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7:05 PM Sun, Sept. 23rd

Chino council rejects disputed rezoning

CHINO VALLEY – Town Council members followed the advice of Planning and Zoning commissioners and voted to rework a controversial application to rezone about 3,800 acres along Perkinsville Road for commercial and industrial use.

"We're just fine with it," Marge Perkins said about the council's decision.

The Town Council met in a special meeting Thursday to consider the proposed commercial zoning after Planning and Zoning met Tuesday.

Council members came to conclusions similar to those of the planning group and voted to send it back to staff for more work.

Mayor Dan Main agreed that the town should "slow down, scale down, plan and come back." He said instead of handling it as a "straight rezoning," the town and Perkins family members might want to "go for a development agreement."

Council Member Joel Baker agreed with several town residents that the community should consider the new general plan first and then talk about the proposed commercial rezoning along Perkinsville Road. He suggested "coming up with a compromise position so we don't have division in our community."

Karen Fann agreed with critics who said the proposed rezoning of about 3,800 acres of residential property for commercial use is "too much, too quickly."

But several greenhouse growers are looking at Chino Valley as possible locations for their businesses, she said. The Perkinsville area would be ideal for those businesses that probably shouldn't locate on the Highway 89 retail corridor.

She suggested "looking at a smaller portion of land that will meet some of those needs" after the 2003 general plan wins community approval.

Virginia Reid said that "people moving in here have to have a place to work," but agreed that the plan needs further study.

Jim Bunker said he was "sure that the town and the Perkins family can work out a compromise" and agreed with the planning and zoning position that the proposed rezoning should go back to staff for further planning.

"We do need more commercial businesses here for a tax base for this community," Pat Purdin said. But she expressed concern that the town has not adopted the 2003 general plan and that there is no master development plan for the proposed commercial area along Perkinsville Road.

Many of the same residents who spoke in opposition of the plan on Tuesday repeated their comments Thursday, calling the proposed rezoning excessive, premature, ill planned and too rushed.

Residents were critical be-cause the town does not have the water and sewer systems yet to serve a commercial district and because town officials had not answered questions about the rezoning.

One opponent said, "the town still has much to consider" – such as developing ordinances for non-polluting industries.

Several residents suggested developing commercial property along Highway 89 first. About 970 acres along the highway still are zoned for split use, but eventually that acreage will be commercially zoned, said Planning and Building Director Sue Anderson.

Another resident asked the council for clarification about establishing an airstrip if the town zones part of the property for industrial use.

Yes, Fann said, someone could develop an airstrip if the town approves industrial zoning.

Debbie Meadows, oldest daughter of Tom and Marge Perkins, said the family is seeking commercial zoning "because there's not much commercial property here." She said the rezoning could make prices for commercial property on Highway 89 more competitive.

"But we're ranchers. We want to do that as long as we can."

Marge Perkins read a letter that she said was in response to some of the comments she listened to about the proposed commercial rezoning.

"We have a ranch," she said. "In the middle of our 'pristine land,' our rural acreage, down M.A. Perkins Trail, and other areas bordering the Perkins Ranch, some very nice people have bought land. And, when they did, surely they did not think or expect us to forever keep this land open space just for them. That is something no one can expect when they buy any acreage, unless there was some agreement in place prior to when they bought it."

She explained some of the history of the Perkins family in Chino Valley and said: "Our love for Chino Valley runs long and deep. When we annexed into the town we felt a desire to help the town grow.

"We annexed our land into the town of Chino Valley to benefit the future of Chino Valley, its people and their children – because Chino Valley is our home, too."