Many fear general plan amendment change could alter Desert Foothills Character Area

By Curtis Riggs | July 1, 2009

Compare to defeated 2005 case
SCOTTSDALE – A general plan amendment could alter the residential areas around Pima and Dynamite if it is approved by the Scottsdale City Council this fall.

Coalition of Pinnacle Peak (COPP) Vice President Linda Whitehead recently said the north Scottsdale citizens watchdog group views this pending up-zoning much like it viewed the Lone Mountain Bank case, which the city council soundly defeated in 2005.

At issue is how any amendment to the general plan could negatively impact the Desert Foothills Character Area, which equestrians, activists and city officials spent many years in establishing to protect north Scottsdale’s semi-rural and equestrian nature.

A zoning overlay, which is in place in the character area, could also be imperiled if the project of property owner/developer R.L. Miller is approved. Last week Scottsdale zoning officials received the project application which includes a gas station, general store, square footage for retail shops and one home.

“Since the late 1970s there has been a long legacy of interest and concern in that general area,” Scottsdale Principal Planner Don Hadder said. “The zoning overlay adds a layer of development standards, which helps to reinforce the low density and rural character of the area.”

The zoning overlay restricts building heights, access and open space requirements, outdoor lighting and walls in the Desert Foothills Character Area.

Hadder said the Lone Mountain Bank case was defeated because it would have “made a significant change in the general plan on the west side of Scottsdale Road” and also set a precedent for changing the Desert Foothills Character Area.

Scottsdale City Councilman, and north Scottsdale equestrian, Tony Nelssen attests to the effort many of his neighbors expended in helping to get the Character Area, and Zoning Overlay, established. “It’s a constant battle. It took 25 years,” said Nelssen who adds “there will be pretty good resistance” to the pending general plan amendment.

Most of the 70 plus people who attended an open house this month opposed it.

The Scottsdale Planning Commission hearing on the case will be held at 5 p.m. on Sept. 23 in the City Hall Kiva following a “remote” hearing at the City Via Linda Complex, 9191 San Salvador, on Aug. 26.

The Scottsdale City Council will hold its hearing on this general plan amendment, and others, in late October (Oct. 27, 28 or 29).