CG News

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NEWS ARCHIVE

This archived page is for general Casa Grande city government and other city reporting by Harold Kitching, continuing what he did at the Casa Grande Dispatch for more than 11 years before he resigned after being told that kind of work was no longer wanted.


Newer items are posted under NEWS


Dunkin' Donuts before P&Z Commission

(Posted May 1, 2016)



The staff report is HERE


The company press information kit is HERE


The menu is HERE



The only action item before the Planning and Zoning Commission during Thursday night’s meeting will be consideration of a Dunkin’ Donuts at 1306 E. Florence Blvd.

The 1,985-square-feet building, with a 247-square-feet patio on the south side, will be between Great Western Bank and JB’s restaurant, east of Colorado Street.

There will be a drive through lane that wraps around the northwest side of the building.

As part of the requested action, that part of the Casa Grande Shopping Center will have to be replatted to make a separate plat for Dunkin’ Donuts of just over a third of an acre.

The staff report says the operation is projected to cause 1,802 vehicle trips per day, with 222 in the morning peak hours and 95 during the afternoon and evening.

According the the company website, “Dunkin' Donuts is the world's leading baked goods and coffee chain, serving more than three million customers per day. Dunkin' Donuts sells 52 varieties of donuts and more than a dozen coffee beverages as well as an array of bagels, breakfast sandwiches and other baked goods.”


I-10 closure in north Casa Grande on Sunday

(Posted April 29, 2016)


The Arizona Department of Transportation issued this announcement:


Motorists using Interstate 10 in north Casa Grande between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. Sunday, May 1, should plan for a closure and detour followed by lane restrictions while the Arizona Department of Public Safety investigates a crash that occurred this week.

The area involved is between State Route 387 (Pinal Avenue) and McCartney Road.

A closure of I-10 in both directions is expected to occur around 5 a.m. The length of the closure will depend on how long it takes state troopers to take measurements in the crash scene.

During the closure, eastbound traffic can take Pinal Avenue south to McCartney Road or Florence Boulevard  and head east back to I-10. Westbound traffic can take Florence or McCartney west and then Pinal north back to I-10. 

After measurements are complete, one lane will reopen in each direction until the DPS investigation is complete.


Three public sessions on Casa Grande budget

(Posted April 29, 2016)


Casa Grande residents have three opportunities to learn about the city’s proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The proposed budget has not yet been made public.

The public meetings are:

• City Council budget study session (open to public)

May 4 at 9 a.m.

Public Safety Facility

373 E. Val Vista Blvd.

• City Council meeting/budget public hearing

June 6 at 7 p.m. 

council chambers at City Hall 

510 E. Florence Blvd.

• City Council meeting/budget public hearing

June 20 at 7 p.m. 

council chambers at City Hall

510 E. Florence Blvd.

“As part of the budget process,” the announcement said, “the City Council reviews changes to the city's consolidated fee schedule, which is a list of fees charged for certain services. The City Council also establishes property tax rates on a yearly basis. 

“For questions or additional information about the budget process, contact the Finance Department at 421-8600 or at http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/finance/.”


City wants to hike sewer, water company rates

(Posted April 28, 2016)


The city sewer rate increase chart and report are HERE


The Copper Mountain Ranch water increase chart and report are HERE


One of the items on Monday night’s City Council agenda is a notice that Casa Grande intends to raise its monthly rates for sewer service and for its small Copper Mountain Ranch Water Co. on the northwest side of town (not to be confused with privately-operated Arizona Water Co., which serves most of the city).


City sewer

The proposed single-family residential sewer increase is $5 monthly, going from $32.45 to $37.45.

The rate increase chart shows projected increases through 2021, ending at $43.45 monthly.

Similar increases are proposed for businesses, industry and multifamily housing.

City trash service is not at this time included in the increases.

Monday night’s action is to approve publishing a notice of intent for sewer and water increases. A public hearing is scheduled for the June 6 council meeting.

“Following the public hearing the council will be asked to adopt fee increases for both the water and wastewater systems,” the staff report says. “Council has the ability to adopt fees as presented in the written report or at any level less than presented but may not adopt fees higher than those presented.”



Copper Mountain Water

NOTE AGAIN: This is the city-owned Copper Mountain Ranch Water Co. It is not Arizona Water Co., a private business that serves most of Casa Grande.

The proposed rate increase for all basic accounts is $2.04 monthly, going from $20.35 to $22.39. 

Increases are also projected through 2021, ending at $32.77 monthly.

Another agenda item Monday is for spending $206,533 for a nitrate removal system for the company water. The company now exceeds permitted levels.

The nitrate staff report is HERE.


May 2 City Council regular meeting agenda
  (clicking on an item brings up staff reports, documents when available)
May 2 City Council study session agenda

A chance to point out dangerous traffic areas

(Posted April 28, 2016)


The full press release, with explanations, is HERE


Sun Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization has a new online tool where members of the public can identify areas where they feel unsafe walking, biking and/or driving, pinning them on an interactive map. 

It is at scmpo.mysocialpinpoint.com/scmpo

“We are asking you to complete as many pins as you think necessary to make your points about dangerous locations for transportation,” the announcement said.


Rains formally named as next CG city manager

(Posted April 18, 2016)



Deputy City Manager Larry Rains has been formally named Casa Grande’s next city manager.

The vote during Monday night’s City Council meeting was unanimous.

His appointment will be effective Aug. 7, the day present City Manager Jim Thompson has announced he is retiring.

Mayor Bob Jackson said that date could be moved up if Thompson decides to leave earlier.

Prior to the vote, Jackson said, “A couple of months ago, Jim tendered his retirement to us and we’ve kind of gone down this road. He authorized me to sit down and work out an agreement with Larry and I think what we’ve done is provided you with what he feels is fair and certainly I feel is fair, as well.”

According to the staff report accompanying the agenda item, Rains’ yearly salary will be at step 10 of the city manager pay scale, or $178,662.43. That scale runs from $145,475 to $200,440 annually.

Rains would also receive, in addition to the standard city benefits, an automobile allowance, cell phone allowance, and city-paid dependent insurance and life insurance, the staff report adds.

“I will say that the appointment of Larry as the city manager, he certainly is capable and I think is the best candidate we would have found to begin with, Jackson said. “Also, it really provides a good transition for the city.

“So with that, it’s my recommendation that we appoint Mr. Rains as the city manager.”

After the vote, Rains told the council, “First of all, I truly thank you for this appointment. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the opportunity of being the city manager for the city of Casa Grande. Your vote tonight certainly shows a confidence and I appreciate it.

“I’ve had a lot of folks ask me throughout the last couple of weeks about this position, and quite frankly the outpouring of support from many of the folks sitting in this audience and the community has just been overwhelming and certainly caused me to reflect and it just humbles me, quite frankly.”

Rains pointed out that it was 14 years ago in May that he came to Casa Grande as city finance director.

“A couple of things that I think are just impactful and one of the reasons why I looked at Casa Grande to come here 14 years ago and why I’m so excited about this opportunity today is, number one, Casa Grande as an organization and community has such a rich leadership fabric and most communities that those of us in this profession move to from community to community can’t say that,” he said.

“The fact that the city of Casa Grande serves as an economic hub to western Pinal County, the fact that things are very, very stable here, comparatively, to pretty much the rest of the nation, the fact that we have such a fine community and the folks that are willing to really work for the betterment of this community have all been motivating factors for me to really put my roots here in Casa Grande and calls this place home.”

Rains said he looks forward to “working through the transition with Jim. I mean, obviously, he’s had a fantastic career here and as he concludes his tenure my goals these next couple of months will be to make this transition as seamless as possible.

“I also look forward to working with each of you (the council) individually and collectively, with our experienced management staff and the 450-plus employees that work here daily to make Casa Grande a better place. I’m excited about working with everybody and getting on that common vision and moving forward.

“Thanks to all the folks that have been supportive over these last couple of weeks and my family and friends who have supported me for 27 years in this government endeavor.”

Jackson said, “Thank you, Larry. And thank you, Jim, for picking somebody as your deputy that could step into the job when you retired.”

Thompson, who came to the city in 2004, announced his retirement in an employee newsletter in February. The resignation date was accepted during the March 7 City Council meeting, beginning the process of finding a replacement.

“Part of this process included engaging in a discussion with Larry Rains, the current deputy city manager, who has served in that role since 2008,” the staff report accompanying the agenda item said. “After the interview process, the council instructed the mayor and staff to attempt to reach an agreement with Rains to serve as the city's next city manager.”

Rains came to Casa Grande as finance director, then was appointed deputy manager.

“Rains possesses more than 25 years of experience in the public sector, including service as the finance director for the cities of Wilcox, Clifton, and Eloy,” the staff report says. “He also previously served as the city manager for the city of Wilcox for eight years. 

“For the last 14 years, Rains has been with the city of Casa Grande where he has provided exemplary service as the city's finance director and deputy city manager.

“The appointment of Mr. Rains will provide the city with a capable leader who is already familiar with the community as well as has detailed knowledge concerning the operations of and issues facing the city. 

“His appointment should provide for a smooth transition from Thompson’s retirement to Rains’ assumption of the city manager position.”


South area roads getting dust control treatment

(Posted April 18, 2016)


Terms of the agreement are HERE



Final approval was given by the City Council during Monday night’s meeting to treating dust on parts of Arica and Isom Roads in the south area of the city near Casa Grande Mountain.

The treatment is known as asphalt rock dust palliative, or ARDP.

Say what?

In an explanatory email to CG News, Public Works Director Kevin Louis said, “The ARDP, or asphalt rock dust palliative, is a process of applying an asphalt emulsion to a prepared unpaved surface followed with the placement of a rock chip layer that is then rolled into place.  

A typical project will include two layers of the process. It is very similar to a chip seal process. Most of the rural county roads that are paved are an ARDP treatment.  

“A great product for low traffic area of between 100 and 200 vehicle trips per day.  Any more traffic than that would require a more robust surface treatment like a chip seal or thin asphalt type pavement.”

The staff report for the agenda item says, “This project will reduce dust, reduce long term maintenance costs, and provide a connection to existing pavement.”

During the April 4 council meeting that saw initial approval to the agreement with Pinal County to share the costs, Louis said a total of 2.1 miles of ARDP will put laid down on .8 miles of Arica Road from Trekell to Isom roads, .8 miles of Isom from Arica to Peart roads and half a mile of Arica from Lamb Road to the trailhead at Headline, basically the southeast side of CG Mountain.

“Under this agreement, the city will pay Pinal County for its proportionate costs related to the amount of roadway area within each of our jurisdictions,” Louis said.

“Currently the city, county each share half of the right of way of Arica from Trekell to Isom and the city has the entire right of way on Isom. The county has the entire right of way on Arica from Lamb to Hazeldine.” 

The total cost is $210,000, with the county paying $65,000 and the rest picked up by the city.

“There will be an effort needed to prepare these roads for the surface treatment,” Louis said. “The plan is to have the city crews do all the prep work with the equipment and manpower and Pinal County will provide all the materials.

“We’ve done several projects with Pinal County in a similar manner and have found it to be a very successful partnership, and we look forward to this one being just as successful.

“I want to point out that this is one of our heavily dirt roads in our system and it does provide access to our public city shooting range, as well as the trap club out there.”

No start date for the work was given.


Holiday Inn food permit temporarily suspended

UPDATE:  SUPENSION LIFTED


(Posted April 18, 2016)


Pinal County issued this update this afternoon:


After working with staff at the Holiday Inn Casa Grande the Pinal County Public Health Services District  has lifted the suspension of food service at the establishment.

Pinal County staff temporarily suspended the food service permit while complaints concerning illnesses potentially linked to the Holiday Inn were investigated. Once it was determined that the risk factors contributing to food-borne illness were eliminated the permit was reinstated.

PCPHSD will continue to closely monitor the food related activities of the Holiday Inn Casa Grande for the next 30 days and offer technical support as necessary. 

Anyone with information or who may be experiencing foodborne illness symptoms after recently consuming food at the Holiday Inn Casa Grande is encouraged to contact the Pinal County Public Health District hotline at (520) 866-4460.


(Posted April 18, 2016)


Pinal County issued this announcement today: 


Pinal County Public Health Services District is temporarily suspending the food establishment permit of the Holiday Inn Casa Grande, following multiple reports of foodborne illnesses after consuming food at the facility.

Tom Schryer, director of public health, stated, "It is prudent to protect the public's safety, and therefore food service should be suspended during an investigation into the cause of the foodborne illnesses."

PCPHSD will monitor the food related activities of the Holiday Inn Casa Grande for the next 30 days and provide technical assistance to the operators to ensure that all food safety requirements are met before the facility returns to full service.

Health officials anticipate more cases of illness to arise as their investigation continues. After exposure to contaminated food, symptoms may include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramping 12 to 72 hours after being exposed, lasting 4 to 7 days in most cases.

Anyone with information or who may be experiencing foodborne illness symptoms after recently consuming food at the Holiday Inn Casa Grande is encouraged to contact the Pinal County Public Health District hotline at (520) 866-4460.


Rains will be next Casa Grande city manager

(Posted April 15, 2015)


Thompson’s announcement is HERE


Larry Rains, now Casa Grande’s deputy city manager, is expected to be appointed as the next city manager Monday night, taking over from Jim Thompson when the latter leaves in August.

Thompson, who came to the city in 2004, announced his retirement in an employee newsletter in February.

“At the March 7 meeting, the mayor and City Council accepted Thompson's resignation and began the process for hiring the next city manager,” the staff report accompanying the agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting.

“Part of this process included engaging in a discussion with Larry Rains, the current deputy city manager, who has served in that role since 2008. After the interview process, the council instructed the mayor and staff to attempt to reach an agreement with Rains to serve as the city's next city manager.”

Rains came to Casa Grande as finance director, then was appointed deputy manager.

“Rains possesses more than 25 years of experience in the public sector, including service as the finance director for the cities of Wilcox, Clifton, and Eloy,” the staff report says. He also previously served as the city manager for the city of Wilcox for eight years. 

“For the last 14 years, Rains has been with the city of Casa Grande where he has provided exemplary service as the city's finance director and deputy city manager.

“The appointment of Mr. Rains will provide the city with a capable leader who is already familiar with the community as well as has detailed knowledge concerning the operations of and issues facing the city. 

“His appointment should provide for a smooth transition from Thompson’s retirement to Rains’ assumption of the city manager position.”

Rains would take over as city manager “on the earlier of Aug. 7 (Thompson’s announced retirement date) or the departure of Jim Thompson, whichever comes first,” the staff report says.

According to the report, Rains’ yearly salary would be at step 10 of the city manager pay scale, or $178,662.43.

That scale runs from $145,475 to $200,440 annually.

“Rains would also receive, in addition to the standard benefits of the city, an automobile allowance, cell phone allowance, and city-paid dependent insurance and life insurance,” the staff report says.


April 18 City Council agenda
     clicking on an agenda item brings up staff report and documents, if available
April 18 City Council study session agenda

Initial OK for First Street sidewalks reconstruction

(Posted April 6, 2016)


The list of bidders is HERE



Initial approval has been given by the City Council to a contract to rebuild the high sidewalks along First Street between North Sacaton and North Florence streets.

The $272,898 contract with D.W.A. Construction of Casa Grande is expected to get final approval during the next council meeting. It will be funded from present and future Community Development Block Grant money.

According to the staff report accompanying Monday night’s meeting agenda item, “The project includes the removal and replacement of existing sidewalks and adjacent curb and gutter sections. There are additional related and appurtenant work associated with the project, such as street and driveway pavement removal abutting the new sidewalk and curb and gutter sections, construction of short curb walls at the back edge of the sidewalk in certain locations, minor storm drainage improvements and fixture adjustment work.”

The work is also to bring the stretch of street into compliance with Americans with Disability Act requirements.

“This segment of street has undesirably high curbs along much of its length ranging up to 18 inches above the adjacent street gutter line,” the staff report says. “The intent is to generally improve the overall streetscape, reduce the curb heights where possible and to create an ADA compliant sidewalk on each side of the street.”

The contract will be for the sidewalks work, not for stormwater flow changes. The city has a separate request for a stormwater master plan in the downtown area.

(Scroll down page for storm flooding story)

As Public Works Director Kevin Louis explained to the council, “This segment of the street has undesirably high curbs along much of the length and is probably, as we looked at sidewalks in the downtown area, one of our most challenging streets.

“We went through the process of having these improvements designed and it’s to meet the ADA requirements. 

“Again, this is one of our most challenging blocks in the downtown area.

“I know you can go to any block down there and identify issues with our sidewalk facilities, but it is a typical  condition that you’ll find in such a historic area of town.”

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons asked, “Is there any other area that has those sidewalks, or is it just that little stretch?”

Louis replied, “Like I mentioned, you can look in the downtown area and find a lot of areas that need attention.”

Funds are limited, Louis said, but “when we do make permanent improvements in the downtown we want them to mirror what we’ve done on Main Street, on Sacaton during Phase I and then on Florence Street and Second Street on Phase II.

“This is an interim solution to some issues we’ve had with pedestrian safety. We have experienced some trip and falls in that area. It’s also our first step at trying to identify a citywide ADA compliance process. We’ll be going through this effort all throughout town.”

In the future, First Street will also pay a major role in moving stormwater from the flooding prone downtown area.

“First Street has been identified as a preliminary way for most of our drainage when we do design a drainage solution for the downtown,” Louis said. “It is going to be one of the roads that we use that we transfer that stormwater through the downtown.

“This project is just focused on sidewalks and it is not pavement improvements at this time, because of that future construction.”

Councilman Karl Montoya asked if the sidewalks work will have any affect on the drainage issues.

“Really, it’s not going to be changing any of the drainage conditions,” Louis replied. “The street flooding that occurs today will continue to occur. We’re not solving any of those drainage issues.

“However, none of the improvements we anticipate will any impact on the surrounding area. We may still have sections of sidewalk if we lower it that may be impacted during those high flow periods, which is not unusual for that downtown area, but we shouldn’t see any impact to the surrounding properties.”

Montoya said he hopes that no one will be flooded out or hampered by high water because of the sidewalks work.

“That is our plan,” Louis replied.


Downtown flood control planning help sought

(Posted March 20, 2016)


The map of the project area is HERE


A summary of work to be done is HERE



Casa Grande is looking for a company to do a stormwater drainage master plan, drainage feasibility study and concept reports for the final phase of the downtown streets reconstruction project.

“The roadway infrastructure for Casa Grande’s historic downtown needs reconstruction, along with other infrastructure improvements,” the request for qualifications says. 

“The area experiences repeated stormwater flooding during and after heavy rains. This impacts local business and results in partial or complete road closure for cleaning and maintenance purposes.”

Phase I of the project was completed around 2007, involving reconstruction of Main Street from Casa Grande Avenue to Sacaton Street. 

“Phase I also involved costly stormwater drainage infrastructure,” the request says. “However, this area still receives stormwater flooding complaints during heavy rainfalls and requires maintenance.”

The originally proposed Phase II involved the reconstruction of First and Second streets, along with proposed stormwater drainage infrastructure. 

“Stormwater infrastructure was deemed expensive with least benefits after lessons learned from Phase I construction,” the request continues. 

“A substantial portion of phase II was removed from original Phase II plan and was completed in 2012. The revised Phase II involved reconstruction of Second Street from Casa Grande Avenue to Pinal Avenue and mill and overlay of Florence Street only, with no provisions of stormwater drainage infrastructure. The remaining portion of original design was deferred to the future.

“The city would like to proceed with the final phase of downtown reconstruction. The major element besides paving of the final phase of reconstruction is stormwater drainage.”


City seeking LED-illuminated street signs

(Posted March 14, 2016)


Sign information is HERE


Casa Grande is seeking bids to provide LED illuminated street signs at major intersections.

The work would be under a one-year contract, with an option to renew for two more years.

The work includes “fabrication, supply, repair, and maintenance services on an on-call, as-needed, and where-needed basis. 

“The intent of the contract is to provide the following services, materials, and equipment:

• “Fabricate and install new LED illuminated street name signs.

• “Fabricate and replace existing sign faces.

• “Maintenance and repair of illuminated street name signs mounted on signal poles.

“The sign design shall include:

• “Street name.

• “Block number with direction.

• “City of Casa Grande logo.”

Bids are due by March 29, with tentative City Council approval in early May.


Local I-10 widening on ADOT suggested list

(Posted March 14, 2016)


Widening of Interstate 10 from State Route 87 to Picacho Peak and from Early Road to Interstate 8 are on the Arizona Department of Transportation’s suggested list for quicker timelines.

The State Route 347 railroad overpass in Maricopa city is also on the list. 

Beginning next week, ADOT said in a press release, Arizonans will be able to provide input on the annual update of projects proposed to move forward in the next five years and how much local, state and federal funding should go toward those projects.

“In its Tentative Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program for 2017-2021,” the press release said, “ADOT was able to recommend a few more projects for Greater Arizona because of additional funding through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, as well as a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. These projects otherwise would have remained in ADOT’s Development Program for projects deemed six to 10 years out.”

For the Maricopa overpass, ADOT said, “the SR 347 project received a $15 million TIGER grant and a $15 million local contribution to add to ADOT’s $19 million commitment.”

The 2017-2021 tentative program will be available for public review and comment at azdot.gov/fiveyearplan, where a “how to read it” guide is available. Public feedback may be made through Survey Monkey at surveymonkey.com/r/CJY36HY, email at [email protected] and by calling 1-855-712-8530. The comment period ends at 5 p.m. on May 30.

ADOT said that after the public comment period, which includes public hearings in Oro Valley (March 18), Phoenix (April 15) and Flagstaff (May 20), the State Transportation Board will make its final decision in June about what will be in the updated Five-Year Program.


Final OK for buy land for new Peart Trailhead

(Posted March 12, 2016)



The trails master plan is HERE



The City Council has given final approval to buying 40 acres of land that will allow eventual construction of a new Peart trailhead for Casa Grande Mountain.

As the staff report describes it, “The 40 acres of land is adjacent to city of Casa Grande owned property that houses the Casa Grande Mountain Ridge Trail. The plan for the newly acquired land is to build a city-owned trailhead. 

“Currently the Peart Trailhead is located on leased property and the lease agreement can be cancelled at any time by property owner. The purchase of this 40-acre property will allow for a permanent trailhead location to be established.”

The purchase price is $40,000.

In asking for approval of the purchase, Community Services Director Bill Schwind said, “What I've learned in looking at property to purchase in the state of Arizona, they're not making any mountains any more and any city property near mountains is a good investment.”

Councilman Dick Powell said the property once had a picnic area.

“It's trashed and torn up now,” he continued. “This is wonderful that we're getting ahold of it and able to use it, because it should have been available a long time ago.

“We once thought we owned it and we found out the country did, then it got sold from the county into some private hands.

“I’m really happy it's back in city hands and it gets cleaned up. It's just a natural area to start the trailhead at. I think it'll serve very well.”

During the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting in January, Schwind said, “There’s nothing in the works currently as far as getting it developed, but as far as acquiring that land it is a good program."

According to the staff report, another $40,000 is authorized for trailhead work, which is expected to take several years to complete.

The work includes:

• Cleaning the property, including removing trash and glass particles.

• Fencing the property lines and adding gateways.

• Re-grading areas.

• Building the trailhead area.

• Installing signage.


Street project puts Peart Park splash pad on hold

(Posted March 2, 1016)


Scroll down this page for an earlier story and aerial view about the Fifth Street proposal.


Scroll down in COMMUNITY for earlier story on the Peart Park splash pad presentation.



A splash pad proposed for the southeast corner of Peart Park is now on hold, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board was told Wednesday night.

That doesn’t mean that it won’t be built, but approval of design plans for extending Fifth Street through the very south part of the park led recreation officials to delay the pad until they can coordinate with the road planners.

The Fifth Street planning contract was given initial approval by the City Council during its Feb. 16 meeting. Final approval is expected during the March 7 meeting and would become effective 30 days later.

“Once that architect is onboard,” Community Services Director Bill Schwind told the board, “we will team with them to talk about if we were to utilize this site down here for a potential splash pad, that when they do their design work for curb, gutters, sidewalk, sewer and all that kind of stuff we want to make sure that we’re involved with that so we can at least plan for something to go in down there at a future day.

“We’ll be communicating with the architects and the engineers as far as the road design goes to make sure that everything that we need will be taken care of as far as infrastructure goes for the future so we don’t put a bunch of stuff in the ground now, do a road, and then tear it up.”

If Fifth Street is pushed through, the road and part of its parking areas would be close to where the splash pad would be located. However, after the meeting Schwind told CG News that he would want a fence, such as wrought iron, between the street and the pad area.

A splash pad at Peart Park is already funded, Schwind said, and more are projected for the city.

“I think as far as the (parks) master plan goes,” he continued, “there’s probably three for sure community splash pads in the capital improvements plan. Not scheduled to be funded anytime within the next two years, but there are locations throughout town that through our master plan have been kind of designated for splash pads.”


Demolition of old Raggedy Ann and Andy sought

(Posted March 1, 2016)


Casa Grande is asking for proposals to demolish the old Raggedy Ann and Andy day care center at 419 W. Second St.

“The center is on the corner of one of the busiest intersections in the city of Casa Grande’s redevelopment district,” the request says. 

“The property is underutilized and a blighted structure with significant potential for redevelopment.

“The scope of work shall entail the demolition of the center, which is approximately a 6,700-square-foot structure, as well as the management and removal of all debris in an appropriate manner.”

The city had earlier completed lead and asbestos abatement at the building.

April 15 is the deadline to submit demolition proposals.


Owners won't meet code, house will be razed

(Posted Feb. 26, 2016)


The letter to the owners about demolition is HERE


The staff report is HERE



A fire-gutted home in the Evergreen historic District is set for demolition because of the owners’ refusal to submit reconstruction plans that meet city codes.

It is a long story, beginning in April 2009 when the house at 414 E. Ninth St., across from The Garnet, burned.

The house, built in 1947, had been foreclosed upon by Deutsch Bank, which did not respond to a fire damage  abatement letter. In July 2009, a demolition permit was issued, but was cancelled that October after Alan R. Kamps and Lila Schmidt of Wisconsin purchased the property. They did some initial cleanup work and boarding up of the house to meet Police Department trespassing notice requirements. That permit has expired.

In July of last year, after no further work had been done, the city determined that the house is considered a “dangerous building” and recommended that it be demolished if repairs were not made.

“The city has also determined that the site is a public nuisance and is having an adverse impact upon the adjacent neighbors and the neighborhood,” the determination said.

The owners submitted two plans to bring the house into code compliance. Neither plan met city requirements.

On Feb. 4, Planning and Development Director Paul Tice sent the owners a letter proposing demolition.

“As you indicated to me in your voicemail of Jan. 20, 2016, I understand that you are refusing to make any additional revisions to your building plans to bring the fire damaged structure you own at 414 E. Ninth St. into a safe and code compliant status,” Tice wrote.

He noted that building plan submittals by the owners were reviewed in October and December of last year.

“In both of these reviews the modifications that were needed to be made to your building plans to comply with the requirements of the 2012 Residential Code were clearly indicated,” Tice continued. “These modifications were, and still are, required to be made prior to the issuance of a building permit allowing you to move forward with the necessary repairs and reconstruction of your building.

“Since you have refused to submit further revised plans addressing these modofications, we have no choice but to require the fire-damaged and unsafe structure including the basement, which is not in compliance with the city’s building codes, to be demolished, the in-ground pool removed and all debris removed from the property.”

Tice’s letter asked for a response by Feb. 20. No response was received, the Historic Preservation Commission was told during its Feb. 22 meeting.

There are three ways that demolition could be handled, Tice wrote: Voluntary demolition by the owners at their expense, asking the city to do the demolition and billing for the work, the city seeking a court order requiring the owners to do the demolition and if they refuse the city would do it and bill for the work.

In the latter two alternatives, if the owners do not pay a lien could be placed against the property.


City seeking bids for major work on First Street

(Posted Feb. 26, 2016)



The 115-page scope of work and specifications bids document is HERE



Casa Grande is seeking bids for major street and sidewalks improvements on First Street between Sacaton and Florence streets.

The work, with bids due by March 15, includes:

• Removing about 14,225 square feet of old pavement.

• Constructing about 1,680 SF of new curbs.

• About 6,610 SF of new concrete sidewalk, including two new sidewalk ramps.

• About 2,485 SF of new driveway pavement.

• About 3,310 SF of new asphalt street pavement.

• Adjustments for 28 water meters, hydrants, and valve boxes.

• The existing brick driveway will be removed, with the bricks saved, and then rebuilt after the street and sidewalk work.


Striping on some CG streets begins Sunday

(Posted Feb. 22, 2015)


The list of streets and length of striping is HERE



The city issued this announcement:


Starting Sunday, Feb. 28, the Public Works Department will begin restriping selected streets within the city limits. 

The Public Works Department has secured a contractor to complete work to restripe lane lines and intersection markings that have faded.

Work will take place during both daytime and evening hours with minimal traffic delays. 

Drivers are asked to be patient, avoid crossing freshly painted lines, and to drive carefully in areas where painting is underway. Under normal weather conditions, the paint dries in approximately five minutes.  

Street pavement markings are expected to be complete in about four weeks.

For questions or more information, contact the Public Works Department at 421-8625.


CG NEWS NOTE: The city has not released a schedule of which streets will be striped on which days.


City manager, hired in 2004, leaves in August







The slash marks north and south of the proposed Fifth Street indicate diagonal parking.

Better access to Peart Park, better traffic flow

(Posted Feb. 19, 2016)


The tentative planning timeline is HERE


Initial approval has been given to a $121,001 planning contract that could lead to pushing Fifth Street through from Marshall to Drylake streets, improving access to Peart Park and helping with downtown traffic flow.

Contrary to a report in the Casa Grande Dispatch, the approval was for planning the project, not construction.

The initial approval was given during Tuesday night's City Council meeting with final approval expected during the next council meeting. Contracts of more than $50,000 required two readings, or hearings, before becoming final.

"This project would provide direct access to Peart Park, which we currently have very little direct street access," Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the council.

"When we worked with the Planning Department to take a look at the opportunities in this area to enhance that park and connectivity to the downtown, we saw this as a key link that was missing, and especially for direct access and parking for Peart Park.

"We saw this as an opportunity to look at the downtown activities that currently take place and extending that through Marshall and to this new Fifth Street if we move forward with construction."

There are many "if" factors to be considered before approval of a construction contract, including budget. No construction time estimate was given, but a tentative timeline shows that planning should be completed by mid July.

According to the staff report accompanying the agenda item, "Improvements will include new curb, gutter, sidewalks and on-street parking. A new privacy wall will be constructed between the roadway and the city library and police dispatch station."


State of the City address set for March 9

(Posted Feb. 19, 2016)


The city made this announcement:


Casa Grande Mayor Bob Jackson will present his State of the City address on Wednesday, March 9, at 12:15 p.m. at The Property Conference Center, located at 1251 W. Gila Bend Highway.  

The mayor will highlight major accomplishments in 2015 and share his thoughts about the state of the city — present and future.  

A special video presentation will showcase Casa Grande as a destination for business, family, and recreation.

The event is free and open to the community; however, attendees who would like to eat lunch during the address must register and pay for lunch at $25 a ticket. Limited free seating will be available to citizens wishing to hear the mayor speak who are not attending lunch. 

To purchase lunch tickets, download a reservation card at www.casagrandeaz.gov/stateofthecity

The address will also be broadcast on Cox Channel 11 every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at noon and 7 p.m. You can also watch it online at www.YouTube.com/CGAZGOV.

For questions or more information, call the City Clerk’s Office at 421-8600 or email [email protected].


Not all donation boxes are actually for charities

(Posted Feb. 3, 2016)


You can watch the video by clicking on the final item at

http://casagrandeaz.swagit.com/play/02012016-1744



Not all of those donation boxes you see around Casa Grande are actually for charities, the City Council was told Monday night.

"For a long time we would see it for a (charity) donation that you knew, a group that that you knew, here and there," Councilwoman Mary Kortsen said.

"And over the last few years, I've just seen this proliferation of bins. And I start look at who is it, because I want to know who it is, and it's so hard to even tell, if there is even anything (written) on them. And then all of a sudden you see them mushroom."

Kortsen said she had read in a Phoenix newspaper about problems that city is having with such boxes, some on private property.

"And just by coincidence when this came out, just prior to that," she continued, "I was driving down McCartney Road off of Pinal and lo and behold on the south side, it's totally undeveloped right now, and here sit two of them.

"What they do is, there are some questionable groups that put these bins up in the hopes that they can get these clothing items and appliances and then they turn around and resell them. They are not for charity.

"I would like to see us take a close look at this. What can we do? And I would like it enforced.

"We have some very good charities here, we have St. Vincent, we have Goodwill, we have Salvation Army, and these people, they deserve these donations and that.

"You have people out there that are leading the public astray and putting a box and somebody puts things inside that box thinking it's going to charity and it's not."

Kortsen's comments came during the informal council reports at the end of the meeting, not as a formal agenda item, meaning no decision could be made.

"Duly noted," Mayor Bob Jackson said, adding that he saw Deputy City Manager Larry Rains "over there writing notes."


2015 average jobless rate in Casa Grande at 6.4% 

(Posted Jan 22, 2016)


NOTE: The state uses two sets of unemployment statistics: seasonally adjusted, calculating a rate factoring in  normal seasonal unemployment, and non adjusted showing the actual number of jobless during a month. The state's seasonally adjusted December rate was 5.8 percent. The state's December nonadjusted, or actual, rate was 5.5. The 2015 average numbers in both categories have not yet been posted.

The statistics below are non adjusted, or actual, rates.


2015 monthly charts for Casa Grande, area cities and Pinal County are HERE



Casa Grande had an average unemployment rate during 2015 of 6.4 percent, statistics released Friday by the Arizona Department of Administration show. 

By comparison, Casa Grande's average jobless rate for 2007, the year before the national economy crashed, was 4.1 percent.

The December rate for Casa Grande was 5.4 percent. The highest jobless rate during 2015 was 7.6 percent for August, the low was December's 5.4.


Other yearly statistics


Coolidge

2015 average of 6.4 percent, December 2015 at 5.8 percent, high of 7 percent in January, low of 5.7 percent in May, average of 6.6 percent for 2007.

Eloy

2015 average of 10.7, December 2015 at 9.8, high of 11.8 in January, low of 9.6 in May, average of 6.6 for 2007.

Florence

2015 average of 7.1, December 2015 at 6.8, high of 8.3 in October, low of 5.1 in May, average of 4.4 for 2007.

Maricopa city

2015 average of 5.5, December 2015 at 5.3, high of 6 in January, low of 5.2 in November, average of 4.9 for 2007.

Pinal County 

2015 average of 6.3, December 2015 at 5.7, high of 7 in January, low of 5.7 in December, average of 4.4 for 2007.


The state no longer issues statistics for unincorporated areas or Indian communities.


Two cops, dispatcher given lifesaving awards

Officer Jeffrey McKean, left, and Cpl. Jacob Robinson and Dispatcher Kelly McCoy, above, hold their awards.


(Posted Jan. 19, 2016; updated with photographs Jan. 20)


Two Casa Grande police officers and a civilian dispatcher were presented life saving awards Tuesday night for their actions during two emergencies.

As Interim Police Services Manager Chris Vasquez related to the City Council, both incidents required resuscitation. 

Last Oct. 23, he said, Officer Jeffrey McKean responded to an emergency call involving a 31-year-old woman in full code, or when the heart has stopped.

"He saw that she was being administered CPR by her mother on a bed," Vasquez continued. "He assisted the mother in placing the woman on the floor and he then started compressions on the chest. He did so until the fire rescue personnel arrived on the scene and they took over.

"While at the scene, she was revived and brought back to life and eventually transported to a hospital."

On Nov. 18 of last year, Vasquez said, dispatcher Kelly McCoy received a 911 emergency call about an 84-year-old man needing CPR.

"While officers and fire were being dispatched," he continued, "McCoy gave clear and concise instructions to the caller on how to perform CPR.

"The caller was very upset that her husband was unconscious. However, McCoy was able to calm her down and keep her on task.

"The wife at one point became discouraged and wanted to give up, but McCoy gave her the encouragement and the information she needed to push on and to continue.

"During this time while giving the instructions, McCoy was able to direct police and fire to the location."

That was difficult, Vasquez said, because the numbering system was not consistent and it made finding the location a problem.

"And she did this for a period of 10 minutes, giving instructions and guiding personnel to the scene," he said.

Upon Cpl. Jacob Robinson's arrival, he assumed compression on the man, Vasquez continued, adding that, "While he was doing compressions, McCoy remained on the radio with him doing the count for him to keep him on track, so at the same time she could work with the wife for fire personnel to respond. He did CPR for over five minutes."

When fire personnel arrived, they took over CPR and were able to revive the man.

"Because of Cpl. Robinson, Officer McKean and Dispatcher McCoy, two of our citizens got a second chance at life," Vasquez said.

"And that's why tonight we want to award them a lifesaving award from the Casa Grande Police Department."


Trailhead land, McNatt Park lighting studied

(Posted Jan. 17, 2016)


Better lighting at Carr McNatt Park and the possibility of acquiring 40 acres for a new trailhead for Casa Grande Mountain are being studied, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board was told during its January meeting.


McNatt Park

"Looming ahead of us as far as upcoming council decisions, we're working with a lighting company, looking to enhance the lights on the practice fields at Carr McNatt Park," Community Services Director Bill Schwind said.

"We recently had a master plan done for that park, looking at the long term usage of that entire area.

"But the number one issue — and with the amount of money that we've got available to us — we kind of had to adjust our priorities accordingly.

"In dealing with a lot of the user groups that use that facility, right now the center body of that park does have lights, but they're very old and they don't light up the entire surface of that area," Schwind continued.

"So by adjusting those lights and kind of getting that relit, they're going to pick up a lot more surface area for practice field space and it will enhance both foot candles and the lighting levels at that park to make it a little more nicer and more enjoyable for the folks that are practicing and using that facility.

"That is currently in progress."


Trailhead land

"We were offered a 40-acre piece of property out off of Isom Road that would serve as a trailhead to assist with some of the use and needs out there at Casa Grande Mountain," Schwind said.

"So we're looking at that, waiting for a retail contract to come our way so we can present that to City Council as an option to acquire additional land there for future park development. 

"Nothing in the works currently as far as getting it developed, but as far as acquiring that land it is a good program."


I-10/I-8 interchange detour remains in place

(Posted Jan. 15, 2016)


The Arizona Department of Transportation issued this update today:


The westbound Interstate 10 on-ramp to westbound Interstate 8 and the eastbound I-8 off-ramp to westbound I-10 are closed around the clock in Pinal County through late February. 

Drivers wishing to access westbound I-8 will be detoured to Jimmie Kerr Boulevard to eastbound I-10 to westbound I-8.

Nightly restrictions on I-10 at the I-8 junction will be in place in both directions Sunday through Thursday from 9 p.m.-5 a.m. through February.

Drivers should anticipate delays of no more than 15 minutes during the detour and lane restrictions.

The work is to allow the Arizona Department of Transportation to reconstruct bridge barrier and improve drainage.

Lane restrictions will be in effect for the duration of the project. The speed limit will be reduced to 55 mph.

The work also includes new pipe extensions, cattle guards and lowering I-8 at Thornton Road to meet the new bridge height of 16 feet.

