VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 17   |   APRIL 27 – MAY 3, 2011


The Overlook at Black Mountain recommended for approval

“We’ve embraced the town’s criteria” for hillside development

CAVE CREEK – With all members present for the April 21 planning commission meeting, Planning Director Ian Cordwell announced, in addition to continuing its review of the zoning ordinance, there will be two zoning cases on the May 19 agenda.

Two residential parcels south of Walmart, known as Area 10, which received approval for a general plan amendment last year to allow for commercial use, will be coming forward with a request to change the zoning to commercial.

During public comment, Cave Creek Museum Vice President Ellen Van Riper spoke on behalf of the museum to, once again, request that the town provide the museum with its land use entitlement rather than continuing to be a legal non-conforming use.

She said the first question on many grant applications is, “What is your land entitlement?”
Although the town was looking at including museums under “public” and “quasi-public” categories in Chapter 11 for smaller lot residential zoning areas, Van Riper said it was later moved to Chapter 13, Special Use Permits (SUP).

“It’s not what we would have liked,” said Van Riper, who thanked the town for making the change while suggesting changes to the section on impacts, which she stated was vague and required too much speculation.

p&z meetingPlanning Commissioner Rae Iverson (r) sought clarification from applicant Jim Shelly (center) and civil engineer Chris Patton regarding the suitability of a cul de sac for fire trucks to turn around.
Photo by Linda Bentley

Before continuing its review of the zoning ordinance, the commission agreed to first review the preliminary plat for The Overlook at Black Mountain, a five-lot subdivision on approximately 14.6 acres at the southern terminus of School House Road.

The parcel was once the subject of a lawsuit against the town under previous ownership. The court held the town’s ordinance, restricting where the former owner could build on the lot, was unconstitutional.

When asked how the four lots became five, applicant Jim Shelly said the parcels were originally created as lot splits under county zoning, whereas another split of the one very large parcel would have required filing for a subdivision.

Shelly said after studying the site they came up with the best way to develop a subdivision under the DR-89 zoning.

He said the extension of School House Road was designed to minimize cuts and fills and to be the least intrusive as possible.

According to Shelly, Rural/Metro can access an all-weather surface at 18 percent grade. He said he also met with Town Engineer Wayne Anderson to work on minimizing impacts.

Commissioner Rae Iverson said she too met with Anderson and when she asked if one of the cul-de-sacs had a turning radius large enough for a fire truck to turn around, she was told, “No.”

Shelly said the cul-de-sacs meet the criteria given to them by Rural/Metro, which is a length of 80 feet.

Cordwell said the applicant has worked with the town on trails that go through the property.
Bambi Muller, the town’s trail coordinator, said, “This is a very popular trail,” and pointed out the road will be a lot wider.

ted brydaCommissioner Ted Bryda asked if the road designation was a “local road.”

At its current 17 percent grade, he said the road is already not in conformance with the 15 percent grade requirement.

Cordwell stated there were topography issues.

Bryda said, “We have specifications that say 15 percent. We need to stay with that or change the requirements.”

Commissioner Peter Omundson questioned how long the road construction might take and asked if there would be access to the trail during construction.

At the preliminary plat stage, Shelly said he couldn’t answer that question, stating, “We haven’t asked for hard numbers and estimates,” something they wouldn’t be doing until the final plat.

However, he said he felt confident it could be completed in 12-24 months.

Responding to whether there would be trail access during construction, Shelly said, “Good question. We’ll have to work on that,” noting there would be a concern for the safety of pedestrians alongside heavy equipment.

The commission was reminded the application before them was for a 14.6-acre preliminary plat.

Cordwell stated, “We’ll have to look at alternate access.”

Commissioner John Ford wanted to ensure there would be fire hydrants at the site.

Shelly said he has discussed that with Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow.

Chairman Dan Baxley said, “We’d like to ensure there is no disruption of access” to the trail, adding, “We’d like to recommend that be a condition of approval.”

Bryda stated, “As you can tell, I’m against the 18 percent [grade] only because our conditions say 15 percent,” and asked about the height of the retaining walls.

Chris Patton, the project’s civil engineer, said the wall heights vary with the tallest one around five or six feet.

Shelly stated they would do stepped retaining walls if it got higher than six feet, in which case they would do two three-foot stepped retaining walls.

Commissioner Reg Monachino noted Lot 5 has a slope of 55 percent.

Shelly said, “We’ve embraced the town’s criteria” for hillside development.

Baxley reiterated, “What’s before us tonight is a preliminary plat for a five-lot subdivision,” whereas staff could take the road issues to council.

Bryda asked staff to make changes to the ordinance to allow for 18 percent slope.

Cordwell told the commission he established “Condition 23” to maintain trail access during road construction.

Monachino’s motion to recommend approval passed unanimously.

Cordwell updated the commission on Chapter 9 and reaching out to the business community regarding their signage needs.

He said the Arizona Planning Association, in conjunction with ASU, is seeking summer projects for interns. Cordwell said he would let them know the town has a project for them, whereas interns could go through the town core, work with businesses and take pictures.

During discussion of Chapter 13, Special Uses, Cordwell mentioned Van Riper’s concern to limit the impact to surrounding area rather than the whole town.

Iverson suggested saying “area and/or the town” to give the town discretion.

Cordwell said Chapter 16 was new to the ordinance to include recommendations from the Green Committee and to address changes in technology.

Baxley wanted to make sure there were no mandates included that would require citizens to convert to any such new technology.

Cordwell explained while it did not, it also did not prohibit use of certain technologies.

Omundson asked about solar panels not being integrated into the formula for lot coverage.

Cordwell said solar panels could be ground mounted and if not over 6 feet in height, they would not be counted in under-roof lot coverage.

Before calling for a motion to adjourn, Baxley said, “Let’s plan for a substantial May meeting.”

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