Thorstenson neighborhood meeting set for Buffalo Chip

By Curtis Riggs | September 10, 2008

Thursday, Sept. 11 at 5 p.m.
CAVE CREEK – Landowner/buffalo wrangler T.C. Thorstenson is continuing his efforts to up-zone the former Julie Terry property behind Hammerhead Jack’s.

A neighborhood meeting about the general plan amendment needed to proceed with the up-zoning will be held at the Buffalo Chip at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11.

Many complained about last week’s neighborhood meeting held at the Chip because it was too loud and they could not hear the speakers. Cave Creek Planning Director Ian Cordwell said the use of town hall was offered for last week’s meeting as it was for Thorstenson’s but the applicants opted to not use the town facility.

Thorstenson’s request to amend the Cave Creek General Plan is one of four general plan amendments still in play in Cave Creek.

For years Thorstenson has had the dream of building a community event center on the five and a half acre property, which lies just north of Cave Creek Road and is bordered on the east by Vermeersch Road. There was controversy about the property a few years back when complaints were filed over mounted shooting events taking place there.

He has held his Wild West show there during Fiesta Days and Wild West Days in the past.
The Cave Creek Town Council approved an up-zoning on the land for former property owner Julie Terry in 2000. This council action was overturned by a referendum, however.

“It needs to be commercial because I have been paying for a connection to the commercial sewer system that I have not been able to use,” he said, offering one reason he thinks his zoning case should be approved by the Cave Creek Town Council when it hears the general plan amendments on Nov. 17.

Thorstenson is being represented by Scottsdale architect Tyler Green in the amendment process.

Other reasons Thorstenson expects his general plan amendment to be approved is a commercial easement was established to the property through the Hammerhead Jack’s parking lot several years ago. The south 17 feet of his property is also zoned commercial.
“I bought the property, cleaned it up and got rid of the illegals,” he said. “Now I only get to use it during Wild West Days and Fiesta Days.”

He envisions creating a “Western cultural area” on the property with a covered arena and other amenities.

“They could have art shows, car shows and Western events there,” he said. “It is a nice piece of property going to waste. I would love to do stuff with the city, but I should be able to use the property more than twice a year.”

The way he sees it up-zoning the property could be good for the city and work out to be an advantage for everybody.

“There is no place in town for these type of events,” he said. Every time it rains during an art show or other community event, the events are now rained out.

Cordwell uses few words to illustrate the feedback from the community his office has received about Thorstenson’s up-zoning request.

“It’s been no, no, no, no, no,” he said about the opposition to the planned amendment, which has come primarily from those in the Black Mountain Shadows subdivision, which borders the property, and increases whenever county resident and activist Anna Marsolo sends out an e-mail about Cave Creek zoning matters.