|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 12 September 2007 13:02|
Camp Verde Town Council members whipped out their scissors to cut through red tape Wednesday night, clearing the way for as many as three new fire stations in the lower Verde Valley.
The Camp Verde Fire District has plans to eventually build stations to provide better protection for residents and businesses in Middle Verde, Verde Lakes and along Hwy. 260 on the west side of I-17.
At issue was the town’s zoning ordinance, which made it difficult for separate organizations like the Camp Verde Fire District to build stations in primarily residential or commercial areas.
Before Sept. 5, the fire district would have only been eligible for a temporary use permit, and it could have taken as long as a year to get the necessary approval from the town every time the district wanted to build a new station, CFVD Secretary Treasurer Jack Blum said.
“I had concerns about building a fire station that would cost millions of dollars with only a temporary permit,” Blum said. “And with the rising cost of construction materials, we want to buy the parcels now.”
The council voted unanimously to change the language in the zoning ordinance, opening a loophole big enough to drive a fire truck through.
Mayor Tony Gioia said it was the town’s duty to help provide safety for Camp Verde residents.
“[The fire district] is an essential public service,” Gioia said. “We know there’s a need and we want to do everything we can.”
Gioia said changing the zoning ordinance removed a major hurdle for the CVFD, although there are still some details to be worked out with the town’s Planning and Zoning Department.
Without the council’s vote, even waiting a year to start building could have been costly, Blum said, noting that the cost of construction materials has been rising almost 1 percent a month.
The fire district wants to use the same architectural designs for all three 10,000 square-foot stations, but Blum said the district’s first priority is for a station near the schools to serve Middle Verde. The CFVD is already looking at two-acre parcels of land in the area and Blum hopes to have that station completed within two years at a cost of $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
“For the sake of the people on this side of town, that might not be a bad idea,” said Jan Allen, an Arena Del Loma resident.
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