Burns: The native son’s take — a vision of Scottsdale

It has been my honor and pleasure to serve the City of Scottsdale in several capacities over the last 25 years.

Starting as a citizen participant in the Scottsdale STEP and Scottsdale Visioning process, I moved on to Planning Commissioner, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission and vice chairman of the 2011 and 2035 General Plan Task Force.

Tim Burns

Scottsdale is and hopefully will continue to be one of the most livable communities in the United States.

It was conceived and built on the vision and leadership of giants. Thanks to the efforts of leaders from Winfield Scott to Herb Drinkwater, numerous citizen participants and elected officials, the city has become the Scottsdale we all love and enjoy today.

Recent successful projects such as the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt and the Scottsdale Waterfront reflect the “can-do” spirit of today’s residents.

The challenge I see before us is this: Where will Scottsdale go from here?

Absent a shared vision and a strong will to implement the vision, we could lose the special place we all call home.

Forward thinkers have continued to propose revising the Scottsdale General Plan; however, the city has failed to adopt and ratify a revised General Plan although mandated to do so by state law adopted in the Growing Smarter legislation of the late 1990s.

I served as Planning Commission member on the 2001 plan adopted by the City Council and ratified by the voters. As per the Growing Smarter legislation, the city formed a committee and conducted a thorough review and community outreach process in 2011 on which I also served.

The revised plan was forwarded to the Planning Commission and City Council, which subsequently adopted the plan sending it on to the voters for ratification. Regretfully the plan failed to be ratified.

Again, the city formed a Task Force to again vet and revise the General Plan. Again the entire extensive outreach and community participation protocol was followed, and a revised plan was forwarded to the Planning Commission and subsequently the City Council for adoption. The extensive and thoroughly vetted document produced by dedicated citizen volunteers and extremely competent city staff was shelved and never acted upon.

The City Council chose alternatively to modify the former 2001 seriously outdated document with several newly mandated elements and call it sufficient.

I can only surmise why the mayor and council choose this directive, but the document would have appeared on the general election ballot in November of 2016.

That being a Presidential election year, a robust voter turnout was anticipated, and it would have been voted on by a larger cross section of registered Scottsdale voters. The problem was that three council members were up for re-election and the General Plan was not a football they wanted in the game.

I have shared my passion and commitment to the community we call Scottsdale and, which I have called home for 60 years.

Today we find Scottsdale polarized on numerous important issues that beg resolution. But there should be no north or south Scottsdale issues, only Scottsdale issues.

The areas of southern Scottsdale are under extensive redevelopment pressures. Numerous intensive development projects approved and visioned long ago now coming to fruition in the northern Scottsdale area.

The Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and its ever-growing impact on our future needs to be addressed in a comprehensive and holistic manner with all stakeholders.

We have been blessed with forward vision and leadership in the past but must be proactive to the issues facing our community now. A revised General Plan vetted and ratified by the city and citizens is critical to guiding the decision-making of our elected leaders as we move towards the future of Scottsdale.

Editor’s Note: Tim Burns is a longtime Scottsdale resident and alumni of Chaparral High School. He served the City of Scottsdale as Planning Commissioner, Historic Preservation Commission Chairman and General Plan Task Force Vice Chairman.

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