Hantzsche selected as newest member appointed to Apache Junction planning commission

Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy and Councilwoman Christa Rizzi at a recent council meeting. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia)

An Apache Junction resident suing the municipality concerning planning and zoning matters was one of eight volunteers seeking to be appointed to a vacancy on the commission that hears cases.

Applicants were Colleen Shipman, Jim Duncan, Robert F. Rauschenbach, Mehmood Mohiuddin, Dirk Begeman, Richard L. Cantwell, Dave Waldron and Dave M. Hantzsche. Mr. Hantzsche, a two-year resident of Apache Junction, was appointed.

Mr. Mohiuddin, owner of Hitching Post Restaurant, 2341 and 2345 N. Apache Trail, in June filed civil rights lawsuit No. 2:2018cv01801 in U.S. District Court alleging racial discrimination against the City of Apache Junction.

Defendants are Apache Junction and employees Bryant Powell, Matt Busby, Kathleen Connelly, Larry Kirch, Rudy Esquivias and Joel Stern.

The Apache Junction City Council last summer granted a conditional use permit to Mr. Mohiuddin to conduct certain outdoor entertainment activities. He has cases before the board of adjustment, on Feb. 11, and the planning commission in March.

The Apache Junction City Council on Feb. 5 voted 4-3, with council members Robin Barker, Christa Rizzi and Gail Evans voting no, to appoint Mr. Hantzsche, who has served on the city’s construction code board of appeals and is self-employed with 1AZ Notary Services LLC.

Mr. Hantzsche said he was surprised that he was chosen.

“I did attend the City Council meeting tonight and I was extremely surprised and honored to have been chosen. As I am sure you know, there were many well-qualified candidates that interviewed for the board and I am honored to be selected and will do my best to serve the people and the city. I think this says a lot about our community that so many citizens are interested in serving,” he said.

He recalled learning about the planning and zoning commission in the Apache Junction Citizen Leadership Institute. The institute is hosted by Al Bravo, the city’s public information officer.

“Being a graduate of the city’s citizen leadership class gave me valuable insight of how the city truly operates. During this class we also got to meet all the different department heads and they each got a chance to teach us how it really works,” he said.

“Al Bravo does a great job with this class and really packs a lot of information into it. During this class we had an exercise on actually doing a P&Z meeting and working a lot of the details that go into approving a business at a location. This exercise really interested me in the P&Z board.”

Prior to appointing Mr. Hantzsche, the council voted 3-4 on Mr. Begeman, with Vice Mayor Chip Wilson and council members Ms. Barker, Jeff Struble and Ms. Evans voting no. Mr. Begeman has lived in Apache Junction for 15 years and has not served on an Apache Junction board or commission. He is not employed and on the application under retirement he wrote: “Disabled. Construction (finish carpentry), traffic control (flagger/sr. flagger/TCS).”

“I was not surprised that I wasn’t chosen. As to why, I pretty much chastised the council for not representing the members of the community and trying to push their agendas,” Mr. Begeman said in an e-mailed response to questions.

“They look for people that they can control and manipulate. I’m not one of those type. I think that they should have chosen someone who actually has lived here for more than a couple years and had a sense of the community,” he said.
He plans to apply for future openings.

“Yes I will continue to apply for boards and commissions. Too many are trying to micromanage businesses and pushing their agenda,” Mr. Begeman said.

Mr. Mohiuddin said he was not surprised that he was not chosen.

“I knew they are not going to consider me,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions.

When asked if he thought it was because of the lawsuit he filed in U.S. District Court or because of the cases before the planning commission and board of adjustment, he said “No, not that is the reason.”

He plans to apply for future commission and board openings.

“I am heavily involved with (the) community (and) would like to help the community because big corporations (are) getting different treatment than small-business owners,” he said.

Mr. Mohiuddin is a 4.5-year resident of Apache Junction and has not served on an Apache Junction board or commission. He is president of the Hitching Post, he said in the application.

Ms. Shipman, a graduate of the AJ Citizen Leadership Institute who previously served six years on the Apache Junction planning and zoning commission, said she is relieved to not be chosen.

“I was not surprised at all in the council’s decision last night. If fact, truth be told, I was relieved. I believe the candidate they chose will do a great job and wish him the best,” she said in an e-mailed response to questions.

“As a commissioner I have been very outspoken in the past, not always in favor with the planning and zoning staff. I feel with the recent outing of certain commissioners that are brave enough to raise their voices in question of city policies, only to be publicly questioned on their abilities to discern what is or is not a conflict of interest for themselves, would be a problem for me. I have great respect for everyone that serves on a board. I also believe that a council that elects these figures should back them, not try to intimidate them into silence and complicity,” Ms. Shipman said.

She is a 13-year resident of Apache Junction. She is not employed and didn’t list a former occupation on her application.

Ms. Shipman plans to apply for future commission and board openings.

“Would I apply again? Yes I would be proud to serve and feel that my experience would lend a lot to the table, but again, feel that it is the job of a good commission to speak up when needed because those checks and balances save the city time and money in the long run,” she said.

Mr. Duncan, a 12-year resident who has not served on an Apache Junction board or commission, said qualified candidates applied.

“I was not surprised that I was not chosen. There were a few additional candidates that recently submitted applications and they seemed equally qualified. One example candidate, Dave Waldron, in my opinion seemed like a good fit since he had an excellent resume of previously serving on both the P&Z commission and the City Council,” he said.

“I do believe the candidate chosen, Dave Hantzsche, will do a good job in serving on the commission,” Mr. Duncan, who is retired and worked as a national accounts senior category manager for PepsiCo/Frito-Lay, said.

He plans to apply for future boards and commissions openings in Apache Junction.

“I will continue to apply for other boards and commissions in the spirit of volunteerism to help out our great city’s needs. One of the main criteria I use in my decision making for volunteering is the time commitment that’s needed,” he said.

“I think the P&Z commissioner’s position will require much more of a time commitment than some of the other boards and commissions and being newly retired from a rigorous work schedule I felt would allow me the ability to do just that. I’m currently enrolled in the Apache Junction’s Citizen Leadership Institute and hope to find other ideas where my time and talents can help. So far the classes have been very educational with some great class participation and discussions on the inner workings of our city,” Mr. Duncan said.

Mr. Waldron said he was not surprised that he was not chosen.

“Not totally surprised. I knew some council members would not want me on P&Z, or any board for that matter, and would rather appoint their friends as shown by the first nomination that was made. With that being said, if I were still on the council I would have voted for Dave Hantzsche also. He has some great experience and will serve the P&Z Commission well,” Mr. Waldron said.

The 25-year resident of Apache Junction served on the planning commission prior to 2003 and was on the city council. He is a retired IT director for Horizon Health and Wellness and was recently appointed to the Central Arizona College Board of Governors.

He may apply in the future to serve on an Apache Junction commission or board.

“Never say never. Having been appointed to the CAC Board of Governors I will make that my priority and watch to see which boards or commissions open in AJ and decide at that time,” he said.

Other applicants being considered by the city council for the planning and zoning commission were:

  • Mr. Rauschenbach, a seven-year resident of Apache Junction who has not served on an Apache Junction board or commission. He is retired and worked as an architect owner/partner based in California.
  • Mr. Cantwell, a two-year resident of Apache Junction who has not served on an Apache Junction board or commission. He is a retired materials manager and computer systems analyst.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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