City Council approves rezoning of acreage in north Scottsdale

Scottsdale City Hall is at 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. in downtown Scottsdale. (File photo)

A proposed rezoning has passed the Scottsdale City Council, bringing in its wake higher density in north Scottsdale.

The City Council approved 5-2 the rezoning of a 68.6-acre site on the northeast corner of 118th Street and Ranch Gate Road with councilmembers Solange Whitehead and Kathy Littlefield dissenting.

The site will change from R1-130 Environmentally Sensitive Lands to 64.4 acres of R1-43 and 4.2 acres of open space environmentally sensitive lands. The end goal for owner John Christensen of Sonoran Peaks, LLC is a 42-lot single-family residential subdivision.

Under the previous R1-130 stipulations, the density allowed for 21 lots on the property. With the change, that maximum lot total jumps to 53, though the developer is asking for 42 lots.

Guy Phillips

Councilmember Guy Phillips — who said he did receive some late concerns from residents — compared the project to some other developments such as Troon and Greasewood Flats, wondering how those zonings got passed. In contrast, Mr. Phillips said he didn’t think this project was as bad.

“I would like to help out but I really don’t see a problem with one home per acre,” he said. “I’m sure it will be set in such a way that it will look nice and conform with the surrounding area. So I don’t have a problem with it.”

City staff did not specify what the traffic impact might be once the development comes to fruition. Scottsdale resident Betty Janik submitted a written comment to the Planning Commission, which recommended approval of the rezoning, asking the commissioners to consider potential traffic impacts to the area.

Ms. Littlefield said she wanted the item pulled off the consent agenda because she received several concerns regarding the project. Other than Ms. Janik’s comment, there were no other public comments included with the item’s packet.

Ms. Littlefield said she thinks the developers met the legal limit of public outreach, but noted several residents believed not enough outreach was done.

“They felt like they needed to have a word too because this was the entire area of the north that is once again being compacted down into smaller and smaller lots than was originally planned,” she said.

Kathy Littlefield

Ms. Littlefield also said some complaints she received were about the parcel’s proximity to the preserve and how higher density would affect it.

The site is surrounded with R1-130 designations with a mixture of developed and undeveloped residential properties to the north and west as well as Troon Canyon residential subdivision to the south. There is also Arizona State Land and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve to the east.

Zoning Attorney John Berry, who is representing the applicant, claimed the city’s General Plan allows for up to a density of one home per acre though most of the surrounding area doesn’t reach that threshold.

Mr. Berry said original plans had higher density but the applicant compromised.

“We were pretty close to that one to the acre but we came back through after listening to folks and responding and collaborating,” he said. “Not with confrontation but listening and collaboration, working with staff, and we have come back with this plan that you see before you this evening.”

The developer is planning on one point of access on 118th Street with a gated entry. There are also plans for half street improvement with trails for both 118th Street and Ranch Gate Road.

In total, the subdivision plans to have 26.5 acres of natural area open space, which city staff claim is 6 percent greater than the minimum. That NAOS is comprised of 15.9 acres of on-lot space and 10.6 acres of in-tract open space. This is in addition to the 4.2 acres set aside for open space.

There are also plans for 50-foot-wide desert scenic buffered roadway setbacks along both street frontages.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at or at 623-445-2738

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