VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 51   |  DECEMBER 21 – 27, 2011


Planning commission continues review of town core plan

‘It’s not clear by looking at the map what the zoning changes are … I would like to see the maps with changes noted’

town core map The proposed revised town core plan has been amended to include the dog leg that follows Cave Creek Road south to Carriage Drive on the west side of town along with some land use changes on the east at Bella Vista Drive.

CAVE CREEK – Last Thursday, with Chairman Dan Baxley absent, the planning commission voted unanimously to continue its review of changes to the town core plan until the January meeting.

Planning Director Ian Cordwell presented a proposed change to expand the commercial core, adding the dog leg on the town core map along Cave Creek Road southbound to the Carriage Drive alignment and said staff was looking at land use changes on the east end of town at Bella Vista Drive.

He said staff was looking at additional access between Harold’s and the Buffalo Chip, connecting to Bella Vista Drive where there are a number of non-conforming undersized residential lots.

Stating the proposed changes were “nothing radical,” Cordwell said the town’s traffic engineers were looking at creating a 30-foot public easement between the two establishments.

Commissioner Ted Bryda said, “It’s not clear by looking at the map what the zoning changes are,” adding, “We need to know.”

Cordwell said there was a neighborhood meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19, where the applicant would present the proposed zoning changes along Bella Vista Drive.

According to Cordwell, although the pre-rezoning application, filed by Michael Rockwell of Azul-Verde Design Group, has been issued a case number it is not considered officially being filed since the applicant has not yet paid the fee.

carol lynn de szendeffy Attorney Carol Lynn de Szendeffy suggested the town consider other criteria for expanding commercial use to non-conforming residential lots, referring to the rezoning application submitted by the owner of Azul Verde for parcels along Bella Vista Drive, noting the lots were most likely conforming when created. 
Photo by Linda Bentley

Attorney Carol Lynn de Szendeffy spoke during public comment in opposition to the proposed rezoning and what has now been referred to as the Bella Vista Loop.

She said by approving the map, the rezoning would be a done deal.

De Szendeffy and her husband have owned the commercial office building next door to Azul-Verde Design Group for 25 years and de Szendeffy has had her law office there for the past 17 years.

The proposed rezoning would change the zoning of 20 properties totaling approximately 12.75 acres along Bella Vista Drive.

According to de Szendeffy, opening up Bella Vista Drive, a very difficult to maneuver and dangerous intersection, to additional traffic made no sense.

And, while Cordwell’s explanation for rezoning the various residential lots along Bella Vista was due to them being undersized non-conforming lots, de Szendeffy said “We have to assume they were conforming when made.”

Citing the “horrendous amount of vacant commercial space” consisting of tens of thousands of square feet, she asked why the town was looking at changing residential to commercial and suggested the town consider a plan that encourages the use and development of the existing commercial property in the town core.

De Szendeffy told the commission excess amounts of commercial space, which often causes existing businesses to move from older buildings to newer ones is how blight is created, not that she was insinuating Cave Creek was suffering from blight.

However, she said revising the town core plan to add more commercial in a 10-year plan during a poor economy was a bad idea.

She told the commission they were being asked to approve maps that will set the foundation for the zoning changes to happen and said, “I haven’t seen any traffic engineers on Bella Vista doing any traffic studies.”

De Szendeffy asked where the rezoning would stop and noted Earth Care, while already a non-conforming use, was not included in the rezoning application.

She asked the town to consider the maps and town core plan as a whole.

David Lewis, who has submitted numerous applications to rezone residential parcels to commercial, also spoke during public comment.

He said de Szendeffy wanted to deprive people of the use of their property and stated people were paying taxes on property they can’t use.

Lewis said, “If traffic’s a problem, they can make [Bella Vista] a one-way street.”

Cordwell said staff was attempting to address non-conforming lots and traffic circulation.

Vice Chairman Reg Monachino stated he would like to see the maps and plan in a single packet.

Bryda said, “I would like to see the maps with the changes noted.”