Scottsdale Independent

Scottsdale City Council approves all major General Plan applications

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

Scottsdale City Hall is at 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. (file photo)

The Scottsdale City Council has approved three major General Plan amendments — including an application for a 700-unit storage facility in north Scottsdale.

On Monday, Dec. 4, Scottsdale City Council hosted its annual major General Plan amendment hearing, yielding three applications asking to make changes to the 2001 voter-approved planning document. The meeting was held at City Hall, 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

The developers of the storage facility are longtime Scottsdale resident George Bell senior and George Bell junior. They are in escrow to own the land after their zoning case is resolved.

The Bell Group Self Storage application seeks a land-use designation change from “rural neighborhoods” to “commercial” on 2.8 acres of a 4.6 acre site on the southeast corner of Shea Boulevard and 116th Street; and a zoning district map amendment from “service residential” to “neighborhood commercial” on the 4.6 acre site.

The lot along Shea Boulevard and 116th Street requires a major General Plan amendment due to a change in the land-use classification, city officials say.

The proposal drew the ire of neighboring residents earlier this fall when the application was working its way through the Planning Commission approval process.

Homeowners in an abutting neighborhood oppose the storage facility, citing a loss to their quality of life by impeding their views and impacting their property values. Many residents of the Montana Ranch community spoke in opposition to the proposal during the public comment portion on Dec. 4. Represented by Jordan Rose of Rose Law Group, Bell Group Self Storage stipulated to a maximum height of 18-feet, rather than the allotted 36-feet zoning maximum, after meeting with nearby neighbors.

Planning Commission heard this case on Nov. 8, and recommended approval with a 4-3 vote.

The facility itself is proposed as an air-conditioned, two-story storage facility, with a basement, housing 700 storage units. The site has been vacant for 18 years, Ms. Rose says.

There are five storage facilities within five miles of the subject site; two of the closest facilities are directly north of the site within 1,500 feet, a city staff report states. One of the facilities contains approximately 750 units, and has a vacancy rate of 4 percent, the report states.

Three prior open houses have been held by the applicant or the city — in June and September — city staff notes.

The proposed project is said to be low-scale, compared to a charter school, day care or office building that could be built instead, Ms. Rose contends. Traffic for the facility is expected to be very minimal compared to other uses, she said.

Ultimately, the storage facility passed 6-1, with Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield dissenting.

Kathy Littlefield

Councilwoman Littlefield cited the 100 percent disapproval of the 95 homeowners in the Montana Ranch neighborhood that abuts the storage site.

“When 100 percent of affected citizens say ‘no,’ and ask us to deny this change to our citizen-approved General Plan, I believe it is my responsibility and my obligation to listen to them,” Councilwoman Littlefield said.

A citizen petition was filed, but deemed invalid, city officials said.

Other councilmembers called the decision “difficult,” but in the end, believed the storage facility was a good proposal for the area.

“In this case, I think voting against this would be absolutely to the determent of what will eventually come — and there will be something that will eventually come,” Mayor Jim Lane said during the meeting.

“With all of that, I’m hoping that a positive vote for this will allow this to be built and to be seen in the long run, as something that I think is going to be positive.”

Other amendments approved

The other two major General Plan amendment items were approved with 7-0 votes.

The first, a land-use designation and zoning district map amendment for a seven-lot subdivision named Siena Estates; and secondly, a single-family residential neighborhood with a land-use designation and district map amendment for 7676 E. Pinnacle Peak.

Siena Estates seeks to amend the General Plan land-use designation from “rural neighborhoods” to “suburban neighborhoods” on a 3.8 acre site at 5814 N. Cattletrack Road, and 5811 and 5805 N. Sundown Drive. Additionally, the application seeks a zoning map amendment for a seven-lot subdivision, created out of three plots of land.

The subject site contains three lots of a 12-lot subdivision, Schaffner Estates, created in 1956. In 1998, the city council approved a General Plan amendment and a zoning map amendment rezoning the northern three lots of Schaffner Estates to “service residential.”

The Pinnacle Peak General Plan amendment seeks to change the land-use designation from “office” to “suburban neighborhoods” on a 19.7-acre site at 7675 E. Pinnacle Peak Road. Additionally, the application seeks a zoning district map amendment.

The proposed development is for 55 single family residential units with a density equating to 2.8 dwelling units per acre.