Council & the Consent Agenda
Questioning the decision to place a potentially controversial measure on Goodyear's consent agenda. Does the public deserve an explanation?
At Goodyear’s council meeting on Monday, a topic of concern is lumped into the consent agenda which may be an important item to pull for further public explanation.
Let’s start with what the “consent agenda” is.
One way to streamline government meetings is to place “non-controversial” topics like minutes, bills, reports, etc., into one vote.
As for Goodyear, any member of the Council may pull an agenda item from the consent agenda for further explanation. But typically, consent agenda items are approved and the meetings move on.
As for Monday’s meeting, we see a topic of interest on the consent agenda which absolutely deserves public attention.
If you’ve lived in Estrella, [a.k.a. Estrella Mountain Ranch], or have driven “up the hill” into Estrella, no doubt you’ve seen the blue “King Ranch” sign. The sign, and the property, lie south of MC-85 at the northern base of Estrella Parkway as it begins its ascent up into the master-planned community of Estrella.
To the north of King Ranch is the Gila River.
The Gila and Salt rivers are foci of Rio Reimagined initiative uniting “communities in the protection, preservation, and revitalization” of the rivers’ unique and precious habitat. SOURCE
Let’s start with the topic of water. On March 6, 2023, Goodyear City Council held a work session to learn more about the Rio Reimagined project. Principal Planner; Cecilia Riviere, Assistant Director Arizona State University dismissed “the thought that vast amounts of water for large sprawling lakes are required to move forward,” reports Michael McDaniel, The Daily Independent.
Mayor Joe Pizzillo expresses concern about WATER in this Rio Reimagined work session.
The issue of water supply also pops up as a topic of concern in a July 10th proposed Development Agreement between the City of Goodyear and King Ranch - just south of Gila River. In fact, a resolution was drawn up outlining an agreement about water supply for the King Ranch.
July 10, 2023 Staff Analysis
“No development has occurred on the King Ranch property and the property is currently being marketed. King Ranch 2023 LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (“King Ranch 2023”) is expected to acquire the property. During the due diligence period, representatives of King Ranch 2023 and the seller of the Property (HE Capital KR, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company) were informed that the owner of the Property will be responsible for providing the City with a renewable supply of water that satisfied the requirements of the Arizona Department of Water Resources to increase the City’s water portfolio in the City’s Designation of Assured Water Supply in an amount sufficient to serve the Property.”
“King Ranch 2023 intends to apply to rezone and develop the Property and wanted some assurances that there will be a water supply available to serve the Property and wanted to resolve the outstanding dispute over the obligation for a contribution towards the cost of the Cotton Lane Bridge. The City does not have the water supply in its existing Assured Water Supply Designation to provide the Property with the 1484 acre-feet needed to support its development but anticipates that the water portfolio in the next modification of its Designation will include sufficient additional supplies to commit the 1484 acre-feet needed to support the development of the Property.”
At that July 10th meeting, Goodyear City Council voted to take the issue into Executive Session.
The live stream operator drops the ball and does not air what happened when Council returned to the dais. All we can see is the vote to table the measure and the end of the meeting.
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS in this video. While the Goodyear City Clerk was in attendance, she only refers me to meeting minutes and will not provide the discussion in regards to how or why Council chose to table the item.
Note: This wasn’t the first behind-the-scenes meeting regarding this property this year. Goodyear City Council held a previous, closed-door Special Meeting on June 26, 2023 regarding King Ranch.
Then fast forward to August 28, 2023 when Council holds a THIRD, private meeting regarding the King Ranch deals.
All of a sudden, King Ranch appears on the CONSENT AGENDA for September 11, 2023.
On the surface, it could appear as if a lot of backdoor agreements were made. And now Council could approve it all without the public hearing about it.
How did we go from “Goodyear does not have the water supply…” to the Consent Agenda?
Theoretically, Goodyear City Council can approve a new King Ranch Development Agreement without any public discussion.
September 11, 2023 Staff Analysis
“No development has occurred on the King Ranch property and the property is currently being marketed. During the due diligence period, the obligation for contributing toward the Cotton Lane Bridge was disputed, and city staff informed representatives of the buyer and the seller that the City would be seeking a contribution towards the costs of the Cotton Lane Bridge, which will be a primary source of access to the King Ranch Property.
”The buyer intends to apply to rezone and develop the Property and desires to resolve the outstanding dispute over the obligation for a contribution towards the cost of the Cotton Lane Bridge. The proposed form of the Development Agreement for King Ranch includes terms that satisfy any obligations of the King Ranch property for the costs of the Cotton Lane Bridge.”
What we find interesting in the new resolution, RESOLUTION NO. 2023-2346, is that the only mention of water is in the past tense:
In the Recitals, it’s stated:
C. WHEREAS, the Property was subject to the King Ranch Development Agreement (defined below) that required a contribution towards the cost of a bridge over the Gila River that has been constructed within Cotton Lane, which costs included the costs of: the bridge, the construction of two lanes of the first phase of Cotton Lane, the installation of the irrigation piping for RID, a 30” water transmission line, and bridge abutments protection improvements, and which automatically terminated in August 2020.
Water comes up in the revised Resolution under “Requirements Not Addressed” and “Future Conditions and Approvals.”
Additionally, the revised Action Report for the agenda item on September 11, 2023 includes new language regarding fire services. Important enough, apparently, to be highlighted in blue.
WATER. FIRE. POLICE. SCHOOLS.
Which brings me to an important question. Or two. Or 7.
Where will fire services come from for King Ranch?
Will Estrella’s fire stations provide service?
What will be the impact to fire response times?
What about police patrol?
Will Estrella lose a patrol car? Will the City of Goodyear provide an additional unit?
And if the November 2023 Liberty Elementary School District Bond Election fails - which would fund 2 additional schools - where will these children attend school? In fact, where are all the new kids who live along the hundreds of new dwellings from Vineyard to Van Buren along Estrella Parkway attend school?
JEN’S TWO CENTS
At the final General Plan Committee Meeting last month, I asked about King Ranch. I was told discussions were pretty “high level.”
Well, here we are.
The Consent Agenda is the not the right place for the King Ranch Development Agreement. Not sure that I’d say it’s “controversial.” But the progression of proposed development agreements also doesn’t make it not “non-controversial”.
Respectfully, I’m asking Goodyear City Council to discuss King Ranch’s water situation, fire services, and police services in public.
In regards to fire service in 2016:
"We are doing this to ourselves.... That's another sprawl scenario that we keep approving households in." ~Councilmember Stipp 1.25.16 Worksession
King Ranch Links
Project Details from SEC Planning, LLC