The $7.3 million project is expected to be completed by summer 2016.

For more information, call Paki Rico at 520-388-4233, email [email protected] or visit the website at http://azdot.gov/I-8Bianco.


Flooding, Veterans Memorial before City Council

(Posted Jan. 14, 2016)


You'll find the agendas and staff reports, when available, at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


You can watch the 7 p.m. meeting on the city's Cox channel 11 or online at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/



The regular meeting, open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

At 6 p.m. at the same location and also open to the public, Finance Director Doug Sandstrom will make a presentation to the City Council on the city's financial overview and update.



A $45,000 contract for engineering of a solution to flooding at the intersection of Cottonwood Lane and Arizola Road is on the agenda when the Casa Grande City Council meets Tuesday, a day later than normal because of the King holiday.

"Cottonwood Lane near Arizola Road experiences repeated stormwater flooding during and after heavy rains," the staff report says. "This results in partial or complete road closure for safety, cleaning and maintenance purposes."

Other items on the 7 p.m. agenda include:

• A 20-year lease with the Pinal County Veterans Memorial Foundation for the Veterans Memorial site to be located at the entrance of Ed Hooper Park.

• A reimbursement agreement with Arizona State Lands for paying the costs of Casa Grande firefighters to fight wildfires on state land.

• A presentation from Boys & Girls Clubs.




Andrea Starns, last seen in Coolidge, is on the deadbeat parents website.

Train-pedestrian fatality under investigation

(Posted Jan. 9, 2016)


The Pinal County Sheriff's Office made this announcement today:


At about 1 a.m. today, Pinal County Sheriff's Office was called by Casa Grande Police Department regarding a fatal train vs. pedestrian incident on the tracks along Jimmie Kerr Boulevard. 

The train stopped at Cox Road, just west of I-10. 

The initial investigation revealed the first harmful event most likely happened east of Peart Road, in an unincorporated area of Casa Grande, where a wallet and other evidence was located indicating that is where the victim was struck. 

PCSO investigators remain on the scene at this time processing the two to three-mile section of track for evidence. 

We are working with the Union Pacific Railroad to restrict rail traffic during the investigation. 

Due to the condition of the victim's remains, it may be a while before the person is positively identified by the Medical Examiner's Office.


Casa Grande Airport helipad expansion planned

(Posted Jan. 6, 2016)


The full request is found HERE



Casa Grande is seeking an aviation consultant for a project to expand the helicopter apron at the city airport.

According to the request, the parking apron would serve small helicopters, the types that commonly have public safety roles such as law enforcement, search and rescue, medic and aerial inspections.

It would be built on an unpaved area north of West Airport Road.

"Construction of the helicopter parking apron will permit relocation of the existing parking positions of the medical helicopter operation that are currently immediately adjacent to existing and proposed private hangar sites," the request says. 

"The relocation will eliminate the potential for fixed wing vs. rotor aircraft incidents and provide additional needed apron for fixed wing aircraft."


It's not just a lot of numbers
  FY 2015 city financial report has nuggets of other information

(Posted Jan. 4, 2016)


For those of you who like to prowl through financial statistics, you'll find the complete financial report HERE


You can watch a video summary of the report at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/

Click on Item F



At 217 pages, Casa Grande's annual comprehensive annual financial report for fiscal year 2015 is mostly numbers, but there are a few items of general interest taken from the document presented Monday night to the City Council:


Initiatives, accomplishments


Police

• Part One UCR crimes per 1,000 population decreased by 11 percent. 

(The FBI Uniform Crime Report classifies Part One crimes as murder and non negligent homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft and arson.

• Cleared 43 percent of Part One UCR crimes.

(The FBI website shows that nationally during 2014, 47.4 percent of violent crimes and 20.2 percent of property crimes were cleared.) 

• 265 animals adopted.

Fire

• Responded to 6,952 emergencies, of which 5,400 (78 percent) were emergency medical services and 232 (3 percent) were fire related

•  80 percent of advanced life support responses were under five minutes.

• 3 residential structure fires per 1,000 structures.

Public Works

• Sewer plant treatment of an average of 5 million gallons per day of wastewater.

• Collected 18.3 tons of residential trash.

• Collected 62,295 tons of solid waste at the landfill.

• Recycled an average of 45 pounds per household per quarter in residential solid waste materials.

Community Services

• Resurfaced patio around the pool and replaced older fencing.

• Golfers played 68,071 rounds of nine hole equivalents.

• 98 percent of program participants rated programs as satisfactory or better.

• 311,357 visitors at the two city libraries.

• Served a total of 29,505 meals and received a total of 6,204 volunteer hours.

• Maintained 10.77 acres of parkland per 1,000 population at a cost of $1,108 per acre.

Development Center

• Issued 1,653 building permits.

• Performed an average of 17 inspections per inspector per day.


Financials


• Local indicators point to continued stability. Casa Grande is witness to a sustained, but lower number of issued building permits. The prior three fiscal years has seen a slow residential housing construction market. Non-residential building permits with a value of $45.3 million were issued in fiscal year 2015, with an increase from FY2014, continued commercial development conveys the actuality that sufficient roof-tops have been constructed to expand the commercial markets, which in turn expands the City’s economy and tax base.

• Casa Grande’s economy is reflective of the state and the nation as whole, the city is experiencing slow sustained economic growth in nearly all areas with the exception of residential construction. Although total sales tax revenue is down 23 percent from our peak collections in FY 2008, when adjusted for the construction portion of the sales tax the city’s FY 2015 collections are actually 10 percent higher than FY 2008 collections and reflect five consecutive years of reoccurring growth.

• Casa Grande, like all Arizona cities, places a heavy reliance on city sales tax. Overall, local sales tax revenues comprise 43.8 percent of General Fund revenues. The city’s sales tax rate is currently at 1.8 percent, with an additional 0.2 percent pledged to park and recreation projects,or for economic development. Management is projecting the city’s sales tax collections to continue increasing slightly next year as the economy continues its recovery.


Council OKs Unity March route, other items

(Posted Jan. 4, 2016)


Parts of Cameron Avenue, Amarillo,Third and Fourth streets and Galloway Avenue will be closed Friday, Jan. 15, for the Thirteenth Annual Unity March.

The closings, between about noon and 1 p.m., were approved Monday night by the Casa Grande City Council.

Staging for the march will be on Amarillo Street between Second and Third streets, Third Street between Amarillo and Galloway Avenue, and Galloway between Third and Fourth streets.

"Approximately 500 students from Villago Middle School will be marching from Len Colla Recreation Center west on Fourth Street to Cameron Avenue and then north on Cameron to the lawn in front of City Hall where they will listen to various speakers discuss the importance of this year’s theme," the staff report says. 

"Winning photos and essays from the Villago Middle School Unity Contest will be on display in front of City Hall for this event."


You'll find the agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


You can watch video of the meeting at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/


In other action Monday night, the council:

• Gave initial approval to  purchase of a street sweeper for $243,707, replacing a 2007 unit with 11,341 hours on it and seeing increased maintenance costs of $28,000 and downtime of 31 days. The trade-in will bring $20,000.

• Gave initial approval to purchase of a cab over engine chassis with front load refuse body for $279,764, replacing a 2007 unit with more than 122,000 miles on it..

• Gave initial approval to a major amendment to the Overfield Farms Planned Area Development to allow a wireless transmission facility, disguised as a rustic water tower.

• Removed from the agenda a 20-year lease with Pinal County Veterans Memorial Foundation for a veterans memorial at the entrance to Ed Hooper Rodeo Park. The item is tentatively scheduled for the next council meeting.


Vista Grande Library computer upgrade grant OK'd

(Posted Jan. 4, 2016)


Accepting a $25,600 grant from Cox Communications grant to update computer lab equipment at Vista Grande Library was approved Monday night by the Casa Grande City Council.

"The Cox Technology Center grant will enable the Vista Grande Library to provide updated computer lab equipment for youth and families in our community," the staff report says. 

"The grant specifies that the computer lab must be branded and named the Cox Technology Center to coincide with the ongoing use of the donated Cox equipment. 

"The 33 updated computers and one projector in the proposed center at the Vista Grande Library is in the ideal location to serve the needs of students and families in Casa Grande.

"Library staff and qualified guests will teach technology classes in the center. We currently offer classes for basic computer and internet applications, social media, and digital library resources. By updating the equipment and software available, the Cox Technology Center will benefit both students and general library patrons who are looking to improve their technology skills in anticipation of higher education or employment opportunities."


First step toward major sewer lines expansion

(Posted Dec. 29, 2015)


The full request, with project area map, is HERE


Casa Grande has taken the first step toward an enhanced sewer collection system on the east side of town, issuing a request for statements of qualifications for professional engineering and surveying services.

The work will be preparing an alignment study for the project of about five and a half miles.

It includes evaluating up to three possible alignments, taking into consideration the impact to existing utilities, right-of-way, properties located along the alignment and ease of constructability.

Terry McKeon, the city's deputy public works director and city engineer, told CG News in an email that, "The intent of this project is to provide additional capacity which is needed to service future development throughout much the city. 

"Within the city's collection network, the Kortsen sewers serve as a trunk line, conveying a significant portion of the city's total wastewater flows. In our recent sewer master plan update, we identified the need for additional or 'relief' capacity to accommodate future development.  

"While one goal of this project is to provide capacity for future flows from the area east of I-10, that is not necessarily the primary goal. This project is also needed to provide additional capacity, to the greatest extent possible, for future development projects west of the I-10, as well."


$1,000 scholarship presented for Kris Mejia





Kris Mejia, right, with Town Hall vice chairman Donna McBride, a former Youth Commission advisor.



(Photos from Town Hall)

(Posted Dec. 22, 2015)


You can watch the video at

http://casagrandeaz.swagit.com/play/12212015-965

(move slider to third item)




A $1,000 scholarship for Kris Mejia was presented during Monday night's City Council meeting.

Mejia, president of the Casa Grande Youth Commission, was one of two young people selected by Pinal County Town Hall for the award.

Donna McBride, Town Hall vice chairman, told the council that, "We were very proud to have the Casa Grande Youth Commission once again at our Town Hall.

"This year it was a little bit different topic. We were talking about taxes, so we were surprised that we had as many young people there as we did. We wanted to give them an opportunity to listen to some of the things that affect them and their taxes and walk away with an understanding of how it does affect them as young people.

"We had a round table discussion with young people who were interested. I will tell you that, as somebody that ran that round table discussion, I was in awe at some of the things that they really did pick up on during the discussions. 

"We had people from state, local and national speaking at this Town Hall and Kris pretty much led the discussion during the youth portion and did a wonderful job and I was very proud of the fact that she was one of the recipients that was voted with a thousand-dollar scholarship to the college of her choice."

Mejia was not present. "She probably started her vacation a little bit early," McBride said in asking City Councilman Matt Herman, a Youth Commission advisor, to accept the award on behalf of Mejia.

"I'm sure if Kris was here, she would say thank you very much," Herman said.








Kris Mejia gestures during a Town Hall session on taxation attended by young people.


Casa Grande jobless rate dips slightly to 5.9%

(Posted Dec. 17, 2015)


NOTE: The state uses two sets of unemployment statistics: seasonally adjusted, calculating a rate factoring in normal seasonal unemployment, and non adjusted showing the actual number of jobless during a month. The state's seasonally adjusted November rate was 6 percent, down from 6.1 during October. The state's November nonadjusted, or actual, rate was 5.8, down from 6.1 during October.

The statistics below are non adjusted, or actual, rates.


Unemployment in Casa Grande dropped slightly during November, posting 5.9 percent versus 6 during October, statistics posted Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show. 

The statistics for Casa Grande show 1,294 people out of work during November, down from 1,317 for October. 

Casa Grande had a 4.3 percent jobless rate for November 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 


Other November statistics


Pinal County 

The county had an November rate of 6 percent jobless (9,412 without work), down from 6.3 (9,786) for October. The county's November 2007 rate was 4.6 percent.

Coolidge

6.1 percent jobless rate (309 unemployed) for November, down from 6.3 (321) during October. The November   2007 rate was 8.4.

Eloy

10.3 rate for November (383 jobless), down from 10.7 (398) during October. The November 2007 rate was 6.9.

Florence

7.6 rate for November (249 jobless), down from 8.3 (273) during October. The November 2007 rate was 4.6.

Maricopa city

5.2 rate for November (1,189 jobless), down from 5.5 (1,259) during October. The November 2007 rate was 5.2.


The state no longer issues monthly statistics for unincorporated areas or Indian communities.


Bids sought for replastering city swimming pool

(Posted Dec. 17, 2014)


The full bid request is HERE


Casa Grande is seeking bids for replastering the pool at Palm Island Family Aquatic Park.

Work is to be completed by April 8 of next year so as to not interfere with normal pool season opening.

According to the bid request, items to be handled include:

• Removing the existing finish and replastering the pool floor and walls. 

• Replacing damaged or chipped tile, with asbestos testing before removal. Tile showing racing lanes and warnings will be kept.

• Existing water lighting that is not LED will be replaced with LED lights.

Bids are due by Jan. 12.


Emergency radio systems will be tied together

(Posted Dec. 9, 2015)


You'll find the staff report HERE


The presentation to City Council on what the system does and the benefits it brings is HERE


A chart showing the complexity of the transition is HERE



Final action by the City Council during Monday night's meeting sets the stage for a massive upgrade of Casa Grande's emergency communications, replacing an almost 20-year-old system and finally tying the police and fire systems together.

It's a process that could take up to 24 months to transition, given the installation of new equipment and training for all users.

The cost for the joint police-fire computer aided dispatch and records management system will be $1,385,880, plus charges for maintenance after the first year.

Tying the police and fire systems together has long been a goal. In past years, the city had bought separate systems for both departments, meaning a cumbersome process of getting information back and forth.

According to the staff report, New World System was selected as the supplier "as their product most clearly met or exceeded most of our stated project goals, including an integrated enterprise solution for both police and fire, an integrated mapping solution, appropriate data outputs to assist intelligence-led policing, a technical base which utilizes Microsoft technology, allows for virtualization, allows for the re-engineering of our business processes, eliminates stand-alone systems and databases, avoids duplication of data entry and provides first responders with the information that they need prior to arriving on scene."

According to City Manager Jim Thompson, "The one key thing that I thought was very positive here is that we migrate from all the different platforms we have back to a more centralized platform for both police and fire in this case. A lot of discussion that we've had internally is trying to have those two bases work together, versus having all these different platforms, none of which can communicate together."

During a council study session, both Interim Police Services Director Chris Vasquez and Fire Chief Scott Miller outlined some of what is expected.

"It will ensure hazard alerts are on both our screens," Miller said. "It eliminates the dispatcher from coming back telling Fire we've got this on the PD screen, here's what you need to be worrying about."

Vasquez added, "One of the things I like about it, Fire has the capability of having a map of floor plans of various buildings or businesses throughout the city. The police have access to that, as well. And we could use that in past incidents where we had a barricaded suspect or doing a search warrant or whatever the case may be. Be really nice to call up floor plan and take a look at it before we go in, not having to go in blind."

It will also consolidate inspection reports, Miller said.

"When they're out doing inspections, all that data can be entered in," he continued. "If there's any violations, all of that can be entered in, so instead of being in various systems, it can be in one system. And quickly they have access from the field besides in their office."

Mayor Bob Jackson said, "Kind of my ah-ha moment with this was the fact that the system we're on now is 20 years old. You think about all of us and what we were using 20 years ago and what we use today.

"I don't think any of us want to go out and spend a million and a half dollars, but by the same token it's just the way the world is today. I understand the difficulty and the transition."


Monday night's actions by CG City Council

(Posted Dec. 7, 2015)


You'll find the agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


You can watch video of the meeting online at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/



The following actions were taken by the City Council during Monday night's meeting:

• Gave initial approval to purchase of three 2016 Ford F-250 cab and chassis units at a cost of $74,458.

• Gave initial approval to a $75,567 bid for stucco repair and exterior painting at City Hall.

• Accepted a Homeland Security grant of $59,200 for purchase of a portable satellite phone, MCT, docking and link to Phoenix Regional System, metering and chemical detection, decon chemical classification kit.

• Gave initial approval to changing zoning to multifamily residential on part of Plumb Plaza, south of Florence Boulevard west of Peart Road.

• Approved changing land use to manufacturing and industry on 320 acres south of Gila Bend Highway west of Burris Road.

• Changing land use to neighborhoods on 217 acres north of Casa Grande-Maricopa highway between Corrales and Bianco roads.

• Gave initial approval to changing zoning to single-family residential on the 57.26 acre Verde Creek project.

• Approved changing land use to community center on two Shops at Palm Court parcels north and west of Jim Kerr Boulevard and Tanger Drive.


Thursday night's actions by P&Z Commission

(Posted Dec. 3, 2015)


The Planning and Zoning Commission took these actions Thursday night:


Approved a request by PhoenixMart for a conditional use permit for a 6-foot high, 110-foot long chain link fence wrapped in perforated vinyl to display images about the project.

A condition laid down was that the permission would be good for two years, not five as was in the original staff report.

The fence, which would not become part of the finished project, would run west north of Florence Boulevard from the PhoenixMart entryway to near Toltec Buttes Road.

You'll find the staff report, with site map and illustrations of the proposed fence, HERE

• Sent a favorable recommendation to the City Council on a request for land use changes to allow wireless telecommunication facilities as a conditionally permitted use within the K&D Farms part of the Overfield Farms planned area development, generally bounded by Azurite Way, Overfield Road, Kortsen Road and Overfield Drive.

• Approved a preliminary plat and sent a favorable recommendation on a request to subdivide two lots into three at the Safeway shopping center site at the southwest corner of O'Neil Drive and Trekell Road.



PhoenixMart officials have released only this brief statement, made Friday

FBI raids PhoenixMart headquarters, CG office;
action taken on suspicion of securities fraud

(Posted Nov. 19, 2015)


Sources in Casa Grande said the FBI conducted a simultaneous raid on the PhoenixMart offices at the old Tanger Outlets Center off of I-10 and Jimmie Kerr Boulevard.


City issues statement HERE


City statement on infrastructure agreements HERE


Initial Casa Grande Dispatch story is HERE



This story was posted today by the Business Journal of Phoenix:


Direct link: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2015/11/19/exclusive-fbi-raids-phoenixmart-hq-in-kierland.html?ana=e_phx_bn_exclusive&u=fLIOVVIXVup1wFOZNRfWww08873cf2&t=1447958608



EXCLUSIVE: FBI raids PhoenixMart HQ with securities fraud investigation


Nov 19, 2015, 11:24am MST


The PhoenixMart headquarters was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Thursday morning in northeast Phoenix.

FBI agents swarmed the building at 7 this morning in what those close to the investigation said was a look into possible securities and investor fraud at the company.

Agents at the headquarters, 7047 E. Greenway Parkway, were not allowed to speak on the raid. An FBI spokesman said the bureau could confirm the raid was ongoing, but could not make a further comment at this time.

PhoenixMart is funded by EB-5 investments — those allowed from foreign entities, in this case mostly Chinese investors. The $500,000 buy-in generated conditional visas allowing U.S. residency by the investor and extended family.

According to a former PhoenixMart executive, speaking on background because he is cooperating with federal officials, some investors had purchased homes in Paradise Valley and Scottsdale and are now facing deportation for the violating the visas.

Elizabeth Mann is the company's CEO and could not be reached immediately for comment. QuinQuin Quayle, daughter-in-law of former vice-president Dan Quayle, was until recently Mann's chief of staff and was unavailable for comment at the time this story was posted.

Casa Grande officials were unavailable for comment. The multi-million-square-foot mixed-use project was to have been a major economic boon for the Pinal County community. More than 500 acres were committed to the project, along with significant public improvements.


CG jobless rate falls half a percentage point: 6.1

(Posted Oct. 19, 2015)


NOTE: The state uses two sets of unemployment statistics: seasonally adjusted, calculating a rate factoring in  normal seasonal unemployment, and non adjusted showing the actual number of jobless during a month. The state's seasonally adjusted October rate was 6.1 percent, down from 6.3 during September. The state's October nonadjusted, or actual, rate was also 6.1, down from 6.4 during September.


The statistics below are non adjusted, or actual, rates.


Unemployment in Casa Grande dropped half a percentage point during October, posting 6.1 percent versus 6.6 during September, statistics posted Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show. 

The statistics for Casa Grande show 1,322 people out of work during October, down from 1,432 for September. 

Casa Grande had a 4.2 percent jobless rate for October 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 


Other October statistics


Pinal County 

The county had an October rate of 6.3 percent jobless (9,801 without work), down from 6.6 (10,266) for September. The county's October 2007 rate was 4.5 percent.

Coolidge

6.3 percent jobless rate (321 unemployed) for October, down from 6.7 (337) during September. The October   2007 rate was 8.2.

Eloy

10.7 rate for October (398 jobless), down from 11.2 (417) during September. The October 2007 rate was 6.7.

Florence

8.3 rate for October (271 jobless), up from 8.1 (264) during September. The October 2007 rate was 4.5.

Maricopa city

5.5 rate for October (1,253 jobless), up from 5.4 (1,213) during September. The October 2007 rate was 5.


The state no longer issues statistics for unincorporated areas or Indian communities.



Monday night's actions by the City Council

(Posted Nov. 16, 2015)


You'll find the agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


You can watch video of the meeting online at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/


Replacement of the city's aging computer systems for the police and fire departments was given initial approval Monday night by the City Council.Final approval is expected during the next council meeting.

The new computer-assisted dispatch/records management system replaces the different systems used by the two departments and has expansion capability. 

The CAD/RMS system, taking about 18 months to train staff and implement, will cost $1,385,192, with an additional cost of $671,880 for the first few years of maintenance.

In other actions Monday night, the council:

• Approved an agreement with the high school district to use the city pool for the practice and swim meets. The district used the pool at Central Arizona College until that facility was closed.

• Appointed Kehinde Lawal to the Historic Preservation Commission and accepted the resignations of Ken Hodson and Thomas Poor; reappointed Gordon Beck, Charlene Southern and Mark Zeibak to the Board of Adjustment; appointed Mikel McBride to the Planning and Zoning Commission and reappointed Mike Henderson.


City gets grant for historic signs preservation

(Posted Nov. 12, 2015)


The city issued this announcement:


The city of Casa Grande has received a $10,000 grant from the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to develop a historic landmark sign preservation program. 

The program, effective Nov. 3, will allow the city to work collaboratively with the Historic Preservation Commission to preserve the city’s historic sign legacy.

The city now has many signs that have a unique character, identity or history but are without historic preservation protection. The city recognizes the importance of these signs as reflections of our rich culture and history and will work to preserve its sign history by developing a preservation program.

As part of this initiative, the city will hire a consultant to conduct a historic resource sign survey and prepare a local register nomination to SHPO. 

A future project that could benefit from the sign landmark project is the creation of a sign park, which has been the vision of the Historic Preservation Commission. The sign park would incorporate signs donated by property owners whose signs are identified as a historic landmark under the preservation program.

Once completed, the program will establish a local landmarks sign ordinance, including designating signs as local landmarks, preservation of sign landmarks, a sign treatment plan and a sign mapping database/web page.

For more information on the city’s Historic Preservation Office, visit http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/planning/historic-preservation/ or contact Laura Blakeman, the city’s Historic Preservation Commission liaison, at [email protected] or at 421-8632, ext. 3010, or City Planner Jim Gagliardi at [email protected] or at 421-8632, ext. 3020.


Trekell/Rodeo development moving ahead

(Posted Nov. 8, 2015)




The staff report, with maps, building renditions, project history and letter from developer, is HERE


The complete meeting agenda and staff reports are HERE




The latest project to bring life to the corners of Trekell and Rodeo roads has moved ahead with approval of a major site plan for part of the long discussed, long delayed Santa Cruz Crossing project.

Initially promoted as a residential/business community, the design has shifted over the months to include senior citizen areas.

In this case, the site plan is for a single-story 102-bed assisted living facility with a memory care unit for patients suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia or other such problems.

Approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission during the Nov. 5 meeting includes the condition that as part of the first phase of Santa Cruz Crossing the developers must complete upgrades to the frontage road on the north side of Rodeo and the widening of Rodeo.

The frontage road has been a concern of residents on the north side whose driveways connect to it.

The upgrade will be a two-way street rather than the one-way idea initially proposed.

"Part of Phase One includes all the improvements to Rodeo Road, which also includes the frontage road," City Planner Jim Gagliardi told the commission. "And the frontage road has been designed to be two-way. It includes a screen wall and run from Amarillo Road to Colorado Street. 

"It also involves the development of Pueblo Drive south of Rodeo, which would include channelization and drainage beneath Pueblo and improvements made to the tributaries to the Santa Cruz River that's running east and west through the site."

All of the work must be done before the city will issue a certificate of occupancy for the 82,619 square feet assisted living facility, Gagliardi said.

Commission member Stephen Gentzkow asked if the frontage road construction will create problems for residents and how long may they expect the construction to last.

"Well, it was agreed to do the entire length of the frontage road at once instead of doing it in accordance with what's being developed within the SCC planed area development," Gagliardi responded. "That way, it doesn't create a start-stop cycle where only a portion of the frontage road is put in when the assisted living facility is built and then as development occurs further to the east then it picks up again.

"The primary travel route of Rodeo as it is now is going to be shifted slightly to the south because they have to accommodate room for that frontage road, so there's going to be some slight shifting of the travel lanes to widen Rodeo."

Gentzkow asked if residents will have access to their driveways during the construction.

Yes, Gagliardi said, adding that, "I think the agreement to do a two-way frontage road helps assure that at the end of the day it makes it much easier to access any one of those homes regardless of which direction you're traveling on Rodeo."

A representative of the developer told the commission that upgrading the frontage road will be done one half of the street at a time, allowing access to the driveways.

Overall, he said, the road work and assisted living building will take about a year and a half to complete.

The project is the latest sign of development at Trekell/Rodeo, complementing businesses that during the past few months have moved into the long vacant commercial center at the northwest corner of the intersection.

In other action, the commission:

• Approved a conditional use permit for Pinnacle Education to operate an alternative high school providing on-line education at 2510 N. Trekell Road. The school formerly was at the southwest corner of Pinal Avenue and McMurray Boulevard.

• Over the objection of member Stephen Gentzkow, sent a favorable recommendation to the City Council on a request to change zoning to single-family residential on the 57-acre Verde Creek development south of Kortsen Road between Pinal and Casa Grande avenues.

• Sent a favorable recommendation to the City Council to remove 2.39 acres from the Plumb Plaza development south of Florence Boulevard between Peart Road and Pottebaum and to change zoning there from urban ranch to multifamily residential.


Monday night's actions by the City Council

(Posted Nov. 3, 2015)


You'll find the agendas and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


You can watch the video of the meeting online at

http://casagrandeaz.swagit.com/play/11022015-1236


The following actions were taken by the City Council during Monday night's meeting:

• Approved a letter of intent for an agreement with a company called Waste Empowered that would divert up to 75 percent of waste from the city's landfill.

• Approved purchase of two Ford pickups for parks maintenance at a cost of $47,410.

• Approved a $753,679 contract for streets slurry seal, with work to begin in the spring.

The street sealing map is HERE

• Approved a $581,814 contract for street sealant.

• Approved a $200,000 contract for streets striping.

• Upheld a hardship appeal from the Historic Preservation Commission's denial of a certificate of appropriateness for changes, including windows, made to the appearance of a residence at 806 N. Brown Ave.

• Approved a request for changes to the Muirlands planned area development north of Kortsen Road between Trekell and Peart roads.


Councilman Montoya honored by Sheriff's Office

(Posted Oct. 26, 2015)


The Outstanding Citizenship Award from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office has been presented to Casa Grande City Council member Karl Montoya.

The presentation was made by Sheriff Paul Babeu during the Oct. 19 council meeting, keying on Montoya's service as one of almost 400 Sheriff's Office volunteers.

"I'm here to publicly recognize one of our most dedicated volunteers in the Sheriff's Office," Babeu told the council. "This volunteer you know as your mayor pro tem and council member Karl Montoya. I know him as Lt. Karl Montoya, a member of our uniformed, armed posse. I can tell you, I personally recruited Karl to our posse back six years ago or so."

Montoya has previous been a member of the Casa Grande Police Department's Citizens on Patrol volunteers.

Babeu said that with budget cuts and population growth in the county, "we could not do this job that we do, the men and women who serve in the Sheriff's Office, without the help and support, the dedication of people like Karl Montoya.

"If you haven't seen him in his uniform or his marked patrol unit, you're not driving around Casa Grande. It could be out at CAC at the marathon that's held out there and he's up at 4 o'clock in the morning or earlier or the night before putting out cones and blocking off areas to raise money for charity. I've seen him myself out here in Casa Grande in your city limits supporting, helping out the Casa Grande Police Department. You see Silent Witness and he another posse members are supporting, complementing the good work of our Casa Grande Police Department.

"For our Sheriff's Office, everything from transporting prisoners, as they do throughout the county, Karl taking a prison from a deputy who's arrested that suspect, bringing them down to Florence, which depending on how fast you drive could be 40 minutes to an hour, 40 minutes for Karl.

"And I can tell you, that deputy then gets to stay in his or her beat to be able to respond to an emergency that much quicker because of the work of Karl and others that he works with in our posse."

Babeu said volunteers are also backup for deputies in the field.

"And countless times our deputies, if they're alone, their backup is a posse member," he said. "If you stand them next to each other, most people could not distinguish the difference. And that makes all the difference if you're facing a suspect or multiple in a difficult situation, they make the difference in those calls. 

"And I just wanted to underscore what our posse does and the good work they do. So it's not just the work he does in our posse, the work he does in our community as a civic leader, a member of your City Council, and I'm presenting him tonight with the Outstanding Citizenship Award to thank him and appreciate him publicly."





The Chevrolet Tahoe will replace Caprice vehicles in the Police Department.

Police switching to Chevrolet Tahoe vehicles

(Posted Oct. 20, 2015)


You'll find the agendas and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


You can watch video of the meeting online at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/



The Casa Grande Police Department is switching to Chevrolet Tahoe Police Pursuit, replacing the Chevrolet Caprice sedans which haven't worked out well.

For years, the department used the Ford Crown Victoria police models, but that ended when Ford ceased production following a multitude of safety complaints and lawsuits. The switch was made to the Caprice.

The City Council gave initial approval Monday night to spending $336,231 for nine 2016 Tahoes. The Police Department has had a rotation program, targeting replacing a third of its vehicles each year.

The low bid, from Midway Chevrolet, was $37,359 per Tahoe. The cost of upfit, or outfitting, for each of the vehicles has not yet been determined because they won't be available until early next year, but the staff report says it could be about $33,000 per Tahoe, bringing the total cost to $79,359 each.

"We've done a thorough investigation of all the options as far as patrol vehicles and looking at the conditions that we place those vehicles in," Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the council. "Staff has determined with the Police Department that the Chevrolet Tahoe is the platform of choice moving into the future for the department.

"One of the decisions staff tried to make was to purchase the vehicle with upfit at the same time. However, with Chevrolet's projected build schedule these vehicles, if ordered before the end of the year, won't be available delivered to the city until March or April and actually we're hearing word it may go possibly May or June of next year.

"So it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to try to assume what the cost of the upfit items are going to be at this time. However, we will look the available options to us as we move forward into the future as far as piggybacking off of other bids that are out there for that equipment and/or going out for solicitation ahead of the delivery of those vehicles."

Councilman Matt Herman asked how much more expensive the Tahoe will be over a Caprice.

"The total cost, they're very comparable," Louis replied. "They're not identical. Obviously the Tahoe being a larger, more robust vehicle is going to cost a little more."

Louis said one consideration was how much a vehicle would cost over its lifetime.

"A good for instance," he continued, "is looking at the Chevy Caprices that we have right now. We had two that were in what I consider minor collisions that are now totaled vehicles. They are a total loss because of the unibody construction of the frame. With these Tahoes, they are basically sitting on a truck chassis and that's what we need for our police officers to do what we ask them to do every day. It's not easy on a vehicle.

"So we think that we're going to get a much more reliable useful life out of the Tahoes and we could even consider — obviously we're not going to make that decision today — looking at some of these vehicles and possibly doing a second-life rebuild on them.

"I think it gives us some options and we've really looked at the life costs. It's very comparable to a sedan type vehicle."

Herman said police officers had told him that because of the amount of gear they wear on their belts "it was pretty tough to get in and out of the Caprice sometimes and they like this (Tahoe) better. I agree with the bigger, heavier chassis in our unique conditions here with the roads and off-road."

Herman also wanted to know if any equipment, such as lights or GPS units, could be taken from the old Caprices and used on the Tahoes.

"I can't give you an exact dollar amount that we would save with equipment that we could reuse, repurpose for this up fit," Louis replied. "They aren't going to be exactly the same as the Caprice. The wiring harnesses that are needed are going to be different. However, we do look at each piece of equipment and we evaluate whether it can be used or not.

"When we go to replace these vehicles when their useful life is up we'll probably have a better chance to reuse that equipment versus switching from a sedan to this SUV unit."

Louis told the council that special effort was made to make local car dealers aware that bids were being sought and to acquaint them with the process. Three bids were received, with the only local one from Garrett Motors of Coolidge. Garrett bid $352,794.75 for the nine vehicles, with Courtesy Chevrolet bidding $344,560.78 

Herman commented, "I know you guys put a lot of work into it and I really appreciate the extra effort to get local bids on this. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for Garrett, I really wish it would have. Hopefully in the future we can use some of these local guys to make these big purchases like this."

Other actions by the council Monday night include:

• Approving emergency replacement of a generator at City Hall Building B at a cost of $38,260 plus tax.

• Approved joining the Arizona Mutual Aid Compact, a network of state government organizations allowing members to ask for or provide help during emergencies.

• Reappointed Thomas Caywood and Dennis Jenkins to the Industrial Development Authority.

• Reappointed Susan Rooney to the Historic Preservation Commission.


CG jobless rate drops a full percentage point

(Posted Oct. 16, 2015)


NOTE: The state uses two sets of unemployment statistics: seasonally adjusted, calculating a rate factoring in  normal seasonal unemployment, and nonadjusted showing the actual number of jobless during a month. The state's seasonally adjusted September rate was 6.3 percent, the same as for August. The state's September nonadjusted, or actual, rate was 6.4, down from 6.8 during August.

The statistics below are nonadjusted, or actual, rates.


Unemployment in Casa Grande dropped a full percentage point during September, posting 6.6 percent versus 7.6 during August, statistics posted Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show. 

The statistics for Casa Grande show 1,428 people out of work during September, down from 1,677 for August. 

Casa Grande had a 4.1 percent jobless rate for September 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 


Other September statistics


Pinal County 

The county had a September rate of 6.6 percent jobless (10,273 without work), down from 6.9 (10,694) for August. The county's September 2007 rate was 4.4 percent.

Coolidge

6.7 percent jobless rate (337 unemployed) for September, down from 6.9 (351) during August. The September  2007 rate was 8.

Eloy

11.3 rate for September (418 jobless), down from 11.7 (435) during August. The September 2007 rate was 6.6.

Florence

8.1 rate for September (265 jobless), up from 7.6 (244) during August. The September 2007 rate was 4.3.

Maricopa city

5.4 rate for September (1,212 jobless), down from 5.9 (1,347) during August. The September 2007 rate was 4.9.


The state no longer issues statistics for unincorporated areas or Indian communities.


Paramount appeal dropped, permit now sought

(Posted Oct. 15, 2015)


Scroll down this page for earlier stories, including reports and letters.


Debora Martin has given up on her appeal of a requirement for an encroachment permit for a short section of city alley behind part of the Paramount Theatre complex.

Following an inspection, a code enforcement officer had earlier issued a citation because of a fence and other items at the end of the alley that deadends against a building. The city said no encroachment permit was on file.

Martin filed an appeal, which was delayed because before the first Board of Adjustment hearing she said she had asked her title company for an in depth title search that would show she owned the alley. That should be done by the end of August, she maintained.

During the next Sept. 15 Board of Adjustment hearing, Martin said she had not received anything from the title company.

She was asked if, absent a title report, she had any other proof of ownership. She said no. She was asked if she had any objection of obtaining the $30 encroachment permit if the title search showed she was not the alley owner. She said no.

The board gave her 30 more days to bring a title search report to the city to prove ownership or to obtain the encroachment permit.

That deadline was today.

This morning, CG News asked Planning and Development Director Paul Tice if Martin had taken either of the actions.

His email response was:

"Debbie has contacted us and requested a two-week extension to her deadline to file the encroachment permit. We granted the extension and expect to have the permit submitted and approved within the next two weeks."

The city has contended that its search of records shows that years ago 70 feet of the alley that once ran from the back of the complex to Florence Street was abandoned to allow 416 N. Florence St., now owned by Martin as part of the theatre complex, to be built, with the city retaining ownership of the rest of the alley. Martin has contended that when she bought the Paramount complex about 12 years ago it was her understanding that she also gained ownership of the area. 

Air conditioning and other items are on that part the city claims it owns and is blocked off by a locked chain link fence. That equipment and fence were there when she purchased the complex, Martin said.

As outlined to the board, an encroachment permit would allow Martin to use that area as it now is, but would also give the city a waiver of liability and the right to go into the area if work was needed, such as on the sewer line the city believes lies under the pavement. The city has no objections to issuing such a permit, the board was told.


An 'elephant in the room'
Mayor's comments during interview ruffles some feathers on City Council

(Posted Oct. 12, 2015)


Watch the video HERE, clicking on Item N -- Reports


The current issue of Golden Corridor Living magazine is available free at various locations around the city.


You can read the interview online at

http://goldencorridorliving.com/current-issue/


or you can download a PDF of the complete issue at

http://raxxmedia.com/pdfs/living_mag_gc_fall15.pdf


(DISCLOSURE: CG News has a partnership with Golden Corridor Living and its owner writes for the magazine. CG News was not involved in the Jackson interview.)



Comments by Mayor Bob Jackson during an interview with Golden Corridor Living magazine ruffled some feathers on the City Council.

The unhappiness surfaced during council comments and reports at the end of the last meeting. Because the topics are not on the formal agenda, the sessions are limited to reports or straight comments, not the place for full discussions or arguments.

Councilman Dick Powell said, "There's kind of an elephant in the room and I think I'm going to address it tonight and I think it'll make it easier for all of us.

"It's certainly nothing personal but it is something that was in a recent magazine (Golden Corridor) that was circulated in town with an interview of our mayor.

"Some of the comments, the PTO comments, we have a couple of council people who just, are just out of it. One doesn't understand and the other is catering to a small group of employees."

That was in reference to multiple discussions about changes to the city's personnel policies, including paid time off. The issue was kicked back and forth and a vote delayed, leading to more discussion and questions before it was finally approved.

In the interview, Jackson said, in part:

"We have a small group of people that have gotten to a couple of council people who have said, 'This PTO plan is the worst thing in the world.' You talk to most people under the age of forty, they would much rather work under a PTO program than the kind of program that we have. We had a 

traditional, government-operated plan where you get eight hours of vacation and eight hours of sick leave a month. You can only use sick leave if you’re sick and everything else you have to use vacation.

"So I think that the vast majority of the employees want it. The industry is going to PTO, but we’ve had a couple of council people that are just out of it, that they don’t like PTO. I think one of them doesn’t fully understand the difference, and I think the other one is really catering to that small group of employees that are saying, we don’t like this as a plan.” 

