Neighbors opposed to SW corner up-zoning

By Curtis Riggs | September 10, 2008

Not swayed by traffic stories
CAVE CREEK – It was a new twist on an old story last week when a neighborhood meeting about a proposed General Plan Amendment for 25 acres near the southwest corner of Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway was held.

A group of 40 neighbors and others, who feel they will be negatively impacted by an increase in traffic problems and other growth issues if the properties are up-zoned to commercial, staunchly voiced their opposition to the up-zoning request.

The name of the planned project is the East Gateway Project. The difference in this amendment application and the three others now making their way through the General Plan Amendment process is the application is being requested by four property owners in the area. Other amendment applications have been from one or two developers.

Ben Pearson, Don Pratt, Sharon McCarthy and Roseann Nuckles are the property owners requesting the zoning change. Those in the know are quick to point out the amendment application was actually the idea of local activist Sara Vanucci, however. Pearson, a Phoenix attorney who owns land in the affected area, appeared to be the principal in the up-zoning request and ran the noisy, often confusing meeting.

The applicants stressed there are only three houses on the 25 acres, which are included in the application. The properties are basically south of the Chevron Station, which sits at the southwest corner of the busy intersection.

Carole Perry, a neighbor to the properties in question, asked who the people were behind the application request. McCarthy, a local plumber, said she has lived in the area for 18 years. Pearson admitted he lives in central Phoenix.

“Residential zoning on that corner makes no sense because all of the traffic from I-17 coming though to use the 101,” McCarthy said. “It is very frustrating living on that corner. It’s like having your life on hold.”

The neighbors, and others, at the meeting appeared to not be swayed by the stories about traffic problems. When a show of hands was asked for those who support the planned amendment, only the applicants raised their hands.

Grizzly Taylor, who also lives in the area, said he has seen three sets of blueprints, which indicate a strip mall is planned if the 25 acres are up-zoned.

“Tell us what you want to build here,” he demanded from the applicants. “All this will do is create more traffic. What’s wrong with vacant land?”

The confusion about what is planned for the 25 acres increased when people started talking about the possibility of a Wal-Mart going in just across Cave Creek Road.

The Cave Creek Planning and Zoning Commission will hear the up-zoning request for East Gateway Project on Oct. 16. Cave Creek Town Council will hear the request on Nov. 17.