Buckeye’s Planing and Zoning Commission recommended a new amendment to city code Tuesday — but not without a lengthy discussion.
Much of the discussion centered on changing requirements for drive-thru restaurants. If the Buckeye City Council approves the code changes, one will be to require restaurants to complete a queuing study to determine how many drive-thru vehicle lengths must be included in a site plan.
A queuing study would require future drive-thru applicants to show, based on past performance, how much traffic the location is likely to receive.
One board member asked a city planner if it was only neighbor complaints that drove Development Services to propose the requirement.
“Help me understand,” board Vice Chair Teddy Burton asked Bart Wingard of Development Services. “Most of the stuff in here is to clean up what is, for lack of a better term, pissing somebody else off?”
“Yes,” Wingard said. “This is a reaction to the market — to residential concerns.”
Wingard said the city’s current drive-thru queuing vehicle length requirement is a flat number — eight. He said if that requirement were strictly observed by every restaurant in the city, there would be even more severe back-up problems than what Buckeye has now.
Wingard mentioned In-N-Out Burger, which doesn’t have a Buckeye location, as an example of a popular business that typically has many more than eight vehicles in its Arizona drive-thru queues.
“If every restaurant in Buckeye only provided eight lengths, as we require, we’d get more traffic backing up into roadways at our more popular places,” Wingard said. “We’d have a lot more havoc in the streets.”
Burton also asked Wingard if existing Buckeye businesses with drive-thrus — especially those without gravel or paved areas — would need to quickly make expensive improvements to maintain their city permitting.
Wingard said such businesses would be “grandfathered” in terms of no immediate changes necessary as legally nonconforming uses. However, if those businesses apply for city permits to make major changes, improvements or additions to facilities, owners would need to bring all aspects up to current code at that time.
Other code change recommendations approved by the board Tuesday include new landscaping maintenance requirements and reducing minimum multifamily housing unit spacing from 20, 30 or 40 feet to a uniform 10 feet.
The board is also recommending the city council approve changes to home-occupation regulations. If approved, Buckeye residents working out of their homes would be limited to one customer at a time and two customers per hour, with language added to accommodate state prohibitions on firearm sales and transient housing.
Development Services also wants the ability to present more than the maximum two development code amendments per year. The board made the recommendation.
The board also voted unanimously to recommend preliminary plat approval for 134 housing units at Monroe Ranch, located near the southeast corner of Watson Road and Elwood Street.
The 30-acre plat used to be a planned community known as Siesta Lago. However, that plan never got off the ground, and the acreage in question is still farmland.
The land owner is LeSueuer Investments. The plat is about 2 miles south of both the Interstate 10 exit at Watson Road that is about to undergo a makeover, as well as a heavily developed commercial sector along Watson Road.
The owner will pay for improvements along its side of Watson Road. The planned density is 4.48 dwelling units per gross acre.
No new natural turf shall be installed in a public right of-way or medians. Artificial or synthetic turf shall be allowed on all surfaces where turf can be used.
Development has helped balloon Buckeye to double its size during the past 10 years and has led to a need for many infrastructure improvements.
Taylor Earle, an attorney, said he was glad there was clarification during the meeting about which traffic signal construction the owner must fund, and to what degree. LeSueuer Investments must pay for 100% of any traffic signals to be built inside Monroe Ranch.
The owner also would pay for 50% of half-mile collector-street intersections or project entries and 25% of four possible traffic signals at arterial street intersections.
A drive across Buckeye shows nearly every major arterial road across town is at some stage of repair or alteration. City traffic engineer John Willett gave a 20-minute presentation to the board Tuesday with traffic updates.
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