11/15/2010 & 11/18/2010 Town Council Meeting Summary

Tyler Hudgins (Treasurer, LD-22) and Victor Petersen (candidate for Town Council, Spring 2011) contributed to this post while I was out of state. I am sincerely grateful to both of them. This summary combines the 11/15 Study Session and 11/18 Council Meetings. There were two topics of particular interest.

Let There Be Solar Power
After previous meetings, discussions, questions, presentations, and much consideration (because this type of an arrangement hadn’t been done before), on November 18, the Council unanimously voted to approve the construction of a new solar power facility at the Neely Wastewater Reclamation Plant near Guadalupe and Cooper roads. The project is estimated to cost $10 million dollars, but at zero cost to the taxpayers. California-based SPG Solar will pay for 40% of the projected cost, while APS will cover the latter 60%. Both SPG Solar and Gilbert have great incentive for the success of this project. The Town will pay significantly less for 46% of its total electricity, at last year’s rate of 9 cents, locked in for 20 years, through a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement).
For background, refer to posts 10/04/2010, 10/18/21010, and 10/21/2010.

At an earlier council meeting, Council member Jenn Daniels had voiced concerns that SPG wasn’t an Arizona based company. She was assured that the company intends to hire locally, to fill 20-40 jobs for the operation of the facility. Also, the company will partner with Arizona based construction, manufacturing, and financial institutions.

The project is expected to save the town $2 million dollars within the 20 year agreement. That number can fluctuate based upon whether APS rates go up or down.

I believe that all around this project will be a positive step forward for the Town. Any strides made toward local economic development through private means, which are not funded directly by the taxpayers, is a win. My hope is that the Town will continue looking for innovative ways to create partnerships with other municipalities and the private sector to relieve the budget.

In any case, it’s a great plan. Let’s make sure it’s executed to the ‘T’.

Tyler A. Hudgins
Treasurer, LD-22

General Plan Amendment and Zoning Change of 26.6 acres located at the SE corner of 164th Street and Cloud Rd.
This public hearing item drew about 65 Gilbert citizens opposing this General Plan amendment and Zoning change. Fifty people submitted written requests opposing the change, and about 15 people spoke out against it. The motion carried anyway, 4-3, with Vice Mayor Presmyk, and Council members Daniels, Cooper and Sentz approving; and Mayor Lewis, and Council members Abbott and Crozier voting against it.

Currently, the property is classified R>1-2 DU/acre. The applicant wants it to be R2-3.5 DU/acre. The change would create smaller lot sizes and more density. Homeowners surrounding the property expressed concerns about: 1) higher traffic, 2) lower property values, 3) higher density, and 4) a change in the character of the Santan area.

Town Staff and the Planning Commission recommended approval. The attorney who spoke on behalf of the applicant (owner of the property) advised that the change still meets and exceeds the requirements of the General Plan and the Santan character, and assured the Council that it will make an outstanding development.

Council Member Daniels noted that many accommodations have been made and compromises sought, in order to make the project viable. This is an infill piece of property, she noted, not a master-planned community. Council Member Sentz stated that the services citizens need cannot be supported on such low density, and he, too, supported the change. Council member Cooper pointed out that the density change is not dramatic, and is similar to changes throughout Town. Mayor Lewis felt that the long-term benefit should be considered.

The integrity of the General Plan is important and should be honored, however the point of the General Plan is to direct growth but not stop it. When there is something planned that the private market cannot bear, it is time to consider the private market’s instruction on what works. In this case, the private market is suggesting a change that is very minor and will better insure that this difficult in-fill piece doesn’t remain undeveloped for the indefinite future.

Victor Petersen
Candidate for Town Council