Powell, continued, addressing Councilman Karl Montoya:

"Karl, I don't know which one's you and which one's me. That decision has been kicked forward anyway, so it's not relevant."

Powell said he was also bothered by another quote from the Jackson interview.

"And then this kind of concerned me," Powell continued: "It says, I've learned as mayor that four votes wins. If I'm pretty sure there are three votes that are in favor of the way I think I want to go, I want to call for the vote and do it, because if you continue to discuss it you run the risk that the 4-3 vote will become 3-4. A lot of times when we're having a discussion my questions have been answered. It's time to vote, if I need to be persuasive about an argument, I'll engage at that point."

Mayor Jackson added in the interview that, "And so, if you see that the issue is, we’re done talking about it, and you know it’s a four-three vote, why continue to talk about it? Vote it and move on. We don’t have a lot of four-three votes but we do have them occasionally."

Powell said that ties back to the system of having council discussion committees, known as informational  briefings. Members of the committees are supposed to report back to the council about the discussions.

"One of the things that really concerns me about this is our IBs," Powell said. "And a lot of the IBs, people come to consensus. They don't take a vote but there's three people that come into the room, sit down here to vote that have made up their minds. So if those three people, and if the mayor goes with them, there's three others sitting up here that haven't had questions answered, probably, don't really understand what's going. And I think that we might want to revisit with our city attorney. I think there's a preference with him that he would rather have us go back to work sessions instead of the IBs. But we'll let him speak to that."

Powell also took issue with these comments by Jackson:

"And I think that, as you look at the mayoral and council candidates that are coming, that will pop up, who has the, the future-looking, or the foresight to say, 'Here’s where we need to get to, 

how are we going to do it?' as opposed to looking backwards and saying, 'Well, I remember what Casa Grande looked like 10 years ago, and I was really happy with that. Why are we changing?' 

"Ten years ago, we didn’t have a mall, you know? I mean, 10 years ago, my wife and I, when we wanted to go shopping, we’d end up going up to Phoenix. We didn’t have a ... we had a movie theater, but it’s certainly nothing like the movie theater we have today. We have a trail system up on CG Mountain that we didn’t have 10 years ago.

"I don’t want to go back where we were 10 years ago. I want to see where we’re going to be 10 years now, and at that point, I’ll be too old to care, so …"

In response, Powell said, "I really don't understand that remark, because I don't know anybody on council that looks backwards, other than to be proud of what we've done, this progress this city has made.

"I do know there's one question looking back right now, is why would we change the community recreation center plans that were developed years ago. And that is looking backward. And I think, hopefully we planned to do better.

"There's nothing personal. I don't carry grudges and I hope we remain good friends, I don't mean it in any other way, but I think it needed to be spoken to. So I will conclude. Thank you."

Councilman Matt Herman's response was, "I'm proud to be part of this council with you guys up here. We've always had a good relationship and I hope that continues. We have a lot to be proud of. We have a lot to go forward on. It's good if we don't always agree on everything, because if we all did then it wouldn't represent who we are. 

"But I'm also proud that, I've seen videos, like in big cities where they have a lot of councilmen, there's fights, fist fights and yelling. And we're not that type of a community, we're not that type of a council. Like I said, I'm very proud of our progress. It's just one of our growing steps and we're getting there."

Councilman Ralph Varela said, "I really would concur. We've got a great council, it's upon us all to be mindful and always appreciated being part of this council. It's a good place."

Councilman Karl Montoya did not comment, nor did Jackson. Councilwoman Mary Kortsen was absent, excused.

A question during the Jackson interview was, "You brought up an issue that I meant to question you earlier about: the council meetings being televised. From the point of view of a cynic, the meetings before televising were dissembling, self-serving and whatever but now they seem to be more about posturing for the camera...there’s a new ...

"MAYOR JACKSON: A new dynamic.

"GC LIVING: Yes, a new dynamic to that and we have wanna-be actors who just want to go on the video record and make 

their dissembling statements there.

"MAYOR JACKSON: You know it’s funny because 99% of the time I don’t even remember we’re being televised. Is there posturing going on, absolutely. Think about who is up for re-election and I’m not going to sit here and say who they are because you can go look. But look and see who is running for re-election …"

Jackson said this is his last term as mayor. If they choose to run next year, council members Kortsen, Montoya and Lisa Fitzgibbons will be up for reelection.

Fitzgibbons had comments about reelection, PTO and looking forward.

"I did want to comment on the recent article, also," she said.

"Mayor, I was just really disappointed. I think that's all I want to say. Kind of what the guys said. I believe that we've worked hard to work together and move the community forward. We've definitely had disagreements, but we always work together and more forward with what's best for the community. Just a little disappointed.

"And as far as the comment on the PTO policy, I'm sure one of those comments referred to me and with my questions. And, I wasn't 'out of it,' I was definitely on top of what was going on. I really take this job seriously, and if there's one employee, if there's 50, if there's a hundred, if there's one citizen, a hundred citizens that come to me, I will look into the problem, the issue, whatever it is.

"So understand the chain of command, I do understand that, but when someone asks and inquires and if they're questioning, I will do whatever I can to make sure that people are clear. We talked about transparency earlier in the meeting and it's important for us to be transparent.

"So I really take this job really seriously. I'm not a drama queen, I'm not an actress, I just want to, you know, go through issues, talk about events that are going on. That's really all it is. So I was just a little disappointed, but I know we work together, we're great.

"I am one of the council members he referred to as up for reelection, but again, my intent is, this community, I'm passionate about it, I've been here. I'm definitely forward, not backwards, and I want for the best for everyone here."


No context for quote, City Councilman Montoya says

(Posted Oct. 10, 2015)


The Dispatch story in question is HERE


A quote from him at the end of a recent newspaper story about the Casa Grande Emergency Assistance Ministry and the homeless problem here is misleading because the proper context was not provided, City Councilman Karl Montoya said during Monday night's council meeting.

The story wording in question is:

"City Councilman Karl Montoya, who is a liaison between city government and CGEAM, said local religious leaders are the real experts at helping those in dire need and may be more skilled at running social programs. 

" 'If the city runs it we’ll goof it up. We always do, government always messes it up,' Montoya said."

Addressing a person in the audience Monday night during council comments at the end of the meeting, Montoya said, "I want to apologize to you if you didn't get the full story. I hope you go back and listen to their tape.

"When I told them about that, I got laughter out of the room, people weren't offended, because I've told them that  before."

Montoya continued that, "I want to dwell on that just a little bit, you know, because I didn't say city wouldn't be in the business of helping those people with homelessness and social needs. We're going to be a big partner in that. My thing is, at this time I don't believe we should run them. And they understood that.

"I was truly humbled and honored to talk to those people, because they are doing the work and I believe I was addressing the professionals in our city, in our community, in our surrounding areas that are doing the work today of helping people out, whether it be homelessness, social values, anything in that area. And they are the professionals that are doing the work with almost nothing.

"I agree, we'd be a big partner and if we could start something, if they could get some of the money, if we could start something, you know, at $20,000 or $50,000 (perhaps in city grants such as given to the Boys and Girls Club and other organizations). 

"The work they're doing today with almost nothing is impressive, because I've seen them take kids out of cars, give them places to stay, take homeless mothers that didn't have a place to go, put them, get them back to working, to make them productive. I mean, they've done great work.

"And that's where I was going with this. I think the mayor said it perfectly, what makes this community great is family, faith and the community. And I think he said it all right there.

"They are truly the professionals and if we can give them more help from our end, they're going to do more work for the better. Because I've seen it, they're doing it. And that's all I wanted to say."

During his turn for comments, Mayor Bob Jackson added, "Karl talked a little bit about the EAM and he's kind of the unsung hero about that, and I don't know that we give him enough credit. He is the liaison to that group. He kind of quietly goes about doing what he's doing, but the ministers that we have that come in front of the council before the council meetings every meeting are part of that group.

"And I think the message that I was trying to convey … is we do have a growing homeless problem in town, whether we want to admit it or not. And we need to work together to do that. And I think Karl's exactly right that it's going to take a joint effort to be able to move that forward.

"All you need to do is go downtown to the corner of — it used to be Second and Florence, I don't know if they're still there or not — you'll see 50, 60 people sometimes assembled out there.

"I don't want people to think we're trying to get rid of them. We need to deal with the problem. That means that if they have issues with they don't have a place to live, they don't have health care, they have mental illness problems, we need to be able to put together a comprehensive plan to do that. And I do think it will end up being a joint effort with both the city and the group of ministers."


Some police dash cam videos cannot be retrieved

(Posted Oct. 6, 2015)


An internal investigation has confirmed that Casa Grande police car dash cam videos from June 28 through Sept. 9 were not electronically stored and cannot be retrieved, the city said today.

It was apparently a breakdown in the city's computer storage system, not of the Police Department or the dash cams which send the videos electronically for storage.

The situation was brought to the attention of CG News by a woman who said she had received a traffic citation and wanted to contest it.

As the first step, she said, her attorney asked her to the city and get a copy of the dash cam video from her incident. The video was to be used as as part of her defense in court, she said.

She told CG News that the city informed her that video from that day was missing, along with other videos.

Deputy City Manager Larry Rains told CG News in an email today that, "I met with both IT (Information Technology) and Police Department staff yesterday to discuss the matter in detail. 

"What I am able to confirm at this point is, the Arbitrator video files from 6/28/15 thru 9/9/15 cannot be retrieved. While a record of the file exists, the video itself does not.

"Our IT staff evaluated the situation and have concluded that this is purely a technology issue. 

"We are hoping the issue has been resolved and are currently taking steps to ensure it does not happen in the future."




A year ago this month, Public Works tested the Asphalt 

Zipper on Maricopa Street between First and Main streets.

It's a Zipper, a ripper and a money saver

(Posted Oct. 5, 2015)


You'll find the complete agendas and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


You can watch video of the meeting at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/



It's called an Asphalt Zipper — although another name might be Asphalt Ripper.

Anyway, it's a piece of equipment that the Public Works Department is buying for rehabilitation of local streets, paved and gravel.

The $152,490 purchase was given initial approval by the Casa Grande City Council during Monday night's meeting. Final approval is expected during the next session.

The agenda item staff report says, "The Asphalt Zipper is a milling machine capable of full depth reclamation of pavement and road materials, soil stabilization treatments in subgrade as well as gravel roads, pothole repair and asphalt patching milling operations."

As Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the council, "The best way to describe it is that a typical pothole repair in the past for us was going out, saw cutting around that failure and then putting some asphalt back in and replacing it.

"What this machine does is it gives us the ability to do a full depth mill, which what it does is it grinds up the asphalt, goes down 12 inches into that subgrade, introduces that ground up asphalt into that subgrade and helps us create a better subgrade so that when we do that asphalt patch it has a chance of lasting much longer than the traditional way of repairing it.

"That's one of probably 50 things that we can do with this portable milling machine."

According to the staff report, "This operation saves a lot of time over our conventional method of removing the old asphalt with a tractor and hauling broken pieces away to dispose at the landfill. Using the recycled product for base material will result in significant cost savings."

It also saves space at the city landfill.

A year ago this month, Public Works personnel tested one of the machines.

"We actually did a section of Maricopa Street between First Street and Main Street," Louis said, "and we took the asphalt pavement — if you can call it that, it's a pretty deteriorated road — and we did the full depth mill and just graded it out and recompacted that road. You can go down there today, it looks like a gravel road but it's still in pretty decent shape and we've not done anything to maintain it since we did that in 2014."

Gravel roads in the city will also benefit from the machine.

"A lot of times you get near the intersections on our gravel roads system and you get that washboard, and that's just a breakdown of the base material," Louis said. "This will allow us to introduce, again, some of our millings into those areas and give us a much more stable base.

The equipment is different from larger machines.

"I'm sure you've all been out on pavement projects, driving through the work zones and seeing large milling machines that grind the asphalt, put it in the truck and then they do the mill and overlays after that," Louis continued. "This is a much smaller piece of equipment that we can use for hedge milling. 

"I know you've probably seen around town some of the shoveling and raveling that we get at intersections with the heat that we experience here in Arizona, and with the stopped loads of stationary vehicles at intersections  you get that uneven asphalt.

"This will give us an opportunity to use this piece of equipment to go out and mill those areas flat and do a surface treatment to try and prolong the replacement of that asphalt as far out into the future as we can.

"So it does give us some opportunities with some of our smaller paving projects. 

"And I should note that this is not to replace the need to have a large construction company come in and do a mill and overlay project for us on large pieces of roadway segments. This is a small patch type of work, so nothing real large."

The machine  comes with its own tandem-axle trailer and can be easily transported to any job site behind a one-ton pickup truck, the staff report says.

It is connected to a front end loader and can be easily connected and disconnected in a matter of minutes, the report says.

Councilman Matt Herman asked how long the equipment can be expected to last.

"Good question," Louis replied. "It really depends on application we use it for."

He said Casa Grande has few concrete streets that would cause excessive wear on the grinding bits. "Because we're going to be doing asphalt repairs and dirt road and gravel road repairs," he continued, "we think we can have a pretty decent life expectancy of about 10 years."

Louis said the estimated yearly operating costs for the machine are $1,000 to replace grinding bits and $280 for maintenance.

Other actions

In other actions Monday night, the council:

• Approved a resolution supporting a move to incorporate Arizona City. State law requires approval from neighboring jurisdictions.

• Watched presentation of a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial report (the 20th year receives), 

the presentation of an award for the Popular Annual Financial Report and an award recognizing improvements in workers compensation underwriting.

• Gave local approval for a beer and wine license for the Circle K store to be built at the southeast corner of Florence Boulevard and Pottebaum Avenue.

• Approved closing Trekell Road from just north of Rodeo Road to McCartney Road for part of Friday afternoon to allow the Casa Grande Union High School Homecoming Parade. The closure will begin by 1:30 p.m. Friday, with Trekell reopening no later than 2:45 p.m.

The closure map, with alternative routes for residents, is HERE.


Circle K at Florence and Pottebaum approved
    Once built, store at Florence and Peart will be closed

(Posted Oct. 1, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/


A conditional use permit and final development plan for a Circle K at the southeast corner of Florence Boulevard and Pottebaum Avenue were approved Thursday night by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The store will be on 1.88 acres of the site of the Cornerstone Crossing complex proposed years ago but which never got off the ground. No completion date was given.

When the new store is completed, the commission was told, Circle K will close the store at Florence and Peart Road, which is a leased building. Traffic concerns and problems getting in and out of that location were cited as among reasons for a new location.

The proposal for the new location is a 5,881-square-foot 24/7 store with a 4,104-square-foot seven-pump fuel canopy, and a 1,262-square-foot car wash.

Other commission actions Thursday night:

• Sent a favorable recommendation to the City Council on a request to amend the Muirlands, between Trekell and Peart roads north of Kortsen Road, by adding a religious institution use, early childhood education center and associated uses and development standards within a 10-acre area along Kortsen, adding commercial uses, allowing wireless telecommunication facilities and setting aside land for the future extension of Colorado Street north of Kortsen.

• Approved a conditional use permit for the construction of an eight-house model home sales complex with a temporary parking lot at 2607-2647 E. Questa Trail in Mission Royale.

Three initial hearings on requests for amendments to the 2020 General Plan were held. No action was taken, given that state law requires two hearings at different locations for such requests. The votes will be taken at a special meeting Oct. 22, with location to be announced. The hearings were:

• A request to change land use from commerce and business to community center on two parcels of the Shops at Palm Court development north of Jimmie Kerr Boulevard behind City Gate, formerly known as Tanger Outlets.

• A request to change land use from manufacturing/industry to neighborhoods on 217 acres north of Casa Grande-Maricopa Highway between Corrales and Bianco roads.

• A request to change land use from neighborhoods to manufacturing/industry on 320 acres of undeveloped land south of Gila Bend Highway west of Burris Road.


Cottonwood/Arizola flooding assistance sought

(Posted Sept. 18, 2015)


The full request is HERE


Casa Grande has issued a request for qualifications from engineering companies to help solve the flooding at Cottonwood Lane and Arizola Road after heavy rain.

That area experiences "repeated stormwater flooding during and after heavy rains," the request says. "This results in partial or complete road closure for cleaning and maintenance purposes. 

"Cottonwood Lane was reconstructed in 2007 and pavement is fairly new. The city is concerned with stormwater flooding of newly paved road and is looking for alternatives to mitigate stormwater flooding."

The cause of that flooding is unknown, the request says, adding that, "It is suspected that recent developments in the area have potentially altered the stormwater flow pattern, resulting in stormwater accumulation at this location."

The request says the project is intended to "provide drainage investigation and propose mitigation solutions for an area located, but not limited to, Cottonwood Lane and Arizola Road and associated watershed in the city. Casa Grande has various drainage studies in the area which show the extent of watershed and stormwater flow patterns. The Master Drainage Study for the city of Casa Grande was last revised in 1987 and lists a master drainage plan with a list of infrastructure needs. Unfortunately, the master plan was not fully implemented. 

"The upstream and downstream of the area has also been studied in FEMA-FIS studies, which can also be referenced. Additional drainage studies prepared by the developments in the area may also be available. 

"The purpose of this investigation is to review the previous drainage reports and master plans, perform additional investigations and propose possible conceptual solutions to prevent any future damages to the roadways in the area."

The deadline for responses is Oct. 23.


Ambulance service changes before City Council

(Posted Sept. 18, 2015)


SEPT. 21 UPDATE: Both items were approved unanimously.


You'll find the complete agendas and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


You can watch video of the regular meeting at http://casagrandaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/


The regular City Council meeting, open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd. At 6:30 p.m. at the same location and also open to the public, will be a study session about ambulance service changes.


It's another short agenda for the City Council on Monday.

The major item is an agreement with Southwest Ambulance that will allow the city Fire Department to file an application with the state for a certificate of necessity to provide basic and advanced life support service for 911 calls that originate within Casa Grande.

(The staff report spelling out other changes is HERE)

The new agreement with Southwest will be the subject of a study session at 6:30 p.m.

The second major item on the agenda is purchase of a water tender for $448,862.


August unemployment rate of 7.6% for CG

(Posted Sept. 17, 2015)


NOTE: The state uses two sets of unemployment statistics: seasonally adjusted, calculating a rate factoring in usual seasonal unemployment, and nonadjusted showing the actual number of jobless during a month. Nonadjusted rates are used for cities and counties. The state's seasonally adjusted August rate was 6.3 percent, up from 6.1 for July. The state's August nonadjusted, or actual, rate was 6.8, the same as July.

The statistics below are non adjusted, or actual, rates.


Unemployment rose slightly across Casa Grande and parts of this area of Pinal County during August, statistics posted Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show.

Casa Grande had a jobless rate for August of 7.6 percent, up from 7.5 during July. 

The statistics for Casa Grande show 1,679 people out of work during August. 

Casa Grande had a 4.1 percent jobless rate for August 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 


Other August statistics


Pinal County 

The county had an August rate of 6.9 percent jobless (10,701 without work), the same as July. The county's August 2007 rate was 4.3 percent.

Coolidge

6.9 percent jobless rate (351 unemployed) for August, the same as July. The August 2007 rate was 7.9.

Eloy

11.7 rate for August (437 jobless), up from 11.6 during July. The August 2007 rate was 6.5.

Florence

7.5 rate for August (243 jobless), up from 6.5 during July. The August 2007 rate was 4.3.

Maricopa city

5.9 rate for August (1,338 jobless), the same as July. The August 2007 rate was 4.9.


The state no longer issues statistics for unincorporated areas or Indian communities.








At issue is this small section of an alley that the city claims it still owns, but Deborah Martin says is hers as part of buying the Paramount Theatre complex on Florence Street.

Martin encroachment appeal settled -- sort of

(Posted Sept. 15, 2015)


Letter from attorney, statement by surveyor, statement by Martin are HERE


Tuesday night presentation is HERE


The original staff report, with Martin's appeal and the city letter, is HERE


Scroll down page for story from August Board of Adjustment meeting



The appeal by Deborah Martin owner of the Paramount Theatre building complex against having to obtain an alley encroachment permit was sort of settled by the Board of Adjustment during Tuesday night's meeting.

The board ordered that she must obtain the permit — which costs $30 — but added that if a title search eventually shows that she owns the small area the citation issued by the city for not having a permit will be dropped. The title search must be presented within 30 days, it was added.

The city has contended that its search of records shows that years ago 70 feet of the alley that once ran from the back of the complex to Florence Street was abandoned to allow 416 N. Florence St., now owned by Martin as part of the theatre complex, to be built, with the city retaining ownership of the rest of the alley. Martin has contended that when she bought the Paramount complex about 12 years ago it was her understanding that she also gained ownership of the area. 

Air conditioning and other items are on that part the city claims it owns and is blocked off by a locked chain link fence. That equipment and fence were there when she purchased the complex, Martin said.

As outlined to the board, an encroachment permit would allow Martin to use that area as it now is, but would also give the city a waiver of liability and the right to go into the area if work was needed, such as on the sewer line the city believes lies under the pavement. The city has no objections to issuing such a permit, the board was told.

The board was to consider the appeal during its August meeting but put off a decision until Tuesday night because Martin said she had turned the matter over to the title company that handled her purchase, asking for a full title search. She said the company told her the search should be completed by the end of August.

That didn't happen.

She was asked if, in the absence of a detailed title report, she has any other proof of ownership. No, she answered.

Martin also said that if the title search is not in her favor she would have no objection to paying for a permit.

Although the letter she supplied from an attorney indicated that she could perhaps own the property through adverse possession because of the equipment and fence being there for years without the city objecting, Planning and Development Director Paul Tice told the board that under Arizona law an adverse possession action cannot be taken against a city. After the August meeting, he also told CG News that there is no grandfathering clause that applies to the case.

After a suggestion from a board member that the city abandon its claim to the 18-feet-wide alley segment and give it to Martin, Tice explained that under Arizona law any abandoned area would have to be split down the middle with possession going to the owners on either side.

In this case it would be nine feet to Martin on the north and nine feet to the city's Industrial Development Authority, which owns the building to the south.

A complication for Martin should there be abandonment is that the back door to her 416 N. Florence building is on the south side, which would fall into the area to then be owned by the IDA.

The vote of the seven-member board was five in favor of denying the appeal and members Clarence Martin and Debra Shaw-Rhodes abstaining. Neither gave a reason.


A brief update on progress for PhoenixMart

(Posted Sept. 10, 2015)


Although PhoenixMart developers have been doing some infrastructure ground work at the site, little can be seen from Florence Boulevard/287.

That has led to rumors that the project is stalled, nothing has been submitted to the city for construction permits and the proposal is probably dead.

That's not the case, Planning and Development Director Paul Tice told CG News in an email today.

"We do currently have a building permit under review for the PhoenixMart building," he wrote.

"We completed one formal review and forwarded them a list of building code issues that they needed to address. They have revised their plan set to address our comments and will be submitting it for our second review in a matter of days. 

"I expect that we will be issuing a building permit within the next 30 days or so. 

"We may end up issuing a foundation permit first and then the structural permit, depending on how things work out. 

"We have already issued them a permit to construct the building footers, which are basically done."


Initial approval for personnel policy changes

(Posted Sept. 9, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


You can watch video of the meeting, broken down by agenda item, at

http://casagrandeaz.swagit.com/play/09082015-1654



Changes to the city's personnel policies involving leave and vacation time and donations to other employees received initial approval Tuesday night from the City Council.

The leave policy is HERE

The donations policy is HERE

The vacation policy is HERE

The staff report is HERE

Final approval is expected during the next council meeting.

The changes would begin on Nov. 1.


In other action Tuesday night, the council:

• Gave initial approval to a contract for $85,000 to purchase crack sealing material for city streets.

• Appointed John Ontiveros and Mark Reed to the Police Advisory Board.

• Appointed Bradford Sharp, David Goss, Richard Calcaterra, Lindsey Goss and Donald Domeyer to the Airport Advisory Board.

• Approved an agreement allowing Border Patrol personnel who are emergency medical services students or certified emergency medical personnel to ride along with city Fire Department personnel to gain clinical experience.

• Approved renewing annual membership in the Greater Phoenix Economic Council at a cost of $29,232.


Three items on Thursday's agenda for P&Z

SEPT. 3 UPDATE: All three items were approved.



The Villago Village lots, left


(Posted Aug. 31, 2015)



The meeting, open to the public, begins at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.



Only three items are on the agenda when the Planning and Zoning Commission meets Thursday.

They are:

• A request to reduce the width of four lots within the Villago Village commercial area at McCartney Road and Pinal Avenue from the required 150 feet. Any changes and replatting would have to go back to the commission for approval.

• Approval of the size of signs on the walls of the Circle K now under construction at the northwest corner of McCartney and Tucker roads in the McCartney Center planned area development.

• A request for a temporary use permit to allow a fabric-screen fence around part of the proposed Santa Cruz Crossing development at the southeast corner of Rodeo and Trekell roads. The applicant, without approval from the city, had earlier put up a chain link fence around the area, the staff report says.


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/


Martin/Paramount appeal held until Sept. 15
Rather than pay $30 for encroachment permit, she is contesting issue





An overview of the area in question

(Posted Aug. 25, 2015)


Documents, maps, legal descriptions and letters are in the staff report, HERE


Hearing of an appeal by Debra Martin, owner of the Paramount Theatre, over a city requirement for a right of way encroachment permit for air conditioning equipment and a fence in the small alley at the theatre property has been held over until the Sept. 15 Board of Adjustment meeting.

Martin, who contends that when she bought the theatre properties years ago there was nothing in the title report that indicated it was not her alley, told the board during its meeting Thursday night that she has turned the entire matter over to the title company, which she said has promised the results of an investigation by the end of this month. She said she also has asked the city if a previous owner had ever been granted such a permit but was told that the city couldn't answer that question.

The board was told that an encroachment permit would cost Martin $30. She has instead chosen to contest the issue.

Martin asked for a delay until after the title company report is received.

The property in question is a partial alley between buildings facing Florence Street, running off of the north/south alley behind the Paramount.

At issue is who owns the land.

According to the city, "As the tenant improvement was in progress for the Ale House at 412 N. Florence St., staff found that the Ale House proposed to locate their condenser for the walk-in cooler outside of the building (behind 416 N. Florence St.). Staff discovered that the area behind the building where the proposed unit is to be located falls within the city’s right-of-way for the adjacent alley. 

"Because the condenser would be located in the alley ROW, the Ale House was required to get a ROW encroachment permit. The right-of-way encroachment permit serves to indemnify the city from liability and damages and acknowledges that the existing improvements could be removed if the city has to perform work on the public infrastructure located within the ROW.

"It was during the review of the Ale House improvements, that staff discovered other existing improvements that are located in the public ROW. There is an existing gated chain link fence (the lock belongs to Deborah Martin), a condenser and other materials located behind the fence."

The staff report says that city policy is that "that private improvements may only be located in the public ROW in accordance with an approved right-of-way encroachment permit. Private improvements placed with the right of way without encroachment permit approval are considered illegal. The policy of requiring encroachment permits for private improvements located within the public right of way is intended to protect the city’s interest as it requires the applicant to agree to hold the city harmless if someone is injured on the private improvements or to move them at their expense should they need to be removed or relocated to allow for future public improvements or infrastructure repairs."

The report continues that, "Once staff realized that the air conditioner and fence was constructed within a public alley efforts were made to contact Ms. Martin regarding the need to apply for a right-of-way encroachment permit. Because the permit was not applied for, staff asked Code Enforcement to follow up on this issue. Code Enforcement Specialist Jeff Palmer issued a code violation notice and order letter on July 20, 2015."









The city contends that an encroachment permit is needed because part of the alley has been fenced off.

Palmer notice

The letter from Palmer, as written, reads:

An inspection of the above-referenced property on July 20, 2015 indicates that it is in violation of the following municipal code(s): 17.72.010 Use of Land In Violation of Zoning 

Said violation is more specifically described as: You installed an air conditioner in the alley for your building without obtaining the require Right of Way Encroachment permit. This is in violation of Casa Grande City Code. I am directing you to contact City Planner Mrs. Blakeman to discuss this issue and to submit for the required Right of Way Encroachment Permit. Failure to comply by July 31, 2015 will result in me filing charges against you in the Casa Grande City Court. 

You are hereby ordered to take one of the following steps regarding this notice by July 31, 

2015: 

1) Remove the violation or otherwise bring your property into compliance. 

2) Enter into an Agreement to Abate providing for additional time for compliance. 

3) Apply for a variance if your violation involves a development standard (i.e., building setbacks, building height, number/dimension of parking spaces, etc.). 

4) File an Appeal of this Notice to the Board of Adjustment. 

Failure to take one of the above referenced actions will result in additional code enforcement action, which may include: 

1) Filing of criminal charges, which may result in fines/jail time. 

2) Initiation of a civil lawsuit. 

3) Direct abatement by the City which will involve the removal, or direct abatement, of the violation and billing the property owner or occupant for the costs involved. 


Martin appeal

Martin filed a notice of appeal.

Her letter, as written, reads:

July 25, 2015

CITY OF CASA GRANDE 

510 East Florence Blvd. 

Casa Grande, AZ 85222 

Att: MR. JEFF PALMER, Code compliance officer 

ATT: MR. BRETT WALLACE, CITY ATTORNEY 

CC: MR. PAUL TICE, PLANNING AND ZONNING DIRECTOR 

CC: MS. LAURA BLAKEMAN, PLANNER 

Ref: 420 North Florence Street —  CODE VIOLATION NOTICE & ORDER received -07-25-15 from Jeff Palmer dated 07-20-15 

Dear Sirs/Madam: 

This is a letter of reply to Mr. Palmer's above mentioned letter of Code Violation Notice —  accusation of code violation stating that "I installed an air conditioner in the alley for my building ... " it is the first I have heard of this false and mistaken accusation.

I did NOT and have NOT installed an air conditioner in the alley for my building. All Air Conditioning equipment of all my properties in the Historic Downtown district, were all installed and pre-existing on the buildings years prior to my purchase of the properties, through the State of Arizona, through Arizona Department of Real Estate licensed real estate agent/Broker, and all transactions through Licensed Title Insurance Companies, warrantied to be free and clear of all violations, liens and encumbrances. They have all been inspected by City of Casa Grande entities and given occupancy permits with no violations, inside or out. 

I am a law abiding, tax paying citizen and have always worked closely with the City of Casa Grande. Just to mention a few, after purchasing the Paramount Theatre, when the City of Casa Grande requested that I restore, through the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, the Paramount Theatre to its Historic grander, it was a huge task and a large financial undertaking. After much consideration I obliged the City's request. It was done with a Historic and Licensed Architect, permits and Inspections. 

After completion of the Historic renovations, the Paramount along with SHPO, the City of Casa Grande and Main Street, we were very proud the day it was made part of and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. My efforts provided the City of Casa Grande, Casa Grande Main Street and the Paramount Theatre credit of awards and recognition with the State of Arizona and the Governor's Office. 

During the Florence Street renovation, when asked, I allowed the City and its Contractor to park construction equipment and a construction equipment trailer on my cement pad downtown. Also every year during the Saturday of the Electric Light Parade I allow the CG Boys and Girls to use it for the WINTER WONDERLAND and Ice Skating Rink and the Paramount venue for their SANTA AND PICTURES GIVE AWAY, with myself bearing all cost. 

After all these years I do not understand why I am being threatened with fines and jail time for something I did not do. 

I do hope that we can clear this up and continue a good working relationship. 

Sincerely, 

T.C. PARAMOUNT LLC.

Deborah Martin 

Cc: Tom Stoops, Atty at Law 


Although Martin had sent a copy of her letter to Stoops, a Phoenix real estate attorney, he was not at the meeting.

Addressing the board briefly Thursday night, Martin said, "First, I was told — I hate to say this, accused — that I installed air conditioning system and a fence in the right of way, and I didn't do it. I bought it in this condition. And it was done years ago.

"After I appealed, I turned in a claim to the title company and so they are investigating to see what happened in the past exactly, what is that and so forth, so I just have to wait until I get an answer from them. They said it'd take 30 days. It was assigned to a senior claims on the 31st of July. So it would be 30 days before we heard anything from them, they told us.

"The thing of it is, we don't even know if — and I've asked city — there was already (a permit) filed for it or not. And that's what the title company's searching for. That's why we just asked if it could be tabled until we could get all the documents so we know exactly what and then proceed frontward, if it would be OK with all of you that we could give the title company just a little bit, a few more days to do their research and see what all happened in the past, see if it is in compliance or not."

She also said she does not know how much it would cost to move the air conditioning equipment or where it might be relocated.

The city earlier had said that Martin had indicated that she would ask for the delay, but that under city regulations a hearing must be held within 30 days of the filing of an appeal.




Part of the original alley was vacated years ago to allow construction of a building facing 

Florence Street.

"It is the job of the Board of Adjustment to hear the appeal and "evaluate whether staff made any error in their administrative decision regarding the right-of-way encroachment permit," the staff report says.

"Staff believes that no error in the enforcement of policy exists as:

"1) Staff has researched the legal description on the warranty deed for the property which clearly refers to the 18 ft. public alley; a portion of which was previously vacated to create a portion of Ms. Martin’s current ownership.

"2) Staff has drawn the property boundaries, vacated alleyway and the public alley (ROW) based on the legal description of the property and surrounding properties.

"3) Pinal County Assessor’s Office indicates that the property in question is public right-of-way.

"Based on the above research, staff has determined that the area in question is public alley right-of-way.

"The Board of Adjustment has the ability to reverse, affirm or modify staff’s decision and enforcement action in this matter. Staff recommends that the board affirm staff’s decision that Ms. Martin be directed to obtain a right-of-way encroachment permit for the private improvements she has constructed within the alley right- of-way."


Delay might help

Planning and Development Director Paul Tice told the board that staff had no objections to a delay until the title company report is available.

"In fact," he continued, "we probably would say that it might be very beneficial for us to understand what the title company research turns up, because as you'll hear when we make a full recommendation to the board  things are a little cloudy down here in this area of downtown. The original plat was from 1890, so the property records are really old down there. So it probably would be beneficial for all of us to just understand what the title company's research shows up."

The motion to table the issue until the Sept. 15 meeting was approved unanimously.


7.6% July CG jobless rate; other cities also rise

(Posted Aug. 22, 2015)


NOTE: The state uses two sets of unemployment statistics: seasonally adjusted, calculating a rate factoring in usual seasonal unemployment, and non adjusted showing the actual number of jobless during a month. The state's seasonally adjusted July rate was 6.1 percent, up from 5.9 for June. The state's July non adjusted, or actual, rate was 6.8, up from 6.3 for June.

The statistics below are non adjusted, or actual, rates.


Unemployment rose across Casa Grande and Pinal County during July, statistics posted by the Arizona Department of Administration show.

Casa Grande had a July jobless rate of 7.6 percent, up from 6.8 during June. 

The statistics for Casa Grande show 1,676 people out of work during July, up from 1,514 for June. 

Casa Grande had a 4.2 percent jobless rate (706 workers jobless) for July 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 


Other July statistics


Pinal County 

The county had a July rate of 6.9 percent jobless (10,749 without work), up from 6.5 (10,256) during June. The county's July 2007 rate was 4.5 percent (4,960 jobless).

Coolidge

6.9 percent jobless rate for July (352 unemployed), up from 6.6 percent (336) during June. The July 2007 rate was 8.2 (412 jobless).

Eloy

11.6 rate for July (437 jobless), up from 11.1 (417) during June. The July 2007 rate was 6.7 (370 jobless).

Florence

6.6 rate for July (211 jobless), up from 6.5 during June (210). The July 2007 rate was 4.4 (154 jobless).

Maricopa city

5.9 rate for July (1,346 jobless), up from 5.7 during June (1,311). The July 2007 rate was 5 (883 jobless).


The state no longer issues statistics for unincorporated areas or Indian communities.


State charges Casa Grande to collect sales tax

(Posted Aug. 18, 2015)


Casa Grande is paying Arizona $105,494.48 as a fee for the state collecting city sales tax and then sending it back.

Sending the money for the assessment, known as the annual administration and collections assessment fee, was approved Monday night by the City Council.

"Due to recent changes in state law and administrative improvements at the Arizona Department of Revenue  all cities and towns will now be charged an amount that goes to ADOR for the department's operational funding," the staff report says. 

"This fee will assist in the improved collection and tracking systems that ADOR is implementing. It is anticipated that there will be an increase in local tax collections associated with these improvements."

The fee must be sent by Sept. 30.

"Any amount that is not paid by Sept. 30 will be taken out of the city or town's next shared revenue payment from ADOR," the staff report continues. 

"The League of Arizona Cities and Towns has advised that we not allow this fee to be taken from our shared revenues as it begins to set a precedent regarding the state's ability to do so."

The city had not budgeted for the cost because it was to be taken from sales tax collected by the state.

That now requires taking money from a city fund for unanticipated revenues or expenditures.


City saving on court fees processing charges

(Posted Aug. 17, 2015)


Casa Grande will join a new system through the state's Administrative Office of the Courts that should remedy continual problems with payments of fines and other charges in lower courts such as Casa Grande City Court.

The move, approved during the Aug. 3 City Council meeting, would be a three-year contract under nCourt to provide third-party credit card payments.

The city, including City Court, has been using a company known as Paymentus for phone and online payments for various city services, being charged a 2.59 percent service fee, with a minimum of $1 per transaction.

"The process for managing these payments is not a simple one, thanks to the limitations of Aztec, the case management system established for limited jurisdiction courts by the Administrative Office of the Courts," the staff report says.

"Each day, the AOC produces a report detailing the balance due for each defendant making payments. This report is forwarded to the City's IT Department, which must convert the data to a usable format and send it to Paymentus. Paymentus uses this information to maintain a database of the balance owed by each defendant. Paymentus accepts payments based on the information in this database.

"While this process has provided a valuable service to court patrons, it is cumbersome and prone to error. After a great deal of time and effort, the AOC still has not been able to consistently capture 100 percent of cases eligible for payments, which has rendered some patrons unable to make their payments as expected."

In an effort to help the lower courts, the AOC contracted with nCourt.

"Casa Grande City Court may join in the AOC's three-year contract at no direct cost," the staff report continues. "The contract calls for a 5 percent transaction fee, which is assessed to (persons making the payments). nCourt provides a custom website for payments, an IVR (interactive voice response) payment system, multilingual live telephone customer service, and full chargeback protection. In addition, nCourt provides EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) card readers for in-person payments. 

"The Casa Grande City Court currently utilizes Paymentec to handle in-person credit card transactions. Paymentec charges service fees between 1.74 percent and 3 percent per transaction, depending on the type of card. However, effective Oct.1, all credit cards will be converted to chip-and-pin cards and merchants who do not upgrade to EMV card readers will risk chargeback fees. 

"These EMV readers ordinarily come at a cost of $350 each. nCourt will provide the Court with three EMV readers as a part of the contract at no additional cost."

In using the two present payment companies, the city was charged $9,100 in bank fees during fiscal year 2013 and $9,561 in FY14, not including chargeback fees.

"Entering into a contract with nCourt will eliminate these bank fees and provide the necessary EMV readers at no cost to the City," the staff report says.


Group home/counseling center approved

(Posted Aug. 16, 2015)


The full staff report, including details about the operation, is HERE



The way has been cleared for a group home at 846 W. Cottonwood Lane that would provide transitional housing and recovery support services for adults with serious mental illness.

