PINETOP-LAKESIDE — April 15 the Pinetop-Lakeside town council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning of 6.2 acres on Vallery Lane from Rural Residential (R-Low) to Recreational Vehicle Park (RVP) zoning. April 20, the Citizens for Quality Development (CQD) submitted their Application for a Serial Number for a referendum petition. April 23, CQD began collecting signatures and on May 14 turned in 22 petition sheets with 256 signatures to Town Clerk Jill Akins.
In order to get a referendum on a ballot so that the 2,727 active voters within the town limits of Pinetop-Lakeside can personally weigh in on the zoning issue, the committee had to obtain 109 signatures. Those signatures must be vetted first by the town and then by Navajo County. If at least 109 are deemed eligible, a date will be set for a mail in ballot.
This is the second time CQD has filed a referendum petition.
CQD was formed in 2020 following the town council’s June 18, 2020 approval of 25.5 acres on Vallery Lane from OS to RVP. That zoning request was made by property owner BC2 on behalf of GJR Properties, LLC who planned to purchase the property contingent upon a rezone for the RV park.
CQD collected 325 signatures during the height of the pandemic, with 263 deemed eligible after the vetting process.
A January 2020 mail ballot was to take place so the residents could have their say on the RVP rezone. Before that could occur, BC2, owner of the 25.5 acre property, asked the town to repeal the zoning decision and on Aug. 20 council approved the repeal.
When GJR Properties, LLC, who has since bought 40 acres from BC2, submitted an application on Jan. 7 for a rezone for the 6.2 acres on Hwy. 260/White Mountain Boulevard from R-Low to RVP, property owners within 300 feet were notified, as required by law, for an informational meeting for on Feb. 25. This meeting was set prior to the Planning and Zoning meeting scheduled for March 25 when the rezone request would be heard.
Planning and Zoning also held a special meeting on March 11 where they entertained a line by line preview of the town’s zoning rules regarding RVP zoning. Only a few recommendations were made.
The March 25 meeting recommended council approve the 6.2 acre rezone.
When the rezone request reached council on April 15, both council and those in attendance had basically heard the same reasons for, and objections to, the RVP zoning a number of times.
The town again presented answers to all the questions they had heard from the public and some of the public reiterated concerns which they felt were not heard. Mayor Stephanie Irwin had assured those in attendance that council had heard their concerns on more than one occasion and asked that they only voice new concerns.
Both the 25.5 acres and the 6.2 acres are part of the Camp Tatiyee Land Exchange from the U.S. Forest Service which occurred in 2018.
Town Manager Keith Johnson told The Independent on May 17 that they had not yet verified the number of signatures to be 256, but would do so later in the week, and said the next step would be to get them to the county.
“With all the things that have to be satisfied,” said Johnson, “it would likely be a November election,” said Johnson.
CQD Chairperson Everett Peterson received an email on May 19 from Town Clerk Jill Akins which stated, “After additional careful review by Keith (Johnson) and I, four (4) signatures were disqualified due to a duplicate, a wrong date and two addresses not completed correctly. This brings your final valid signature count to 251.
“The next step is sending a random sample of 13 to the county recorders office for verification. They have 15 days to complete this task.”
According to Suzann Bingham, who kept copies of the referendum petitions from last year, the petition number was lower this year because many of those who signed have not yet returned to the Mountain. She said signatures last year were collected in July when everyone was here.
Once the county has completed their part of the vetting process, a date for the mail in ballot will be set.