Carefree Highway property owners and museum efforts fail

By Linda Bentley | November 19, 2008

‘No one is going to build a family home there’
CAVE CREEK – Attorney Ben Pearson, a Phoenix resident who has lived in Arizona since 1929, told council he purchased his property next to Barbara Van Dyne’s ten acres in 1975. Pearson was representing nine property owners of 13 parcels comprising 25 acres south of Carefree Highway, west of 52nd Street for a general plan amendment that would lead to eventual rezoning of their property from residential (one home per acre) to mixed use with commercial.

In 1988 he said property owners received letters from the town of Cave Creek asking them to annex into the town and saying the land use at the southwest corner of Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway should be commercial.

According to Pearson, property owners relied on that letter and it was the reason they signed the annexation petition.

He said, “If commercial zoning was appropriate at that time, it certainly would be appropriate now.”

Roseann Knuckles, who said she’s only owned her property, which she believes is the former Van Dyne home, for five years, claimed the traffic is a “steady whine.”

She said, “No one is going to build a family home there.”

SharonMcCarthy, Ben PearsonSharon McCarthy, Knuckles’ next-door neighbor, said no new house has been built on the applicants’ properties for over 25 years.

She said, “I think it’s pretty clear building a home on this corner is not feasible.

Councilman Dick Esser said he has received letters from owners of parcels to the west wanting to know why they were left out.

Pearson responded, “We only ask that we get this approved so we can take the next step to get this property developed.”

During public comment Michael Rich pointed out just three years ago citizens voted to pass the general plan.

Rich stated, “They’re talking about what went on in the 80s, but this was voted on three years ago,” and asked, “Is there a reason to change what the town said three years ago?”

Carefree residents weighed in with traffic concerns, and noted the opposition to the church school proposed for the area was not due to the school, but due to the location.

Charles Spitzer mentioned one of the applicant’s statements about how no one will purchase their land to build a home and pointed out how one can drive up and down Cave Creek Road or Carefree Highway and see the million dollar homes right along the street.

Another man commented, “Cave Creek raised the bar with Spur Cross. To ask for the rezoning of 25 acres next to a two-acre gas station is greedy and overreaching.”

Carol Perry wondered how the traffic problems raised by the applicants would improve conditions for their neighbors by rezoning.

Councilman Ernie Bunch said he was going to “swim upstream again” on the amendment but stated, “It won’t make a difference,” as he was the only voice in favor of the application.

The Cave Creek Museum was seeking a general plan amendment to change the underlying zoning from residential to Commercial Buffer, which it said would rectify their legal non-conforming use.

According to Attorney Ellen Van Riper, the museum’s vice president, the way the zoning ordinance is currently written, with respect to legal non-conforming uses, states if a building becomes damaged by 50 percent or more they would not be able to rebuild.

Ron Roberts, who spoke during public comment, said his father was a partner of Frank Wright, who donated the land to the museum and church and stated it was Wright’s intent for the museum to be there in perpetuity, urging council to approve their application.

Anna Marsolo provided council with the copy of an ordinance she said was used in five municipalities, including Paradise Valley, Wickenberg and Bisbee, that allows the rebuilding of legal non-conforming uses if it is the same size as what was destroyed.

Bunch’s motion to approve failed by a vote of 1-6 with Mayor Vincent Francia commenting about how it was a most interesting meeting with four different applications that gave council a glimpse into four different approaches.

Francia said, “A general plan is serious business for a community,” and told Ernie, “There’s nothing wrong with swimming upstream.”

Photo: Sharon McCarthy and Ben Pearson are two of the nine property owners seeking a general plan amendment on Monday that would allow for the eventual rezoning of their 25 acres from residential (one home per acre) to mixed use with commercial.
Photo by Linda Bentley