As outlined before Planning and Zoning Commission approval of a conditional use permit during the last meeting, The NAZCARE wellness center facility would serve between three to 10 people daily, with the housing portion having six beds. 

"The goal is to provide a housing program and out-patient support services for people with serious mental illness who have been chronically hospitalized and chronically homeless," the staff report says. "It will provide independent life skills in a two-year time frame and transition them into permanent housing." 

NAZCARE now operates Desert Rose Wellness Center at 901 E. Cottonwood Lane and will move it to the West Cottonwood location.

The operation will be in a building on the north side of West Cottonwood between Ironwood Lane and Lewis Drive, previously a group home for foster children that shut down in 2009 because of loss of state funding. Because of the change in use, a new conditional use permit is required.

"There is room for six residents in there," City Planner Joe Horn told the commission. "They would be private rooms. They do have the ability to have couples in some of those rooms, like a married couple or something like that that are both going through this transitional housing."

Roberta Howard, representing NAZCARE, said the company "is running an evidence based practice program in other cities, which is the combination of a wellness center which does out-patient services. It basically does adult life skills, peer support groups, one-to-one, integrates them into the community and supportive employment.

"The housing is wrapped around services and we really try to limit it to five to six tenants, unless it's a parent or a husband and wife situation.

"The idea is to wrap all adult life skills and recovery support services around someone up to a two-year period of time in which they transition into permanent long term housing."


Development fees changes before City Council

(Posted Aug. 14, 2015)


You'll find the complete agendas and staff reports at 

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


The regular meeting, open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the council chamber at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd. At 6 p.m. at the same location and also open to the public will be a study session about the proposed paid time off program for city employees.



A change in how development impact fees are paid is on the agenda for Monday night's City Council meeting.

The fees, charged to keep city services in line with population growth, are now paid at the time building permits are taken out for residential projects or at a specific time in a development agreement. Those rules do not cover nonresidential projects.

The proposed changes would read that development agreements can only be used to modify the impact fee payment time frame for residential projects, limit the deferral to no later than the time of issuance of a certificate of occupancy and require posting of a financial security bond to guarantee the deferred payments. Impact fees for non residential projects would be paid at the time of pulling building permits or could be deferred until occupancy permits if the financial bonds are posted.

Other agenda items include:

• Swearing in of new police officers.

• Purchase of a 2016 Ford truck at a cost of $34,979.

• Payment of $105,494.48 to the Arizona Department of Revenue as a charge for the state collecting city sales taxes and then forwarding.


Casa Grande seeking help in removing nitrate
from its small northwest side water company

(Posted Aug. 12, 2015)


The request for qualifications is HERE


The nitrate notice is HERE


Alternate source of drinking water notice is HERE


The federal Environmental Protection Agency description of nitrate and its effects is found HERE



Casa Grande is advertising for a contractor to set up a system to clean nitrate from its small water system on the northwest side of the city.

The facility near the intersection of Anderson Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway serves 277 customers.

It is entirely separate from the private Arizona Water Co., which serves the majority of residents within Casa Grande.

According to the announcement, "this facility includes an existing 180-gallons-per-minute well, 300,000-gallon storage tank and booster pumps. The water produced by the existing well exceeds the maximum contaminate level (10 mg/l) for nitrates. Nitrates have been observed at levels of approximately 10.5 to 12 mg/l."

The city is under Arizona Department of Environmental Quality mandate to remedy the situation.

"Currently,," the request continues, "the city envisions the solution to this nitrate issue to be the addition of water treatment equipment to the water production facility. This treatment equipment will be a packaged-style system that will treat a portion of the water produced by the well and blend it into the storage tank to achieve compliance levels in the water discharged into the distribution system."

The request is for a construction manager at risk, meaning the company chosen will do the work for a stated cost. Cost overruns are the responsibility of the manager.

"The budget for this project is anticipated to be approximately $250,000 as a maximum amount for the equipment purchase and construction of this project," the request says.

The small water company was acquired years ago at about the time the ill fated Copper Mountain Ranch megaproject northwest of Pinal Avenue was being ballyhooed. The operation covers Santa Rosa Ranch, Santa Rose III and Saddleback Farms. During this year's budget discussions about proposed rate increases, Mayor Bob Jackson said the geographical area of the city water company is "north of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway for the most part, west of Russell Road to Anderson Road, and then there's a second component that is south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway about half a mile south on the west side of Anderson Road."

The system has had problems since the beginning.

Almost 10 years ago, then Mayor Chuck Walton said during a boards and commissions dinner that with the growth of the city at that time, it was decided to go into the water business.

"To get in the water business," he told the audience, "the estimates we found would have cost $3 million to start from scratch to form a water company on the north end of Casa Grande to accommodate some of the fast growth that we were seeing at that time.

"We searched around and found a water company that was already in existence that had about 250 customers. It was literally a piece of junk; it wasn't worth 15 cents, but the purchase price was over a million dollars. 

"Now, we got a lot of criticism for that, for how come these idiots would hit taxpayers 1.2 or 1.3 million dollars for a piece of junk," Walton said.

"Well, number one, I want to remind everybody that we didn't spend taxpayers' money on that water company. We got a mediation gift from Reliant (Energy) for putting that big steamboat out on the west end of town that's known as the electric generation plant (now a SRP facility).

"They bought that water company and gave it to us and we gave it to the citizens of Casa Grande. So we literally started into the water business at the taxpayers' expense of zero dollars."

Walton added that, "we're on the verge right now of putting that water company on the market, we don't need it any more. And since we don't need to anymore, it's an asset we need to liquidate.

"We've got a minimum bid on that water company of $5 million, so anything over $5 million that water company's going to have a new owner.

"So that's some of the decisions that the council has made on behalf of the taxpayers in the last few years that probably got a little criticism but it turned out to be we knew what we were doing."

Walton did not say if a firm buyer has been found, but the city had been negotiating in private with at least one area water company.

Nothing came of that. The city still wants to sell the company.


Hacienda/Florence work qualifications sought

(Posted Aug. 11, 2015)


Casa Grande has issued a request for qualifications for professional engineering services to improve the intersection of North Hacienda Road and East Florence Boulevard, work necessitated by the proposed PhoenixMart project.

According to the request, the work "may include traffic signals, street lighting, signs, pavement marking, relocation of utilities, as well as necessary street paving and sidewalk, curb, and gutter construction."

A year ago when the Planning and Zoning Commission was considering additional lot configurations for PhoenixMart it was pointed out that a traffic analysis found that PhoenixMart would require two traffic signals along Florence Boulevard.

"One of the signal lights required is at the intersection of Toltec Buttes Road and Florence Boulevard and the second will be at Hacienda Road intersection and Florence Boulevard," Senior Planner Leila Demaree said.

"The light off of Toltec Buttes Road will be fully financed by the PhoenixMart developer. The second traffic light will be financed by two development entities. PhoenixMart will be responsible for 25 percent at the intersection of Hacienda Road and Florence. The rest of the cost will be paid through the established Mission Royale Community Facilities District."

The deadline for submitting qualifications is Sept. 1.


Better Verizon cell service around Cactus MS

(Posted Aug. 9, 2015)


Graphic above shows present versus future cell coverage in the area.


For more details, scroll down in the staff report, HERE



Better Verizon cell phone service, especially for data, is expected in the area around Cactus Middle School on Kortsen Road.

During its Thursday, Aug. 6, meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a request from the elementary school district for a conditional use permit and an amendment to the school area site plan to allow an 80-foot-tall cell tower on the northeast side of the property.

The primary large antenna array, to be leased to Verizon, would be at the top of the monopole, which will be designed for the future colocation of a second antenna array below that to accommodate another carrier. 

Some other cell towers in Casa Grande have been disguised as palm trees or other vegetation, but in this case that wouldn't really work, the staff report says.

"In discussing the possibility of erecting a stealth structure, the applicant contended that due to the width of the array needed for this tower for cellular data transmission, methods to disguise it become problematic. The array consists of three 7.5-feet-wide panels at the top of the monopole. A structure designed to encase this would result in an even larger structure, potentially more ostentatious than the tower itself. The location of this tower is in a remote area, which would render various stealth options out of place."

The undeveloped The Muirlands planned area development, now being farmed, is 270 feet east of the proposed tower. The staff report said the owner had concerns that the height of the tower might discourage lot sales when The Muirlands is finally developed.

"Because future potential development will bring more density closer to the tower," the staff report continues, "it shall be a condition that this conditional use permit shall expire after five years. This allows the city staff and Planning Commission to reevaluate the tower after five years, when The Muirlands may be developing to explore alternatives at that time. 

"As this area of the city develops, tower height can potentially be lower. This is due to the fact that a low

density area requires an antenna at a greater height to reach further. When there is greater density, the antenna can be lower to serve a closer and denser area."

The question of who would pay for taking down the tall tower in that case would have to be part of the agreement with the school district, the commission was told.

Adam Brixius of Pinnacle Consulting told CG News that construction is expected to begin during the final quarter of this year but could extend into the first quarter of 2016, depending upon further approvals and negotiations.

In other action Thursday night, the commission:

• Approved a conditional use permit for a group home at 846 W. Cottonwood Lane for adults with serious mental illnesses. The building was at one time a group foster home for children, but was shut down in 2009 after loss of state funding.

"The NAZCARE wellness center facility is proposed to serve between three to 10 people daily, with the housing portion supporting six beds," the staff report says. 

"The goal is to provide a housing program and out-patient support services for people with serious mental illness who have been chronically hospitalized and chronically homeless. It will provide independent life skills in a two year time-frame and transition them into permanent housing."

• Approved a preliminary plat proposal to divide the proposed 97-acre Santa Cruz Crossing project at Rodeo and Trekell roads into seven lots.

According to the staff report, the lots would be for an assisted living facility, apartment homes, patio homes, single-family homes and lots for future office and commercial development.

• Approved a request for a conditional use permit for a 2,400-square-feet detached RV garage and a 2,272-square-feet detached carport at 191 N. Pottebaum Avenue.


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/


Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen moves forward

(Posted Aug. 7, 2015)


More requests have been approved for a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen at 2223 E. Florence Blvd., the location of  the failed Del Taco operation.

During Thursday night's Planning and Zoning Commission members were told that minor site plan revisions had been made:  

• Addition of an 8-foot concrete block screen wall at rear of building to screen equipment.

• Replacing landscaping.

• Exterior remodeling, including stone veneer to be added, color changes and addition of window canopies.

No opening date has been announced.


Casa Grande hires public information officer

(Posted Aug. 7, 2015)


Casa Grande has hired a city public information officer to replace Agustin Avalos, who resigned to take a job in Utah.

According the the announcement, Kayla Fulmer will be responsible for the city’s public relations, public involvement and media relations.  She will provide oversight to the city’s website, government access Channel 11, social media outlets, as well as external communications, including City Beat and the annual report.  

Fulmer previously worked for the Arizona Supreme Court as the marketing and outreach specialist for the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program.  She was responsible for implementing a marketing and public relations strategy for CASA of Arizona and its 15 county programs throughout the state.  

Fulmer served as the primary spokesperson with the media, court personnel, state and county agencies and the public, in addition to managing communication plans and media relations for the CASA program statewide.  She participated in community based committees and developed marketing content for press releases, newsletters, advertisements and social media platforms.  

Fulmer, who begins work on Tuesday, Aug. 11, is an Arizona native and a graduate of Arizona State University with a bachelor of arts in gender studies with a minor in mass communications.  


Final approval given for initial rec center plans

(Posted Aug. 3, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda, including staff reports when available, at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


Video of the meeting will be available on the city website at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/


Final approval of a $155,132 contract with Haydon Building Corp. for initial planning of the layout of a community recreation facility was given Monday night by the City Council.

The item received initial approval at the July 20 council meeting, but because the contract is for more than $50,000, it requires two readings, or hearings, before the council.

The final approval was under the consent agenda, which is items to be passed at one time without discussion.

However, at the request of a council member or member of the community, the item would be pulled from the consent agenda and discussed as if it were a regular agenda item.

Councilman Dick Powell asked that it be pulled because he had a question.

"I wanted to just confirm with the city manager that we were able to get a commitment for three community meetings at the start of their (Haydon) service they're going to do with the city," Powell said.

City Manager Jim Thomson replied, "Yes, sir."

Powell made a motion to approve the contract. The council vote was unanimous.


A special package on the community rec facility, including discussion of public meetings, is posted under SPECIAL. It includes charts and opinions.


Other council actions Monday night include:

• Accepting a $585,000 state grant for reconstructing a Taxiway E at the city airport.

• Approved amending a lease with Cingular Wireless, allowing additional space.

• Approved purchase of a truck with dump bed for $45,020.

• Held until a meeting in September a request to renew the  city's membership in the Greater Phoenix Economic Council at a cost of $29,232.


Initial approval for drawing rec center plans

(Posted July 20, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and available staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


You can watch the recorded council meeting, broken into agenda items, at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/


Video of the rec center discussion is HERE. Click on item I-1.



Designing first plans for a community recreation center received initial approval Monday night by the City Council, adding a proviso that as part of the process Haydon Building Corp. must hold at least two well publicized community meetings to gather information on what residents would like to see in the building, for which $16.5 million is available from a 2006 bond election.

Final approval is expected during the next council meeting. The cost for drawing the initial schematic plans would be $155,132. Any contract of more than $50,000 requires two readings, or hearings, by the council.

The staff report explains the two-part design process this way:

"The first element in the design phase would include services through schematic design. The design agreement would then be amended to proceed to full engineering. Once the full design was completed, a construction contract, with a guaranteed maximum price would be considered. The City Council would consider the specific scope and contract at each incremental phase.

"The scope of work associated with the schematic design element includes recreational programming analysis and design sufficient to present programming options and schematics. The scope of this agreement will develop the two conceptual layouts into design sketch floor plans/site plans, including properly proportioned and scaled spaces. The sketches will also include parking, driveway, trash enclosure, fire lane, sidewalk layouts and conceptual landscape."

The staff report is HERE. The Haydon letter is HERE.

Approval of drawing up the initial designs does not commit the council to go ahead with construction.

The presentation to council is HERE.


In other action Monday night, the council:

• Appointed Timothy Mace as deputy city magistrate.

Approved selling two lots at the airport industrial park.

• Accepted the bid of $8.55 cents per column inch from the Casa Grande Dispatch for printing of official city advertising.

• Tabled indefinitely a request from residents of the Mountain View Estates to be annexed into Casa Grande.

The area, west of Interstate 10, south of I-8 and southeast of the Casa Grande Mountain area, is now in the county but is part of Eloy's planning area.

City staff had recommended against an annexation, citing: 

• Cost of providing services is significantly greater that the revenue that will be realized.

• The limited access will make it difficult to provide timely emergency response and efficient delivery of municipal services.

• Potential for significant roadway and drainage maintenance costs due to the sub-standard construction of these facilities.

The full cost-benefits analysis, with maps, is HERE. The staff report is HERE.

Tabling the request, the council was told, will give city officials more time to talk with residents and with Eloy officials.


Unemployment rates climb in CG, across county

(Posted July 16, 2015)


NOTE: The state uses two sets of unemployment statistics: seasonally adjusted calculating a rate based on usual seasonal unemployment and non adjusted showing the true number of jobless during a month. The state's seasonally adjusted June rate was 5.9 percent. The statistics below are nonadjusted, or true rates.


Unemployment rose across Casa Grande and Pinal County during June, statistics posted Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show.

Casa Grande had a June jobless rate of 6.8 percent, up from 5.8 during May. 

The statistics for Casa Grande show 1,517 people out of work during June, up from 1,276 for May. 

Casa Grande had a 4 percent jobless rate (666 workers jobless) for June 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 


Other June statistics


Pinal County 

The county had a June rate of 6.5 percent jobless (10,283 without work), up from 5.6 (8,768) during May. The county's June 2007 rate was 4.2 percent (4,676 jobless).

Coolidge

6.6 percent jobless rate for June (337 unemployed), up from 5.7 percent (288) during May. The June 2007 rate was 7.7 (388 jobless).

Eloy

11.1 rate for June (418 jobless), up from 9.6 (356) during May. The June 2007 rate was 6.4 (349 jobless).

Florence

6.4 rate for June (206 jobless), up from 5.1 during May (163). The June 2007 rate was 4.2 (146 jobless).

Maricopa city

5.7 rate for June (1,313 jobless), up from 5.1 during May (1,160). The June 2007 rate was 4.7 (832 jobless).


The state no longer issues statistics for unincorporated areas or Indian communities.


Cleaning 74 miles of those smelly sewer pipes

(Posted July 15, 2015)


The staff report and cleaning area maps are found at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/



About 74 miles of Casa Grande's 260 miles of sewer pipes will be cleaned this fiscal year under a contract with a professional cleaning company.

The $300,000 effort, given initial approval during the last City Council meeting, also includes cleaning 1,062 of the city's 4,500 sewer manholes and inspecting 10 percent of their pipes.

"This is our annual sewer cleaning effort," Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the council. "By performing this cleaning it does help us reduce the hydrogen sulfide levels within the collection system, which helps reduce the corrosive effects and helps reduce complaints from residents due to odors associated with the H2S levels."

Last fiscal year, 420,000 feet of sewer lines, or about 80 miles, were cleaned, versus the 389,000 (about 74 miles) planned for this season.

That statistic led to a question from Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons.

"With about 30,000 less linear feet, is that that trend, does it usually go down as far as how we get out of what we pay?" she asked.

Louis responded that, "It really depends on the size of the line. Obviously, the smaller diameter lines, the 6- to 12-inch, we can do a lot more linear feet for the same amount versus the larger 24- to 36-inch lines, which costs a lot more money to do those per linear foot.

"We look at the different segments that we've programmed in our 10-year cycle and then we determine the approximate linear feet. And that is an approximate number, not exact. We do get exact numbers from the cleaning service, they provide us those daily and weekly reports that we then put into an annual report that we keep on site."


Need a new roll-around trash container? Here's how

(Posted July 12, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff report at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


On-line service request

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/publicworks/service-request/


Pickup schedule

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/publicworks/solid-waste/trash-schedule/


Questions about recycling?

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/publicworks/recycling/



That relentless Arizona summer sun slowly but surely erodes most everything.

And that includes those roll-around containers the city provides in some neighborhoods for twice-weekly trash pickup.

As the City Council during its last meeting was discussing a contract to buy new containers, Councilman Karl Montoya said, "Since we started this program probably 10 years ago or something in neighborhoods, we're starting to see more and more cans deteriorate out there sitting on the curbs and things like that.

"How does one go through replacing one of these and is there a charge for that?" he asked Public Works Director Kevin Louis. "What is the process?"

Actually, it's pretty simple, Louis replied.

"Unless we can show that it was damaged through negligence, we replace it," he said. "People can basically go on line and they can do a service request to have their container replaced. We'll give them a call, let them know when to leave their can out after it's emptied and then it's usually within 15 or 20 minutes after the truck goes through their subdivision that their can would be replaced."

The contract under discussion, approved unanimously, was to buy 1,248 of the 96-gallon containers at a cost of $61,736, or $49.47 each.

The cost each went down from $56.29 the last time around, Councilman Matt Herman noted.

"It did," Louis responded. "The price of these containers is really driven by oil prices and how that affects the cost of producing the rubber for these."

The staff report accompanying the agenda item said the Sanitation Division now has about 600 containers in inventory. Last fiscal year, about 800 were delivered to new customers and as replacements, indicating it's time to buy more.

"We're going to order these in two truckloads." Louis said. "We'll order 624 containers in our first order and we'll hold off until we absolutely have to order that second load, but we have the authorization if approved this evening." 

According to the staff report, the containers are rotational mold ones that are projected to have a longer life and  lower life-cycle cost than injection mold containers. The containers are also “nestable” and can be stacked inside each other requiring less space to store and are more economical to deliver to customers.


Grant would help city anticrime activities

(Posted July 10, 2015)


The staff report is HERE


The spending plan is HERE


The Casa Grande Police Department has received approval from the City Council to apply for a $18,085  federal grant to help pay some costs related to community policing.

Interim Police Administrative Director (acting chief) Chris Vasquez told the council that if the grant is approved, $15,342 would be for paying overtime expenses to various community policing activities to assist in a reduction in crime and to help build community relations."

The remaining $2,743, he said, would be used for publicity products such as brochures, key chains, pens and other items handed out at special events as part of anticrime programs such as Public Safety Day, Bike Patrol, Crime Free Multihousing and Neighborhood Block Watch.


Council OKs continuing senior meals program

(Posted July 7, 2015)


The breakdown of the agreement is HERE


Information about participating in the program is HERE. Click on Senior Meals and Transportation


Casa Grande's senior meals program, both home delivery and in-house at Dorothy Powell Senior Adult Center, will continue for another year, the City Council decided Monday night in approving a contract funding extension with Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens.

"We currently serve about 34,500 meals a year and this grant total is for $368,492," Community Services Director Bill Schwind told the council.

Councilman Karl Montoya responded, "I'd like to thank you guys for just being able to continue the program. I know a lot of people look forward to these meals. It's a great, great program. I'm glad we're still able to support it and keep it going, especially in these times."

Schwind said residents to wish to volunteer or to be placed on the meals list may call the Community Services Department at 421-8765.

Mayor Bob Jackson said, "It's such a great program. I'm happy we can continue to do it.

"A lot of people, that's the only public contact, the only meal that they get for the day. If you've seen the meals that get delivered, I would hate to think that's the only meal I'm getting that day."

Approval of the agreement, which includes transportation service, was unanimous.


Community rec center plans pulled off agenda;
proposed personnel policy changes voted down

(Posted July 6, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/



Of the two major items on Monday night's agenda, consideration of a contract for initial plans for a community recreation center was withdrawn at the start of the meeting with no explanation other than it will be brought back at a later time.

In response to a request from CG News on why the issued was pulled, City Manager Jim Thompson said by email Tuesday morning that it was at the request of a councilman. He did not identify that council member.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Councilman Dick Powell told CG News that he asked that the item be pulled for further discussion at a later date. His comments are below.

"We will have it on the next meeting with a short study session prior to the regular meeting," Thompson said.

The second item was proposed changes in the city's personnel policy for a paid time off (PTO) proposal. That was voted down, with the understanding that the city will do a long term study, perhaps two years, including how the proposed changes might affect recruitment and how city finances might be impacted. It would also allow for gathering of more detailed information for the council, more interaction with employee questions and a better understanding of how to proceed.



Recreation center


Scroll down in COMMUNITY page link, above, for earlier story about community center delay


(The staff report is HERE.  The letter from Haydon is HERE.)


Late Friday afternoon (July 7), Councilman Dick Powell told CG News that he had requested that the agenda item be pulled for further study.

"The Recreation Center has yet to be discussed by council," Powell said in an email.  

"In-house plans were developed by staff reflecting mostly planning issues and ideas from 2006 without council input. 

"A portfolio was developed that concludes there will not be any subsidizing required because the still included fitness center will be able to depend on 880 memberships. That is about as likely as snow in August. 

"Remember the last portfolio for the United Football league? It is delinquent about $5 million at the five-year mark with about $ 27 million to go through 2030. The lessee has paid about $ 450,000 to date. It is a true money pit."

Powell continued that, "Haydon Building Corp. was selected by staff for a design/construct contract. Planning and design for the center is $155,132, plus a 10 percent contingency fee of $15,513.

"There is a sizable disconnect between what staff included in the basic programs and community expectations. 

"The Boys & Girls Clubs has been led to believe space for them will be included, none is included. The Teen Center has been suggested for inclusion. They are not. Suggestions regarding laser tag, game rooms, etc., are not included. 

"The private sector fitness centers have unequivocally told council the community is over served and it is not legal to compete with the private sector using tax payer money. The fitness component is still included." 

The recreation center item was a $155,132 contract with Haydon Building Corp. for initial design.

According to the staff report, "The first element in the design phase would include services through schematic design. The design agreement would then be amended to proceed to full engineering. Once the full design was completed, a construction contract, with a guaranteed maximum price would be considered. The City Council would consider the specific scope and contract at each incremental phase."

It adds that, "The scope of this agreement will develop the two conceptual layouts into design sketch floor plans/site plans including properly proportioned and scaled spaces. The sketches will also include parking, driveway, trash enclosure, fire lane, sidewalk layouts and conceptual landscape.

"For the purposes of developing a schematic design, HBC will be asked to assume that approximately 10 acres of site development is available for this project that includes the building footprint, the parking required for the recreation facility and multi-purpose open space adjacent to the building."

In other words, those would not be actual are not construction plans.

The staff report says that the 42,000- to 45,000-square-foot center on Peart Road between Cottonwood and Kortsen roads would be designed for these basic programs:

• Gymnasium (two-court divided multi-use layout).

• Cardio/stretching area/fitness/wellness.

• Walking track.

• Dance studio(s).

• Multi-purpose rooms.

• Shower/locker area.

• Activity/classroom/training room(s).

• Lobby and support spaces.

• Child watch.

• Administrative/partnership offices.

• Restrooms.

"The result of the schematic design efforts will be documenting two separate conceptual layouts that will assist the City Council in their decision toward a potential recommendation and advancement to the next step in the development process," the staff report says.



PTO personnel policy


(An explanation of what the paid time off policy proposal was all about HERE)


(The pertinent sections are HERE)

(The initial session staff report is HERE)

(Watch the discussion HERE. Click on item K.2)


The personnel policy changes have been discussed at previous council meetings or study sessions, each time considering how they would affect the city and hearing that some council members and employees were still confused and had questions.

Monday night, Human Resources Director Dawn Jett said that results of a survey "indicate most five- to 15-year employees prefer the paid time off, and those are really the numbers that you look at when you're looking at really retention indications, because most people that are here for 15 years are going to be here for retirement.

"Of city employees between five and 10 years of service, we had 94 respondents, 58 indicated they'd likely convert, 25 indicated they'd like to stay in the current program but support employee choices, 11 did indicate that they don't believe that PTO should even be an option at this point, that we should just stay where we are.

"And of the 10- to 15-year employees, 45 responded, 22 would likely convert, 15 would likely stay but do support employee choice and eight indicated they believe employees should not be given a PTO option, we should just stay where we are.

"The employee choice is significant. A current employee could either stay with the current system, no changes, nothing would change for them, their accruals would stay the same, their payouts would stay the same, anything that they'd been working at towards would stay the same, or they could convert to PTO."

Jett said she had not posted her presentation on the city's website but had made a commitment that she would do so after the council meeting.

As decision time neared Monday night, Councilman Dick Powell pointed out that since it was the second consideration for the proposal it could not be amended. 

"We either have to take it like it is or vote it down or table it. And that puts us in a predicament."

Voting it down, he continued, "doesn't mean we couldn't come back and do one and say we're going to do a two-year study. And we'll have data on it, we'll know which does what and we'll be a lot more prepared to address those kind of things.

"The information we want, we're probably not going to get enough of until we do it and see what people actually do and how they choose it. And that would be certainly an option that we could do.

"We're going to have to have both programs anyway and if you just took the next two years of recruits and gave them the choice and see how the people that we're trying to retain feel we would have demonstrated how each of them works."

During that study period, Powell said, new hires could chose either program rather than be put into the proposed new category.

The decision to vote down the changes was unanimous.


Other actions

During the meeting, the council also:

• Formally set the city's primary property tax for this fiscal year at 99.99 cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation and the secondary property tax at 63.08 cents per hundred, both the same as last year.

• Approved an agreement with Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens to continue the senior meals program.

• Gave initial approval to purchase of 1,248 96-gallon trash containers for $61,736.

• Gave initial approval to a $300,000 contract for sewer lines cleaning.

• Approved applying for a federal grant of $18,085 to help pay police overtime expenses and other costs for community policing activities.

• Gave initial approval to changing zoning on the south side of the Elks property at 909 E. Florence Blvd. from single-family residential to general business.

• Gave initial approved to changing zoning from urban ranch to garden and light industrial on property west of North VIP Boulevard and south of West Clayton Road.


City reassessing how to search for police chief

JULY 2 UPDATE: It was announced today that the city is still running financial projections on how much it would cost to run the chief search and related costs if handled by the Human Resources Department versus what it would cost to hire a professional search/interviews company.


(Posted June 22, 2015)


The original announcement is HERE


The cancellation notice is HERE


Casa Grande is reassessing how it will go about the search for a permanent police chief to replace Johnny Cervantes, who resigned under fire last last year.

The city had posted a general request for proposals announcement seeking an executive search company to handle advertising of the position, initial interviews and other details.

The city has now posted another announcement saying only, "This notice is to inform all firms that the City of Casa Grande has canceled the RFP for Executive Search Services. The City has decided not to move forward with the search of a firm at this time. Thank you, we appreciate your interest in doing business with the City of Casa Grande."

CG News today asked Deputy City Manager Larry Rains if the cancellation notice means that the search is off entirely, or if Chris Vasquez, who has been acting chief with the title of interim police services manager, will be appointed without spending the money for a search.

"Neither, actually," Rains responded by email.

"We are evaluating the possibility of handling the search process internally through our Human Resources Department. If we elect to proceed with this format, there would be certain costs associated with an external search. However, they would likely be less than hiring a firm.   

"I anticipate a decision being made within the week."


May jobless rate in Casa Grande at 5.8 percent

(Posted June 18, 2015)


Unemployment statistics posted Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show Casa Grande with a jobless rate of 5.8 percent during May, down slightly from 6 during April. 

The statistics for Casa Grande show 1,280 people out of work during May, down from 1,299 for April. 

Casa Grande had a 3.3 percent jobless rate (555 workers) for May 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 

Pinal County had an May rate of 5.6 percent jobless (8,787 without work), down from 5.9 (9,167) during April. The county's May 2007 rate was 3.6 percent (3,898 jobless).

Other cities' May statistics are:

Coolidge

5.7 percent jobless rate for May (288 unemployed), down from 6 percent (301) during April. The May 2007 rate was 6.6 (323 jobless).

Eloy

9.6 rate for May (357 jobless), down from 10.1 (373) during April. The May 2007 rate was 5.4 (291 jobless).

Florence

4.9 rate for May (157 jobless), down from 6.1 during April (194). The May 2007 rate was 3.5 (121 jobless).

Maricopa city

5 rate for May (1,155 jobless), down from 5.3 during April (1,203). The May 2007 rate was 4 (693 jobless).

The state no longer issues statistics for incorporated areas or Indian communities.


Council approves lower trash, sewer rate hikes

(Posted June 15, 2015)


You'll find the complete agendas and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


The new utilities rates in all categories are found by scrolling down in the adopted consolidated fee schedule HERE


Scroll down to end of this story for originally proposed versus final adoption sewer and trash rates.


City utilities rates for sewer and trash that are lower than those originally proposed were approved Monday night by the City Council.

Those original proposals, discussed during a June 1 council study session, were $3 a month for sewer, bringing the monthly billing to $34.45.

The revised proposal is for an increase of $1 monthly, for a monthly billing for $32.45

As originally presented, the trash collection fee would rise by $3.50 to $23.50 monthly.

The revised increase is a $2 increase, for a monthly bill of $22.

As explained during the study session, the higher proposals were based on the desire to have funds in each utility account for vehicle replacement and other costs. Striking those proposals would mean lower increases, Finance Director Doug Sandstrom told the council.

No reductions were made in rates for the city's small water company on the west side of Casa Grande. Those rates do not affect city residents, who are served by the private Arizona Water Co.

The council also adopted next fiscal year's budget. The updated budget document is HERE. The city's property tax rates, unchanged from last year, will be officially adopted during the July 6 meeting.

Also approved was the consolidated city fees schedule with the exception of fee increases at the city airport. Those will be reconsidered at a later date. The fee schedule is HERE.

In other action, the council:

• Tabled amendments to the city's personnel policy, pending gathering further information for the council and the holding of a study session for further explanation. The staff report is HERE. Proposals for changes are HERE.

• Approved a contract for managing false fire and burglary alarms.

• Approved community partnership grants to:

Access Arizona, $75,000; Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce, $43,500; Casa Grande Main Street, $39,150; Casa Grande Valley Historical Society, $34,000; Pinal County Water Augmentation Authority, $20,000; Boys and Girls Club of Casa Grande Valley, $100,000 

• Watched as Elks Lodge 1957 presented a $2,000 check to the Community Services Department for the swim lesson scholarship program. 


Boston's Restaurant and Sports Bar approved

(Posted June 4, 2015)



The major site plan for a Boston's Restaurant and Sports Bar was approved Thursday night by the Planning and Zoning Commission, which was told the complex could be open later this year.

The Boston's would be on Cacheris Court just northwest of the new gasoline station/market under construction north of Florence Boulevard.

The staff report says, "This restaurant — a chain located in approximately 400 locations across the United States, Canada and Mexico—is proposed to be 11,300 square feet in size. Of this, 9,758 square feet is the restaurant, bar, and accessory video arcade. There is also a 1,000-square-feet enclosed patio, and the remainder consisting of accessory walk-in coolers."


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/


According to a letter from the developer, the proposed use will be a sit-down restaurant with extensive menu, featuring a gourmet pizza list. The sports bar would have a full line of beverages, numerous video screens for sports games and an outdoor patio. A video arcade geared toward children would be adjacent to the restaurant.

Total employment is to be about 25 people.

Voting against was Chairman Mike Henderson, who had cited safety concerns about residents in motels south of Florence Boulevard trying to cross the busy street, which has no crosswalks or traffic lights in the area.

There have been three pedestrian fatalities just farther to the east on Florence involving people trying to cross the boulevard late at night to go to a convenience store. At least one fatality was reported to involve a person who had been drinking.

In other action Thursday night, the commission:

• Approved a conditional use permit and major site plan for separate auto salvage and plastics shredding operations on five-plus acres at 1411 N. Grant Ave. on the city's west side.

According to the staff report, "The Grant Avenue Renewal project consists of two companies providing salvage operations with two different types of products. The north portion of the property will be operated by Lock Haven LLC. Lock Haven will operate an auto salvage business. The operation involves receiving salvaged automobiles to be disassembled for parts for the purpose of reselling those parts.

"The south portion of the property will be operated by Iron Haven LLC for a HDPE (high density poly ethylene) recycling facility. The pipe will be delivered to the site then shredded into small chips. The chips will be sold to companies that process the shredded material into a new pipe or HDPE product."

A condition for both operations is that while plastics shredding will be allowed, there is to be no metal shredding.

• Approved a final landscape plan for part of PhoenixMart.

• Approved revising parking and locating an outdoor storage area at C-A-L Ranch at Florence Boulevard and Trekell Road.

• Sent favorable recommendations to the City Council for rezoning the south part of the Casa Grande Valley Elks Lodge from single-family residential to general business.


Monday's Casa Grande City Council actions

(Posted June 21, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


The budget form schedules are HERE



The City Council took the following actions Monday night:

• With Councilman Karl Montoya opposed, adopted a tentative city budget of $175,360,200, with no increase in property taxes. Councilman Matt Herman was absent, excused.

"Adoption of the tentative budget establishes the expenditure limitation for the fiscal year," the staff report says. "The final budget may be adopted at a lesser amount but may not be increased above the limit established by this action.

"The required forms shall be published twice in the local paper as well as on the internet and council will be asked to adopt them as final on June 15."

The adoption will come after a public hearing during that meeting.

• Gave initial approval to a change in the city's personnel policy regarding paid time off.

• Gave initial approval to a $110,000 contract for laboratory testing for the city's water and wastewater operations.

• Made appointments to the Casa Grande Youth Commission. The list is HERE.

• Appointed Normal Poole and Brandi Clark to the Personnel Advisory Board.

• Watched as Mark O'Connor and Christopher Valenti were sworn in as the city's newest police officers. The two graduated from Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center on May 21. A photo of the two at the graduation is posted under POLICE, above.



Maricopa-CG Highway closing, detour set

(Posted May 29, 2015)


The detour map is HERE


Pinal County issued this announcement today:


Drivers who use the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will see work begin on the Santa Cruz Wash Crossing Project this week. 

Pinal County's contractor, NGU Contracting, Inc., plans to break ground this Wednesday, June 3, on the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway Santa Cruz Wash Crossing Project located just west of Murphy Road.  

The first phase of the work will include installing temporary storm drain culverts across the existing highway to enable construction of a temporary detour road near the wash between the existing highway and the railroad tracks.  

To install these temporary pipes, the contractor anticipates closing the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway on June 3 and installing a traditional detour around the closure on Murphy Road, Honeycutt Road, along with White and Parker roads.  

Once the temporary pipes are installed, the main highway will be opened up to through traffic. 

The contractor will proceed to construct a temporary detour road south of the highway, in addition to a new road access on Antone Street from the highway to the Ak Chin Commerce Center that will enable construction of the second phase of the work.  

The second phase of the work, or "permanent work," consists of constructing three sets of multiple barrel concrete box culverts in the wash to provide a bridged crossing for the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway over the Santa Cruz Wash. The temporary detour near the wash between the existing highway and the railroad tracks will act as the main highway as the box culverts are constructed in the wash. 

The new Antone Street connection will act as alternate access to the Ak-Chin Commerce Center and to Murphy Road north of the construction zone. A section of Murphy Road near the construction zone will be closed due to the amount of heavy equipment that will be in the area.  

Construction duration is anticipated to be between six to eight months.


Casa Grande's April jobless rate at 6 percent

(Posted May 21, 2015)


Unemployment statistics posted Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show Casa Grande with a jobless rate of 6 percent during April, up from 5.9 during March. 

The statistics for Casa Grande show 1,310 people out of work during April, up from 1,286 for March. 

Casa Grande had a 3.7 percent jobless rate for April 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 

Pinal County had an April rate of 6 percent jobless (9,226 without work), up from 5.8 (8,890) during March. The county's April 2007 rate was 3.9 percent.

Other cities' statistics are:

Coolidge

6 percent jobless rate for April (303 unemployed), up from 5.9 percent (295) during March. The April 2007 rate was 7.2.

Eloy

10.2 rate for April (375 jobless), up from 9.9 (365) during March. The April 2007 rate was 5.9.

Florence

6.1 rate for April (197 jobless), down from 7 during March (226). The April 2007 rate was 3.9.

Maricopa city

5.3 rate for April (1,209 jobless), the same as March (1,197). The April 2007 rate was 4.4.

The state no longer provides  employment statistics for unincorporated areas.


Fitness companies reps oppose community center

(Posted May 19, 2015)


Representatives from local fitness centers appeared before the City Council during Monday night's meeting to complain that the proposed city community recreation center would be unfair government competition with private industry.

You can view their appearance by clicking on Item H Public Comments section at http://casagrandeaz.swagit.com/play/05182015-1412.


Casa Grande is now a Purple Heart City

(Posted May 18, 2015)


The Military Order of the Purple Heart

http://www.purpleheart.org/


The resolution is HERE



Casa Grande is now designated as a Purple Heart City, honoring veterans of all wars and conflicts who were awarded the medal.

Mayor Bob Jackson read the resolution during Monday night's City Council meeting attended by many veterans.

Palmer Miller, veterans liaison case worker in the Casa Grande office of Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, told the council, "I would like to publicly say thank you to each and every one of you" on behalf "of our veterans who hold the Purple Heart from World War II, Korea and the current wars.

"Thank you again. Thank you for your continuing support. I truly want to invite you to the Memorial Day event that's coming up next week (9 a.m. Monday, May 25, at Mountain View Cemetery on Trekell Road near Interstate 8).

"I hope you'll accept on behalf of all the veterans in this community, this city of Casa Grande, because it is a great place to live and work. We thank you very, very much."

