Council members may finally have put to rest one of the longest running and most contentious issues the town has faced in the past decade, that of the Windmill House Event Center.
During the Sept. 25 council meeting, Associate Planner David Nicolella presented a recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Commission to repeal an ordinance containing the 15-year Conditional Use Permit that Cordovana has held for several years and which he renewed in November 2011.
"We have worked with Mr. Cordovana for a long time trying to find some compromise," said Vice Mayor Carl Tenney just prior to the vote. "We did that last year and he failed to comply. He refused to do the simple thing and dedicate the right-of-way to improve the area, and I think we don't have a choice. We need to wipe the slate clean and see what the next day brings. We have to follow the rules, follow the recommendation, to repeal this ordinance."
The recommendation, outlined in Ordinance 12-762, was accepted by a 6-0 vote, with one abstention from council member Dean Echols, who was a tenant of the Windmill House until June of his year.
The recommendation was based on Cordovana's failure to fulfill the requirements outlined in the CUP, most notably the failure to dedicate a 25-foot right-of-way along the Windmill House property on West Road 4 North.
Before the vote, council discussed the ordinance after Linda Hatch raised questions about the right-of-way requirement.
"Just to clarify, was there a time limit written in which he (Cordovana) had to make this dedication in the original ordinance?" asked Hatch.
Nicolella said the original requirement presented to Cordovana did not specify a time frame, but after Echols vacated the property, a new vendor applied for a business license and was denied based on Cordovana's failure to comply.
"It was continued to be run by a member of this council and you did not enforce it during that period of time?" asked Hatch.
"The operation was occurring during a time of repeal and re-adoption of an ordinance, and the condition was put in at that time," said Nicolella. "The town does not take an aggressive line at getting the right-of-way dedications complete. Usually it's at the request of the property owners. It's a condition of approval so they automatically do that, but in this particular situation it did not happen. That put the town in a difficult situation where we had to wait for an opportunity to acquire that right-of-way."
Town Manager Robert Smith added that since Echols' business was already operating before 11-754 was adopted, the town allowed Cordovana time to fulfill the requirement.
"The way the process works is when someone comes in to get a zoning permit, the first thing they will do is apply for a business license or a building permit to conduct activity," said Smith. "That's the point where we would clear up any outstanding issues. This was an unusual circumstance because there was already an activity going on there."
Cordovana was not present for the Sept. 25 meeting, but did attend a separate meeting on Sept. 13, along with Smith, Nicolella, mayor Chris Marley, and several other members of town staff.
In that meeting, Cordovana stated that he had not been advised of the right-of-way requirement when it was originally requested in November 2011. He also stated that he did not read the documents the town provided him before the November 8, 2011 council meeting, when the requirement was entered into record.
"They (town officials) never said anything about it, I trusted them, and they added it later," said Cordovana.
During the Sept. 13 meeting, which was held in Smith's office, Cordovana also stated that he had never applied for a CUP, claiming he had only requested that the property be zoned for commercial use.
When presented with the original application for a CUP, dated July 2003 and containing his signature, Cordovana stated that he believed it was not a genuine document.
"They (town staff) keep separate files, they change everything," said Cordovana, adding that he also believes the video and audio recordings of the Nov. 8, 2011 council meeting may have been tampered with.
Cordovana said that he would not pursue the claim that town staff altered records.
"I'm not like that, I don't like to sue anybody, I'm not that kind of guy," he said.
Smith and Marley said a review of the records in question shows no proof of alteration.
Other items of business on the Sept. 25 agenda included:
The adoption of personnel policy no. 755, the Supplemental Benefits Plan for Public Safety Employees. This item is a state requirement.
A report by Town Attorney Tom Kack regarding open meeting guidelines, presented in connection with a May 2009 open meeting law violation.
Recognition by General Services Director Cecilia Watts of the Chino Valley Recreation Foundation for contributions to summer aquatics and recreation programs.
Council meetings take place the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 202 N. Highway 89.
Agendas, minutes, and video recordings of meetings are available on line at www.chinoaz.net.