Cave Creek staff seeking direction and consensus

By Linda Bentley | April 28, 2010

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cave creek planning workshopPlanning Director Ian Cordwell said staff was “looking for direction and consensus” on three areas to be considered for major general plan amendments and proposed changes to Appendix A of the zoning ordinance.  Photo by Linda Bentley

You can’t zone out adult businesses; you have to allow them somewhere
CAVE CREEK – A special joint workshop of the planning commission and council was held Monday night to review areas suitable for more intense use that could be subject to general plan amendments as recommended in the economic development committee’s White Paper.

Planning Director Ian Cordwell said, “Staff is looking for direction and consensus tonight.”
He said a general plan amendment wouldn’t change any current uses or zoning but could allow for possible changes in the future.

As they reviewed an area west of CVS to 48th Street on the north side of Carefree Highway described on an aerial map as “Area 25,” Planning Commissioner Bob Williams pointed out the White Paper suggested the area be three lots deep, while the area shown was only two.

Cordwell said staff looked at that and it was one of the things it was looking for direction on from the planning commission and council.

Another two areas were identified on the map. “Area 18” was defined along the south side of Carefree Highway from the Chevron Station west to 48th Street and south to Olesen Road along the west side of Cave Creek Road.

“Area 10” was irregular in shape in an area along the east side of Cave Creek Road beginning at Olesen Road, then south along 52th Street with a jog in toward 50th Street then south to Tapekim Road, Cave Creek’s southern boundary.

Councilman Dick Esser questioned if the three areas on the map consisting of 123 acres would conflict with the town core and asked how the town would determine what constituted a conflict.

planning director ian cordwellCordwell said because the areas were being considered for mixed use, the town would determine if there was a conflict by application.

While pointing out Area 25’s two-parcel deep stretch of land along Carefree Highway was approximately 630 feet in depth with a 90 foot scenic corridor buffer, Cordwell reminded the commission and council that the commercial town core is only 200 feet in depth.

Esser expressed concern for adjacent property owners.

Planning Commission Chair Dan Baxley said with useable land that is approximately 530 feet deep, he was trying to get a sense of what would could be constructed and asked if a medium-sized retain store such as Pier 1 would fit.

Baxley said, “I worry about Carefree Highway turning into another Bell Road,” and asked if 530 feet would be enough room to build something like the Summit, “or should it be three lots deep?”

Commissioner Shelly Anderson asked if the neighbors were in favor of the proposed changes or if they even knew about it.

Cordwell said most don’t know about it but will as soon as it’s posted and advertised.

Bryda asked, “What happens when Maricopa County wants to take Carefree Highway to six lanes?”

Cordwell responded, “Additional lanes would come off the scenic corridor.” However, he said Phoenix is planning the Sonoran Parkway, which could possibly eliminate the need for any additional lanes on Carefree Highway.

Councilman Steve LaMar said, “The only way to go is deeper as the White Paper recommended. Otherwise, all I see is development of strip malls.”

“This is not a set-in-stone idea,” said Cordwell.

Commissioner Peter Omundson cautioned, “If we go too deep, we’ll end up with a bunch of PADs and a bunch of fast food restaurants,” adding, “With so many owners it’s going to be hodgepodge.

Anderson suggested they stick with Area 25 as is and if someone needed more “we could look at it later.”

Commissioner John Ford stated they were trying to get away from the piecemeal approach.
Cordwell stated the town has received an application for Area 18, which includes 14 of the 18 lots and said Area 10 came up almost immediately after Walmart with the idea it would be mixed use.

Bryda asked where Cave Creek ended and was surprised to learn its southern boundary went as far south as Tapekim Road.

John Russell told the town he owns 10 acres behind Lowe’s and asked, “Wouldn’t it be better to go three parcels instead of two?”

Cordwell said that could be brought up when the general plan amendments come before the planning commission and then council.

The second agenda item for the workshop was Appendix A of the town’s zoning ordinance, describing uses and whether the use is allowed through site plan approval, a special use permit, a temporary use permit or if the use is prohibited, for each of the commercial zoning districts.

Commissioners and council members were provided a matrix showing the current document with proposed changes highlighted by staff.

Responding to Baxley, Cordwell said uses such as schools, churches, communications and cell towers, are allowed in any zoning district by state statute.

Town Attorney Marlene Pontrelli cautioned against limiting currently established uses, which she said could possibly have “Prop. 207 issues.”

Proposition 207, Private Property Rights Protection Act, passed by voters in 2006, requires the government to reimburse land owners when regulations result in a decrease in their property's value. It also prevents government from exercising eminent domain on behalf of a private party.

Pontrelli also let them know they could not “zone out” adult businesses, and, by law, must allow the use somewhere.

In discussing how the town did not want to have Carefree Highway become the next Bell Road, questions rose as to whether the town wanted to allow car dealerships or if they had to.

Pontrelli said she was not aware of any law that would require the town to allow car dealerships.

LaMar said there was a lot of revenue to be had with a car dealership and stated they might not want to be so hasty in opposing car dealerships. He noted the Chevron Station and Walmart designs as being unique to fit in with Cave Creek and said if the town could regulate how a car dealer looked through its ordinances, why would they want to rule them out.

Baxley scoffed at movie theaters being a suggested use under Commercial Buffer Zoning, and said, “The concept of commercial buffer is to buffer residential from intense commercial use. A movie theater wouldn’t do that.”

Senior Planner Larry Sahr responded, “Then take it out.”

Pontrelli suggested the town consider doing overlay districts for various uses.