Scottsdale OKs major General Plan amendment in Desert Mountain community

Tucked away in the northernmost part of Scottsdale is a 92-acre plot of land city council has now approved for rezoning in order to make way for a new development and golf course.

Scottsdale City Council made the unanimous decision during a General Plan Amendment meeting Thursday, Dec. 1. The current zoning is a mixture of commercial and office space among others, records show.

The plot of land sits at the corner of Pima and Cave Creek Roads in the Desert Mountain Community in north Scottsdale.

No member of council had any concerns on the matter, but councilwoman Virginia Korte did wonder how this site would connect to the rest of the community.

Zoning Attorney John Berry of Berry & Riddell LLC said there were two access points, but the primary mode of transportation was walking, bike riding and golf cart usage. Mr. Berry represents the applicant in this matter.
The council’s decision was met with applause by those in attendence at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

“We don’t generally allow clapping but at the same time, this is a memorable event,” Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said during the Dec. 1 public hearing.

Several residents from the community attended the meeting to voice their support for the General Plan amendment. A common thread among all those in attendance was how this use of the land would benefit the community more than its current commercial use zoning.

“I think this program, this process, we are going through now will enable us to continue building Desert Mountain into what we all believe is the finest resort community in the United States,” Bill Robinson, Desert Mountain resident, said during the Dec. 1 meeting.  “It’s a jewel to Scottsdale. It’s a jewel to the state of Arizona.”

According to the proposal, 87 percent of the Desert Mountain Community were in favor of the changes in zoning and use.

City staff recommended a major General Plan amendment to the 2001 General Plan to change land use on the site to about 55.5 acres of suburban neighborhoods and about 36.2 acres for developed open space for a golf course in total.

Secondly, staff requested rezoning the area to include about 36 acres of open space, environmentally sensitive lands and about 56 acres of townhouse residential, environmentally sensitive lands, the proposal states.

The final proposed resolution is requesting a conditional use permit for a golf course on about 36 acres of the site that would be zoned as open space, environmentally sensitive lands.

According to the proposal, the General Plan land use element marks the property as a mixture of employment, commercial, office, developed open space and rural neighborhoods. Almost 30 acres were dedicated to each commercial and office land use.

However, the site is primarily vacant with a water pump facility, an interim fire station and a municipal well site close to the site. The site is also close to Carefree’s airport.

Mr. Berry spoke at the Dec. 1 meeting and said the goal of the request is to acknowledge the prior zoning was a bad idea and needs to change to better fit the surrounding area.

“We’re taking something that made no sense at the time and turning it into something that the Desert Mountain community has embraced,” Mr. Berry said during the Dec. 1 meeting. “In fact, the Desert Mountain community actually voted on this and the numbers were in the high 80 percent in support of this.”

Town of Carefree mayor Les Peterson said in a Sept. 20 letter to Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane he is supportive of the proposed change in land use.

“To amend the existing mix of employment, commercial, office, residential and open space uses to a less intense, rural residential and open space development is consistent with the rural/suburban character of the area,” Mayor Peterson wrote.

Mr. Peterson outlined his concerns for the proposed development in a Sept. 20 letter to Mayor Lane. Some of those concerns, Mr. Peterson wrote, surrounded drainage, traffic and roadway maintenance, specifically on Cave Creek Road.

Additionally, Mr. Peterson requested seven conditions were met as part of the entitlement approval.

Those conditions centered on:

  • Adopting the 100-year, 2-hour retention/detention measure for the site; •Reinforced crossings of two major washes;
  • A left-turn lane on Cave Creek Road;
  • Secondary access to the development on Pima Road;
  • Traffic measures required to maintain current level of traffics on both streets;
  • Construction traffic to enter and exit at Cave Creek Road; and
  • The milling and paving of Cave Creek Road from Pima Road to the entrance of the development.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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