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4:01 PM Wed, Sept. 19th

Group will oversee Prescott's new zoning codes, subdivision regs

PRESCOTT – Three new members have joined the ranks of the committee that will oversee the rewrite of Prescott's zoning codes and subdivision regulations.

At the voting session of the Prescott Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday, Chairman Jim Zant announced his choices for the committee: commissioners Tom Menser, Len Scamardo and Richard Rosa.

The three planning and zoning commissioners will join three Prescott City Councilmen – Robert Behnke, Tom Reilly and Steve Blair – who the council chose last week to serve on the committee.

The committee will consist of seven members. Still to join the group is one member from the Board of Adjustment.

Community Development Director Tom Guice pointed out that the committee would act as the technical advisory committee for the consultant that the city recently hired to do the code rewrite.

The consultant, Duncan and Associates of Austin, Texas, will begin the task in mid-January, Guice said. City officials expect the job to take "upwards of 18 months," he added.

During that time, the committee likely will meet at least 10 times, and the members will bring back reports to their respective boards on the progress of the project.

City residents have maintained for years that Prescott is due for a rewrite of its zoning codes. Much of the city's code dates back to the early 1950s.

In making his choices, Zant said he was "looking for people with experience and background" in dealing with city codes. Also, he said, he wanted to appoint commissioners who had "centrist views and weren't either extremely right-wing or left-wing."

That way, said Zant, the code rewrite should turn out to be neither "overly restrictive nor underly restrictive."

All three of the commissioners Zant chose are "into sensible, common sense regulations," he said.

Other items on the Planning and Zoning agenda included:

MATCO plans postponed

The commission agreed to postpone continued discussion of the requested rezoning for property north and south of Sierry Peaks Drive and west of Downer Trail until its Jan. 25 meeting.

The postponement came at the request of the applicant, the MATCO company.

The company is requesting a rezoning of residential land to business uses to allow for a world headquarters for the oil exploration company. The project consists of about 130 acres in the Sierry Peaks area in west Prescott.

In November, the Planning and Zoning Commission heard a presentation from MATCO officials about their plans for 300,000 square feet of office building and helipad on the land.

A number of questions arose at that meeting, and the commissioners advised the company to have another area meeting with residents. That meeting took place in early December, and more questions came up at that time.

After this week's meeting, Guice said MATCO officials requested the continuance of the rezoning request to give them time to get more specific answers to the questions that came up.

When the matter goes back to the commission in January, it likely will include a proposed change to the city's general plan. The general plan and map would have to undergo a change to allow for business use in the residential area, Guice said.

A change in the city's general plan requires two public hearings, Guice added.

Annexation requires rezoning

The Christian Fellowship/Potter's House continued its efforts to have 22 acres of land on Highway 89 annexed into city limits.

Earlier this year, the church got approval from the City Council to proceed with the annexation that would allow for a new church on about half of the land.

On Thursday, the commission considered the appropriate zoning for the portion of the land that the church will not use for its new building.

City Planner Steve Gaber pointed out that the land currently has R1L-18 zoning in the county. The comparable city zoning would be RA-18, he said, which would allow for homes with 18,000-square-foot lot sizes.

But the staff recommended that the city change the zoning to RA-35, which would require lot sizes of at least 35,000 square feet.

Regardless of the zoning, however, William Bronson from the Potter's House board of directors pointed out that the church has no intention of either developing the land or selling it until the city comes up with a plan for the airport area.

"We have no residential plans whatsoever for the land," Bronson said. "We will conform with the city's future plans for that area. This would just be a carryover of the current zoning."

The City Council emphasized during its earlier discussion of the annexation that the plans for the land should conform to the city's future plans for the airport area.