BY LINDA BENTLEY | JANUARY 25, 2012
Proposed town core plan challenged
‘This is Cave Creek. It’s a small town. How are we going to whack it up into districts?’
CAVE CREEK – Although Commissioner Reg Monachino was nominated to chair the planning commission for 2012, he didn’t receive quite enough votes.
Dan Baxley was reinstalled as chairman, while Monachino was unanimously reelected to his post as vice chair.
Planning Director Ian Cordwell, in announcing there would probably be no zoning cases scheduled for the Feb. 16 meeting, stated he anticipated the commission would still be reviewing the town core plan.
Cordwell said, “This is a significant document and needs your time.”
Baxley’s call for public comment at the front end of the town core plan discussion brought Attorney Carol Lynn de Szendeffy to the podium with a map of the town core.
Her map illustrated all the commercial buildings with vacancies in orange and the vacant commercial land shown in red.
She told the commission, “We have enough commercial property for 20 years.”
De Szendeffy pointed out how the small residential lots on Bella Vista Drive being proposed for commercial rezoning were very similar to the small commercial lots on Hidden Valley Drive and said, “It’s not working.”
She said, “You don’t have to rezone Bella Vista Drive to put in a loop road.”
Mike Noonan (r), a licensed real estate agent, said he has been focused only on commercial real estate in Cave Creek and Carefree for the past 12 years.
Noonan told the commission there is currently 148,000 square feet of commercial space available and 320,000 square feet of vacant commercial land available in the Cave Creek town core, which he called an “enormous amount of vacant square footage and vacant land.”
He said the value of commercial property has gone from $15 to $20 per square foot to land recently sold by a bank at $2 per square foot.
Noonan said he supported the additional ingress and egress proposed for Harold’s and the Buffalo Chip, but stated, “We don’t need any additional commercial space.”
Noonan said the town has a 10-15 year supply of vertical commercial space available with an additional 30 years of commercial land.
Questioning Noonan’s statement about the absorption rate being 10,000 to 15,000 square feet per year, in a good year, Monachino asked if it was due to rents being too high.
Noonan replied, “No, rents have adjusted.”
Bob Moore said he was there to address David Lewis’ parcel, an “itty bitty parcel” he claimed was previously misrepresented as a larger parcel proposed for rezoning.
He said, “I’m personally in favor of allowing Mr. Lewis to rezone that lot.”
Cordwell provided a little background on the Bella Vista Drive parcels for the benefit of newly seated Commissioner Ray Fontaine, stating there was a pending application to rezone approximately 12 acres including land behind Harold’s and the Buffalo Chip for additional parking.
Cordwell also noted the proposed town core plan included the dog leg along Cave Creek Road south to include the Wagon Wheel Restaurant.
He said the reasoning behind that change was to separate the area from the commercial uses around Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway and “not wanting to leave it off on its own.”
Cordwell said staff integrated suggestions from the White Paper in proposing some of the changes to the town core plan.
Fontaine said, “I don’t see any statement of affirmation that we are a designated tourist destination.”
He also suggested expanding the dog leg of the town core plan to include a broader area, possibly to Sunset Trail, as an alternate method of getting around Cave Creek during special events.
Fontaine stated the maps were so “hard line” and thought they should follow more “natural boundaries.”
The commission was unable to come to consensus on the idea of creating “districts,” such as an arts, dining or saloon district, that could be readily identified by streetscape or signage.
Commissioner Rae Iverson said she liked the idea because it would give people who want to locate here a feeling of security in an area that had an identity.
Bryda suggested naming the districts and used the “Gaslight District” in San Diego as an example.
Monachino said, “This is Cave Creek. It’s a small town. How are we going to whack it up into districts?”
He said he saw it as more of a roadblock and thought of it as micro-managing business development.
Iverson said she thinks of districts as more of a marketing strategy rather than strict delineation.
Commissioner John Ford said he thought designating districts was a good idea, stating, “We already have them. We just don’t name them now.”
Ford said the same districts have existed since he arrived in Cave Creek in 1969.
Reg pointed out the town core was less than a mile long and said, “I just don’t see districts.”
After Baxley called for a motion to adjourn and the commission voted unanimously to do so, it dawned on him he hadn’t called for a vote to continue the review of the town core plan and had to call for a motion to reconvene.
The commission voted to continue its review to the Feb. 16 meeting and voted once again to adjourn.