Town seeks to change threshold triggering major amendments

By Linda Bentley | April 15, 2009

Expectations since annexation, commercial uses would be forthcoming
CAVE CREEK – April 1 was the deadline for submitting applications for major general plan amendments to be reviewed later this year.

Four applications were submitted, including one from the town.

The town is requesting a change to the general plan amendment process, which would increase the threshold triggering a major amendment for rezoning requests from one acre to 20 acres.

C. Harry and Nancy Thurston, who live in LaPine, Ore., submitted an application for three parcels totaling 3.82 acres on the north side of Carefree Highway between 48th Street and 49th Street.

The Thurstons’ largest parcel, located at the northeast corner of 48th Street and Carefree Highway is directly across the street from Estado de Cholla, a residential subdivision.

The Thurstons are seeking to change the land use designation from Desert Rural to mixed use and state, “The proposed amendment will create consistency with the commercial land uses to the south, which mirror the Thurston parcels along the Carefree Highway corridor.”
Ben Pearson, a Phoenix resident, has also submitted an application on behalf of himself and a number of adjacent property owners requesting a change in use for 25 acres from Desert Rural residential zoning to “Commercial/Multi-Use.”

The general plan amendment is being requested for 13 parcels roughly bounded by Carefree Highway to the north, Barbie Lane and Olesen Road to the south, between 52nd Street and Cave Creek Road.

While the area is zoned for residential use and some of the applicants have homes and others abut parcels with homes, the narrative claims it is sparsely populated, “as the owners’ expectations since annexation have been that commercial uses of some kind would be forthcoming when utilities were available.”

When Pearson presented their general plan amendment application last year, board members from the Sonoran Desert Center for the Arts (SDCA), claimed they were considering the 25 acres for development of a cultural arts center.

This year, however, Pearson’s narrative states, “While we have not officially terminated discussions with the SDCA, it does not appear at this time that the Arts Center is a viable candidate for these parcels.”

It also claims, “The Sonoran Preserve Parkway, which will absorb much of the Carefree Highway traffic ultimately may be delayed as much as a decade because of the economy.”
Although the applicant claims the property owners desire to develop the land in a “cohesive and community friendly manner,” once a zoning change is granted, there is nothing requiring them to do so.

Last, but not least, is the application from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to ultimately rezone three parcels totaling 20.53 acres from DR-43 to General Commercial for a Wal-Mart Supercenter.
The parcels are located along the east side of Cave Creek Road, bounded by Olesen Road to the south and the Bullington property to the north, a 13.46-acre commercially zoned parcel at the southeast corner of Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway.

Wal-Mart purchased all three parcels last May.

Wal-Mart bought the small triangular shaped parcel at the northeast corner of Cave Creek Road and Olesen Drive from Pearson for $320,000. It’s not clear if Pearson’s parcel is the 2.9-acre “outlot” described in the narrative as being “dedicated for possible future development,” as the county assessor’s office indicates the parcel is only .86 acres.

The two adjacent ten-acre parcels abutting the Bullington property were purchased from the Josephine Polan and Helen Golonka Trusts for a total of $8 million, or $400,000 per acre.
Wal-Mart states the Supercenter itself would be built with a significant open space buffer on the south side where the property is adjacent to residences along the south side of Olesen Road.

The revised narrative states, “This proposed Wal-Mart for Cave Creek, Ariz. represents a new design for Wal-Mart and one unique and site specific to Cave Creek. The clean lines of the building silhouette demonstrate an engaged, human, smart, and simple architecture. The project sets forth a program of caring, realism, innovation, and straightforwardness, which will be described in greater detail throughout this narrative. Our goal for this building and its design is to define a building architecture that not only is functionally appealing but architecturally iconic and memorable for the customers of our Cave Creek Wal-Mart.”