Planning commission slams brakes on ‘marching orders’

By Linda Bentley | August 26, 2009

CAVE CREEK – Realtor Mike Noonan represented Windridge Enterprises, LLC in two exception request applications during Thursday night’s planning commission meeting for Phase I of Pleasantview Estates, a proposed 12-lot subdivision on approximately 13.27 acres on property known as “Brenner’s Hill.”

Planning Director Ian Caldwell provided a little background on the project, which originally came forward with a proposal to change a portion of the property to commercial. However, a deed restriction was found that prevented any change in land use on any portion of the subdivision for several years.

The first exception request asked that the applicant be allowed to develop a one-way 30-foot right-of-way instead of a two-way 60-foot right-of-way around the peak of Brenners’s Hill.

Jim Loftus & Mike NoonanNoonan stated, “Our approach in this is we’re seeking to improve public safety.”

He said Rural/Metro examined the 24-foot one-way right-of-way and approved it “in concept.”

According to Noonan, Ken Howell, president of Task Engineering, said the traffic counts would be so low it met the criteria for any traffic concerns.

Noonan questioned the need for a 60-foot right-of-way and said there was an existing road, adding, “In reality, we’d like to see it go lower.”

Claiming former town engineering staff member Souren Naradikian said it would be better to have a narrower road to minimize the cut in the hill, Noonan stated all the changes made were due to recommendations by the engineering department.

Commissioner Bill Allen said what they were asking for was far in excess of what is allowed.
He also noted, just because an easement is 60-feet wide, does not necessarily mean the road would have to be 60-feet wide, and just allows for movement of a 24-foot road.

Allen stated the existing road was steep and said he would not be in favor of anything more than 12 percent.

Chairman Dan Baxley asked Noonan, “Did you say what the existing grade is?”

Noonan replied, “We can go back and meet those requirements, but wouldn’t develop ourselves.”

Commissioner Bob Williams stated the commission didn’t have any engineering and said, “You’re showing the roadway one-half the width it should be,” but pointed out Jim Loftus of Consulting Land Surveyors, Inc. just said it was 12 feet.

He asked, “What did Rural/Metro sign off on?”

Noonan stated, “If we have to go to a 60-foot right-of-way, we’ll have to sell the property off in pieces.”

Commissioner Ted Bryda said, “These are half streets.”

The commission questioned why the application stated the exception request was from a 60-foot right-of-way to a 30-foot right-of-way but stated the paved road would be 24-feet with a drawing showing a 12-foot road.

With buried utilities and only half streets, Bryda was concerned when work needed to be done it would cut off access completely.

Noonan stated the utility locations were placed as requested by the town’s engineering department, adding, “Everything we’ve done to date was as per the engineering department. We’re trying to bring this into conformance.”

Cordwell explained to Baxley, if the commission would like to have more information, they could also vote to continue the case.

Williams made the motion to approve, only because it is their practice to make all motions in the affirmative to avoid confusion when voting.

However, with no second to his motion and no further motions offered, the item was killed, which means it does not move forward to council, since it has no recommendation of any kind from the planning commission.

Moving on to the second exception request, Cordwell explained that the top of Brenner’s Hill is identified as a peak area, which the zoning ordinance defines as “the top point of a mountain or hill formed by opposing slopes from all sides. The peak area to be preserved is that area from the peak to a distance of one hundred (100) feet from the peak.”

Noonan said the goal, with the exceptions requested, was to bring the subdivision into conformance, stating, “We can then be a legal subdivision.”

He went on to say, “Without a subdivision, that area can be built on irregardless (sic). You only can’t build on a peak per the subdivision ordinance.”

Williams asked Noonan if what he meant was the financial pro forma doesn’t work without the exception.

Noonan responded, “We would not move forward with a subdivision.”

Bryda questioned the comment in the application that stated the current lot configuration would dramatically increase lot density and allow onsite wells and septic systems.

He said the project is within 300 feet of sewer lines, stating, “You wouldn’t be able to put in septic or wells.”

Looking at the topographical map, Allen said they would be able to build without building on the hill and there were other ways it could be done, keeping the same configuration.

Noonan agreed, saying, “Lots 10 and 11 create building envelopes on flat ground. You’re right.”

Allen said, “I’m talking about the exact layout you have here,” reiterating the top of the hill is 300 feet from the sewer line.”

According to Allen, there could still be two lots on top of the hill without having to have two houses on top of the hill.

Stating he is representing the owner, who is a principal in Southwest Sands, Noonan said, “Our marching orders are to move forward with these exceptions.”

Once again, Williams moved to approve, adding he would like a second so the commission could discuss and vote on the item.

Allen offered a second.

Williams said, “I wish we would have taken this case first. This is a terrible idea. I don’t agree with it and I don’t support it.”

Commissioner Reg Monachino said, “I think, with these two lots, three people would benefit; two lot owners and the developer.”

With commissioners Shelly Anderson and Peter Omundson absent, the commission voted unanimously against the exception request.

Noonan, who works for ReMax at the Village, located in Stagecoach Village was cited in Payson on July 15, 2008 for taking wildlife without a license, a class 2 misdemeanor.

Records indicate Noonan failed to appear, an arrest warrant was issued on Jan. 14, 2009 and, according to the Payson Justice Court, the warrant is still active.

Photo: Jim Loftus of Consulting Land Surveyors, Inc. (l) performed the survey work for Pleasantview Estates, as presented to the planning commission during Thursday night’s meeting by realtor Mike Noonan on behalf of Windridge Enterprises, LLC, which is made up of the same principals as Southwest Sands.
Photo by Linda Bentley