Rendija Canyon Master Plan could be revived

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By Jennifer Garcia

After a two-year hiatus, the Rendija Canyon Master Plan is having life breathed into it once again.

On Tuesday night, during the county council meeting Community Development Director Rick Bohn will give councilors a briefing on the master plan.

A portion of the canyon containing approximately 884 acres, excluding an area currently known as the Sportsmen’s Club and the “Poor Man’s Shooting Range,” is scheduled to be transferred from the Department of Energy, who currently owns the land, to the county, possibly in September, but no later than 2012.

This isn’t the first time that plans for Rendija Canyon have been discussed. According to County Planner Paul Belson, there was a master plan done in 1987, which called for housing to be built in the canyon.

However, people used the property for various activities such as hiking, biking and horseback riding. They believed the land should be used as open space, so the intense development that was originally planned was put on hold.

In 2005, councilors reviewed the 1987 master plan and decided that it no longer reflected the wishes of council and wanted staff to look again at the plan. As a result of staff revisiting the plan, several public meetings were held in 2007.

“The same users came out in force and said they wanted it preserved,” Bohn said.

A number of factors contributed to the plan falling to the wayside for the past couple of years.

Bohn said that in 2007, the county planner began working on putting together a draft, but then the planner left the county and no one was assigned the task. In addition, Bohn said there were other projects that took priority over the Rendija Canyon Master Plan and cited the fact that council was handling other projects and had full agendas as other reasons that the plan had not been worked on.

“This took a lower priority,” Bohn said, “This transfer’s been planned for many years.

We thought the land would be transferred last year, but that didn’t happen. We think it’s appropriate that the new council take a look at this before we reactivate community participation.”

There will likely be some cost associated with taking over the project.

Bohn said that several people have questioned whether the county should accept the land because they’d essentially be accepting a maintenance liability.

However, he also said that the county already maintains roads in that area to a certain degree because they are used to gain access to the wells and pump stations nearby.

In addition, he said that a recommendation to council will be made, suggesting that the transfer of land be accepted.

Bohn said that new open space zoning districts are going to be created as well. Currently, the Parks department has problems identifying with what’s allowed in Rendija Canyon because of zoning.

“We’ll map uses that we think are appropriate. We’re mapping out areas where activities are appropriate,” Bohn explained. Once the new districts are created, they will be applied to all areas of open space. “It’ll be a handy way to regulate open public space in the county.”

On Tuesday, Bohn plans to present council with a preliminary draft of the Rendija Canyon Master Plan. They will then be able to comment on it. “We’re anxious to hear what council’s ideas are. A good discussion now, while there’s still time to shape this master plan will be useful,” he said.

The public can access the master plan draft on the CDD Web site or view copies of it at the Mesa Public Library. In addition, copies are also available at the CDD office in the County Annex.

Bohn wanted to make clear the fact that this is a preliminary working draft and no plans for the property have been finalized.

A list of people who signed up for updates in 2007 is being reactivated, so those people will receive updates once again. If you would like to get on the list to be alerted to upcoming meetings and to receive drafts and other correspondence, call the CDD at 662-8120 and provide your e-mail address.

You can also have your name removed from the list by calling the same number.