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons said to the veterans in the audience, "I really appreciate you all coming today. We are honored that you're here and to be part of this.

"I appreciate, Palmer, your leadership and the veterans community and the agencies that support veterans.

"We've been working, all of us, and we know how important this is.

"So thank you, very much. We're pleased to do this and just honor and appreciate your service to our country. 

"You're leaders to our young veterans coming up — and there's a lot of young kids coming up — and we really, really appreciate it and just your leadership in helping us to see what we can do to make it a better city to support the veterans."


You can watch the presentation and comments at 

http://casagrandeaz.swagit.com/play/05182015-1412, clicking on the Purple Heart agenda item.


Other actions


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


In other actions Monday night, the council:

Gave initial approval to another revision to the PhoenixMart planned area development.

The revisions, including a name change to NALTEC, for North American Logistics Trade and E-commerce City (PhoenixMart) are found HERE.

A previous presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission about the requested revisions is HERE.

The complete text of the revisions is in the agenda item at the link above.

To watch the presentation, with graphics, Monday night by Planning and Development Director Paul Tice, go to http://casagrandeaz.swagit.com/play/05182015-1412 and click on the PhoenixMart agenda item.

• Approved requests from the city and organizations to submit applications to Indian communities for grants from tribal gambling revenues.

The Tohono O'odham requests are HERE.

The Gila River Indian Community requests are HERE.

The Ak-Chin Indian Community requests are HERE.

The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation requests are HERE.

(The full applications are found under the agenda item at the link above.)

• Gave initial approval to upgrading of city computer systems at a cost of $92,042.

• Gave initial approval to a contract to provide human resources information and payroll services, including an implementation charge of about $45,000 and an estimated $125,000 yearly cost.

• Gave initial approval to purchase and installation of a heavy duty truck scale at the landfill for $76,135.

• Approved final passage of the Safe Medians ordinance.

      (The ordinance is HERE)


Rapid response brought in Tractor Supply Co.

(Posted May 18, 2015)



A rapid response from city officials was probably the tipping point in bringing a Tractor Supply Co. distribution center to Casa Grande, Mayor Bob Jackson believes.

Jackson also listed benefits from the deal, speaking during the May 15 business outlook luncheon by the Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce, including 270 jobs with a payroll of around $7 million yearly.

There are a lot of stories about economic development efforts, Jackson continued, "but this is one of my favorites because it's kind of a little game you play with big businesses, they look across the country and they find four or five different communities that they like and then they kind of pit the communities against each other to see who can give the best deal and they dangle this 270 jobs in front of you.

"We were out of the running for Tractor Supply. There was a West Valley city that was right in the middle of it and the CEO was in the air flying out to try to close the deal. The site selector meets him at the airport and says, guess what, our meeting was canceled. And the CEO says, well, I'm here, what do you want to do? And the site selector goes, well, you know, I'm hearing good things about Casa Grande, why don't we go down there and see what they've got."

They placed a phone call to Richard Wilke, the city economic development director, telling him the two would be in Casa Grande the next morning and that they needed to talk to people who were able to make decisions about utility service.

"Richard called APS, Southwest Gas, Arizona Water, our sewer people, our garbage people, our planning people and ended up with a meeting of about 20 people in our conference room to meet with the site selector and the CEO," Jackson said.

"That so impressed the CEO, he came back and he said, you know, if that's an indication of what you guys can do in 24 hours, maybe we need to look more closely at Casa Grande as a site.

"We made it through the cuts, the semifinals, we got down to the final two cities that were under consideration, Casa Grande and a town in Utah. In the economic development business, Utah is a formidable competitor, because Utah offers incentives far beyond anything the state of Arizona can offer.

"And I really think that is was through the tenacity of our staff that we were able to land Tractor Supply here."

Tractor Supply Co. is building the distribution center on 100 acres at the southeast corner of Burris and Peters roads to serve present and future retail stores in the Southwest. 

"I think about 600,000 square feet, plus or minus, slightly smaller than the Wal-Mart Distribution Center."

Tractor Supply is a Fortune 300 company, around since 1939.

"And they're bringing in 270 jobs, is the estimate," Jackson continued.

"I did some arithmetic last night. That constitutes  over $7 million in new payroll inside the city of Casa Grande.

Think about what that does for the restaurant business is you have another $7 million of income that wasn't here a year ago."

The decision by Tractor Supply to locate in Casa Grande has had a beneficial ripple effect with other large companies, Jackson said

"Once we landed them, several of companies said, hey, maybe we ought to look at Casa Grande, too," he continued.

"I can't talk a lot about who they are because we always have a sign a confidentially agreement with them before they come public.

"I think over the next six, seven, eight months we're going to have a whole series of announcements about new industries that are coming into town. At least that's my hope."


Initial OK for Parks Department trash truck

(Posted May 14, 2015)


The staff report is HERE



Does the Parks Department really need its own trash collection truck in addition to the regular large city ones you see up and down the streets and alleys twice a week?

That was the question when a request for the truck, at a cost of $111,016, came before the City Council during the May 4 meeting.

"It sounds to me like we're buying another garbage truck for the Parks Department," Councilman Matt Herman said. "I know it's small but don't we have big ones? It sounds like a duplication to me, overdoing. I understand the process, but it there a possibility we could utilize something else in the system now, because we are (already) doing a fleet of big, wide garbage trucks?"

There was some logic behind the request, Public Works Director Kevin Louis replied.

"If you look at where the trash cans are located throughout our parks system, our larger trucks would not be able to maneuver," he said.

"Like inside the softball fields or others?" Herman asked.

"Correct," Louis responded. "The area that this truck would go, the concrete isn't designed for that type of a (larger) weighted vehicle, so this is a much more reasonable sized vehicle."

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen asked, "And there's no way that somehow they could have those receptacles put out to a receptacle that will adjust to our regular pickup?"

Not really, Louis replied.

"Currently, the containers are placed in the parks system to hopefully provide the appropriate level of trash service so that trash doesn't get left on the ground. And they are scattered all over the parks system.

"In order to use our regular trucks, a parks employee would have to move all of those trash cans, loaded, out to a curb site, which doesn't make a lot of sense."

The staff report accompanying the agenda item puts it this way:

"The truck is needed to alleviate a two-part trash dumping method and excessive daily trips to the landfill. 

"Currently approximately 120 individual trash containers, ranging in size from 30 to 96 gallons, are manually emptied three times a week throughout our parks system. These individual containers are dumped into utility dumpsters which are then emptied into a front load system garbage truck that is taken to the landfill. 

"The addition of the new equipment will reduce the average 15 weekly trips taken to the landfill. The truck would eliminate the need for manual dumping, increasing park crew efficiency, reducing work-related injuries and reducing the amount of weekly trips to the landfill."

Initial approval by the council was unanimous. Final approval is expected during the May 18 meeting.


Oil recycling operation on west side approved

(Posted May 12, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/



Bringing an oil recycling operation to the west side of Casa Grande was approved Thursday night by the  Planning and Zoning Commission.

It was a special meeting called after the regular meeting on May 7 was cancelled for lack of a quorum. This time only member Fred Tucker was absent.

Contrary to rumors floating around the city, the operation is not a huge oil refinery, but a recycling operation that is almost total automated using an enclosed system.

Sheffield Oil was requesting a major site plan/final development plan and a conditional use permit for the lube oil recycling facility on 4.5 acres at 148 S. Commerce Drive in the Central Arizona Commerce Park.

The staff report says, "the facility would include oil recycling processing equipment, truck loading and unloading facilities, a tank farm holding waste oil and finished product, a small parking area and two modular office buildings. 

"A permanent employee structure is anticipated to be added in approximately one year. A rail spur and pumping station will be completed on the property within 10 months of operating. 

"According to the applicant's narrative, the facility would recycle used lube oil to produce a base lube product. The used lube oil product will be received in bulk by tanker truck and the blended product is then shipped out by truck. This process will continue until the rail spur is completed and then both rail and trucks will be used."

The commission was told that at the beginning of the operation about 13 and a half trucks on average a day would be going into and out of the facility, but that would drop to eight a day when the rail spur opens.

According to the staff report, Casa Grande does not have a land use category exactly for the blending facility, settling on "oil refinery" as the closest.

 "While we recognize that an oil refinery is a significantly more intense use with a greater potential for negative impacts to a surrounding area," the report continues, "we believe that a condition of approval can be worded in such a way to limit the use of the site to that of the proposed blending facility and not actual oil refining. 

"If the applicant wanted to expand to some level of refining, a new conditional use permit would be required subject to Planning and Zoning Commission approval. 

"Staff is proposing that the operation and development of the CUP be limited to that of a lube oil recycling facility and not to include oil refining, thereby avoiding the need to mitigate any potential impacts an oil refinery could present."

Approval of the requests was unanimous.

Chuck Wright, representing Sheffield said the company is now ready to submit its construction plans to the city.


Dividing lot

The other item on the agenda was a request to divide a 32-acre lot at the northeast corner of Jimmie Kerr Boulevard and Interstate 10 into two parcels and a drainage tract.

The drainage tract is required before the Federal Emergency Management Agency will remove floodway designation from part of parcel, making it developable.

The staff report says there are no known users for the parcels.

Approval was unanimous.


Is it worth it to pave a rural gravel road?

(Posted May 12, 2015)


The staff report is HERE


Casa Grande is taking advantage of federal antipollution funds to pave a mile and a half of Midway Road, paying a city share of $120,465 for a project estimated to cost $1,290,950.

During the discussion at the May 4 City Council meeting the question from Councilman Matt Herman arose: is it cost effective to pave a rural road rather than leave it as gravel?

"What about maintenance on this over the years?" Herman asked. "It's a great value for the paving, one of our most expensive things. But how much additional upkeep do you think it's going to be with another mile and a half of road."

The answer from Public Works Director Kevin Louis was, "The way we look at it, every mile of paved road is less expensive in the long run to maintain than every mile of gravel road. Gravel roads are money pits, you put money into them and then it's a reoccurring cost. Whereas, pavement maintenance if you properly maintain it with preemptive efforts you can push the life span of that pavement out."

The Midway paving project will be from a half mile south of Gila Bend Highway to one mile north of Gila Bend.

"We were able to take advantage of these congestion and mitigation air quality funds, or CMAQ funds, because we are part of a PM 10 and PM 2.5 non attainment area," Louis said. "So we were able to apply for these funds through Pinal County and be able to use these federal funds to pave one and a half miles of our gravel roadway.

"Part of our response to the PM 10 area is we're going to target so many miles of gravel road each year and this is just an opportunity to take advantage of some federal funds. We currently are budgeting $150,000 per year for our PM 10 response."


Some descriptions:

Particle pollution (also known as "particulate matter") in the air includes a mixture of solids and liquid droplets. Some particles are emitted directly; others are formed in the atmosphere when other pollutants react. Particles come in a wide range of sizes. Those less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) are so small that they can get into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. Ten micrometers is smaller than the width of a single human hair.

Fine particles (PM2.5). Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter are called "fine" particles. These particles are so small they can be detected only with an electron microscope. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes.

Coarse dust particles. Particles between 2.5 and 10 micrometers in diameter are referred to as "coarse." Sources of coarse particles include crushing or grinding operations and dust stirred up by vehicles traveling on roads.


http://www.arb.ca.gov/html/brochure/pm10.htm


More pedestrian countdown signals for city

(Posted May 7, 2015)


The staff report is HERE


You see them at some of the major intersections in town, those pedestrian walk/don't walk signals that feature large numbers counting down how many more seconds you have to cross.

The City Council has approved a resolution allowing an agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation to pay for upgrading the remaining 126 city-owned signals to the countdown feature.

During the May 4 council meeting, Public Works Director Kevin Louis also said the city will get audible signals for the four pedestrian lights at the Florence Boulevard/Arizola Road intersection and for the four on Florence at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center, across from the east entrance to Wal-Mart.. 

"They have a series of chirps," Louis said. "They try to mask the noise, but there are no residential units within the near vicinity, so we shouldn't have any issues with that. 

"That will be for the assistance of the blind," he added, noting that the request came from the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

At present, Louis said, about half of the city-owned signals have the countdown feature. As part of getting more of them, he added, the city will also ask ADOT to upgrade its signals on state-controlled streets.

The city will pay the $91,222 needed for the signal work, then be reimbursed by a federal grant through ADOT.

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons asked how long it will take for the conversions and if the intersections will be closed during the work.

"Typically, we'll work on one signal mast each time," Louis replied, "so there will be that corner of that intersection that will be down for that period of time that it is to replace that equipment.

"However, we do have staff out there that can assist any pedestrians that might want to cross the road. We do take that into consideration."

The work involves only the pedestrian signals, not the regular traffic lights, Louis added.

A completion date is unknown.

"That is anybody's guess," Louis said. "We will do this in our spare time around our normal duties. But we are going to use this as an opportunity to cross train some of our other staff in the Streets Department so that we have more people knowledgable and can respond to those types of issues.

"It could take one month, it could take four months."

Louis said his department is comfortable with the amount to be spent for the equipment.

"But with these types of agreements with ADOT we are responsible for 100 percent of any cost overruns," he added.

"We feel pretty confident it will fall within the estimated amount, as this is phase two and we know the equipment we're going to be purchasing."


Safe Medians ordinance passes first hurdle

(Posted May 4, 2015)


The complete Monday agenda and staff reports are found at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


For a story detailing the April 20 City Council briefing and discussion about the proposed Safe Medians ordinance, scroll down under COMMUNITY, above.


The full proposed Safe Medians ordinance is HERE.


A Safe Medians ordinance designed to keep people from standing on the narrow traffic dividers at intersections unanimously passed its first hurdle Monday night before the City Council.

It will be back before the council on May 18 for a second reading and if passed with the present emergency clause will become effective immediately.

Highlights of the ordinance are:

• No pedestrian may stop or remain in the portion of any roadway designed for vehicular use or in a painted or raised traffic island or median not specifically designated for use by pedestrians except to wait to cross the roadway at the next pedestrian signal or, in the absence of a pedestrian signal, when traffic has cleared or yielded.

• The first alleged violation will result in a warning to the violator by law enforcement personnel. Violations by any person previously warned by law enforcement personnel, either verbally or in writing, will be a Class 3 misdemeanor.

(Under Arizona law, a Class 3 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.)

• It will not apply to persons on a median or roadway for work related to maintenance, surveying, construction, landscape maintenance, landscape improvements or other similar activity necessary for the safe and efficient operation of the city streets.

• It will not apply to emergency personnel occupying a median or roadway in response to an accident, safety hazard or other emergency situation.

The staff report accompanying the agenda item says:

"City staff has received multiple complaints about pedestrians standing on medians within right-of-ways. Promoting traffic safety is a government interest and a person standing on medians is an additional hazard that could potentially disrupt the traffic flow throughout the city. 

"Prohibiting all activities on designated medians is a means to promote traffic safety to the residents of Casa Grande.

"Medians within the right-of-way are designed to separate opposing lanes of traffic and not for the use of pedestrians. 

"Pedestrian-involved accidents account for 12 percent of all traffic fatalities and 25 percent of those fatalities occur at intersections. Prohibiting the pedestrian use of the medians will create a safe environment for pedestrians and drivers and will reduce right-of-way safety hazards."

Before the unanimous council vote, Councilman Matt Herman thanked city staff for their work in putting together the ordinance.

"It's been a long time since we first started looking at this issue," he said, "and it is high on the list of things I've talked about with people.

"I just want to thank you guys for getting it done, figuring out how to do it, because I know it's not easy to make these types of ordinances.

"I think we got it done in the right way and it will allow people to use it for the right things, like waiting there, doing maintenance, but not for the unsafe activities that are going to distract drivers and cause accidents."

Noting that passage on May 28 under an emergency clause would make the ordinance effective immediately, Councilman Ralph Varela asked how the city will make the public aware. He also asked what citations might be involved.

City Attorney Brett Wallace said steps are being taken for an information campaign.

"I know our Police Department has been working for awhile now with people who are occupying it (narrow medians) trying to identify to them the hazards that they're creating for themselves as well as the drivers.

"That information campaign has been ongoing. We will continue to do so.

"If it's passed, I'm sure we're going to place notice on the (city) website, but we're also going to work with the Police Department to ensure that during the couple of weeks that we're waiting for this thing that if they notice anyone they can tell them kind of what's on the horizon."

The ordinance requires a prior warning before a citation is issued.

"And the intent of that," Wallace said, "is simply to make sure that if someone didn't hear about the ordinance, if they were not aware that what they were doing was prohibited by our local ordinance, that they wouldn't be cited the first time.

"And for those people who are first warned and then later cited, if they are convicted of that it would be a Class 3 misdemeanor, which is our lowest level misdemeanor."

(Under Arizona law, a Class 3 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.)

Wallace continued that, "The intent isn't, obviously, to try to jail people or to fine them into oblivion, but it's simply to try to make sure that we can eliminate the safety hazards that are incumbent when people stand in those areas that are not designed for pedestrian use."


Other actions:

In other action Monday night, the council:

• Gave initial approval to purchasing a small trash collection truck for the Parks and Recreation Department at a cost of $111,016.

• Gave initial approval to purchase of two replacement blowers for the sewage treatment plant at a cost of $137,518.

• Gave initial approval to spending $850,361 for installation, replacement and repairs for various equipment at the sewage treatment plant.

• Gave initial approval for purchase of two trucks with dump beds at a cost of $90,040.

• Approval a resolution for an agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation for purchase of pedestrian count-down time signals at intersections not already having them.

• Gave initial approval to an intergovernmental agreement among the Arizona Department of Transportation, Pinal County and the city for paving of part of Midway Road.

• Approved issuing a notice of intent to raise city sewer rates and the rates for the small city-owned water system on the northwest side of town. For clarity, that is a city system, not Arizona Water Co. 

• Approved adopting the Community Development Block Grant five-year plan, the annual action plan and an analysis of impediments to fair housing.• 


Jobless rates fall in Casa Grande, area cities

(Posted April 23, 2015)


Unemployment during March dropped in Casa Grande and area cities, latest statistics from the Arizona Department of Administration show.

The state has now released percentages for January, February and March as part of recalculating jobless rates.

The new statistics, with March, (the number of March jobless), February, January, the 2014 average, and March of 2007 before the national economy crashed, are:

Casa Grande

5.9 March (1,258), 6.8 February, 6.8 January, 7.5 average for 2014, 3.9 for March 2007. 

Coolidge

5.9 (295), 6.6, 7, 7.3, 7.6.

Eloy

10 (366), 11.2, 11.8, 12.2, 6.3.

Florence 

6.9 (221), 7.7, 7.8, 8.3, 4.1

Maricopa city

5.2 (1,189), 5.6, 6, 6.5, 4.7

Pinal County

5.8 (9,004), 6.6, 7, 7.2, 4.2.

The state has now posted this notice: "Estimates for unincorporated cities and towns have been discontinued." 


Six and a half tons shredded, $1,455.05 raised

(Posted April 20, 2015)


The Casa Grande Youth Commission raised $1,455.05 during its annual Day of Shredding on Saturday, April 18.

That extra five cents?

"We found a nickel in one of the boxes," City Councilman Matt Herman said Monday night during the council's regular meeting.

The first five boxes to be shredded were free, after which a donation to the commission was requested.

"It was six and a half tons of paper shredded this year," Herman said.

The event was held at First American Credit Union on Pinal Avenue.

"I want to thank First American, who sponsors that for us and pays for the shredding," Herman, an advisor to the Youth Commission, told the council.

"The Public Works Department sent people out with two trucks, very helpful, because I remember the first year Karl Montoya (another City Council advisor to the commission) and I realized that when you shred paper it generates a lot of cardboard and someone has to take that away from there. So thank you for that."

Herman said he had received a call from the Western Pinal Association of Realtors saying that group was thinking of doing a paper shredding day, but wanted to know if the Youth Commission was still offering it.

"I said, yes," he continued. "They asked, can we help you? Of course. So we had a lot of volunteers from the Western Pinal Association of Realtors, too.

"It was a really good day and I appreciate the city's help and everyone else's help on that."

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen said she appreciated the Youth Commission holding the event "because I again cleaned out my file cabinets. The timing was so good, because it was that Saturday right after tax time."

Herman said the $1,455.05 will go to the Youth Commission's special projects fund for the Garden of Sunshine in McNatt Park.


Monday night's actions by CG City Council

(Posted April 20, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/



The City Council took these actions Monday night during its regular meeting:

• Gave initial approval to a contract with Gallo Construction for renovations and expansion at the Dorothy Powell Senior Adult Center at a maximum cost of $209,860. The contract include a building addition for the relocation of the existing walk-in cooler/freezer, extension of the existing exhaust hood, new fryer and associated mechanical/plumbing requirements.

• Gave initial approval to changing zoning at the Powell Center and adjacent Peart Park from single-family residential to central business. The change is required before the Powell Center renovations can begin.

(Scroll down for background story)

• Gave initial approval to a $172,962 contract for roofing renovation and repair at the Public Works Department's North Operations Center in the airport industrial park.


CG staying competitive in trash collection

(Posted April 9, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/



Casa Grande is buying more front-load trash containers to service commercial accounts in an effort to remain competitive in collection service.

There's competition to collect trash?

Yes.

It's a story that goes back to 2010 when the Arizona Legislature, at the request of large commerce trash collection companies, changed the rules.

Arizona cities under 60,000 population had been generally exempt from requirements that private haulers be allowed to solicit city customers for trash or recycling collections.

House Bill 2604, cosponsored by Rep. Frank Pratt, a Casa Grande Republican, changed that, wiping out the population cutoff. 

The text of the bill is:

"A municipality of this state shall not prohibit or unreasonably restrain a private enterprise from delivering commercial or industrial recycling services or commercial or industrial solid waste management services within or to the municipality. The municipality shall prescribe rules for the delivery of recycling services and commercial or industrial solid waste management services that promote availability of these services and promote competition in the delivery of these services."

The bill was worded to exclude residential trash or recycling collection. The companies wanted to come into cities and get contracts from large operations such as shopping malls or other commercial operations, taking the easiest and leaving the more expensive and time consuming residential collection to the cities.

That meant that Casa Grande had to become competitive.

During the April 6 City Council meeting, approval was given to purchase 37 front-load containers for $39,489.

The Sanitation Division will use the containers for commercial trash collection service.

According to the staff report accompanying the agenda item, "The majority of front load containers serviced by the city are either customer-owned or third-party leased containers. 

"The 2009 solid waste rate study recommended the city provide its own front-load containers to customers to improve the city’s ability to retain and expand commercial front load accounts. The purchase of the requested containers is part of our phased plan to meet this goal. 

"City ownership of the containers will provide immediate service benefits and allow the Sanitation Division to fully compete with private trash haulers for commercial service accounts."

Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the council that, "There'll be a variety of sizes, from two yards up to eight yards to meet the specific needs of each customer.

"With this purchase, it'll bring us to about 43 percent ownership in the city with the containers that we service today."


Initial OK for PhoenixMart fire study extension 

(Posted April 6, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


Initial approval was given Monday night to extending a contract for fire safety oversight of plans for the proposed PhoenixMart main building.

What's at issue here is the massive size of the building, some 1.7-million square feet of floor area.

That size is not covered by city fire and building construction standards for its occupancy classification or standard exiting requirements. That necessitated hiring of a specialist to review PhoenixMart's plans for how to fight a fire there and how to safely evacuate those in the building, estimated to be 38,000-plus people at full occupancy.

In May of last year the City Council approved a $64,000 contract with JensenHughes, which since June of 2014 has had personnel working with city staff in reviewing performance-based design documents submitted by Phoenix. With final approval, the council action Monday night extends that contract at a cost of $36,000.

The cost of both contracts has been more than covered by a payment from PhoenixMart, Planning and Development Director Paul Tice told the council, meaning that taxpayers do not have to cover it.

"To prove the safety of their building design, the architects and fire consultants for the PhoenixMart project have submitted a code analysis that details the standard prescriptive building and fire codes that are not being met and the alternative design and construction standards they propose as equivalent replacements," the staff report accompanying the agenda item says.

"They have also submitted a smoke model report that models the anticipated air quality and fire behavior conditions that theoretically would occur with a building fire. This model is intended to prove that the alternative design and construction standards will allow all occupants (38,000+) to exit the building safely in the event of a fire. 

"This performance based design approach is allowed under the alternative means and measures provisions of the building and fire codes."

Tice told the council that, "I'm asking for this extension of the contract for an additional $36,000 because I don't want to be in a situation where I'm halfway through the review of the building permit and we're out of money and I have to come and wait 45 or 60 days delay.

"So, it's just sort of get ahead of the curve here and ask for essentially a contract extension that we may or may not use this money, depending on what happens as we move into the final review of the building permit and the other documents and reports associated with the performance based design exercise."

Councilman Dick Powell said, "When a project is being built compensation that would come back to the taxpayers is well in excess of the figures we're talking about at this point in time. Is that a correct statement?"

Tice replied, "That is correct.

"Even more so, there's two fees that we charge with review of building permits. One is a plan review fee and the other is the building permit fee. 

"The plan review fee is intended to cover our staff costs in reviewing the plans, which is the stage we're in right now.

"PhoenixMart did pay, in the last fiscal year, a plan review fee of $164,000, so they've already paid enough to cover our total expense."

Tice added that, "When we issue the building permit, they will pay an additional $250,000 fee, which is going to be intended to cover our total inspection cost on that project.

"So, essentially it's a user-based fee and in addition to that the city will realize economic benefit from the project, absolutely."

Powell said, "I wanted to let you make people aware of that fact."

Final approval of the contract extension, because it is classified as an ordinance requiring two hearings, is expected during the next council meeting.

The staff report adds that PhoenixMart has submitted building construction drawings in anticipation of obtaining foundation and structural permits.


Powell Center rezoning goes to City Council

(Posted April 2, 2015)


The staff report is HERE


A favorable recommendation was given Thursday night to a request to change zoning for Peart Park and the Dorothy Powell Senior Adult Center to allow the center to expand.

The action by the Planning and Zoning Commission sends the request to the City Council, which has final say on zoning issues.

Following a presentation by City Planner Laura Blakeman there was no discussion. No one was in the audience for public comment.

The background of the story is that the Community Services Department wants to build an addition onto the Powell Center and remodel the existing kitchen to allow relocation of an existing walk-in cooler and freezer.

The devil is in the details of the present zoning requirements.

Some history:

The area has been a part of the city since it was annexed 100 years ago, going through two changes of zoning.

In 1964, the majority of Peart Park was zoned as public and quasi-public, the staff report says, adding that the ramada and playground area of the park and the Powell Center were zoned as R-2 (two-four family dwelling) and R-3 (multiple family residential). 

In 1987, the entire site was rezoned as R-1, or single-family residential. 

The Powell Center has been classed as a legal nonconforming use.

The R-1 zoning district permits a "public/quasi-public building and uses" with approval of a conditional use permit, but the site has never received one.

Approval of a conditional use permit requires that the buildings are set back from the property lines by 50 feet. The Powell Center does not meet that requirement, plus an expansion of a legal nonconforming use requires the property to be in compliance with the city codes.

The staff report says that, "Because the existing building cannot meet the 50-foot foot setbacks, staff has determined that a zone change to B-3 (central business) would be the most appropriate process. The B-3 zoning is an appropriate zoning district according to the 'community center' land use designation of the General Plan 2020. 

"The B-3 zoning district should be expanded to include Peart Park and the Dorothy Powell Senior Adult Center, which are considered in the downtown boundary. 

"Staff has determined that the zone change request is reasonable, as the B-3 zoning district allows 'public buildings' as a permitted land use and the Dorothy Powell Senior Adult Center building would be in compliance with the setbacks."


Library internet, other council actions Monday night

(Delayed posting because of problems at website host company)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/



Tripling the speed of internet at both Casa Grande libraries was approved Monday night (March 16) by the City Council, which also gave initial approval to updating equipment at both buildings.

According to the staff report accompanying the agenda item, the current wireless in place in both libraries is in need of an update, with equipment outdated and insufficient to meet increasing demand.

An upgrade would cost $7,920 a year but the city is eligible for federal assistance covering 90 percent, lowering the cost to $792 yearly, covering management and maintenance by Cox Business.

A separate agenda item was to triple the internet speed at both libraries, now at 10 mbps. 

According to the staff report, the city pays $675 per month per library for 10 mbps service, or $16,200 yearly. 

Tripling the speed could cost $910 a month per library, or $21,840 a year. The 90 percent federal assistance would cut that to $2,184 annually.

In other action Monday night, the council:

• Delayed until a later date consideration of buying seven 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe patrol vehicles at a cost of $226,622 plus $93,493 for outfitting them.

• Gave initial approval to revised off-street parking regulations. The changes will not affect present businesses unless they are enlarged or the building use changes. The changes are HERE.

• Gave initial approval to revisions of the Santa Cruz Crossing planned area development at the southeast corner of Trekell and Rodeo roads. Details are HERE.

• Gave initial approval to changes in the Marabella planned area development. Details are HERE.

• Appointed Joyce South to the Historic Preservation Commission and reappointed Garrett Powell and Michael Reid to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.


City wants to divert even more from landfill

(Posted March 12, 2015)


You'll find the full request, including landfill tonnage charts, at

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/files/2013/04/Complete3.pdf


Casa Grande is seeking a contractor to build a facility that "will increase the city’s overall landfill diversion rate to 75 percent or greater, create jobs, maintain a cost-neutral expense to the city, reduce emissions compared to current processes and protect and educate local communities."

According to the request, "the proposer shall design, construct and operate a facility that will mechanically and biologically separate the city’s entire residential and commercial waste stream into sellable recyclables, process the city’s wastewater treatment facility biosolids and process organic wastes into sellable products. 

"Proposer will also be responsible for the marketing and sale of all products."

The deadline for responses is April 24. 


Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant plan approved

(Posted March 5, 2015)


These actions were taken Thursday night by the Planning and Zoning Commission:


• Approved the major site plan for a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant at 859 Promenade Parkway at the Promenade mall.

The restaurant is planned for 6,000 square feet with inside seating for 240 people. It was earlier announced that an outdoor covered patio would add 1,028 feet but Thursday night that was revised to 973 SF.

Most of the site is now a dirt lot.

According to the staff report, "The remaining portion of the lot has already been improved with landscaping, light poles, parking and sidewalks. Per the proposed major site plan/final development plan, the building is to be placed over the dirt pad with additional landscaping added. The westernmost row of parking spaces is proposed to be removed to accommodate the building’s placement."

The commission was told the operators hope to open by August.

• Sent a favorable recommendation to the City Council on a request to rename PhoenixMart as NALTEC (PhoenixMart) and make other minor changes in the planned area development north of Florence Boulevard two and a half miles east of Interstate 10. P&Z  5 March 15NALTEC stands for North American Logistics Trade and E-commerce City.

• Approved a request for a conditional use permit to allow a model home sales complex within Mission Valley.

• Approved a request to change setback requirements in the Fairways planned area development.


Contract approved for cafe at city's airport

(Posted March 2, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/



It's not well known among the Casa Grande public, but the city airport terminal has a small cafe area.

The airport has been providing some food service with its pancake breakfast series held the last Saturday of each month from 8-11 a.m., offering pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, orange juice and coffee for $8.

The problem over the years has been trying to find someone to operate it on a regular basis.

The first step toward that was taken Monday night with unanimous approval by the City Council of a one-year contract with Foxtrot Cafe, a local business.


The contract is HERE


"During the recent terminal renovations at the airport, the area that has been used for preparing the food for the monthly pancake breakfasts, the Copperstate Fly-in, and a few other events held at the airport was renovated to create a more efficient and functional space that could meet the needs for a food vendor to operate a snack bar/café type venue," the staff report accompanying the agenda item says. 

"The ultimate goal of this café is to provide an added benefit to airport patrons by creating a comfortable space where they can grab a bite to eat, take a break from their long flight, or in the case of the members of the public, sit and enjoy the food while watching the planes take off and land or wait for someone that might be flying into Casa Grande. 

"The café space is approximately 665 square feet that includes enough seating to accommodate up to 22-24 people. Seating will also be available on the terminal's 1,900-square-foot outdoor patio."

Finding an operator has been a long, sometimes frustrating process.

"For several years airport staff has tried without success to find a vendor to operate a snackbar/café at the airport," the staff report says. 

"This current effort involved sending out a request for qualifications to local food businesses as well as advertising it in the local papers hoping that the new renovated space would attract a business to get a café up and running. The city received no responses. The main reasons that this has been so challenging is that the current traffic, both aviation and walk-in, is such that a business that would have to hire employees to staff the café don't feel like it is a risk they want to take. 

"However, continued efforts to find a possible business led to conversations with Amber Downs who has over 13 years of culinary related experience, including working in several local restaurants. After meeting with Ms. Downs several times and sharing with her the vision of the airport and the opportunity that the café would represent, she ultimately agreed that this was something that she was interested in."

The staff report says the agreement with Downs calls for the café to be open at least from the time that the terminal is open through lunch time Monday through Friday and from 8-11 a.m. on the last Saturday of the month for the fly-in breakfast. 

"During its hours of operation," the report continues, "they will be responsible for maintaining the café space in a clean and safe environment. The menu will focus on foods that require only warming, cooling, or finishing on site, (i.e., salads, sandwiches, pastries, coffee and juices) as opposed to foods that need to be fully cooked or grilled. In addition, Ms. Downs will be responsible for obtaining all county health related authorizations and meeting all health code regulations. 

"In order to ensure the best possible chance for success, the agreement will not require any compensation from the café for the first three months, but for the final nine months of the initial agreement the city will receive 15 percent of the net profit generated by the café.

"The city will be responsible for all utility costs generate during the operation of the café business. 

"After the initial 12-month term, the use fee will be renegotiated based on the profitability of the café."


In other action Monday night, the council:

• Accepted a $122,626 grant from the Arizona Department of Homeland Security to be used for Police Department participation in federal border security operations, including overtime, employee expenses and mileage reimbursement.

• Approved requesting a state grant of $250,000 for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation and authorizing spending $64,000 as the city's contribution.

• Adopted a Community Development Block Grant participation plan.

• Renewed the city's membership in the Greater Phoenix Economic Council at a cost of $29,232.


Lower flood insurance rates in county areas

(Posted Feb. 26, 2015)


Pinal County issued this announcement today: 


The Board of Supervisors was pleased to learn on Wednesday that Pinal County achieved a remarkable starting classification of "7" on its first ever acceptance into the Community Rating System (CRS) through the National Flood Insurance Program.

The CRS was designed by the National Flood Insurance Program to voluntarily encourage a comprehensive approach to flood plain management. The goal is to make communities safer from flooding and to lower insurance costs. The scale is rated from 10 to 1. The lower your rating, the lower flood insurance costs are for residents in that area. 

"The way the program works is that if your community is rated a '10' then there is no discount for your community," stated County Manager Greg Stanley. "For every point you rise, there is a five percent decrease in your flood insurance costs.  Pinal County, achieving a classification of '7' will mean residents in the unincorporated areas who live in a special flood hazard area can receive a 15 percent discount." 

The new classification rating will take place on May 1 of this year.

"We have been working to get into the CRS program since Flood Plain Administration moved under Public Works back in 2007," Stanley said. "Public Works has this program in their strategic business plan, and has continuously plugged away at this for several years. Normally when they take you in to CRS you start at Class 9, but we will be starting at Class 7." 

Pinal County's Flood Control Section Chief Elise Moore said the seven years of researching, cataloging and going over old building permits was time well spent to get the high classification. 

"This was truly a team effort," Moore said. "Everyone from the Board to Greg Stanley to Public Works and Community Development worked long on this process. In the end, the result was a good classification." 

The special flood hazard areas are spread throughout 372 square miles of unincorporated Pinal County. Many of those areas are located next to the three major rivers in the county: the Santa Cruz, Gila and San Pedro.


Chevron on North Pinal to become a Circle K

(Posted Feb. 18, 2015)


Circle K Stores is in the process of buying the Chevron station on North Pinal Avenue, turning it into a Circle K outlet, the City Council was told Tuesday night.

Kim K. Kwiatkowski, an employee and liquor agent for Circle K Stores, said the company will spend about eight months remodeling the Chevron location at 2382 N. Pinal "and make it kind of look nicer."

When that is completed, the company intends to close the present Circle K just to the south at 2246 N. Pinal, he said.

He said the company is going ahead with plans to construct at 4,500-square-foot store at McCartney Road and Tucker.


Initial approval for McCartney, Florence signals;
light at Jimmie Kerr/Sunland Gin still planned

(Posted Feb. 18, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


Initial approval was given Tuesday night to a $562,911 contract for traffic signals at East Florence Boulevard/North Camino Mercado and West McCartney Road/North Casa Grande Avenue.

The approval by the City Council was unanimous, with final approval expected at the next council meeting.

It was pointed out that the Florence/Camino Mercado signals were selected to replace planned signals this year at Jimmie Kerr Boulevard and Sunland Gin Road.

Public Works Director Kevin Louis said design delays caused the switch.

"It was originally programmed in this year as one of our two signals," he said, "but because of the delays that were created when we have to go through the design process with Union Pacific Railroad it added approximately six months to that design process.

"We're currently in that process but we're not going to have it designed or constructed in this year, so we moved forward with this other signal."

Louis said the signals at McCartney/Casa Grande Avenue will be the standard frame design.

"It's going to look very similar to the other signals that we're installed of late," he said. "It meets our typical standard.

"The south side of that intersection will ultimately be moved. It will be constructed in a location that when that roadway widens to its ultimate width those portions of that signal will have to be pulled out and removed, but we don't see that happening in the near future, so the signal should last for quite awhile."

Louis noted that although the staff report accompanying the agenda item made reference to an earlier traffic survey finding that Florence/Camino Mercado being in the top four intersections for signals, that was not quite the case.

At the time, he said, Florence Boulevard signals were controlled by the Arizona Department of Transportation.

"The Camino Mercado was not part of that list, because it wasn't a city signal (area) at the time we did that study," he continued. "We subsequently added that and it does rank in the top four now, but it's not part of that original report, so a little error there."

Development at Florence/Camino Mercado has added to the need for a signal, Louis said.

"The new development of the CST convenience store at that corner is going to generate additional traffic and further congest that area," he continued, "so this signal is one staff feels very important to get done as quickly as possible, as well as the one at Casa Grande Avenue."

It had earlier been pointed out that a traffic signal on Florence at the entrance to the Cracker Barrel would not be practical because it would be too close to the signals on the Interstate 10 overpass.

The contract is being let through cooperative use with contracts let by the city of Peoria, speeding up the process. 

"By using this job order contract, we're going to eliminate from six to nine months of time," Louis said. "If we went through the traditional design/bid/build process it would have taken that amount of time. 

"We're hoping to get this done before the start of next year's school at the end of this summer, so that's staff's goal."

Both signals will have lighted street signs, Louis said.

"It's not part of this item, but we are looking at a program of adding more of those throughout the community, that is our standard," he told the council. "We do think it enhances the safety at those intersections and helps  clear up some of the confusion."

According to the staff report, "The city street system in the vicinity of the McCartney Road/Casa Grande Avenue intersection experiences severe congestion during peak traffic periods due to traffic related to nearby schools. This congestion causes backups and delays in traffic, resulting in safety issues and concerns. The proposed traffic signal at this intersection is expected to enhance traffic safety, provide gaps for entering and turning traffic, and minimize current congestion issues.

