Planning commission continues Specific Area Plan

Compromise, a little something to make everyone a little unhappy
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CAVE CREEK – Planning Director Ian Cordwell introduced the Specific Area Plan (SAP) during Thursday night’s planning commission meeting and said he was bringing it forward due to continuing interest by the property owners.

The area, once referred to as Area 25, is now the North Carefree Highway Gateway SAP and encompasses 38 acres instead of the original 25.

vicinity map
Cordwell said staff has received positive feedback for the SAP but after meeting with representatives from Carefree Highway Community Church, they came back with five pages of redlines.

Notifications were sent out to 730 property owners within a half-mile radius and approximately 60 letters came back as return mail.

Commissioner Eileen Wright said she’s been working for some time to preserve Desert Rural zoning.

She asked if council approves the rezoning of the church property, would that not make the SAP null and void.

Cordwell said the SAP would go to council before the rezoning.

Noting the Office designation between 48th Street to 49th Street, she asked if such restricted use was consistent with the general plan.

Cordwell responded by saying the SAP is an amendment to the general plan.

dan baxleyCommissioner Dan Baxley (l) confirmed with Cordwell that the text amendment to the general plan does not change the zoning.

Baxley said this issue was first raised in 2007 through the White Paper.

Chairman Ted Bryda said this was a compromise plan that is good for everyone.

During public comment, Wes Cooper said he approved of the SAP.

Livia Spitz Steingart said the proposal as it stands, with a 60-foot setback, needed some tweaking.

She said, “This is a good start. I think we all agree it’s not residential,” but thought the SAP was too restrictive.

Todd Gilson, who lives on 50th Street just north of Carefree Highway said he had a number of questions and wanted assurances he’ll be notified throughout the process.

He said he is not opposed to commercial development but wanted to know how the 18 property owners in the SAP will benefit.

Cordwell stated they all currently have Desert Rural (residential) zoning and would benefit if they wanted to rezone their property to commercial.

Ed Bull, representing Carefree Highway Community Church, said they continued their general plan amendment and rezoning applications to work with staff, the commission and council.

He said they submitted a letter with proposed refinements to the SAP.

Bull said they appreciated the draft and it was a start.

Bull stated they had three goals for the area: quality, compatibility and economic viability.

He pointed out on a map of the area that the sensitive area was to the west of 48th Street and said restricted General Commercial with a development agreement approved by council would be preferred.

Bryda interrupted and said, “We’re not here to make a pitch for your plan.”

Bull stated considerable energy had been put into the draft plan and asked the hearing to be continued to another date.

He said he was supportive of the idea but asked the commission to continue the item so they could discuss it more, which he stated would be a good opportunity to improve upon the plan.

Ron Iverson said for a long time, commissioners have wanted to come up with a plan for Area 25. He said the Commercial Buffer zoning addresses many of the issues.

Referring to the SAP as “spa,” Iverson said, “Overall I think the responses have been very positive,” and asked the commission to approve the plan.

Stating he agreed with Iverson, David Smith said he had been involved with this for the past seven years and hoped they would approve it.

Cheryl Carmitchel, who lives directly behind Lowe’s, requested the hospitality use with three stories be eliminated from the plan.

Cordwell indicated approximately 10 acres had been added to the original area to include a hotel.

Carmitchel said, “I would like the parcel that was added to Area 25 to be eliminated. I don’t know why that got in there. I’m disappointed to see that property included. It’s not right for a resort.

Commissioner Bob Voris asked where the hospitality property was located.

Timothy Spence said he opposed the resort and asked that they leave that parcel single family. He said, “I agree with the rest of the plan.”

His comments were met with applause by the attendees.

Baxley moved to recommend approval, although he stated he had some concerns.

He said the plan was a long time coming and he appreciated the work staff had done.

His concerns were about setbacks and the appearance from Carefree Highway.

He also didn’t understand the 22-foot high restrictions for commercial while residential allows for 25 feet.

Vice Chair Rae Iverson, who seconded the motion, said they needed to be sensitive to people who live in the area and that was the reason the SAP was so comprehensive. However, she said, “I think we definitely need to rethink the hotel. It does not belong in a residential area. I would very much like to consider frontal landscaping.”

The commission took a short break so attendees could review the mockup overlay and ask questions.

Iverson, like Baxley, questioned the 22-foot building height.

After Cordwell explained the formula he used to come up with the 22-foot height, Iverson said she wanted to retain that restriction.

Commissioner John Ford said the SAP was probably one of the best compromises he’d seen and, as Iverson mentioned, there are a lot of long-time residents in that area.

Wright, in reviewing some of the proposed restrictions for building materials, stated, “I don’t want to end up with a rubber tomahawk kind of Western.”

Voris said Cordwell did a very commendable job in many respects, noting it has been going on for seven years.

He said, “I can visualize how this will look – central component with meandering access through various parcels. It encourages symbiotic relationships between businesses that would locate there. Maybe we’d be well served to spend more time on this.”

Bryda said he learned during the break there was Commercial Buffer or nothing, no General Commercial.

Baxley said after they were given a bit more time to review and talk to people during the break he withdrew his motion to recommend approval and moved to continue the item until June 5.

With Commissioner Ray Fontaine absent, the motion passed unanimously.

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