Debate over the stretch of highway just south of town continues to be a hot topic at council meetings, and was the basis of a terse exchange between Mayor Chris Marley and councilmember Linda Hatch on Feb. 26.
In an earlier meeting on Jan. 22, Steve Chontos, owner of the Chino Golf Range-Drive in the Sky, requested that council take action on what Chontos believes was a broken promise made in 2000 by the town.
Chontos said the town promised, in Ordinance No. 401 dated March 2000, to either build a frontage road or provide water service to property along Highway 89 between Roads 4 South and 5 South.
"Recognizing that frontage roads are a moot issue in Chino, at least from ADOT's point of view, I'm asking the town to finally keep its word and use that $200,000 to start planning to build a water line as it promised, down to Palm Harbor," said Chontos at the Jan. 22 meeting.
Responding to Chontos during the Feb. 26 meeting, Marley said that after reviewing the documents in question, the town has met the requirements set out in 401.
Minutes from the Jan. 13, 2000, council meeting state that, "The town has had preliminary discussions with the City of Prescott about a water line that could be tapped into."
The minutes also reference a discussion between the town and property owners for the "town's guaranteed financial contribution for infrastructure development to be 80 percent of the sales tax revenues generated in that area during the next five years, with the total financial contributions not to exceed $200,000."
The record shows that the motion passed unanimously.
"We have reviewed the annexation issue and it doesn't appear that the town created an escrow account, neither did it monitor the sales tax receipts in the area during that period in question," said Marley. "But we do have documentation showing that the town has committed to a maximum of $200,000 to be spent towards infrastructure enhancements, and that was what Mr. Chontos had brought to our attention."
Marley said the town's plans, which include the southern extension of Road 1 East, "will far eclipse that $200,000. I think it's fair to agree that more than likely we did get somewhere near that in the five-year period and far more than the $200,000 will be spent in that area. And that's an answer to Mr. Chontos's Call to the Public."
"That's your response, not our response," said Hatch.
"I wasn't elected as the mayor by the town council, I was elected mayor by the people of Chino Valley," replied Marley. "As the chief elected official I sometimes have to speak as the spokesperson for the town. You had opportunity in November to run for this office if you wished, but you chose not to. The town has asked me to be their spokesperson and I intend to do that."
"Mr. Chontos's agreement in the annexation agreement called for water. $200,000 set aside for water to be brought out there, and that's what Mr. Chontos was asking for. It wasn't straight infrastructure," Hatch said.
Marley replied that the ordinance did not specify either water or a frontage road. "We can continue this in our town manager's office, who has the documentation. I don't believe water was written down anywhere. I believe it was simply improvements."
When contacted after the meeting, Chontos said that he remembers promises made, but has no record of those promises.
"In reviewing Ordinance No. 401 I don't see anything in there dealing with water lines, frontage roads, or escrow accounts," said Marley after the meeting. "What we are trying to do as a town is to keep the spirit of the agreement as far as providing some infrastructure improvements down at that end of the town. But to the best of my knowledge, $200,000 wouldn't even put a dent in getting water down to that end."
Other items on the agenda for the Feb. 26 meeting included:
The appointment of Robert McCaullay to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Approval of Resolution No. 13-1006 that will increase the Town of Chino Valley's Transaction Privilege Tax (sales tax) from three to four percent effective June 1, 2013.
Approval of a four-month extension to the existing month-to-month lease with the Chino Valley Food Bank.
Visit www.chinoaz.net for a record of all public meetings and copies of town ordinances and resolutions.