"Similarly, the city street system in the vicinity of the Florence Boulevard/Camino Mercado experiences considerable congestion at frequent intervals throughout the day, resulting in significant safety issues and concerns at this location. 

"New development on the north side of the intersection, including the CST convenience store, will further exacerbate the safety issues and congestion being experienced in the corridor. The proposed traffic signal at this intersection will mitigate the effect of current and proposed traffic and enhance traffic safety in the area."

The cost for Florence/Camino Mercado will be $302,440 for both design and construction, with CST development paying 25 percent, or about $75,000.

Louis said during the council meeting that CST has already paid that amount to the city.

Construction of McCartney/Casa Grande will be $260,471. Design work for that signal had been previously completed at a cost of about $28,000.


In other action Tuesday night, Paul F. Zalewski was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission, replacing Dr. Joel Braunstein, who resigned.


Tractor Supply Co. retail store in CG approved

(Posted Feb. 5, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/



Tractor Supply Co. received approval Thursday night from the Planning and Zoning Commission to open a retail store on Florence Boulevard.

The company is already building a West Coast distribution center on the west side of Casa Grande.

The 21,702-square-feet Tractor Supply store with a 15,000-square-feet fenced outdoor storage and display area will be at 1988 E. Florence Blvd. That location is south of Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort, between LA Fitness and Henness Road.

The complex will include a 6,675-square-feet outdoor merchandise display area in front of the store. There will also be a 1,250-square-feet hay forage shed.

A representative told the commission that work should begin within a month.

According to its website, Tractor Supply Co. is "the largest operator of rural lifestyle retail stores in the United States. The company operates nearly 1,400 retail stores in 49 states, employs more than 21,000 team members and is headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn.

"The typical Tractor Supply store has 15,000-24,000 square feet of inside selling space with a similar amount of outside space used to display agricultural fencing, livestock equipment and horse stalls. 

"Stores supply the unique products to support their customers' rural lifestyle, from welders and generators to animal care products and men and women's workwear. You can also find pet supplies, animal feed, power tools, riding mowers, lawn and garden products and more."

Information about Tractor Supply stores is at

http://www.tractorsupply.com.

In other actions Thursday night, the commission:

• Sent a favorable recommendation to the City Council on a proposal to change city code requirements for off-street parking for outdoor sales areas, restaurants, cafes, bars, retail stores, swap meets and flea markets.

(The proposed changes are HERE)

• Sent a favorable recommendation on a request for changes in the Marabella planned area development, located south of McCartney Road near when Palomino Parkway intersects. The proposed changes are realignment of Henness Road, removing commercial land uses and providing new lots sizes and dimensions.

• Sent a favorable recommendation on a request for changes in the proposed Santa Cruz Crossing development at the southeast corner of Trekell and Rodeo roads. They include adding an assisted living facility, providing development standards for previously approved commercial and residential areas, identifying an area for independent-living patio homes, adding a two-story senior apartment building and providing additional details about a frontage road along the north side of Rodeo Road. Flood control drainage would be left as is rather than rerouted.

• Approved a request to add 10 floor plans for single-family homes on 113 lots in Mission Valley.


Monday night's actions by CG City Council

(Posted Feb. 2, 1015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


The Casa Grande City Council took these actions Monday night:

• Gave initial approval to spending $652,528 for a new pumper truck for the Fire Department, replacing a 2001 model that has had more an more mechanical problems that have led to $175,107 in repairs last year and has been out of service for more than 75 days during that time.

• Gave initial approval to spending $196,471 to outfit eight new police cars with emergency equipment, expected to take about 60 days.

• Gave initial approval to spending $74,499 for First-In Alert Systems for fire stations at Florence Boulevard and Florence Street, Peart Road at Eighth Street and at the city airport. In brief, the equipment automates sending out of emergency fire calls. The same system was installed in the fire station on East McCartney Road when it was built in 2011.

• Gave initial approval for a $85,464 contract for preliminary and final design for the upgrading of Taxiway E at the city airport.

• Gave final approval to reorganization of the Finance Department.


Finance Department reorganization approved

(Posted Feb. 2, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


Staff report outlining Finance Department changes is HERE



Final approval was given Monday night for an ambitious plan to reorganize the Casa Grande Finance Department, tightening up on oversight and working toward resolving billing classification issues.

The latter is expected to bring in more money for the city where misclassifications have meant lower charges than required. Informal quick audits within the department have found such errors, the council was earlier told.

The request for an ordinance had been discussed during the Jan. 20 council meeting, but ordinances take two readings, or hearings, to pass. Monday night's final action was taken under the consent agenda, items that are passed at one time and with no discussion unless requested by a council member or someone in the audience.

During the Jan. 20 meeting, Finance Director Doug Sandstrom told the council that his proposed reorganization was based upon "the changing needs of the city, the complexity of our finance system and the requirements of external audits."

He said those audit requirements are from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, known as GASB,  and another known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP. "We as a Finance Department have to make sure that all of our finances match up with the rules of all of these agencies," he said.

Sandstrom said brief summaries are:

• Changing needs of the city: "Those are those auditing standards, technology advances, people want more information from the numbers that we have. Transparency, both for council, for citizens, for staff," he said.

"We've got all this information, we've got to make sure that it accurately reflects what our finances are and that we can go into it and present it in a way that's meaningful to people."

• Complexity of the finance system: "Our finance system has 86 separate funds, everything from our General Fund, Highway User Revenue Funds, utilities funds to improvement districts funds, community facilities districts funds," Sandstrom said. 

"It's all sorts of different types, different restriction on our money. So the more funds we have, the more complexity that we've got in there and we've got to have the appropriate staffing to make sure that the money's being spent for the right things, tracked appropriately and then reported out appropriately.

"In addition to our main finance system, which is our general ledger, we also have subsidiary ledgers such as our utility billings system, our community development system, Parks and Rec. We've got all these different methods that money is coming into our system and all of those have to be reconciled, balanced and managed on an ongoing monthly basis."

• Audits: GASB and GAAP come down with changes every year," Sandstrom said, "and then every year we have an outside auditing firm that comes in and does overview of our financial system."

Problems have been found for the last three years, he said, classified as "material weaknesses."

Sandstrom defined material weaknesses as "a deficiency or combination of deficiencies and internal controls, the things that we're supposed to manage and control, and those deficiencies are great enough that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the executed financial statements will not be prevented, detected or corrected on a timely basis.

"So it's not that there's fraud happening and not that there's stuff happening. It's just that there's a likelihood that we're not going to be able to catch some of the issues in all those interrelated related funds."

Sandstrom said the past three year material weaknesses were:

• "In fiscal year 2012 it was due to long-term debt reconciliation, where the debt that we reporting in our financial statement didn't match what was reported from our lender.

• In fiscal year 2013, there was a reconciliation issue with our bank statements and the cash on hand. They weren't balancing out. At the end of the day, the bank had more cash in it than what our financial system showed. The sheer volume and complexity of the system had gotten beyond us.

• For the audit for fiscal year 2014, which will be presented at the Feb. 2 council meeting, we've got an item on there for a utility account reconciliation. Again, it's that the amount of money that was shown owed in our utility system was different than that was shown in our general ledger. You have to have a process and system in place to reconcile those on a monthly basis to make sure we're doing what we're supposed to be doing."

Sandstrom said the Finance Department now has 12 full-time equivalent employes, including  a supervising accountant, an accountant, three senior account clerks and three account clerks.

He pointed out that "that the system that we currently have in place is highly dependent on clerks, which is the lower level positions that are absolutely necessary to getting the work done.

"And that's what we are doing in the Finance Department. We're getting the work done, we're processing it.

"But what we do not have the capability to do is to take that time to think about why we're doing it, what improvements we can make, what we can do to change, automate and so on."

With two retirements from the department, Sandstrom said, it offers the chance for "some changes that have minimal impact on our existing staff and then also to make some changes that will have an immediate, positive impact on our core services."

The department would still have 12 staff, he said, but one of the senior account clerk positions would be upgraded to an account manager, with a large increase in pay. 

In addition, Sandstrom said, one supervising accountant would be downgraded to senior accountant. "That position's still going to do some very high level accounting and then also be responsible for supervision over our account clerks," he said.

"The position will have absolutely no change in current pay. The top out is just going to be a little bit less.

"The accountant that I've got currently I'm going to shift over to have concentrate solely on utility billing; on utility billing, on utility reconciliation, on doing audits of our utility accounts. 

"That's something that I've been dabbling in over the last year, and just some very quick and simple audits have made differences where we're going to see collecting tens of thousands of dollars more because of the way accounts were inappropriately classified within our system. Having somebody that can be able to have the time and the ability and the knowhow to go through and do that should increase some of our revenue.

"And having an accounting clerk in there as well, because at the end of the day you have to have those crucial elements that are actually getting the work done."

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen said she hopes that if billing misclassifications are found notifications to the person or business will be handled properly, "because there's nothing worse than someone to say, gee, I'm classified as this and now they're telling me this.

"I guess my concern is that as that comes down and it is legitimate the notification is handled  in such a way that says you have been reclassified and here's why and that kind of thing and if you have any concerns or whatever that they have someone that they can kind of vent to and ask questions of."

That lesson has been learned, Sandstrom said.

"One of the ones that I've went through again in the last six months is our multifamily billing rate for wastewater," he continued. "The code is set up and it reads as 'more than three' units. And we've had up to 100 accounts that have two units, three units that we've being charging the multifamily rate, which is approximately $19 a month (per unit), instead of the 30-some dollars a month (for three units or less).

"One of the lessons we've learned was when we've went and identified some issues and did backfilling we had letters out that said you were misclassified, you now owe us three years of backfilling, here's your bill, $6,000. 

When people get something like that in the mail they're not too happy when they come in.

"What we did the second go around was, this has been identified as an issues, here's what it looks like, here's the person that you can contact to talk through it, at such and such a date we're going to start implementing that.

"So, putting that thing in place so that people do have that level of contact that they can come in and talk through it. We're human, too, and make mistakes, as well. Sometimes, there's a legitimate reason they're classified the way they are."

The reorganization will have no initial additional personnel costs, Sandstrom said, because of vacancies. Going forward, he added, it will mean "about $50,000 more when you look at the pay range of that accounting manager  to a senior accounting clerk. But I do think with the efficiencies that are going to be gained, in the long run we're going to be raising revenues and have a lot of operational efficiencies."


Casa Grande Fire Capt. Phil Emmett dies

(Posted Jan. 25, 2015)


The Fire Department issued this announcement:


CGFD personnel:

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you of the death of Capt. Phil Emmett.  

Capt. Emmett passed away Saturday at 6:51 p.m.  

Capt. Emmett was off duty and details on what happened are not available. 

Funeral arrangements are pending at this time, however, a formal announcement of the arrangements and the department’s participation will be made, within the wishes of the family.


Scott R. Miller

Fire Chief 


UPDATE: The Fire Department issued THIS press release


SECOND UPDATE: Services ANNOUNCED

THIRD UPDATE: An account for Capt. Emmett's family has been established at the Pinal County Federal Credit Union. 

Contributions may be made at any of the six branch locations in the county. 

Fund information:

Captain Phil Emmett Memorial Account

Account No. 88731

Contact information regarding contribution is Ann Wiberg at 520-381-3089.

CG jobless rate 6.7% -- others in area up, down

(Posted Jan. 22, 2015)


Unemployment during December dropped in Casa Grande while other area cities were up and down, latest statistics from the Arizona Department of Administration show.

Casa Grande had a jobless rate of 6.7 percent during December, down from 7.1 during November. 

The statistics for Casa Grande showed 1,434 people out of work during December, down from 1,536 for November. 

By contrast, Casa Grande had a 4.7 percent jobless rate (808 people out of work) for December 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 

Pinal County had a December rate of 7.1 percent jobless (10,263 without work), down from 7.2 (10,544) during November. The December 2007 rate was 5 percent (5,672 jobless).

The state has now posted this notice: "Estimates for unincorporated cities and towns have been discontinued." The site refers users to outdated federal census statistics.

Other area cities' statistics are:

Coolidge

6.7 percent jobless rate for December (323 unemployed), down from 6.9 percent (332) during November. The December 2007 rate was 9.2 (471 jobless).

Eloy

11 rate for December (448 jobless), down from 11.3 (461) during November. The December 2007 rate was 7.6 (424 jobless).

Florence

8.1 rate for December (262 jobless), up from 7.7 during November (250). The December 2007 rate was 5 (177 jobless).

Maricopa city

6.5 rate for December (1,348 jobless), up from 6.2 during November (1,269). The December 2007 rate was 5.7 (1,009 jobless).


Final OK for Burruss Park tennis courts rehab

(Posted Jan. 20, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


Final approval of a complete rehab of the two tennis courts in Burruss Park was given Tuesday night by the City Council.

The request had been discussed during the Jan. 5 council meeting, but ordinances take two readings, or hearings, to pass. Tuesday night's final actions as taken under the consent agenda, items that are passed at one time and with no discussion unless requested by a council member or someone in the audience.

Although the request was only for Burruss Park tennis courts, the discussion on Jan. 5 also branched into pickleball.

The Burruss work, at a cost of $60,757, will repair cracks in both courts at the park over two weeks, including crack filler, acrylic resurfacer, court striping, caulk control joint at the next line, a TitanTrax shield and replacement of nets and net posts.

TitanTrax Shield?

The staff report accompanying the agenda item describes it as "a cost-effective crack repair system that is installed over the entire court. Similar to a synthetic overlay system, TitanTrax is coated with a simple acrylic coating system or cushion coating system which gives the court the feel and appearance of a traditional all-weather hard court. 

"The TitanTrax Shield is a thermally and dimensionally stable multi-ply fabric designed for cracked tennis courts. The shield is unique in that it is a repair fabric which is applied directly over the entire cracked asphalt or concrete tennis court pavements instead of just over an individual crack on the surface. 

"The TitanTrax Shield is applied as an unattached membrane over the entire court surface. A simple color surfacing or built up cushion surface can then safely be installed on top of the shield without the fear of new cracks. The underlying pavement is protected from the elements, so the chance of any further deterioration is limited. 

"In the event a problem does occur below the shield it can be removed and easily replaced after base is repaired. TitanTrax Shield comes with a five-year warranty."

During the Jan. 5 discussion, Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons, noting the "cushion surface" description, asked if the finished work would look like a regular court, "not one of those carpet kind of tennis courts."

Community Services Director Bill Schwind replied that, "Once the membrane is put down and put the acrylic finish on it it'll look just like every other tennis court."

Although the work is expected to take about two weeks, Schwind pointed out that, "It does take temperature into consideration. Nighttime temperatures cannot get below 46 degrees, so we're looking probably late February, early March before we can step forward with this."

Higher demand is being placed on courts across the city park system, Schwind said, especially with the pickleball fad. This could be another opportunity for multi use, he added.

Councilwoman Mark Kortsen said she welcomes the rehab work, noting that several years ago the city closed some of its tennis courts.

At that time, the explanation was that cities across Arizona and the nation began building tennis courts when that was a fad, but that had tickled off over the years, leaving courts either empty or rarely used.

The discussion then branched into pickleball.


What is pickleball?

http://www.usapa.org/what-is-pickleball/


Mayor Bob Jackson said that during conversations with Schwind, striping of the pickleball courts at Dave White Park was discussed.

""Originally we were hoping to have this contract take care of that striping issue," Jackson said. "Is that going to happen with this contract?"

Schwind responded that, "We will be talking with them to see if we can't use some of the funds allocated in this year's capital improvements project budget to be able to address that situation over at Dave White."

Jackson said he has received emails from people that play pickleball at Dave White.

"I know Bill has provided netting but there's no striping," he said. "They wanted to put permanent striping down."

Striping for multi use is often a problem, Schwind said.

There are two tennis courts at Dave White Park and the basketball, all acrylic surface," he continued. "They're  all playing on the same surface but the lines typically are a problem.

"What we didn't want to do, we didn't want to infringe on the tennis court folks, because lines are important when you're playing ball. If you've been to a normal gymnasium these days where they try to do badminton and everything there's all different colored lines going al different directions and it's somewhat confusing.

"We tried to utilize what we had out there and make some pickle ball lines on the tennis courts in a little bit different shade, not white, just offset the shade of the body of the tennis court to allow pickle ball players to be able to utilize the tennis courts when they're not used.

"That works, but we left out the back line because it's too close to the service line of the tennis court and it just was rather confusing.

"Now the pickle ball demand is such that when no one is using the basketball courts out there they want three more pickle ball courts, or could use three more pickle ball courts on the basketball courts. We provide the netting but there is no lines. They're out there now with chalk doing their own lines, but they would like to see something permanent."

Jackson added, "Unfortunately, it's not a matter of just going out with a spray can and spraying the stripes on there, There needs to be some care given, not only to the pickle ball courts but also the other people that use it, the tennis players, the basketball players or whatever."

Perhaps the city needs to look at expansion, Councilwoman Mary Kortsen said.

"We're all saying everybody needs to get out and move and that sort of thing, so perhaps start looking at the possibility of building more courts," she continued. "I know a lot of these courts are used by people my age and that that need to stay active, so I wouldn't mind at all if you start taking a look and see what we have in the next five years or a projection on that."

Zach Wilson, speaking from the audience, told the council that along with the Burruss tennis courts work, he would like to see signs saying the courts are for tennis only, "not roller blades or bikes or anything like that, because the reason those courts are in such bad shape, or one of the reasons, is that you've got groups of guys that come out and start to play hockey and they take the nets down and they put up like goals and that's really tearing up the courts. By the time they're done, the courts are all chipped up from the wheels. 

"I'd hate to see the city spend all this money just to have it destroyed by people who aren't using it for what it's designed for."

Jackson said signs could be placed.


Other Tuesday night actions by CG City Council

In other action Tuesday night, the council:

• Gave initial approval for purchase of 200 300-gallon trash containers at a cost of $54,490.

• As part of the Finance Department reorganization, gave initial approval of an ordinance reclassifying some positions and changing the titles of others.

• Gave local approval for a liquor license for a Buffalo Wild Wings at 859 N. Promenade Parkway.

• Honored Mary Ann Gonzales upon retirement from the city Finance Department after more than 25 years. (See story and photo by clicking on COMMUNITY, above.)



Right of way allows sewer project to begin

(Posted Jan. 5, 2015)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


Somewhere along the line when the sewer line from a lift station was built on the west side of town no property easement was obtained, stymying a new project to construct a reliever line.

That will be corrected to allow the McMurray Relief Sewer Project to go forward, the City Council decided Monday night.

The property in question is now occupied by Rusty's Body Works on VIP Boulevard, the staff report accompanying the agenda item says.

As background, the report says the existing gravity sewer line on VIP Boulevard from Gila  Bend Highway to West Main Street is now at full capacity to handle already developed properties. The relief line is needed to allow future development of vacant parcels.

"To provide this capacity," the report continues, "staff has designed a gravity sewer which will be constructed within the alignment of West McMurray Boulevard between VIP and Burris Road. This sewer would divert flows from the southern portion of VIP westerly to the existing 36-inch sewer in Burris Road, thereby providing relief to the existing sewer in VIP. This project will also allow an existing sewer lift station to be decommissioned."

During the process, it was discovered the easement problem was discovered.

"It would appear the existing sewer line from list station 3 east to VIP was originally constructed without the benefit of an easement or right of way," the report says.

"In order to construct this relief sewer project a permanent easement must be obtained along a portion of McMurray Boulevard, as there is no existing right-of-way or easement. A temporary easement to provide access for construction is also required. These easements required cross a single commercial parcel. Legal descriptions and exhibits for these easements have been generated by a registered professional surveyor." 

The report says the cost to acquire that easement would probably be less than $5,000.

It adds that The in-house design of the sewer reliever has been reviewed by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and approved for construction. The work will be done by Haydon Building Corp. as part of its contract for the Gila Bend Highway Sewer Interceptor Project.


In other action Monday night, the council:

• Gave initial approval to a $66,000 contract for rehabilitation of 20 hangars at the city airport.

• Gave initial approval to spending $87,207 for demolition and replacement of decking at the city swimming pool at Brown Avenue and McMurray Boulevard.

• Gave initial approval to a $60,757 contract for complete cracks repair on the tennis court in Burruss Park.

• Gave initial approval to purchase of a street sweeper at a cost of $227,251. It will replace a 2007 model sweeper with 9,881 hours of use and which saw annual maintenance costs climb by $8,511 last year.

• Watched presentation of an award for the Life on Main master plan.


Annual city report, City Beat now available

(Posted Jan. 5, 2015)


The city issued these announcements today:


Annual report

The city of Casa Grande is 2014 Annual Report is now available.

It highlights some of the major projects the city accomplished during 2014 and also includes a summary of the financial activities of the city, drawn from the 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and annual budget.  It contains information only from selected funds.  

It is our goal to provide a means of communicating the financial operations of the City in an easy to understand financial report.


DOWNLOAD 2014 ANNUAL REPORT



City Beat Newsletter ~ January/February 2015


The January/February 2015 edition of City Beat is now available online. 

In this issue you will find information about:

• Parks and recreation events and classes.

• Casa Grande receives best master plan award.

• Main library open house.

• Leadership Academy.

• And much more.


You'll find it HERE


City Council approves two agreements with APS;
attention turns to better street lights, lower costs

(Posted Dec. 25, 2014)


What began as City Council consideration of streetlight and pole usage agreements with Arizona Public Service Co. branched into discussion of how or when streetlights could be upgraded and what could be done to cut municipal electricity costs.

At one point, the city and APS had a joint agreement covering costs for powering streetlights, the cost per APS pole for attaching lights and maintenance of the lights. The council was told that APS now longer wishes to be part of the maintenance agreement.

The first contract was a renewal of the electricity cost for each streetlight, which will be $2.79 each per month, or a total of $10,047 monthly for the 3,601 lights the city owns. (For the purists or those who love math, the energy charge is $0.06088 per kilowatt hour.)

A question from Councilman Dick Powell was, "Is there anyone else that we would have got a competitive bid from or is this pretty much an APS project?"

The answer from Public Works Director Kevin Louis was, "They are definitely a sole-source provider for that energy."

Of the lights the city owns, 169 are on poles belonging to APS, rented at $7.32 per pole per year, or an annual cost of $1,237. That was the second agreement approved.

"What that agreement does is it allows us to utilize any pole that they authorize within their system to attach our streetlight system to so it doesn't require us to put a separate pole in the ground if there's already a pole in that location," Louis said.

The streetlights maintenance agreement with APS has expired, Louis said, adding that the utility will help maintain the system until the city finds a private contractor. Louis said the city is seeking a contractor and has been discussing conversion to LED lighting.

Powell said conversion to LED lighting would be the least expensive of options for future electricity costs. He also asked if other cities are going to solar power.

"We currently do have some solar streetlights within our system in some of our parks," Louis responded. "We did do a pilot program.

"However, I don't know if I can sit here and tell you that I would recommend going in that direction. The technology, I think we will be there in the future but right now there's that unknown with the battery backup power for that."

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen said that during a conference she attended vendors were showing different types of street lighting fixtures, including LED.

"It's not just the cost saving in electricity, it's the cost saving in bulbs," she said. "They showed 20 years versus whatever we're getting now and there's also labor costs now in replacing bulbs.

Mayor Bob Jackson said he agreed with comments about LED lighting, "but if we've got 3,601 streetlights, or whatever the number ends up being, that is a huge dollar undertaking to get there, so it wouldn't happen overnight."

That cost of changing over the bulbs and the infrastructure is the major consideration, City Manager Jim Thompson said.

The maintenance contract proposal, including the possibility of LED conversion, is still a couple of months away from being brought to the City Council for consideration, he added.

"The other front that we're working on," Thompson continued, "is in a standard for any new development that occurs, so when a builder comes in and they build a new subdivision area that we make sure that standard is what we desire to have.

"Because of the costing difference between the LED, solar and our traditional way of lighting, they're a pretty substantial increase, so there's going to be a burden borne by the developers when they come in and develop their projects, but then our future cost to the taxpaying public for paying the fees to maintain those lights will be less."

A system of alternating street lights, or some on and then off, has also been looked at, along with other ways of lighting and lengthening the time before a bulb burns out, Thompson said.

"With some of our lights now,," he added, "we actually put shields on there. LED allows us to light more directly than traditional lighting, as well, and so we could eliminate some of those additional costs."

His office intends to put together a full package, he said, "and look at what is our best course in the next probably 10-year window because technology is changing so fast and those costs are changing with that technology. But I think in a couple of months we'll be ready to come full circle back to you and have those discussions on the third portion, which is the maintenance. That's where our largest cost of providing the service is and we are looking at third-party vendors rather than the traditional way we've done that."

Any plan also has to include Electrical District 2, Thompson said, which serves east of Interstate 10 and has some pockets in the city on the west side of the interstate.

"In this case, we have to engage in discussions with them and the certain standards associated with their operations that occur. This use agreement with APS is the majority of our lighting but not all."

Jackson said any changeover in lighting types would be similar to back in the late 1980s or early 1990s when streetlights were converted from mercury vapor.

"At that point," he said, "the cost savings for the electrical more than offset the capital cost, but I don't think that you're going to see that with LED. LED lights are much more expensive and the energy savings is much less."

Kortsen said she would like to see a comparison of lighting types, projected out for five and 10 years, including how long bulbs last before they have to be replaced.

That is being looked at, Thompson replied.

"We're also looking at city of Phoenix," he continued, "which did different test projects throughout their entire downtown where they installed different types of lighting for multiple purposes, be it for safety, for brightness, for traffic. 

"There's a whole host of things that they looked at, as well as the cost, the maintenance and wear and tear on the structures themselves. Depends on what you put. If you're talking solar, you've got battery packs and then you've got a larger structure, you're taking up more room, you may get into sidewalk impairments and other things. 

"So there's a whole bunch of issues you consider when we're looking at our complete package. But we will be looking at the five, 10, 15 and 20 year, the LED light expectancy, we'll go out that far.

"Unlike before when we did the conversion it may be a five- to seven-year payback, but then we have the back end of that, the 12 to 13 years where we have basically an improved cash flow that what we would have today if we continue to the path we're on."

Powell asked if any changeover would be for the power receptacle or if only the bulb would be changed.

"There are some options, but we'll probably be changing out the heads," Thompson said. "We believe the entire portion on the top is not just a lightbulb that you screw in or screw out as many of us would see at home. There's a different scenario. Many times you have a whole bunch of small bulbs that you would be changing out. There's not much weight difference. There's some other challenges sometimes on some of the poles because they're not designed specifically for the type of light they use. We see no problem with our poles right now with all the products that are available.

"But like everything, when we talk to vendors each one has their own specific design. You may have to buy different adapter kits or other things associated with which type that's out there, so we want to minimize that. That's part of us looking at our standards that we currently have for any new subdivisions. 

"Granted, we have 3,601 lights now, 169 on APS poles, some on ED2's. But 20 years from now we could have 10,000 lights out there, we just don't know and we want to make sure whatever standard we establish is most adaptable to what we see coming in the future, as well.

"We're not quite sure what we'll end up with. Some require more work than others, but for the most part we believe we won't be replacing poles."

A timeline would also have to be established.

"We haven't finalized that yet," Thompson said, "but we may say doing 20 percent of the system a year over the next five years would be the most cost-efficient analysis. We're just not sure what that is yet. It may be 100 percent up front, with savings on the back end. We'd have capital costs up front and we also have to be cognizant of our street fund budget (which also covers streetlights) and some of the challenges we've had there and as we will continue to have because the Highway user Revenue Funds funds aren't growing any, which is one of our lead funding sources for streets."

The HURF funds come from the state, which has been cutting back on its distribution to cities.


November jobless rates in CG, area cities rise

(Posted Dec. 18, 2014)


Unemployment during November rose in Casa Grande and in other area cities, latest statistics from the Arizona Department of Administration show.

Casa Grande had a jobless rate of 7.1 percent during November, up from 6.6 during October. 

The statistics for Casa Grande showed 1,530 people out of work during November, up from 1,397 for October. 

By contrast, Casa Grande had a 4.3 percent jobless rate (808 people out of work) for November 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 

Pinal County had a November rate of 7.2 percent jobless (10,552 without work), up from 7 (9,985) during October. The November 2007 rate was 4.6.

In the past, statistics from the state included unincorporated areas and Indian communities.

The state has now posted this notice: "Estimates for unincorporated cities and towns have been discontinued." The site refers users to outdated federal census statistics.

Other cities' statistics are:

Coolidge

6.9 percent jobless rate for November (332 unemployed), up from 6.6 percent (314) during October. The November 2007 rate was 8.4.

Eloy

11.3 rate for November (461 jobless), up from 10.9 (436) during October. The November  2007 rate was 6.9.

Florence

7.6 rate for November (247 jobless), up from 7.2 during October (229). The November 2007 rate was 4.6.

Maricopa city

6.2 rate for November (1,272 jobless), up from 6.1 during October (1,238). The November  2007 rate was 5.2.


Can anything be done about street striping fading
out in the glaring sun? Short answer: Not much

(Posted Dec. 17, 2014)


You'll find the full agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


The map of streets to be striped is HERE


The question comes up almost every time the City Council considers a contract for street striping: Is there something that will make the lane stripes stand out when you're facing into the glaring sun?

Short answer: Not much.

The council gave initial approval Monday night to a contract for up to $200,000 for striping maintenance, paid for from the county half-cent sales tax for highways. Final approval is expected during the next meeting.

The contract calls for maintenance of center and edge lines, turn lanes, stop bars,  turn arrows and some crosswalks.

As Public Works Director Kevin Louis explained it, "On average we replace the striping on our streets every three to five years, depending on the type of material we use. If we use a water-based paint we're going to do that more often than if we used the different epoxy type paints that are out there."

Areas with heavier wear are done more often, he added.

As she has done in the past, Councilwoman Mary Kortsen asked if something could be done about poor striping visibility when "the sun is so fierce in your eyes," pointing out Florence Boulevard and Cottonwood Lane as examples.

"Is there some kind of striping available that is a little more visible?" she asked.

Louis replied that there are certain times of year when visibility is not the best. That is caused by reflectivity standards that are required in the striping, or how bright they are at night when using vehicle headlights.

"Unfortunately, when you get that sun at that critical angle it's very difficult," he said. "The challenge is, the only way we've found we can combat it is clouds, and you can't count on those in Arizona."

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons asked if all crosswalks would be striped, adding that Cottonwood Lane has several crosswalks that need work.

"We do the crosswalks that are needed," Louis replied, which is why crosswalk work is included in the contract.

Crosswalk work is also often done by the Public Works Department, Louis said.

"We do some of that in-house, we do have our own striping equipment," he added. "We just don't do the long lane line type striping. Some of that we do in-house, some of it is part of this contract."

Initial approval of the contract was unanimous.


John Ellsworth named deputy city magistrate

(Posted Dec. 15, 2014)


John Ellsworth, elected as Casa Grande justice of the peace in the last city election, has been appointed to a four-year term as deputy city magistrate.

The action came under the consent agenda, items approved with one vote and no discussion, during Monday night's City Council meeting.

The staff report accompanying the agenda item says, "To facilitate partnership with Pinal County Justice Courts, city Judge (Christopher) O'Neil maintains an appointment as a justice of the peace pro tempore. Although it is very rarely necessary, this arrangement allows Judge O'Neil to cover hearings as a visiting judge, as a courtesy, when needed and when it does not conflict with other duties. 

"The City Council has already granted the presiding magistrate the authority to temporarily appoint justices of the peace as deputies to hear specific cases or calendars when the Casa Grande City Court's regular deputy magistrates are unavailable or have conflicts, which allows the Pinal County justices of the peace to return the favor. Such cooperation helps to avoid unnecessary expenses for pro tempore judges for both city and county taxpayers.

"Given the existing resolution allowing the presiding magistrate to appoint justices of the peace as deputies under limited circumstances, this requested resolution would have little impact, except that John Ellsworth's appointment would take effect before he takes office as justice of the peace. 

"This brief window of time before he takes office will offer him a unique and valuable opportunity to become acquainted and experienced with the processes of the Casa Grande City Court in case he is ever asked to sit as a visiting judge on a conflict case."


New O'Reilly Auto Parts store plans approved

 The original O'Reilly plan, left, called for  the building to be set back 80 feet from  Florence Boulevard. It will now conform to  city regulations at 15 feet, right.

(Posted Dec. 4, 2014)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/



The major site plan/final development plan for a new O'Reilly Auto Parts store in front of Lowe's next to Eegee's was approved Thursday night by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

It was the continuation of the request from the Aug. 7 meeting at which it was pointed out that O'Reilly did not want to conform with city regulations for location of buildings.

The site is in what is known as Community Center land use designation, which calls for -- in short -- buildings to be closer to streets, such as in the old downtown area, rather seeing the strip mall effect by setting them far back.

The city wanted the building set back 15 feet north of Florence Boulevard, O'Reilly wanted the distance to be 80 feet, with parking areas between the store and Florence.

O'Reilly has since decided to follow the Community Center 15 feet guidelines for the one-story, 6,972-square-foot building.

In other action Thursday night, the commission:

• Approved a conditional use permit for a 70-feet cellphone tower at the rear of a self-storage company at 517 N. Colorado St.

• Approved the major site plan/final development plan and landscaping plan for a 3,100-square-foot Casa Grande Family Dentistry office at 1569 E. Florence Blvd., east of Fiesta Blvd.


Initial approval for Evergreen Irrigation levy;
stop-gap work has cut water flow about in half

(Posted Dec. 2, 2014)


Scroll down for earlier story with staff report, maps and other documents



Initial approval was given Monday night to a "one-time" city ordinance change that allows users in the Evergreen Irrigation District to pay 50 percent of the cost of repairs to the system earlier this year rather than the 100 percent called for in the master ordinance.

It was also brought out during the City Council meeting that the stop-gap repairs are not perfect and have cut the volume of water available by about half, even though users are still charged $14.50 an hour for irrigation.

The reason given was that damage and wear in the well and equipment was extensive enough that full repair would have cost more than the $60,000 maximum earlier approved by the council. Final cost of repairs to the electrical, pump and well casing components was $52,997.95.

Under the one-time ordinance change, the 26 users remaining in the district will be assessed $1,019 for the repairs, payable over a year. 

During the discussions, former City Council member and now county supervisor Steve Miller, along with his wife, Laurie, said there are still problems with the system, leading to frustration in the irrigation district, which was opened in 1928.

"I really do appreciate all the effort that has been done by the city," Steve Miller said, "but I want to air just a couple of things, because there is some frustration within Evergreen that should be brought forth to the council.

"It's mostly the flow of the water. I think there is still some question as to how come we don't have the same amount of flow or at least very similar.

"I would like to see if there is any way we can address that at some level. Either get the pump company back and really validate what we did there and see what the maximum flows are that we can get out of there."

In addition, Miller said, there is no use schedule.

"I didn't have any water from Oct. 3 until today (Dec. 1)," he continued, "and all I did was get water in my backyard.

"I think we need to focus on a point guard, somebody that's in charge that knows the system and can take care of the system and contact homeowners. If I'm to get water on a particular day and my valve's not open, ask him to open the valve or come open the valve.

"I don't care which way we do it. We just need to come up with a solution as to how to go about it going forward with the program.

"I'm willing to stay on, I'm willing to pay my share at this point in time, but I think we need to iron out a few of the issues."

Laurie Miller thanked the city for its work, given that irrigation is needed to help maintain the appearance of the Evergreen Historic District.

"Like Stephen said," she continued, "I think those who are on it that are users are really frustrated with how the process has gone. Not that we don't appreciate everything the city has done, but it's not gone real simply, it's not working real smoothly and and we've lost people off it that were diehard irrigation people and now they've left.

"And all of it has to do with the flow and because of the cost. We realize the cost has gone up significantly, just the hourly cost has. And then we don't get water like we're supposed to. So I'd say that is just a level for frustration."

Mrs. Miller continued that, "We would really like to do our own irrigation. We did it for 30 some years, never had a problem. I accounted for every hour, every minute we had the water, we took care of it, we put money into it ourselves, didn't even ask the city for help. 

"And I know there's other people that are on the system that can't do the irrigation themselves, for whatever reason, and they're willing to have the irrigator do it."

Steve Miller said part of the problem of no water when it is supposed to be flowing into yards is that "they couldn't get through the schedule in time without having someone do it on the weekend and some people take it on a certain date."

Councilman Matt Herman said the water flow issue has been discussed during council committee briefings. "It's something that definitely know that's a challenge and we're trying to address."

As he did during an earlier discussion, Councilman Karl Montoya asked if there is a plan to address future maintenance, operation and scheduling.

"Do we have a master plan for the irrigation district?" he asked "Have we come up with some sort of process to get there?"

Community Services Director Bill Schwind, who is overseeing the process, responded that there have been discussions with Public Works staff about the condition of the well.

"It has a series of components within it," he said. "We did take video footage of the entire well system. It's not in the greatest of shape.

"That will all have to be addressed. It will take a little bit more planning on our part, to kind of feel out the long term plan of how we succeed with this particular well."

Schwind said the well is registered with the Arizona Department of Water Resources as being 268 feet deep.

"It's in two series, basically," he said. "There's a 14-inch section and a 12-inch section and video shows that those are in a condition that aren't premier, I would say."

Schwind pointed out that when the council was asked for contingency money for repairs the limit was set at $60,000.

"Our contractor knew that," he said, "so we basically, the best option that we had at the time to stay within that financial range was to simply put the 10-inch casing inside the the 14- and the 12-inch and utilize that with a submersible well.

"I'm not a farmer, I can't tell you if that's the right way or the wrong way to go. But from an engineering perspective, that's what we were led to believe, as well as the professionals in the field."

Schwind said that during a staff meeting he likened it to having a straw in a drink. If it's a 12-inch straw you will get more flow than if the size is smaller.

"For years," he continued, "that well was registered at 500 gallons a minute and currently we are still using that same registration with ADWR; however, this submersible well has been pulling 250 gallons a minute at the moment.

"So when they do say it's taking longer to get water into their, it's costing $14.50 an hour, they're absolutely right. It is taking a little bit longer to get there. Are we delivering water? Yes, it just takes a little longer to do it.

"The well's functioning as it exists right now, but the condition and age of the system, that really needs to be completely evaluated."

Montoya said he still would like to see money set aside for the future.

"I'd like to see some kind of planning behind it," he said, "and say, hey, look, maybe you pay a little bit more but it goes into a maintenance system to where there's a kitty there that's going to pay repairs. We know it's not going to last forever."

Schwind said he would take direction on what to do, "something that we address, pump fees, schedule, timing or those types of things to take a look at where we're going with that. I'd be more than happy to give you all the information needed."

Councilman Dick Powell threw out whether the hourly fee should be cut in half because users are getting only half of the normal flow.

"I'll defer to City Council to set the fees," Schwind responded.

At that point, Mayor Bob Jackson said the discussion was ranging beyond the agenda item of approving the one-time ordinance change.

"I do think we've kind of lost sight of what this ordinance is for, to deal with the capital cost," he said. "Certainly we can deal with the operational issues through informational briefings if we need to. I think we need to kind of get back on focus here with the issue."

He then called for a vote for initial approval, which was unanimous, with Councilwoman Mary Kortsen on an excused absence. Final approval is expected during the next council meeting.


