was always the owner’s intent to add the car wash at a later date, knowing it would require a rezoning process.

Vice Mayor Daniels argued that Ordinance 1197 should be honored. The LDC in 2005 changed the definition of a drive through. She was also concerned that the car wash would be only 52 feet from the nearest home owner’s property line.

Council Member Petersen stated that he supports individual property rights, and that an owner should be allowed to use his or her property as they wish, as long as it does not infringe on another’s right to use his or her property in their own way.

It was a 3-3 vote, so the rezoning did not pass, with Ben Cooper abstaining due to a conflict of interest.

Zoning Exception Approved by Council.

In another rezoning case, the owner of Meritage Homes requested that a General Plan amendment be made to change 88.8 acres of property at the SE corner of Lindsay and Williams Field Roads from Residential >1-2 Du/Acre land use classification to >2-3.5 DU/Acre land use.

This means that the owner wanted approval to allow 218 units on the parcel instead of 160.

One resident who lives directly north of the planned development spoke out against the project. She lives on horse property and the land in question had called for much larger lot sizes. (She thought the development change would be 288 homes, not 218.)

The Council voted in favor of the developer for several reasons: 1) Even though the project will have more homes, the lot sizes around the periphery will be large. 2) The developer will have an open space buffer between the road and the homes. 3) The developer will underground the Salt River Project ditch, which is currently a hazard.

Council approved month-to-month contract with Chamber to provide tourism services.

Town Manager Patrick Banger presented the Council with a plan of action for tourism and visitor center operation. It would include identifying past use of the 3% bed tax, researching other existing tourism models, and identifying key factors from current plans that support tourism. In December staff is planning on hiring a consultant to determine feasibility of a tourism bureau and how best to spend tourism dollars.

Staff will provide Regular updates to Council.

Town Manager Patrick Banger advised that there will be a Manager’s Update on the Town’s website starting 10/21/2011.

Council Member Eddie Cook advised that after the last Town Council Meeting where the Council unanimously approved Legislative District Opt 1, v8a, the Redistricting Commission ignored their request and issued their own version as indicated by their current draft map.

To read the Town of Gilbert’s full Minutes: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/minutes/default.cfm

To view video of Council Study Sessions and Meetings: http://gilbert.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=4