The town council vote on the Ringwood/Country Club rezoning request is now history and while I believe the new plan is acceptable and in good taste, I believe a larger problem has emerged from this issue. I am very concerned about the message the town council is sending to the voters of Wickenburg.
Public record now affords us a clear view of the path the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Town Council and Mayor followed to arrive at their final approval of the Ringwood project. It is a journey which very clearly demonstrates a complete and total disregard for the public input which was provided to them via the defeat of Prop. 421. Both P&Z and Town Council voted unanimously in favor of the Country Club project, with no dissenting votes cast to recognize the views of the Wickenburg voters. In the only vote the citizens have had to date in regard to high density housing, the majority of the voters clearly stated that they did not want high density housing in this low density area of town.
Let’s examine some of the council and mayor’s prior statements leading up to the vote last night. Mayor Badowski, in the November 10, 2004 Wickenburg Sun (a few days after the Prop. 421 defeat) stated, “I was surprised when the proposition didn’t pass, but I can always find positives to any situation. The developer can still build 50 homes and bring revenue to the town, and it is feasible to build homes and an additional nine holes of golf without changing the zoning.” He went on to say “that although (he) is disappointed, he’s accepting the outcome of the vote. He said 54 per cent of the voters chose to slow down growth and protect the area’s density. He said the Town Council will have to keep this response in mind when considering future projects.”
Councilman John Cook stated in his October 13, 2004 Wickenburg Sun letter to the Editor – “I am glad to see this (Prop. 421) go to a vote by the people. Whatever is decided at the polls, I will stand behind.” In this letter he also stated “I believe the project is a poor one due to the homes that are already established in that area. The residents in this area bought their homes on acreage and believed the area would remain that way due to the zoning that was already in place.” He also included the following statement: “Ninety five per cent of the people that I have witnessed speak in favor of the cluster housing and the zoning change have something to gain from this change. I personally hope that this is not the future of Wickenburg. Thirty years ago, when I moved into this town, money wasn’t the only thing that the people in this community thought about.” I find it disturbing that Mr. Cook came out at the recent February 22nd Planning & Zoning meeting and stated that he was all for the new Ringwood plan and would vote to support it. This was almost a month prior to the vote last evening! Is it proper for a councilman to state his intentions prior to the public forum? Why even hold these meetings if the council members already have their minds made up?
Councilman John Zerby also has made some rather confusing statements in regard to this issue. During the Spring 2004 Elections, he submitted a biography (found in the Feb. 18th, 2004 Wickenburg Sun) which included the following statement when asked what he hopes to accomplish as a member of the Wickenburg Town Council: “One of the biggest things that I want to accomplish is getting people to understand that they have a voice when it comes to these issues. But if they don’t vote or talk to their elected officials it does no good. I want the residents of Wickenburg to know that I want to listen to their concerns and use their thoughts along with mine when making decisions.” In the February 25, 2004 Wickenburg Sun reporting on the question and answer session held at Town Hall (again dealing with the Spring 2004 election) John Zerby said “he was in favor of Proposition 400, but was not in favor of high density housing at the country club”.
The issue that will most directly affect the future of Wickenburg does not deal with individual developers. The real issue is that the town council does not listen to the voters. We need elected officials with integrity who are willing to listen. We need elected officials who are willing to stand behind what they say. We need to replace those who don’t. We need to reexamine the Town’s General Plan and develop a new method of careful and deliberate planning for our future. This will include input from everyone, not just the few who stand to realize profit at the expense of the rest of us. It’s not too late to realize a town that all of us can be proud of “Out Wickenburg Way!”
Last 5 posts by Jim Ferman
- Sun Continues to Edit Letters to Editor to Suit its Candidate's Needs - October 17th, 2008
- Concern about September 2 Elections - August 25th, 2008
- Town Council Retreat an Excercise in Futility for Townspeople? - March 21st, 2007
- Citizen Concerned about Hermosa Ranch Safety and Liability - January 12th, 2007
- Candidate Harassment Part of Wickenburg's Political Process - October 30th, 2006