VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 52   |  DECEMBER 28, 2011 – JANUARY 3, 2012


Bella Vista Loop attached to multi-parcel rezoning application

bella vista loopThe proposed Bella Vista Loop Road would create a new public access road between the parking lots of Harold’s and the Buffalo Chip from Cave Creek Road to merge with the existing Bella Vista Drive that connects to Cave Creek Road at applicant Michael Rockwell’s Azul-Verde Design Group’s property.

CAVE CREEK – Planning Director Ian Cordwell introduced rezoning applicant Michael Rockwell, owner of Azul-Verde Design Group, to the handful of attendees at the Dec. 19 meeting, and noted it was a “required public meeting for an imminent zoning case that would follow an amendment to the town core plan.”

Rockwell, who owns three parcels in the draft rezoning application, which is made up of 20 properties comprising approximately 13 acres, said while the town was reviewing the current land use in the entire town core, Cordwell and Associate Planner Luke Kautzman approached him with concerns over the “triangular space” extending along Bella Vista Drive and asked his firm to come up with a design.

Rockwell pointed out quite a few properties in that triangular space that runs generally east along Bella Vista Drive south of Cave Creek Road are zoned DR-89 (Desert Rural – one home per 2.5 acres) but the parcels are much smaller in size.

Because the majority of the parcels are nonconforming, in addition to the Bella Vista Loop, Rockwell said it was suggested they look at a different type of zoning.

“We came up with TCC (Town Core Commercial) or CB (Commercial Buffer),” stated Rockwell, who said, during a parcel-holder meeting about two months earlier, all of the parcel owners indicated they were interested.

David Lewis, who owns DR-89 residential property on the other side of Cave Creek Road at Scopa Trail, also indicated interest in having his parcel rezoned and became part of the draft application.

Rockwell said he wanted to get input from the neighborhood and would be completing his application within the next few days.

He said, “[Rezoning to commercial] makes perfect sense for these parcels that are nonconforming,” claiming property owners would be unable to develop or improve their nonconforming parcels under current zoning.

For example, Rockwell said some of the lots were only 120 feet long and couldn’t be developed under the 60-foot setbacks required for DR-89 lots.

However, afterward Cordwell stated there were other options available for property owners with nonconforming lots. He said a new zoning category could be created for the small residential lots or property owners wanting to develop or remodel their property could request an exception from council.

A Carefree resident who lives on Piedra Grande, which connects to Bella Vista, expressed concern about the Bella Vista Loop sending more traffic through the neighborhood and said he was opposed to increased traffic through his residential neighborhood.

Rockwell stated this was not a traffic study and they were also looking at ways to make it safer for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, noting visibility is poor at the intersection of Bella Vista Drive and Cave Creek Road.

He said, “As we move forward, we’ll be addressing these concerns.”

The Carefree resident stated, “Just because they’re nonconforming doesn’t mean they can’t use their property.”

Rockwell responded, “No, but they can’t do anything else with it.”

Harold’s owner Bill Vale explained the lot behind Harold’s they were currently using for parking was zoned residential, making it a nonconforming use.

He said, while they’re not interested in giving up 30 feet of parking for the Bella Vista Loop extension, Vale said he is “selfishly” in favor of the rezoning because “obviously this being more valuable as commercial.”

One of the Bella Vista parcel owners, who lives off of Spur Cross Road, said he and his wife have owned the Bella Vista property for 11 years and they can’t improve it because of the zoning.

A woman, who lives near the Lewis property said, “We bought homes here and made improvements. It sounds like people who own these lots may have made bad investments.”

She said, “I’d hate to see my investment go down in value because you want to increase the size of [commercial] town core.”

A man asked, if the rezoning was proposed by the town, what the motivation behind it was.

Cordwell said about 15 years ago the town was asked to review the traffic circulation.
He also indicated the rezoning and Bella Vista Loop were interdependent and one could not occur without the other.

One of the attendees expressed concerns about people leaving the bars driving down Bella Vista Drive to turn onto Cave Creek Road, where visibility has always been a concern.

Glenn Fahringer, who owns Earth Care and nonconforming property adjacent to parcels included in the rezoning application, said, “I never thought about people leaving bars coming down Bella Vista,” but added, “I think the benefits outweigh the negatives.”