Evergreen Irrigation District again before council

(Posted Nov. 26, 2014)


User survey is HERE


Updated staff report is HERE 


Updated ordinance is HERE


Original 1986 ordinance is HERE


Locator map is HERE 



Monday night may be the deciding time on who pays for what and how much for repairs to the Evergreen Irrigation District pump and miscellaneous expenses.

The main pump failed earlier this year, leaving users without irrigation water during much of the heat of the early summer.

It's a continuation of the Oct. 6 City Council meeting where what was hoped to be a final plan was presented but delayed after questions from the council on whether users in the district had been fully informed of details of the plan and a complaint that while the plan covered the repairs issue there was no long term plan for the future.

The discussion is the second item on the three-item agenda for the Monday meeting, beginning at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd. The other items are spending $224,558 for six Chevrolet Caprice police patrol cars and on Chevy Tahoe patrol SUV and consideration of amending part of the Overfield Farms planned area development.

Repairs to the Evergreen pump and system cost $52,997, with the plan being that the users would be assessed $1,019 each, payable within a year.

That is a 50 percent break, given that the 1986 city ordinance covering the irrigation district says that all of repair costs would be assessed among users. In this case, that would have been $2,038.38 each.

So far, the staff report says, 19 of the 26 users have said they are willing to pay the discounted $1,019.

What delayed the discussion from the Oct. 6 meeting was a question of what would happen if a user did not want to pay and decided to drop out of the district.

The short answer was that if they would still have to pay the assessment because they were a user at the time the repairs were made.

"The starting point that we generally have is what the law is under our City Code today," City Attorney Brett Wallace told the council, "which is that the cost of water repairs will be assessed against the users of the system. 

"Traditionally, you kind of looked at that as a 'you broke it, you bought it' type of thing. Users who have used the pump to the point of expiration are generally going to be those who are going to be assessed.

"If there are those that want to get off the system and don't want to utilize the water any more, that's certainly their choice, but as the ordinance reads today they would be assessed.

"Ultimately, it's council's determination as to how we really want to move forward, but as the ordinance as drafted today consists of what our code is today."

That would change under the "one-time revision" of the ordinance the council will consider Monday night.

"Any owner no longer wishing to be part of the system and elects to no long receive irrigation service must notify the city no later than Jan. 31, 2015," the staff report says. "Any customer so notifying the City shall not be liable for the assessment amount, but shall no longer be eligible to receive irrigation service service as of the notification date. Any customer electing to reconnect after this date must pay the discounted assessment in full."

During the Oct. 6 meeting, councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons asked whether all of the users had received complete information about assessments.

"When you had 10 homeowners at the (late July) meeting, was it clear?" she asked. "I know you said you sent the letter that gave them the $1,019.99 per household, but was there anything in that letter that you have so much time to opt, or at that point it was like too bad?  "This is what the 10 people that came agreed on and that's what you're going to be assessed?"

That was pretty much the case, Community Services Director Bill Schwind replied.

"We really didn't give them any opt-out options. As Brett mentioned, we were bound by this ordinance," he said. "The way the meeting somewhat initiated it, effectively, is that based on a $52,000 total of getting the repairs fixed at the time that community meeting was being held or was initiated, they were on the line for $52,000. And so during that meeting we discussed kind of equitable fairness and that type of thing and that's where the 50 percent cost came in, divided by the users."

Fitzgibbons responded that, "I guess I just really thought that people clearly understood and were on board. I'm just concerned a little bit that the few people that want to get it, it just concerns me a little bit that they maybe didn't have clear information at that time."

Councilman Matt Herman said, "I would like to talk more to the people in the district, all the users, and see what their feeling is. They have water now, we have a system that's working, so maybe I propose we table this 'til a later date so that we can get more information and make a better decision on it and talk to more people, because I haven't had that much opportunity to talk to too many people about it and see what their thoughts about it."

Councilman Karl Montoya said he agreed with both Fitzgibbons and Herman, but, "My problem is after we're all said and done to say okay, we've passed this tonight and everybody pays up, we're still in the same boat as we were as we began this thing.

"There's still no plan, there's still no future, there's nothing decided in Evergreen District that we keep harping at it of where it's going to go, who's going to be in it, who's going to be out, at what time, and what is the city really going to do with it?

"There's got to be some plan. So I would like to table it as well. I'd like to get some more questions on this, because I think we need go out to the residents and find is this even doable?

"I think we need to have a bigger plan of what we're going to do from here forward, a passable plan of what we're going to do. Because if not, we're all going to forget about this, and in a few years here we are again. I think stop right here and figure out where we're going, what the future of this thing is and what we're going to do."

The only mention of the future in in the new ordinance, saying, "In the event the total amount of assessments collected by the city, not including interest and penalties, exceeds $52,997.95, such amounts, if any, shall be applied by the finance director toward expenses related to the system."


Life on Main Master Plan named one of best

(Posted Nov. 25, 2014)


The city issued this announcement today:


The City of Casa Grande received a “Best Master Plan” award by the Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association for the Life on Main master plan in downtown Casa Grande. 

The award was presented to the Planning & Development Department during the 2014 American Planning Association – Arizona Chapter Conference on Nov. 6 in Yuma.

The Life on Main Master Plan provides a blueprint for redeveloping approximately 15 acres of vacant land that the city owns south of the Union Pacific Railroad in downtown Casa Grande. The city worked closely with Matrix Design Group from the Phoenix office to develop the master plan, which was approved by the Casa Grande City Council in August 2013.

“We’re honored to receive this award for a master plan that will help guide smart growth to attract more businesses, residents and an overall sense of vibrant downtown community,” said Casa Grande Planning and Development Director Paul Tice.

Central to the proposed plan is preserving the Casa Grande Hotel and Shonessy House and enhancing these structures with an active, flexible “historic plaza” for art fairs, farmers markets, a children’s playground, a community garden and other life enhancing features.

Also part of the master plan is a proposed gateway feature to welcome visitors that honors the region’s historic past with an iconic pedestrian bridge spanning the railroad tracks along East Main Street extending over Top and Bottom Street south to West Main Avenue that will connect to the historic plaza.

The master plan is the result of a year-long planning process that included input from several meetings with the public, community stakeholders, and city officials. The master plan includes a detailed implementation program which will help guide the development of the area in the future. The plan also provides a list of potential funding sources which the city may pursue in order to accomplish these strategies.

According to the Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association, the annual awards recognize and celebrate the outstanding work of professional planners, citizen planners and others in making communities a better place to live.


You can download the master plan HERE


Casa Grande's jobless rate for October at 6.6%

(Posted Nov. 22, 2014)


Unemployment during October dropped in Casa Grande and in other area cities, although Eloy was still in double digits, latest statistics from the Arizona Department of Administration show.

Casa Grande had a jobless rate of 6.6 percent during October, down from 7.2 during September. 

The statistics for Casa Grande showed 1,390 people out of work during October, down from 1,511 for September. 

By contrast, Casa Grande had a 4.2 percent jobless rate (712 people out of work) for October  2007, the year before the economy crashed. 

Pinal County had an October rate of 7 percent jobless (9,981 without work), down from 7.1 (10,122) during September. The October 2007 rate was 4.5.

In the past, statistics from the state included unincorporated areas and Indian communities.

The state has now posted this notice: "Estimates for unincorporated cities and towns have been discontinued." The site refers users to outdated federal census statistics.

Other cities' statistics are:

Coolidge

6.6 percent jobless rate for October (314 unemployed), down from 6.8 percent (319) during September. The October 2007 rate was 8.4.

Eloy

10.9 rate for October (436 jobless), down from 11.1 (442) during September. The October 2007 rate was 6.7.

Florence

7.1 rate for October (227 jobless), down from 7.6 during September (240). The October 2007 rate was 4.5.

Maricopa city

6.1 rate for October (1,242 jobless), down from 6.3 during September (1,271). The October  2007 rate was 5.


Miller heading regional planning organization

(Posted Nov. 20, 2014)


Pinal County posted this announcement today:


Pinal County Supervisor Steve Miller was elected as chairman for the Sun Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization (SCMPO) on Tuesday morning in Casa Grande. 

"I served the past year as vice-chairman of this organization," said the District 3 Supervisor.  "I am pleased my peers elected me as the chairman.  We work together very well for the people in this area." 

Miller takes over from Casa Grande Mayor Bob Jackson. 

The Sun Corridor MPO became a reality for residents in Casa Grande and surrounding areas after the 2010 Census.  The city's population had reached over 50,000 residents.  Federal law states that any area at or over that number must form a metropolitan planning organization.  

The SCMPO oversees the cities of Casa Grande, Coolidge and Eloy, along with unincorporated areas within its boundary lines. 

"The Sun Corridor is placed right in the middle of an area that will experience a lot of growth," Miller said.  "We are concentrating our efforts on interstates 8 and 10 with an eye toward the future I-11.  Economic connectivity is an important element of this region's future growth.  We are also looking at our local railroads and the efforts to import and export products out of this area."

The group meets every second Tuesday, beginning in January.  You can learn more about SCMPO at: http://scmpo.org.


Monday night's actions by CG City Council

(Posted Nov. 17, 2014)


You’ll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


The City Council took these actions during tonight's meeting:

• Gave initial approval to the basic alignment of the sewer expansion project east of Interstate 10.

• Gave initial approval to a $240,000 contract for janitorial services in city buildings. (Scroll down for earlier story outlining the work.)

• Approved changing some land use from neighborhoods to commerce and business in the Storey Farms planned area development, located north of Florence Boulevard south of Cottonwood Lane between Overfield and Signal Peak roads. The property in questions is part of the proposed PhoenixMart project.

• Approving the route for the Electric Light Parade and which streets will be closed for the event. (Map and other items posted under COMMUNITY.)

• Appointed David “Brett” Benedict to the Historic Preservation Commission and Seprina Packard, Jeannette

Rhodes, Gloria Smith, and Jonathan Voyce to the Arts and Humanities Commission.


Ground broken for Tractor Supply Co. center

(Posted Nov. 17, 2014)


Video is HERE


The city issued this announcement this evening:


Tractor Supply Co. broke ground today in Casa Grande on the site that will be its first western distribution center. The Tennessee-based company will build a new 650,000-square-foot facility on about 100 acres in the Central Arizona Commerce Park near Peters and Burris roads. 

Tractor Supply is the largest retail farm and ranch supply store chain in the United States with more than 1,360 stores in 49 states.  The ceremonial groundbreaking event was attended by company executives and local government officials.

“The addition of a new distribution center in the Southwest is key to our western expansion strategy,” said Greg Sandfort, president and chief executive officer. “Arizona’s proximity to our Western stores provides an ideal location for our new facility which will allow us to achieve lower transportation costs and faster delivery to our stores. Casa Grande has an excellent workforce, and we appreciate the hard work of the local and state officials who assisted us through the process.  We look forward to a very long and productive partnership with the Casa Grande community.”

The new distribution center will be situated on the west side of Casa Grande with close proximity to Interstate 8, Interstate 10, the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad, and the Casa Grande Municipal Airport.

“Tractor Supply Co. will be a great addition to the community and create new jobs that are needed in western Pinal County” said Mayor Bob Jackson. “We’ve worked diligently over the years to have the proper infrastructure in place for current and future growth, and we’ve also improved the efficiency of the permitting process to create a friendly business environment. We welcome Tractor Supply Co. to the community and thank them for choosing Casa Grande as the site for their first western distribution center.”

The distribution center here will deliver merchandise to stores in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, southern California and New Mexico. The company plans on hiring over 250 employees when they open in late 2015. Tractor Supply Co. also plans on opening a retail store in Casa Grande on Florence Boulevard next year.


It's a lot of sweeping, mopping and vacuuming

NOV. 17 UPDATE:

Initial approval of the contract came from the City Council during tonight's meeting. Final approval is expected during the Dec. 1 meeting.



(Posted Nov. 15, 2014)


You'll find the staff report HERE


You'll find the complete rundown of the square footages that need to be cleaned and how HERE


You'll find the five bids HERE



It's a lot of sweeping, mopping and vacuuming to keep city buildings clean.

The square footage is 180,221 (97,985 of it carpeted), rising to 196,057 if the city decides to use a contractor for buildings now cleaned by city employees.

That ranges from 48,400 square feet for the Public Safety Facility on Val Vista Boulevard to 34,500 for the main City Hall building down to 380 for the restrooms in Peart Park.

The cost, if approved during Monday night's City Council meeting, will be $186,923 for the 180,221 square feet, rising to $240,000 if the optional cleaning is later added on.

"Staff received bid alternates for several facilities that are currently being cleaned by city staff," the staff report says. "Under current work load, we are able to not contract those facilities, but want the option to contract if needed. This is the reason staff is requesting authorization for the total $240,000 budget amount."

Those alternates are the Water Reclamation Facility at 3,000 square feet, the Teen Center at 4,317, the Woman's Club at 3,461, Peart Center ceramics at 3,890 and the Animal Control office at 1,168.

The low bid, up for consideration Monday night, was from New Image Building Services of Tucson for $186,923. The highest bid was $334,058.52 from Bio Janitorial Services of Glendale. No local bids were received.

The low bid is still less expensive for the city than having to hire additional maintenance personnel, which would require salaries and benefits, including retirement and medical.

As is the case with all contracts, much of the 47-page bid solicitation is in legalese.

It also includes section of how areas are to be cleaned, right down to urinal screens:

"This specification covers an enzymatic, nontoxic block urinal screen. (contractor supplied)," the request says. "Product must be nontoxic, non corrosive and contain enzymes to help eliminate odors and organic buildup. Product should dissolve mineral deposits, uric salts and hard-water scale. Product should have odor counteract to clean and deodorize with flushing."


East sewer again on City Council's agenda

(Posted Nov. 14, 2014)


You’ll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


It’s a short agenda for the City Council when it meets Monday night, highlighted by approving the basic alignment of the sewer expansion project east of Interstate 10.

The meeting, open to the public, starts at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at city Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

A study session, at the same location and also open to the public is set for 6:30 p.m. to discuss the date for the next city elections.

Other agenda items include:

• A $240,000 contract for janitorial services in city buildings.

• A request from PhoenixMart to change some land use from neighborhoods to commerce and business in the Storey Farms planned area development, located north of Florence Boulevard south of Cottonwood Lane between Overfield and Signal Peak roads.

• Approving the route for the Electric Light Parade and which streets will be closed for the event.

• Appointing David “Brett” Benedict to the Historic Preservation Commission and Seprina Packard, Jeannette Rhodes, Gloria Smith, and Jonathan Voyce to the Arts and Humanities Commission.


A septic system or city sewer? Board to decide

DEC. 4 UPDATE


(Posted Dec. 4, 2014)


During tonight's Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, Planning and Development Director Paul Tice said his staff will study the city ordinance in question "with the idea of sort of questioning do they really need to connect if the septic system is working properly? If it's working properly is that really an appropriate public policy to make them connect just because we have the city sewer line within 300 feet? We're going to be evaluating that."



NOV. 11 UPDATE


(Posted Nov. 11, 2014)


The decision Tuesday night by the Board of Adjustment in the Judy Mulligan septic tank appeal was that rather than be forced to immediately connect to the city sewer systems as the city had requested, she will have two years to install a new, approved septic system. It is to be entirely on her property, rather than being partly under neighboring property as is the present system. The present septic system is to be filled in and abandoned.

(Posted Nov. 8, 2014)


The complete staff report, including letters, documents, city codes and other background material is HERE.


The complete agenda is HERE.




The history is simple:

In May of this year, Judy Mulligan bought the home at 204 E. McMurray Blvd. (built in 1959) that is on a septic system rather than city sewer.

Two months later, a neighbor complained that the system lies under the fence between the properties and asked the city to investigate.

The city issued a letter to Mulligan requesting that Mulligan connect to the city sewer system, as required by city code when a home is within 300 feet of the system.

Mulligan filed an appeal.

What is not so simple:

Mulligan says she touched bases with both the Pinal County environmental services people and Casa Grande officials and was told that as long as the septic system was operating with no problems she would not have to connect to the nearest sewer line, about 90 feet to the south between Walnut Avenue and Center Avenue.

"It has also been explained to me that it has been the city's long standing rule that as long as a septic system stays functional, it would be grandfathered in," Mulligan said in her appeal letter.

The city contends otherwise, setting the stage for Tuesday night's meeting of the Board of Adjustment, beginning at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

The board is set up to hear requests for variances and other items, including acting as a quasi  judicial board for appeals, considering whether or not the city acted properly in actions.

The staff report for Tuesday's meeting says the board should evaluate the following when considering the Mulligan appeal:

• Whether staff made any error in the application of City Code 16.16.350 to the 204 E. McMurray Blvd. property. 

• Staff believes that no error did occur in the application of this code, as:

• The code provision is clear that when “a public sanitary sewer is installed within 300 feet of an individual lot, property or sewer system, the owner thereof shall be required to connect to the sewer” and that once public sanitary sewer is located within 300 feet of a property “it is unlawful for any such owner or occupant to maintain upon any property the use of an individual sewage disposal system thereafter.”

•  Staff has confirmed that there is a public wastewater main in the alley that is located on the south side of McMurray Boulevard between North Walnut Avenue and North Center Avenue and that said public wastewater main is located approximately 90 feet from the southwest corner of the 204 E. McMurray Blvd. property.

•  The appellant, in her justification statement, notes that prior to purchase of the 204 E. McMurray Blvd. property she checked with both Pinal County and Casa Grande staff to see if the septic system could remain in place and was told that it could remain as a “grandfathered” use as long as it was operating properly. Staff is not disputing that the appellant may have been given this information but unfortunately allowing the private septic system to remain in place as long as it is operating adequately is not what is required by (city code).

• Another factor that the board may want to consider in this matter is the legislative intent and public policy that is associated with the requirement for existing private sewage systems to be abandoned and connected to the public wastewater system when feasible. It is staff’s understanding that the following are likely the basis for said policy and code requirement:

• The city has made a significant investment of public funds in the construction of facilities for the treatment and collection of wastewater. It is important to have as many connections to said system as possible to spread the costs of constructing and operating this system to make the system economically viable.

• Individual private septic systems do not generally treat wastewater as reliably, nor as thoroughly, as a wastewater treatment plant. Private septic systems have a high potential for eventually failing and allowing untreated or partially treated wastewater to infiltrate into, and pollute, the groundwater. This is especially a concern in Casa Grande where the source of the public water supplied by Arizona Water Co. is groundwater extracted from wells located in various locations throughout the city.

In her appeal letter Mulligan says, in part:

"The property located at 204 E. McMurray has recorded easements which existed at the time of development and subsequent sales of neighboring properties. Any "clean outs" of said septic tanks would occur on the 204 E McMurray Blvd. property line, not interfering with any neighbors.

"Prior to me purchasing the house located at 204 E. McMurray I was advised of the ordinance that requires homes that are within 300 feet of a sewer connection to be connected, but that this was referencing any new construction. 

"Pinal County environments services stated that if the pre-existing septic system was in good operating condition and is being maintained on a regular basis there was no need to change from septic to sewer. If the septic becomes an environmental nuisance or hazard, then there would be cause to comply with the city ordinance. 

"They also stated that the county statue overrides the city ordinance when the septic system is in good operating condition. City officials and the county supervisor stated there was no need for the owner of the property to change to a sewer connection unless it was personally desired.

"Had I been made aware that within 90 days of residence I would have to then comply with (the city code), I may not have purchased said piece of property at that time or I would have requested it be complied with prior to escrow. To comply with connecting to the public sanitary sewer system would involve the excavation of McMurray Boulevard for access to the closest sewer main and would cause a great deal of burden to me at this time.

"Prior to purchasing the property, I personally contacted the County Supervisor Steve Miller and City Services Public Works, Jennifer, and they reiterated the same information to me. It has also been explained to me that it has been the city's long standing rule that as long as a septic system stays functional, it would be grandfathered in.

"I contacted the people who originally inspected the septic units and they also told me that the units were in good working condition and as along as I maintained them properly, I should not have any issues."


Monday night's actions by CG City Council

(Posted Nov. 3, 2014)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/



These actions were taken by the City Council during Monday night's meeting:

• Gave initial approval of hiring Haydon Building Corp. at $166,972 for preconstruction work for the east area sewer expansion project.

• Approved an agreement with PFM Asset Management for advice on city investments, along with approving an updated city investments policy.

• Appointed Charlene Southern to the Board of Adjustment to replace Harold Vangilder, who resigned.


Monday night's actions by CG City Council

(Posted Oct. 20, 2014)


Upgrading of the city's computer network was approved during Monday night's 43-minute City Council meeting.

The computer requests are to spend $120,824 for a storage network to replace one that failed in February, shutting down the city's network. That was given initial approval. A companion spending request for $36,382 is to purchase network switches for the new equipment. That was approved.

Other agenda items include:

• Gave initial approval to spending $118,001 for a used watering system for dust control at the city landfill rather than $835,000 for a new replacement.

• Approved spending $48,194 for a 4,000-gallon water tank system to be used by the Streets Division.


September jobless rate in Casa Grande at 7.1%

(Posted Oct. 17, 2014)


Unemployment during September dropped about half a percent in Casa Grande and in other area cities, statistics posted Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show.

Casa Grande had a jobless rate of 7.1 percent during September, down from 7.6 during August. 

The statistics for Casa Grande showed 1,502 people out of work during September, down from 1,595 for August. 

By contrast, Casa Grande had a 4.1 percent jobless rate (693 people out of work) for September 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 

Pinal County had an September rate of 7.1 percent jobless (10,102 without work), down from 7.7 (10,812) during August. The September 2007 rate was 4.4.

In the past, statistics from the state included unincorporated areas and Indian communities.

The state has now posted this notice: "Estimates for unincorporated cities and towns have been discontinued." The site refers users to outdated federal census statistics.

Other cities' statistics are:

Coolidge

6.8 percent jobless rate for September (318 unemployed), down from 7.3 percent (340) during August. The September 2007 rate was 8.

Eloy

11.1 rate for September (441 jobless), down from 11.9 (427) during August. The September 2007 rate was 6.6.

Florence

7.5 rate for September (238 jobless), down from 8.1 during August (253). The September 2007 rate was 4.4.

Maricopa city

6.3 rate for September (1,271 jobless), down from 7 during August (1,390). The September 2007 rate was 4.9.


Favorable vote for more PhoenixMart changes

(Posted Oct. 16, 2014)


Scroll down on page for earlier background story, maps and city staff report on the request.


A favorable recommendation on a request by PhoenixMart to jettison most of its earlier proposed residential area was sent to the City Council by the Planning and Zoning Commission during Thursday night's meeting.

The favorable vote was a recommendation only; the City Council has final say.

The meeting was the second to discuss the request because state law requires that requests for major General Plan amendments, allowed once a year, must be held on two separate dates and in separate locations.

When AZ Sourcing announced the PhoenixMart project more than three years ago, the developers said there would be a 1.6-million-square-foot international products showcase building as the main feature. Others parts of the 500-plus-acre project north of Florence Boulevard between Overfield and Toltec Buttes roads were be a hotel and residential subdivision, which the developers said would help the thousands of workers find homes.

The developers now want to turn most of that residential area into a commerce and light industry section. Requests they are receiving indicates that that is what potential tenants want to see, they said. They also said that part of the original residential area has a pipeline under it, making development of homes a problem.

The favorable recommendation was approved 6-1, with commission member Joel Braunstein opposed.

"As I said at the last meeting, this has been almost two years ongoing and there's nothing been going on," he told other members. 

"This is part of Phase 3, Phase 4. Who knows what the economy, who knows what AZ Sourcing is going to want to do a few years from now? 

"I feel that this is not an integral part of starting Phase 1 and Phase 2. And is there going to be another request somewhere down the road? I would like to see them show what they're going to do before they ask us for all kinds of promises down the road.

"For that reason, I'm going to vote against it."

Braunstein said it's a situation of "Can we do this, can we do that? It's going from a planned business/residential project to business. If it was going to turn out to be a business park, why didn't you stick it on the south side of town (in one of the business/industrial parks)? We used this side of town because it was going to be residential and the Fire Department and the schools, the whole thing. 

"Now it's not turning out what we were originally presented with, that we agreed at that time with what they were asking for. And I think it stinks."

Commission Vice Chairman Mike Henderson sees it differently.

"I think the land has changed, the use," he said. "At the time that that was designed there was an anticipation that they were going to have a much larger residential market than we do and higher-density residential was going to be more appropriate than it turns out, maybe, to be.

"We only have one shot at this each year, so in order to allow them to plan what they want to plan for commercial activities, if we're going to do it we have to do it now. I don't think we commit ourselves to anything. I think we make it possible for them to proceed with their own plans, and I'd like to support it."

Member Ruth Lynch said, "I believe there has been a lot of work for infrastructure and preparing the site. This is a huge undertaking and I didn't expect to see it built overnight.

I just think there are many things going on that the public, me included, has not seen. But that doesn't mean that things are not being accomplished."

Braunstein answered that, "The delay of their request is not going to affect at all (the main building). We're not saying that the mart itself cannot be built. We're all waiting for the mart to be built. We're talking about something they may want to do three, four years down the road. Infrastructure is not even out there yet. It's not even in their plans, because they're asking us tonight for permission to start planning their infrastructure out there.

"Just like Mr. Henderson said, it's changing.We don't know what's going on. We don't know what's going to go on in three or four years. I don't see a reason to change it right now. Consider it in the future when the present is closer."

Regarding the 1.6-million-square-foot main showcase building, Planning and Development Director Paul Tice told the commission that the final development plan/major site plan for the structure is scheduled for the Nov. 6 meeting.


70-foot cellphone tower on hold for a month

(Posted Oct. 14, 2014)


You'll find the agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/boa/



A 70-foot-tall cellphone communications tower in a storage facility on Colorado Street south of Florence Boulevard is on hold until the next Board of Adjustment meeting.

The request was discussed Tuesday night, with T-Mobile willing to make changes on the site to conform with city requests. Those changes will require that a new variance application be submitted by T-Mobile and considered by the board at its November meeting.

T-Mobile had requested two setback variances for the tower in the Securlock mini-storage area at 517 N. Colorado St., but city planners recommended only the first variance, with the company to work with the city about the second.

The tower would be disguised as a palm tree. Associated equipment would be in a storage unit.

The first variance request was to allow the tower to be 67.6 feet from the west property line, where a 70-foot setback is required. The city staff recommended approval of that request.

The second request was for the south property line setback to be 47.6 feet, where 70 feet is also required.

According to the staff report, "The west setback variance (2.5 feet) has minimal impact on the adjacent residential property. However, the south variance (22.5 feet) has a greater impact

on the property to the south, which is vacant but is zoned for future residential. 

"City staff does not find justification for this variance request as it will have a negative impact on the adjacent residential property to the south in regards to the bulk and scale of the proposed tower and a direct visual impact. Staff would suggest the applicant move the tower further north within the site to meet the south setback."

The T-Mobile representative told the board that the company had met with the corporate parent of Securlock and had worked out moving the tower to the northwest corner where a building had the same configuration as the south location originally requested.

In other action Tuesday night, the board:

• Approved a request from Glenn Jones Auto for a variance to allow another sign.

• Approved a request from Arizona Water Co. for setback variances to allow new water treatment equipment in its facility at 1300 N. Henness Road.


Abandoned shopping carts efforts promised

(Posted Oct. 10, 2014)


Attempts will be made to facilitate meetings among city departments to see what, if anything, can be done about abandoned shopping carts littering areas of town, the Police Advisory Board was told Thursday night.

Board member Roger Vanderpool, who had asked that the item be put on the agenda for discussion, told Police Chief Johnny Cervantes that he is aware that the situation may not be within the purview of the Police Department or Code Enforcement, "but there are a lot of shopping carts over the last several months scattered around down.

"It kind of goes with that broken window thing, if you don't repair the window pretty soon everything else starts falling apart.

"And I know often, unfortunately, it is an economic-driven issue, also, because people using the shopping carts are normally folks that don't have other means of moving their groceries or personal property around."

Vanderpool said that at one time someone went around picking up carts, perhaps paid by some of the stores, but he does not see that very often any more

"The shopping carts have got to cost a pretty good penny," said. "You'd think that the stores would want them back."

Vanderpool said the problem will probably grow, "considering that we now are coming into the winter months everywhere else and our homeless population does grow this time of the year just because of our climate."

Cervantes responded that, "I appreciate your concern. The last thing we want to do is have a blight issue build inside our community. We can facilitate, coordinate with Planning or whoever else you coordinate with to try to look around and see if we can get those shopping carts picked up. But I agree with your 100 percent and I appreciate you bringing it forward."

Cervantes asked if there is any specific area of the city where Vanderpool is seeing the abandoned carts.

Vanderpool replied, "Obviously as you get within a half mile or three quarters of a mile of  Wal-Mart, Food City area. In the neighborhoods, really."

He said that if there is a person or company that picks up the carts, "it would probably be really nice if we could publicize a (phone) number so if someone sees a shopping cart they could call that individual to go pick that one up. Because, again, it's got to be also an economic loss for the stores."

Cervantes said he was not aware of any city ordinance covering abandoned carts.

"I'm not wanting to put any burden on local business," Vanderpool said, "but if a local business is called and maybe don't respond, PD calls them and they don't respond or code enforcement calls them and they don't respond, OK, maybe Public Works goes out and picks it up, sort of like the alarms ordinance, after two or three they're sent a bill for the services."

Cervantes replied, "Obviously, it is a concern and we'll certainly try to coordinate with the appropriate parties to try to rectify this issue, even if we have to facilitate getting with the major grocery stores and see if they have a service that they're actually utilizing. I'm not sure if they're (all) utilizing a service or if it's just specific to one grocery chain."

Board member Rodolfo Calvillo said, "I think if there was contact made with the big boxes and the larger stores and checked with their risk management and loss prevention it could be a situation where if they don't have it in place maybe collectively they could. If not, maybe it's something that could be brought to the attention of the chamber of commerce where they in turn could tell their customers.

"What I have seen, and as late as of this weekend, if you see one, often times there's two side by side, which kind of gives you the impression whomever is bringing it from the store, he or she is not taking it back. The next time he or she goes, grabs the second one."

Calvillo said that he has seen stores where the wheels of the cart would electronically lock the wheels when the edge of the property was reached, "but I haven't seen it here in Casa Grande."

Board chairman Mike McBride said one problem area is around an extended stay hotel on Florence Boulevard.

"They walk from Wal-Mart, push their cart down there since we put the sidewalk in," he said. "It used to be dirt and you couldn't push through the dirt. Now they've got a nice, clean sidewalk to push it and they just pile up next to that place."

Board member Joshua Carstens said that several years ago when his wife worked at a Target operation, "it was like a $20 gift card they got for every cart they brought back, as an employee. It was like an incentive to their employees to help them get their carts back.  I don't know if they do that anymore."

Vanderpool said he wonders if the stores could collectively do something like that for a nonprofit organization in town that would collect the carts.

"That might be a win-win for everyone," he said. "Win-win for a nonprofit, win-win for the community and the store if they're willing to chip in something to get their cart back."


Monday night's actions by CG City Council

(Posted Oct. 6, 2014)


You'll find the agenda items and associated staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


The City Council took these actions Monday night:

• After questions about whether users were fully aware of legal details and concerns that there is no long range plan to cover future failures or problems, tabled consideration of an ordinance assessing users for repairs to the Evergreen Irrigation District. The assessment would be $1,019.19 per user, going toward paying half of the $52,997.95 cost of the repairs to the well and other equipment after a pump failure earlier this year. (Scroll down page for earlier background story.)

• Approved a resolution opposing legalization of non-medical, or recreational, marijuana in Arizona. (See earlier background story, with link to resolution, under COMMUNITY.)

Watch the discussion HERE

• Gave initial approval to a bid of $896,038 for slurry seal for street resurfacing.

• Gave initial approval to a bid of $327,919 for asphalt rubber chip seal.

• Approved purchase of 624 96-gallon trash containers for $35,126.

• Gave initial approval to spending $62,901 for a loader for the Parks Division.

• Approved a final plat for a convenience store north of Florence Boulevard at Camino Mercado.

• Gave initial approval to a zone change to allow Arizona Water Co. to have a water tank, arsenic treatment vessels and other equipment at 1300 N. Henness Road.


PhoenixMart project update: Lesser and later

 The original proposal for the PhoenixMart project showed residential at the north and  northwest areas (left map). Developers now want to change the cross hatched yellow  part at left to commerce and business (right map)

(Posted Oct. 5, 2014)


You'll find the staff report with supporting information HERE



Lesser and later was the PhoenixMart message given to the Planning and Zoning Commission during Thursday night's meeting (Oct. 2).

When the project was announced in 2011, developers said there would be a 1.7-million-square-foot international products showcase building as the main feature. Others parts of the 500-plus-acre project north of Florence Boulevard between Overfield and Toltec Buttes roads were be a hotel and residential subdivision, which the developers, AZ Sourcing, said would help the thousands of workers find homes.

The project would open in late 2012 or early 2013, it was announced.

That opening date has often been pushed back, with developers citing difficulties in getting work permits for Chinese merchants who would occupy parts of the building and the lengthy process of obtaining required city permits.

That opening date is now "late 2015, early 2016," the commission was told.

The residential part of the project is also being scuttled in favor of other business type facilities.

Thursday's commission hearing was on a request by AZ Sourcing for a major General Plan amendment to changing 111 acres from neighborhoods designation (which allows residential)  to commerce and business. Such requests require two hearings, with the final one on Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. at the main library on Drylake Street.

The first question came from commission member Mike Henderson.

"Going back to the original presentations that were made by AZ Sourcing regarding PhoenixMart, there was a very substantial portion of the development that was quite high-density residential," he said. "Is this indicating a general trend away from putting the residential component in the whole PhoenixMart project?"

Senior City Planner Leila Demaree said the next step would be for AZ Sourcing to come back to the commission and the City Council for approval to amend the planned area development "to change the land use within that commerce and business to suit their needs.  So basically the area covered from neighborhood to commerce and business will be changed when they come back for the PAD amendment."

Henderson then asked, "And we will see a reduced emphasis on the housing product, as opposed to the commercial and perhaps industrial activity?"

That is correct, Demaree replied.

Henderson then asked Jeremy Schoenfelder of AZ Sourcing if all of the housing would go away.

Not all of it, Schoenfelder replied.

Referring to a plat map (shown above), he said that difficulties crossing a pipeline on the northwest corner of the project was one reason for the requested land use change.

"Through our land planning we sort of discovered it after our initial high level PAD," Schoenfelder said. "We knew it was there but we didn't realize the difficulty to be able to cross it from the development perspective.

"So the northwest corner sort of became a separate development in and of itself … partially where some of our utilities will be, our water campus will be there."

AZ Sourcing is also following what Schoenfelder said is interest in light office areas and other such development on the property.

"We're taking a look at the area in general and frankly feel that there's quite a bit of subdivisions that are planned (elsewhere) that are residential and things and we think that there will be plenty of supply for that and we'll let them do what they do well. We'll just really cater to the demand we're seeing within our activity."

Henderson asked if that means building out that entire area as a general business environment.

Schoenfelder replied that, "There's some activity that we're hearing from people specifically because of the PhoenixMart project, but in general I think that there's more activity here that will just develop in the true business, commerce on the whole site."

The main question still asked in the community was repeated by commission member Joel Braunstein: "We've been talking about this for two years-plus," he said. "When are you going to start?"

Schoenfelder said AZ Sourcing continues to have meetings with the city and with utilities providers.

"It's continuing to move forward," he said. 

"You'll see through various permits that we're going to be submitting that we're going to be doing multiple at-risk grading submissions in order to keep the timeline that we want to hit.

"But the goal is that we'll have heavy equipment out there in November, and that looks like it's fairly feasible right now based on last schedule, and then we would continue fairly substantial activity until the end."

Schoenfelder said there are still meetings about the main building, but the date now is late 2015, early 2016.

"So, every time you come before us it's being pushed back a little bit," Braunstein said.

Schoenfelder said "the anchor project is still the (huge) PhoenixMart building that you hear about, with first construction on that phase."

AZ Sourcing is talking with other developers and subdevelopers about the proposed hotel and other components, he said, but, "there are also some buildings that we're planning on developing ourselves, or at least in partnership with others. So it'll actually be a mix of it."


Evergreen Irrigation cost on council agenda

(Posted Oct. 3, 2014)


You'll find the agenda item and associated staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


A locator map is HERE


A users address list is HERE


A proposal that Evergreen Irrigation District users pay 50 percent of the $52,997.95 that it cost repair the electrical, pump and well casing components to keep the system in operation is on the agenda when the City Council meets Monday.

The meeting, open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

When Evergreen was platted in 1928 north and east of City Hall, one of the deed restrictions said, "All lot owners shall be required to pay their pro rata share of pumping expenses for irrigation water used on said premises; and all lots shall be deemed to be of equal size in ascertaining the pro rata share."

In 1986, the city passed an ordinance making that official, setting out the assessments and how they would be paid.

"Assessments are designed to recover large costs to the district which occur on a irregular or unpredictable schedule," that ordinance says. "Examples of such costs are repair and replacement of the pump and vehicle used in providing the service. Assessments shall be divided equally among all users of the service."

When the main pump failed earlier this year, leaving users without irrigation water, the city paid a contractor for the repairs.

The question: Should users cover all or part of the cost.

Over the years, the number of users has shrunk to 26, a document shows.

According to the staff report for the agenda item, "Once the water delivery service was restored, the current Evergreen Irrigation customers were invited to a neighborhood meeting  to discuss the water delivery schedule, as well as the issue of reimbursement. Those in attendance unanimously suggested and agreed that a 50 percent cost sharing program with the city was a fair and reasonable resolution. The group in attendance also requested that the City allow a one-year time frame for the users to pay the agreed upon repair balances."

That would be $1,019.19 per user.

There is also an hourly charge for the water coming onto the properties for deep irrigation.

"Parks maintenance staff is currently providing the labor required to deliver the water to the existing customers in a weekly rotation on a Monday through Friday schedule," the staff report says. "The hourly rate of $14.50 of service still applies. The new water flow meter installed with the new system reflects a current water delivery rate of 250 to 300 gallons per minute. This is less than the old pump system, thus requiring a longer amount of time needed to fully irrigate the residential property.

"Several of the customers have requested the opportunity to independently or self-water their personal property. Staff is currently evaluating the control and accounting process along with the cost of automating the use and delivery of the water with a PIN control or electronic card swipe device. Our initial findings are that the cost of automating the system would cause us to exceed the City Council-approved repair allowance and would represent a significant charge per user."

The staff report adds that, "Any new customers seeking to connect to the system after June 16, 2014, shall be responsible for the same amount to be used as an initial-buy in fee until the full cost of the repairs have been recovered by the city. 

"Although unlikely given the history of the area, if additional customers connect to the system such that the buy-in fee would exceed the cost of repairs, the buy in fee for those users shall be used to help establish a capital fee toward future repairs."


Other items on the Monday agenda include:

• A bid of $896,038 for slurry seal for street resurfacing.

• A bid of $327,919 for asphalt rubber chip seal.

• Purchase of 624 96-gallon trash containers for $35,126.

• Spending $62,901 for a loader for the Public Works Department.

• A final plat for a convenience story north of Florence Boulevard at Camino Mercado.

• A zone change to allow Arizona Water Co. to have a water tank, arsenic treatment vessels and other equipment at 1300 N. Henness Road.


