Planning chair to mull expanding ranch use to residential districts

Bryda stated he wasn’t sure about that yet and wanted to mull it over before asking staff to craft any language
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CAVE CREEK – Just prior to the July 17 planning commission meeting, Planning Director Ian Cordwell stated Commissioner John Ford sent him an e-mail earlier that day saying he resigned from the commission. Cordwell said no reason was given other than “he has a lot of stuff going on.”

With commissioners Dan Baxley and Ray Fontaine absent, there was still a quorum of four commissioners.

Cordwell stated there were no cases scheduled for August but the Sept. 18 meeting will likely have a “pretty healthy agenda.”

Associate Planner Luke Kautzman advised the commission when the current zoning ordinance was adopted in 2011, they inadvertently omitted a section that considered eves and overhangs being allowed to extend up to two feet into the required yard setbacks.

Kautzman said the section was not intentionally removed and only came to their attention recently when a builder asked about it and he could not find it in the ordinance.

He recommended the section be placed back in the ordinance, to which the commission voted unanimously in favor of doing.

Cordwell introduced the next item to address nonconforming (undersized) Desert Rural properties and lot area requirements for private ranch use, providing compliance with all other applicable regulations of the ordinance are met and the parcel is at least one-acre in size.

Cordwell explained after the town incorporated it created its own zoning ordinance adding Desert Rural zoning and ranch use requiring a minimum of two acres.

He said property owners were given a time period during which they could subdivide their parcels before the new downzoning went into effect, which resulted in approximately 244 non-conforming lots that have never been addressed.

While the inconsistent zoning and lot sizes created by density transfers for around 200 lots in various subdivisions was addressed by using a sliding scale formula, Cordwell said the town never addressed ranch use or lot area for the other lots affected by the downzoning in 1994.

Cordwell suggested placing new language in the section of the zoning ordinance addressing non-conforming uses.

Section 11.4(A) Non-conforming Desert Rural Properties would read: “Any lot of record within the Desert Rural (DR-190 or DR-89) zones considered legally non-conforming because of non-compliance with lot area requirements may be used for a private ranch use as outlined in chapter 2 of this ordinance, provided compliance with all other applicable regulations of this ordinance are met and the parcel is at least one-acre in size.”

During public comment, Janelle Smith-Haff said the language was a good start toward increasing the number of affordable horse properties in Cave Creek. She asked if staff could list the addresses of all the affected properties when the item goes to council.

mike noonanMike Noonan (r) also spoke to say he lives in a residential zoning (R-35) and has equine use on his property.

He said there were also four other properties in his neighborhood with equine use.

Noonan said the zoning ordinance doesn’t state whether or not equine use is allowed in R-35 zoning.

He asked the commission to consider adding equine use on R-35 properties to the zoning ordinance.

Noonan said the town marshal told his family they were in violation by having horses on their property and gave them 30 days to come into compliance.

According to Noonan, there is not a lot of R-35 zoning in town, insinuating it would not affect many properties by allowing equestrian use on R-35 zoned properties.

When asked how large his lot is, Noonan said it used to be 58,000 square feet but he did a lot split a few years ago and it was now a little over 41,000 square-feet, “just under an acre.”

Commissioner Bob Vooris asked Noonan why the marshal came by and if there was a complaint.

Noonan said apparently there was a complaint but he wasn’t home at the time.

Commissioner Eileen Wright asked if he’s had horses on the property since 1998.

Noonan responded, “No, just on and off.”

After Wright moved to recommend approval, Vooris confirmed with Cordwell that ranch/equestrian use is not allowed in any residentially designated zoning.

Vooris then asked if it could be addressed like a home occupation permit.

Cordwell said it would be more like a special use permit.

However, neighbors would have to be in favor of the use and since someone apparently complained that didn’t seem feasible.

Wright asked if staff could bring back some language for the commission to review.

When Chairman Ted Bryda suggested the use might be more in line with applying for a variance, Cordwell explained variances are regulated by statute and one of the conditions is that it not be self-imposed.

Wright asked if staff would be bringing back language for them to review.

Cordwell said they could if that’s what the commission wanted.

Bryda stated he wasn’t sure about that yet and wanted to mull it over before asking staff to craft any language.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the original motion addressing language for the legal non-conforming lots.

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