The Daily Courier Logo
Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
2:26 PM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Chino Valley looks at special zones for commercial greenhouses

Should Chino Valley have a specific zone for commercial greenhouses or should the town require a Conditional Use Permit to build one in town?

The Mayor's Economic Development Committee is leaning toward having a special zone for eco-tourism or intense agriculture, which would cover commercial greenhouses, pumpkin festivals, farmers markets, horse events, etc.

The Chino Valley Planning and Zoning Commission recommends a conditional use permit (CUP) for commercial greenhouses.

Councilwoman Linda Hatch said agri-tourism enterprises can result in lots of traffic. Mayor Jim Bunker said many greenhouses or other agribusinesses "become commercial enterprises, rather than just agriculture."

Ab Jackson, Chino Valley Area Chamber of Commerce CEO, said 10 Arizona State University students conducted a recent study of Chino Valley for their tourism class. Their conclusion was that Chino Valley should take advantage of its agriculture diversity and rural history to promote tourism. They also recommended establishing a year-round farmers market, he said.

Bunker said if the town allows commercial greenhouses on five-acre parcels it must come up with a way to make them fit in, in a residential area.

Pat Clingman, town development services director, reminded the committee's members that 10-15 years ago the Greenhouse Grower magazine ranked Chino Valley number one for climate suitable for greenhouses. Chino Valley currently has five operating commercial greenhouses inside its town limits.

Hines Horticulture, which has 2,000 square feet in greenhouses, ships plants all over the United States. It is one of five commercial greenhouses operating in Chino Valley that the town has grandfathered in, she said.

Hatch said the committee must determine what size a commercial greenhouse must be to be cost effective before it looks at determining what zones the town can locate it on.

One grower uses his commercial greenhouse as a flower garden. He takes one truck out a week. That causes no problem, but a lot of traffic from one could be a problem, Bunker said.

The planning commission's greenhouse amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) defines a commercial greenhouse as follows: "A greenhouse enterprise is a commercial enterprise that grows plants or parts of plants by the application of water to plants that reside within movable containers, raised or lined beds that are disconnected from the lands beneath them and not defined as irrigated lands as defined in Arizona revised statutes. A commercial greenhouse is considered a water intensive enterprise and requires a legally perfected water right that is supported by the Arizona Department of Water Resources."

As to whether the town should require a CUP, create a special zone, or create an overlay, Main said an overlay would be better than a CUP.

Jackson suggested having representatives of the current greenhouse operators at the committee's next meeting on May 4.

Committee member Jody Zito said Bonnie Plant Farm, which employs 50 people, is ready to build five more greenhouses at its current site. It supplies all the Wal-Mart and Home Depot stores in Arizona.

The Chino Valley operation's revenues have increased from $600,000 in 2003 to $5 million today, according to Zito.

Clingman urged the committee to invite a representative from each of the five operating commercial greenhouse operations in Chino Valley to its May 4 meeting to let the committee know what information should be in a new UDO amendment for greenhouses. Jackson asked that they also invite John Morgan, Yavapai College's dean of occupational technology at Career and Technical Education and the Chino Valley campus.

Bunker and the rest of the committee agreed.