McDonald's at mall to be 'latest and greatest' style

(Posted Oct. 2, 2013)


You'll find the agenda item and staff report at

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/


The McDonald's fast food restaurant scheduled for the Promenade mall will be "the latest and greatest prototype," the Planning and Zoning Commission was told Thursday night.

(See views above)

The 5,252-square-foot restaurant with dual drive-through lanes and outdoor seating area under a covered patio will be built on a vacant lot between Olive Garden and Mimi's.

Scott Audsley, area construction manager for McDonald's, told the commission that, "We're excited to get under way with our third restaurant in Casa Grande. This location will be franchised-owned, which 90 percent of the McDonald's are.

"We're excited to do the latest and greatest prototype with enhanced drive-through and lobby, as well as the patio which we've added to this restaurant.

"We are working toward a May groundbreaking, hope to have the restaurant open in the summer of 2015."

Commission member Joel Braunstein pointed out that there are already three McDonald's in Casa Grande, not two. 

Two are on Florence Boulevard, the third on Pinal Avenue.

"This one hasn't been franchised yet," Audsley said, "so it will be offered to either the franchisee that operates the other two or it may be another one that's nearby. There's two in the running for it."

Commission chairman Jeff Lavender noted that when the commission approved a Raising Cane chicken outlet on the other side of Florence Boulevard between Walgreens and Culver's the hours of operation were restricted, requiring closing between 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

"McDonald's is normally open 24 hours," Lavender said. "Is there any provision here to restrict (McDonald's) hours?

City Planner Jim Gagliardi responded that the Raising Cane operation was a conditional use within the Mission Royale commercial complex. "It was recognized that an adjacent fast food restaurant that was in that same zoning had those same hours, and so that was the recommended condition," he said.

Convenience food restaurants within the mall do not have the same conditions, he said.

Audsley told the commission that, "With this being a freeway location, it would be our intention to have the opportunity to run 24 hours. The franchisee has some say in that. If they're running a business and if they're not seeing a lot of traffic during the evening hours they'll close the dining area and possibly the drive-through, as well."

Braunstein said his question, given the number of convenience food outlets approved by the commission in the past few months, would be, "Why another fast food restaurant? I don't think it's the way that development in this town needs to go."

The vote to approve the major site plan for the McDonald's was 6-1, with Braunstein opposed.


Thursday actions by Planning & Zoning Commission

(Posted Oct. 2, 2014)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/


These actions were taken Thursday night by the Planning and Zoning Commission:

• Approved a major site plan and final landscape plan for a Tractor Supply Co. regional distribution center on 100 acres at the southeast corner of Peters and Burris roads. 

The building is projected to be 663,617 square feet, with an expansion capability of 369,400 square feet.

• Approved a major site plan request for a 5,251-square-foot McDonald's with drive through on a Promenade mall between Olive Garden and Mimi's.

• Approved replatting of land in Casa Grande Business Park at the southwest corner of Gila Bend Highway and Thornton Road to allow conversion of an industrial building to a commercial bakery and building additions to the building for new product storage and loading facilities.

• Approved a preliminary plat for subdividing part of the commercial portion of Mission Royale across from Promenade mall into three lots to accommodate future development.

• Approved a request for a conditional use permit to building two homes in the Cottonwood Ranch subdivision on East Kingman Street, one for a model home and one for a sales office.

• Had the first hearing on a major General Plan amendment request to change 111 acres of the 585-acre PhoenixMart project from neighborhoods designation to commerce and business.

• Approved a conditional use permit for a two-home model sales complex within Cottonwood Ranch on Kingman Street.

• Approved adding a new single-family home model in the Los Portales subdivision on North St. Andrews Drive.

When the lights go out, the generators come on

(Posted Sept. 30, 2014)


You'll find the complete request HERE


When the lights go out at city buildings, the emergency generators go on -- or are supposed to.

That's why the city is calling for bids for generator routine maintenance and repair.

Under a one-year contract, extendable for up to four times, routine maintenance service calls would be done every three months and load testing every year, the request says.

The generators are located at:

• Public Safety Facility, 373 E. Val Vista Blvd.

• Fire Station 501, 119 E. Florence Blvd.

• Fire Station 502, 1479 E. Ninth St.

• Fire Station 503, 3305 N. Piper Ave.

• Fire Station 504, 1637 E. McCartney Road.

• City Hall Building B, 510 E Florence Blvd.

• Public Safety Communication Center, 520 N. Marshall St.

• Waste Water Treatment Facility, 1194 W. Kortsen Road.


Part of old co-op building sign will be donated

(Posted Sept. 27, 2014)


A move is afoot to donate part of the "Tools" sign at the old co-op building to the Historic Preservation Commission, which in turn will give it to the Casa Grande Valley Historical Society.

The building, on the northwest corner of Florence Boulevard and Peart Road, is being renovated to be the location of Harbor Freight Tools.

Addressing members of the commission during the last commission meeting, Chairman Marge Jantz said, "Harbor Freight is going to donate just the Tool part. They're going to utilize the rest of the sign, use all the bubbles and put the Harbor Freight box sign on the top."

Jantz said that originally Harbor Freight was going to cover the Tools part of the sign with the new box logo.

"I talked to Harbor Freight the other day and Irene said that probably the week of the 29th is when they're going to be installing signs. I asked her if they could donate the Tools piece and she said, of course we will."

A date to turn the sign over to the commission had not yet been set, Jantz said.

She said Harbor Freight was sort of surprised by the request, "but they were willing to work with us very nicely. They want to be good community members."

Jantz said the sign could be stored at the historical society's display barn "until such time it may be better used in a public place.

"That's going to the museum director and the board president and they are excited about that."


Funds sought for old Don Market restoration

(Posted Sept. 25, 2014)


Renovation of the old Don Market on Florence and First streets is stalled for now as the Don family assesses the project and tries to find out if federal or state historic preservation funds are available, the Historic Preservation Commission was told during its last meeting.

"Some of the Don family met the other day with Main Street and some other individuals downtown regarding the Don Market," Chairman Marge Jantz said. 

"They have already renovated the property next door. 

"They really want to do something with the Don Market, but they're a little overwhelmed at the moment because they've already worked on one building and the personal residence. The family lived up there (top floor) and they just feel really connected with that building.

"They really want it to be something that's going to honor the family.

"They were really on a kind of fact finding mission to see if there was any state money, which there isn't, or federal, which there could be but they'd have to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and they're not. They're interested in getting funds to repair the building."

Jantz said she told the Dons that she would call the State Historic Preservation Office to see what might be available.

"That property was surveyed in 1998 and at that time the survey said it could be a contributor if we had a downtown historic district but at that time they didn't feel that it was individually eligible," Jantz said.

"It was a really good meeting and they are really interested in doing something to honor the family. They really don't want to sell the building, they want to keep it but they want more use for it. 

"They were also asking if somebody could do a mural on the side, but it's really a little bit way to early for that because we don't know what's going to happen to the building."

City Planner Laura Blakeman, the liaison to the commission, said that as far as she knows the Don family had not approached the Planning and Development Department about the work. 

Further work on the two projects by the Dons would probably include restoring the sidewalk overhangs, or masonry canopies.

"The canopies probably first and foremost need to be taken care of," Jantz said. "When Ellison-Mills was working on the downtown street (the Florence Street renovation project) they did something with those awnings so they could move forward with the project, but they know that those are in really desperate need of repair."


Burned home asbestos removal bids sought

(Posted Sept. 23, 2014)


The complete request is HERE


Casa Grande is seeking bids for removal of asbestos contamination and the partial demolition of a home at 409 W. Second Ave.

In addition to removal of asbestos contaminated material, the request says work will include complete removal of the roof and all interior walls, along with removing all demolition debris.

According to a Casa Grande Police Department release on July 14 of this year, the fire was reported the morning of July 9 and was being investigated as arson.


Demolition of burned apartments approved

Severe fire damage at the west end of the apartments building is shown above.



(Posted Sept. 22, 2014)


The staff report, with building inspection report and city code sections, is HERE


A certificate of appropriateness for demolition of six apartments behind the Fisher Memorial Home that were heavily damage during a May fire and had long been in disrepair was approved Monday night by the Historic Preservation Commission.

The certificate was required because the apartments are on the Fisher Memorial Home property at Eighth Street and Olive Avenue, a site classified as a historic location. The apartments building, though, was not classified as historic.

The Fisher Memorial Home at 300 E. Eighth St., originally a funeral parlor, was built in 1927, but owner James McClelland told the commission he does not know when the apartments were constructed, being there when he bought the property in 1976.

A building inspection of the burned apartments structure in August found that, among other things, "the residential building has suffered extensive structural damage due to failure of the weather-resisting measures and fire damage to the exterior support walls and roof. 

"Based on the damage to the structural components of the building and the fact that the overall condition of the property is a hazard to anyone entering the building and or approaching portions of the building, city staff is recommending the building be demolished."

A condition of demolition is that it be completed within 60 days.

"I go along with it," McClelland told the commission. If there's any problem I'll try and get it taken care of."

He said one problem that must be taken care of before demolition can be started is that there is a bee colony in one of the apartments. He said he is attempting to find a removal service but, "I haven't been able to nail down someone to do that for me, have not."

The demolition contractor has told him that once that is taken care of, McClelland said, "he can have it done in a week's time."


Inspection report

This is the Aug. 14 building inspection report:


Based on the invitation of the property owner a visual inspection of the fire damaged residential apartment building located at 300 E. Eighth St. (hereafter known as the property) was performed to determine if the remaining structural components presented an immediate safety concern.

 The property has extensive damage to the west end of the structure due to a fire in May 2014. Structural walls and parts of the roof structure have been burned away and can no longer support the imposed loads, There is additional fire damage due to embers on the rear (north side) of the structure and on the south side awning above the doors into the rooms. 

In accessing the extent of fire damage to the structure a significant amount of structural failure due to rot and other damage was noted. The exterior weather protection has failed and allowed water intrusion into the roof and wall structures. It is recommended that no one enter the building due to the loss of the structural integrity. 

The property was fabricated using wood framing with stucco and roof sheeting of 1x6 lumber and various roof coverings including corrugated metal and composition shingles. Interior walls are wood frame with gypsum sheeting. The structure is built on a wood floor system as well as a structural slab-on-grade. Both floor systems appear to have failed with vertical displacement in several areas of the porch. 

The following items were noted on the exterior of the structure: 

• The west end of the building has significant fire damage to the supporting walls and roof structure. 

• There is visible structural damage to the roof and structural support walls and awning support posts. 

• The roof coverings have failed and/or are missing, allowing water intrusion into the structure causing damage to the structure. 

• The awning roof on the south side of the structure is failing and collapsing. 

• There are electrical wires and devices installed on the exterior of the property contrary to the requirements of the National Electrical Code and pose a hazard to anyone entering the property. 

• Electrical service equipment panels on the north side of the structure are open with the meters still installed.


The interior of several apartments were examined with the following observations:

 

Apartment # 4 

(western end of the building adjacent to the fire damage): 

• Water damage from roof failure. 

• Ceiling failing and collapsing into the rooms. 

• Water damage visible at several areas of the north wall. Extent of damage to framing unknown without demolition. 

• Ceiling, walls and contents all show some degree of damage from excessive moisture. 


Apartment #5: 

• Water damage to north exterior wall and west interior wall. Mold and other signs of extensive damage. 

• Wood floor in this apartment has failing and is extremely uneven. It appears that the original floor was constructed on or very close to the soils below the structure. 

• Ceiling shows water intrusion and damage to the ceiling and roof. Other damage to ceiling caused by vandals. 

• Colony of bees in north exterior wall. 

• Ceiling, walls, and contents all show some degree of damage from excessive moisture. 


Apartment #6 

• Signs of water damage from unknown entry. Ceiling, walls, and contents all show some degree of damage from excessive moisture. 

• Mold in north east corner of apartment. 


"In conclusion, the inspection of the property indicates that the residential building has suffered extensive structural damage due to failure of the weather-resisting envelope and fire damage to exterior support walls and roof." 


CG jobless rate for August at 7.6%, down a bit

(Posted Sept. 18, 2014)


Unemployment during August dropped just slightly in Casa Grande and in other area cities, statistics posted Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show.

Casa Grande had a jobless rate of 7.6 percent during August, down from 7.9 during July. 

The statistics for Casa Grande showed 1,598 people out of work during August, down from 1,672 for July. 

By contrast, Casa Grande had a 4.1 percent jobless rate (680 people out of work) for August 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 

Pinal County had an August rate of 7.7 percent jobless (29,432 without work), down from 7.8 (29,910) during July. The August 2007 rate was 4.3.

In the past, statistics from the state included unincorporated areas and Indian communities.

The state has now posted this notice: "Estimates for unincorporated cities and towns have been discontinued." The site refers users to outdated federal census statistics.

Other cities' statistics are:

Coolidge

7.3 percent jobless rate for August (341 unemployed), down from 7.4 percent (348) during July. The August 2007 rate was 7.9.

Eloy

11.9 rate for August (473 jobless), down from 12.1 (484) during July. The August 2007 rate was 6.5.

Florence

8.1 rate for August (253 jobless), down from 8.4 during July (266). The August 2007 rate was 4.3.

Maricopa city

7 rate for August (1,393 jobless), down from 7.3 during July (1,466). The August 2007 rate was 4.9.


Can you spare a dime -- or a street corner?

(Posted Sept. 17, 2014)


The number of panhandlers on Casa Grande streets and at intersections seems to be growing, causing more telephone calls to him, Councilman Matt Herman said during Monday night's City Council meeting.

There's also a problem of homeless people building shacks or other shelters on vacant land within town, Councilman Dick Powell said.

It has been pointed out before that some of the homeless are military veterans. Councilman Ralph Varela gave the council a short presentation on how Casa Grande could be a resource center contact for veterans.


Panhandlers

"I've gotten a few more calls this week about the panhandlers," Herman said, adding that he has explained to callers that the city has no ordinance against panhandling, something involving First Amendment rights.

"But I'm just thinking of a safety issue that we're having," he said.

"There's getting to be a lot of people and I've heard of some of these people fighting over different corners that they stake out, actually looks like an organized business going."

Casa Grande is a city that will help people down on their luck, Herman said.

"I don't want it to be perceived any other way," he continued, "but it's just a safety issue for a lot of our residents and I have been getting a lot of calls about, seems to be getting more prevalent, going to get more so as the weather gets nicer, too.

"So if there is something we can do about the safety issue on that, I would appreciate it."

It's an issue the city has been facing for years.

Ten years ago, Police Board Chairman Karl Montoya (now on the City Council) brought a Bullhead City ordinance against panhandling and loitering to the board for discussion.

"Basically what we have in our downtown district is a lot of loitering, some begging and it's really become an unsightly picture downtown," Montoya said at that Police Board meeting. 

"We're trying to find if we do have an ordinance, if we need an updated ordinance or see if we can pass an ordinance to take care of some of the problems."

Scott McCoy, city attorney at that time, said there is a state law against panhandling and the city also has ordinances against drinking on the streets.

Loitering ordinances, he said, have consistently been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as targeting one segment of society, adding that any city ordinance against loitering would probably be thrown out for vagueness and discrimination.

"This statute from Bullhead City would not pass constitutional muster, I can assure you," he said. "The reason it is still on the books is probably that nobody has challenged it."


(Two stories from that 2004 Police Board meeting were written by the CG News owner, then a city government reporter for the Casa Grande Dispatch.

(The main story is HERE.  An explanatory secondary story is HERE.)


Squatters

In addition to the panhandlers, Powell said, "we've had some squatters, I think everybody's aware of kind of what's going on.

"There's people that are moving in, some on bare land, just building areas with things they gathered up around town and stuff like that.

"I think that's something is kind of new. I don't remember that issue every having come up before."


Veterans

Varela said he attended a veterans' initiatives workshop during a recent conference of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns. Noted during that workshop, he said, was that there are about 600,000 veterans of all era, around 25 percent of them in rural areas.

"One of the things that was presented was a challenge to cities and town to develop a care and military veterans resource network," Varela continued.

"Really, what it would require is to designate a city staff person or department to undertake this initiative, requires training for city staff and department, requires that we appoint a contact for the city. There really is no cost to it."

Varela passed the report on to City Manager Jim Thompson "so that we can kind of look at how the city can position itself to be a resource network."


The comments from Herman, Powell and Varela came during council reports at the end of the meeting. Because the subjects were not on the formal agenda, no action could be taken.


Monday night's actions by the City Council

(Posted Sept. 15, 2014)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


Initial approval was given Monday night by the City Council to a request from the Historic Preservation Commission to change the name of Washington Street to its original Top and Bottom Street.

(Scroll down under COMMUNITY for earlier CG News stories on the subject.)

• Gave initial approval to a contract for $81,018 for updating the city airport layout plan.

• Gave initial approval to an agreement to add $200,000 of city money to the $750,000 to be put up by owners of Central Arizona Commerce Park for upgrading of infrastructure.

• Gave initial approval to donating a 25-year-old Fire Department 100-foot platform to Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology for use in fire science classes. The staff report says the 1987 year model platform has been advertised for sale but because it is so old there have been no offers to buy. The platform was replaced by a newer model last year.


City honored for its redesigned website

(Posted Sept. 12, 2014)


The city issued this announcement today:


The city of Casa Grande has received an award of excellence by the City-County Communications & Marketing Association (3CMA) for its redesigned website, www.casagrandeaz.gov

Casa Grande was one of three national winners in the category of digital interactive – overall website.   The City was recognized during the annual Savvy Awards ceremony at this year’s 3CMA conference held Sept. 3-5 in Minneapolis, Minn.

Casa Grande launched its redesigned website in July 2013. The new website was designed entirely in-house by Tom Picklesimer, the city’s webmaster using WordPress, an open-source content management system. 

Some of the new features of the website include live video streaming of council meetings and a “How do I” tab to take visitors directly to job openings, pay city utility bill, and report graffiti. The new website also includes a comprehensive calendar of events and tabs that separate news/announcements, items of interest, public meetings, a featured video and pet adoptions.

“Love the simple format of the homepage,” said the judges. The judges also praised the city for using WordPress instead of expensive third party software. More than 600 entries in 37 categories were submitted from across the country in this year’s Savvy Awards competition.

“Our main focus has always been to make sure our website is easy to navigate and updated with current information,” said Agustin Avalos, the city's public information officer. “We are honored to be recognized for our efforts by a national organization.”

According to 3CMA, the Savvy Awards recognize outstanding local government achievements in communications, public-sector marketing and citizen-government relationships. The Savvies salute skilled and effective city, county, agency or district professionals who have creatively planned and carried out successful innovations in communications and marketing.


Bids sought to rehab 50-year-old hangars

(Posted Sept. 9, 2014)


You'll find the complete request for bids and scope of work HERE


The airport master plan is HERE


Casa Grande is seeking bids for rehabilitating two hangars at the city airport that are more than 50 years old.

The work on hangers one and two, to be done no more than two bays at a time, includes column base, sheet metal siding and hangar door repairs.


Crack sealing contract for street maintenance OK'd

(Posted Sept. 7, 2014)


The staff report is HERE


Approval of a contract for up to $100,000 for crack sealing material for city streets sets the stage for continued maintenance of Casa Grande streets.

"This is a program that we've been very aggressive with," Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the City Council prior to initial approval of the contract. "We feel that this is probably one of our most effective pieces of maintenance that we can do to our streets to keep the moisture from penetrating the subgrade and increasing the deterioration of the pavement."

Louis said the contract, with final approval set during the next meeting, allows spending up to $100,000 but, "I don't think we're going to need that amount. Typically, we spend about $60,000, but we do have the ability to look at what our purchase needs are in that account and make adjustments. We did want that spending authority prior to moving forward."

Keeping city streets in repair as long as possible before costly replacement is important enough that Councilman Dick Powell, usually conservative about spending taxpayer money, said, "This is probably the only time I've ever asked you this, but I would be very happy if you spent all of it. There's a lot of streets in Casa Grande, so I would like to see every penny of it spent."

Mayor Bob Jackson concurred, adding, "I do think it is the least expensive thing and the most important thing to do, so I agree with you."

Louis said crack sealing will be done by city crews on streets that will receive overall sealant this year.

Work will be done as soon as possible, he told the council.

"Sometimes what we'll do is we'll order some of the material ahead of time within our spending limits to get started," he continued, "so we may order a few pallets within my spending limit and then they'll get started. But this is something we'll start as soon as we're able to get the material on site."

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons asked if the type of crack sealing material changes from time to time because of improved technology.

"We do a lot of research," Louis replied. "Arizona State University has a great asphalt materials conference that they put on each year and they have their students go through and do projects and they bring in vendors, so we're exposed to a lot of opportunities throughout difference conferences throughout the year to look at those different materials.

"That, and the sales reps are very aggressive in bringing that material out and sample it for us.

"In the eight years that I've been here we've probably used five different crack seal materials. It's something that just evolves. Materials are introduced into the system, the new polymer, the rubber modified additives to make that material work a little better.

"Obviously, we look at that cost benefit, where is that break point. We spend a lot more money on a more improved project product, but we think that this project meets our need."

Fitzgibbons wanted to know how products are chosen.

"When you're choosing the product, I'm sure that these sales reps can come from Colorado where the weather's not 130 degrees, or whatever, so how do you take that into consideration?" she asked. "Are they testing it in Arizona? When you go to this conference do they show examples of how it works in Arizona, probably one of the hottest places, I would imagine?"

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen then pointed out that the paperwork given to the council showed that the purchase will be for hot weather type of material.

"We really rely on the state of Arizona," Louis said. "They have their own material labs and we rely on some of the data that they're able to generate. But there are a lot of private industries out there that do the testing. There's a lot of different areas where we can compare product to product to see what's best for this area, what's best for our type of asphalt. Asphalt here is different than asphalt in Flagstaff, so those different characteristics are taken into consideration as we pick these materials."


A Taco Bell coming to Villago Marketplace

The Taco Bell site in Villago Marketplace is outlined in red on map at left.


(Posted Sept. 4, 2014)


A major site plan for a Taco Bell restaurant in Villago Marketplace was approved Thursday night by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The 2,566-square-foot restaurant with drive-through will be in the center of the south part of Village Marketplace abutting McCartney Road.

Construction of the project will begin as soon as possible, the commission was told.


In other action Thursday night, the commission:

• Sent a favorable recommendation to the City Council on a request by Arizona Water Co. to change zoning at its 1300 N. Henness Road wellsite to allow reduced setback requirements, making it easier to install new arsenic removal treatment equipment and storage tank.

"Arizona Water Co. has plans to expand the arsenic removal facility to increase treatment capacity to meet water supply demands of the community …," the staff report accompanying the agenda item says.

• Approved a preliminary plat to resubdivide lots six and seven at Casa Grande Shopping Center to allow Western Dental to move into part of the building occupied by Pet Club until it moved to the north end of the center.

The present configuration of the lots does not allow enough parking under city code for a business such as Western Dental. Moving the property line of lot seven about 77.5 feet to the west will allow for more space. 

The spaces are already there, but are part of an earlier configuration for retail business, requiring one parking space for each 200 square feet of floor space. Western Dental, as a medical classification, will need one space for each 200 feet of space, or 38 spaces, necessitating the boundary change.


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/


Tuesday night actions by the City Council

(Posted Sept. 2, 2014)


You'll find the full agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


These actions were taken Tuesday night by the City Council:

• Gave initial approval to using grant money to self-contained breathing apparatus equipment for the Fire Department at a cost of $113,339.

• Gave initial approval to purchasing a loader for the Sanitation Department at a cost of $66,155.

• Gave initial approval to spending $100,000 for streets crack sealing material for the Streets Department.

During a study session before the regular meeting, heard from Police Chief Johnny Cervantes about personnel turnover in the Police Department.

The hour and a half session will be covered in a series of upcoming CG News articles.


Santa Cruz Crossing developer backs down on plan
to reroute Santa Cruz Wash, phase in infrastructure

(Posted Sept. 1, 2014)


The 2006 proposal map is HERE


The latest proposal map is HERE


A map showing the area in relation to neighbors is HERE


The Aug. 4 City Council staff report is HERE


The Aug. 18 City Council staff report is HERE


The Planning and Zoning Commission staff report is HERE


The traffic analysis conclusion is HERE


Army Corps of Engineers flood letter is HERE



In the wake of the rejection by the City Council of its new plans for the Santa Cruz Crossing  development at the southeast corner of Rodeo and Trekell roads, the developers have backed down and say they will no longer reroute the North Branch of the Santa Cruz Wash. 

Rodeo Road improvements, including a neighborhood drive so residents to the north in Rancho Grande will no longer have to back out onto Rodeo, will now be in the first phase of the new plan, they say.

The plan to amend the planned area development, which was approved by the city in 2006 but never built, was passed by the Planning and Zoning Commission but ran into opposition from the council, mostly centering on possibility of flooding caused by rerouting the Santa Cruz Wash from the center of the development to the southern boundary. Neighbors appeared at the council meetings to express concerns that the change would cause flooding in their subdivisions, mainly Desert Valley and along Bisnaga Street.

The first council hearing was Aug. 4, but was continued until Aug. 18 to gather more information to answer the questions. After hearing from the developer and residents during that second meeting, the council denied the application. Voting in favor were Mayor Bob Jackson and councilmen Matt Herman and Karl Montoya. Opposed were councilmen Ralph Varela and Dick Powell. Councilwoman Mary Kortsen was absent and Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons recused herself because her law firm was representing another development and objecting to allowing Rodeo Road improvements to be part of later development of Santa Cruz Crossing.

Backing down by the developers was included toward the end of a letter to the city reproduced as a full page advertisement in the Casa Grande Dispatch on Sunday, Aug. 31.

The letter from Joseph A. Miller, chief executive officer of Integria Development Inc. listed what it sees as factors in the development.

In the last paragraph of the Aug. 21 letter, Miller said, "After the council denied our PAD amendment, we have decide to revise our plan to align the drainage with the approved 2006 PAD as that seemed to be the main point of contention.

"In addition, we will bring the offsite improvements along Rodeo Road into Phase I to alleviate the city's concern that they will be left with anything but an improved project accompanied with anything but an improved project accompanied with high quality assisted living and independent living apartments."

Dennis Fitzgibbons, a Casa Grande attorney, had appeared at both City Council hearings, saying that allowing the the phasing of major improvements would be contrary to policy toward other developments approved in the past. Those approvals, including a proposed  assisted and independent living facility next to the Villas at Mary T, required upfront improvements for traffic and drainage, he said.

The original proposal for Santa Cruz Crossing kept the Santa Cruz Wash flowing through the center of the development. The proposal denied by the council would reroute it to the southern border of the project.

Santa Cruz Crossing was originally envisioned as mainly a residential development, with some mixed use. The revised plan as outlined in the Planning and Zoning Commission staff report proposed:

• Adding an assisted living facility as a permitted use.

• Removing an office area.

• Providing development standards for previously approved commercial and residential areas.

• Relocating the area previously shown as “Green Court Homes,” a high-density single-family area, to a more southerly portion of the site and reclassifying it as senior patio homes.

• Adding two-story senior apartment homes in the northern area of the PAD (adjacent to Rodeo Road, west of a future Pueblo Drive, south of Rodeo Drive).

• Adding an area for a community center.

• Changing proposed alignment of future Pueblo Drive through the site to extend to the south end of the PAD.

• Realignment of the natural east-west drainage corridor that traverses the site from its current area to a more southerly location.

In the letter to the city, Miller said that, "Integria Development and the Fabricant family would like to express our extreme disappointment in the City Council's decision to deny our application to amend our approved planned area development (PAD) at Rodeo and Trekell Roads. Your professional staff and experts felt confident, as did our expert engineers, that our redesign addressed all of the concerns that came up … 

"Unfortunately, for the city of Casa Grande and the neighbors, we will not be able to move forward as quickly as originally planned. Our goal has always been to improve Casa Grande by developing approximately 94 acres creating jobs, revenue, new residences and, with our amendment, providing more choices for its aging population. 

"Currently, Casa Grande does not have the capacity in assisted living to care for the aging population, even with the development of the other currently proposed facility on Cottonwood (the facilities next to Mary T at Peart Road and Cottonwood Lane). There is, and will be for years to come, a great need for more assisted living in Casa Grande. The advent of these two new luxury facilities may attract new residents to the area from Phoenix, Tucson and other areas in proximity. Casa Grande is growing and our project will only help not hinder its future success."

Miller said that the amended proposal "more than adequately addressed" concerns brought up during both council meetings.

"First," the letter continued, "it should be noted that the widening of Rodeo Road and frontage road was included and approved on the 2006 PAD by the council at that time. 

This portion remained basically unchanged from the approved 2006 PAD. However, because it came up we should address this concern today. 

"We will dedicate three acres of our property to improve the conditions that our neighbors to the north of Rodeo currently have. We can all agree that backing out of a driveway onto a major road is unsafe. Our plan corrects and addresses that unsafe condition. The neighbors will benefit from the frontage road by being able to safely exit their driveways and the buffer makes it safer for children to play up and down the street in front of their homes and not on or near the heavily trafficked Rodeo Road. 

"As for the Desert Valley subdivision, we all recognize that they have a serious flooding issue. In 1985, the Fabricants donated the 20 acres of land south of that neighborhood to the city to channelize the north branch of the Santa Cruz Wash back to its original location. It was their generosity that made the area safer for all of the residents in the area by redirecting the natural flows of the wash. 

"The city designed and built the drainage devices that unfortunately may be inadequate and, from time to time, overflow creating flooding conditions for the Desert Valley subdivision. As you saw from the FEMA flood map the Desert Valley subdivision is mostly located in the 100-year flood zone. 

"However, our project and engineered channels will collect the water that flows from the north of the Desert Valley subdivision through our project. These waters will be collected and expelled through the proper drainage culverts beneath Trekell Road, all but eliminating the waters flowing into their subdivision from our property. Collecting and directing those waters helps immensely by not adding to the waters that rise up from the south of their properties in times of severe flooding. 

"Of course, we cannot eliminate their flooding issues entirely as they receive water from the Santa Cruz Wash and the adjacent Arroyo Linda PAD to our east. 

"However, we can lessen the probability of our water effecting (sic) the Desert Valley subdivision which, in fact, protects those residents that border our southern property line and in no way puts those residents in any sort of jeopardy, in deep contrast to what was presented and discussed at the hearings."


It's a light agenda for City Council on Tuesday

(Posted Aug. 29, 2014)


You'll find the full agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


It's a light agenda when the City Council meets Tuesday night, a day later than normal because of the Labor Day holiday.

The regular meeting, open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

A study session at 5:30 p.m. at the same location and also open to the public will continue the presentation by Police Chief Johnny Cervantes on progress being made on the Police Department's strategic plan.

Items on the 7 p.m. agenda include:

• Using grant money to self-contained breathing apparatus equipment for the Fire Department at a cost of $113,339.

• Purchasing a loader for the Sanitation Department at a cost of $66,155.

• Spending $100,000 for streets crack sealing material for the Streets Department.


Building or rebuilding roads in Casa Grande is more
than tossing down asphalt and hoping for the best

(Posted Aug. 24, 2014)


The staff report is HERE


The contract, with scope of work, is HERE



In the old days, if you wanted a road you ran a bulldozer across the land, threw down some blacktop and hoped for the best.

Today, it involves major studies and designs, even for roadway improvements.

No longer do crews go out, find a pothole or crumbling shoulder and put down some gravel base and fill the area with new asphalt, calling it done.

And, as cities grow, heavier traffic pounds the roadways built years before, causing gradual deterioration.

Such is the case with improving Thornton Road from the Gila Bend Highway to West Cottonwood Lane, a $222,675 project just for the design alone, breaking the work into a half-mile section from Gila Bend to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and another just under half a mile from there to Cottonwood. 

The later construction work, for which no start date has been announced, is estimated at $1.5 million for the first section and $1.1 million for the second.

Initial approval of a contract with Schlesinger Consulting Engineering of Tucson for the design of full reconstruction and drainage improvements came during the last City Council meeting.

The work has long been needed, prompting Councilman Matt Herman to comment that, "As someone who drives that road often, it's very much needed. That's an area we're trying to designate as our industry and light manufacturing area, so it's going to be very important to have good transportation in that area."

Councilman Dick Powell said, "This is probably the one I get the most calls on. I'm just very happy to see the city's going to address it and I think it'll be certainly appreciated."

The city has long envisioned Thornton as a major route through the industrial area, keeping heavy trucks from coming all the way down Pinal Avenue to Gila Bend and then west to the industrial area. In other words, it would be a northbound bypass to Cottonwood, then east and then north on Pinal. The reverse would be true for southbound traffic.

City Traffic Engineer Duane Eitel read the staff report to the council, pointing out that Thornton from Gila Bend to Cottonwood is now two lanes with limited curbs, sidewalks and storm drains.

"This road is deteriorating due to the large amount of truck traffic and poor storm drainage," the report says. "The Public Works Department has performed some temporary repairs on the section from Gila Bend Highway to the railroad tracks to provide temporary improvements on a short-term basis. 

"This project will provide the design services necessary to then construct a permanent solution to the substandard conditions that will support future industrial development in that area."

According to the staff report, the work would include replacing the existing pavement and improving the subgrade. There would be no change to the road width or its alignment, although some engineering work would be needed to improve drainage.

The project will be complicated because approvals and permits will be needed from the Arizona Department of Transportation, the railroad and San Carlos Irrigation and Drainage District, which has a irrigation ditch in the area. The report indicates that there is the possibility that the ditch could be abandoned.

Eitel pointed out that the $222,675 design cost with Schlesinger for the $2.6-million construction falls into industry standards  that design costs generally fall between 6 to 12 percent of construction costs.

That fee is reasonable, Eitel said, "when you take into account the large amount of coordination required with ADOT, UPRR, and the San Carlos Irrigation Drainage District."


Monday night's actions by CG City Council

(Posted Aug. 18, 2014)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/council/agenda/


These actions were taken Monday night by the City Council:


• Gave initial approval to a $223,675 contract for roadway design for improving Thornton Road between Gila Bend Highway and Cottonwood Lane. The project, in brief, would replace deteriorating pavement and make other repairs. The first phase would be from Gila Bend Highway to the Union Pacific tracks, the second from there to Cottonwood Lane.

Other agenda items include:

• Gave initial approval to a $31,065 contract for removal of asbestos and lead-based paint from the city-owned former Raggedy Ann Day Care Center at 419 W. Second St., just off Pinal Avenue, prior to demolition.

• On a 3-2 vote, rejected a major proposed amendment to the Santa Cruz Crossing development at the southeast corner of Rodeo and Trekell roads. Approval would have required at least four votes. In favor were Mayor Bob Jackson and council members Matt Herman and Karl Montoya. Voting against were council members Dick Powell and Ralph Varela. Councilwoman Mary Kortsen was absent and Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons recused herself because her law firm is part of objections to some conditions the changes. The item had been held over from the last meeting because of questions about flooding and traffic. The same questions arose during Monday's session.

• Gave initial approval to purchase of a 4x4 pickup truck to be used for carrying equipment for the Police Department's traffic unit.

• Watched the swearing in of three new officers in the Police Department. (A photo is posted under POLICE.)


Development around PhoenixMart seeing changes

(Posted Aug. 17, 2014)


The notice is HERE


Activity around the proposed PhoenixMart wholesale showroom complex east of Interstate 10 may be picking up.

A notice posted by the city says that on Sept. 4 the Casa Grande Planning and Zoning Commission will consider a request for a major amendment to the 3,714-acre Overfield Farms planned area development, designating 445 acres as a residential area,

The 500-plus-acre PhoenixMart site, a part of the original Storey Farms planned area development,  sits at the bottom center of the Overfield Farms PAD area, generally bounded by Hacienda Road on the west and Overfield Road on the east.

The staff report is not yet available, but the notice indicates that the request includes:

• Refining 445 acres of the 3,714-acre Overfield Farms PAD as Alcea at Overfield Farms defining specific development standards for the area.

• Inclusion of development master plans including land use; landscape and open space; streets; pedestrian, bicycle, and trails; drainage; water; wastewater and phasing.

• Adding a school use, rearranging locations of previously approved land uses.


July jobless rate in Casa Grande drops to 7.9%

(Posted Aug. 15, 2014)


Unemployment during July dropped slightly in Casa Grande and in other area cities, statistics posted Friday by the Arizona Department of Administration show.

Casa Grande had a jobless rate of 7.9 percent during July, down from 8.4 during June. 

The statistics for Casa Grande showed 1,675 people out of work during July, down from 1,769 for June. 

By contrast, Casa Grande had a 4.2 percent jobless rate for July 2007, the year before the economy crashed. 

Pinal County had a July rate of 7.8 percent jobless (11,085 without work), down from 8.1 (11,478) during June. The July 2007 rate was 4.5.

The state's July rate was 7.4, down from 7.5 during June. The July 2007 rate was 3.9.

In the past, statistics from the state included unincorporated areas and Indian communities.

The state has now posted this notice: "Estimates for unincorporated cities and towns have been discontinued." The site refers users to outdated federal census statistics.

Other cities' statistics are:

Coolidge

7.4 percent jobless rate for July (349 unemployed), down from 7.7 percent (361) during June. The July 2007 rate was 8.2.

Eloy

12.1 rate for July (484 jobless), down from 12.5 (502) during June. The July 2007 rate was 6.7.

Florence

8.4 rate for July (266 jobless), down from 9.3 during June (297). The July 2007 rate was 4.4.

Maricopa city

7.3 rate for July (1,468 jobless), down from 7.4 during June (1,482). The July 2007 rate was 5.


Raising Cane's chicken restaurant approved

A typical Raising Cane's building, above.



(Posted Aug. 7, 2014)


You'll find the complete agenda and staff reports at

          http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/clerk/boards/pzc/


Another chicken restaurant in the Promenade mall area will be built on the south side of East Florence Boulevard between Culver's restaurant and Walgreens.

Approval for a conditional use permit and major site plan for the Raising Cane's chicken restaurant and a separate multi-tenant building was granted unanimously Thursday night by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Raising Cane’s is proposed as a 3,616-square-feet convenience food restaurant with a drive through. Within the Mission Royale planned area development, a convenience food restaurant is a conditionally permitted use requiring consideration by the Planning Commission.

Across Florence, a Chick-fil-A restaurant is located east of the Target store. 

The major site plan is for the restaurant and the 6,023-square-feet multi-tenant building having two tenant spaces.

According to the staff report, "No specific tenants are presently being considered with this plan; however the Mission Royale PAD allows uses such as certain types of retail, office, medical office, or restaurant."

The commission was told Thursday night that both buildings would be built at the same time.

A condition laid down for the restaurant is that it be closed between 11 p.m.-7 a.m. each day, a concession to neighbors to the south in Mission Royale.

No construction start date or opening date were given.


http://www.raisingcanes.com/


In other action Thursday night, the commission:


• Because of lack of progress in negotiations between the city and the company, held over for two months a major site plan/final development plan for a one-story, 6,972-square-feet O'Reilly Auto Parts store on Florence Boulevard. It would be on a vacant pad in front of Lowe's home improvements store, between Western Bank and Eegee's.

The city's position that the Community Center land use designation in the latest city General Plan calls for buildings to be placed closer to the street, such as in the old downtown area. The city suggested a 15-foot setback. O'Reilly wanted an 80-foot setback with parking in the front of the building.

As the staff report put it, "Staff discussed compliance with the Community Center land use design objectives with the applicant and how it can be achieved with this site with a fairly simple modification of their