Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cave Creek council holds off development in key acreage

Cave Creek residents packed Town Hall on Monday night to fight an agenda item that could have allowed big-box retailers near the future Walmart site.

They left pleased as the Town Council sided with the residents in a 6-1 vote.

An amendment to the General Plan land-use map would have affected the area north of Carefree Highway and west of Cave Creek Road between 48th and 54th streets.

The amendment, recommended by the Planning Department, would have changed the land designation from desert rural to mixed use, allowing the properties to be considered for rezoning to any combination of commercial or multifamily or single-family residential designations.

Most of the opposition to the change of the 50-acre area came from residents of Estado de Cholla, a subdivision near 48th Street and Carefree Highway.

Residents of the development, which has about 60 homes, said a General Plan amendment from desert rural to mixed use would have brought in more traffic and light pollution, blocked views and decreased property values.

Estado de Cholla resident Paul Teixeira said it would have affected the character of the town. "We have to be sensitive to the surrounding areas and make sure the land use is appropriate to the town," he said.

The agenda item came a couple of months before the Walmart is scheduled to be built on the southeastern corner of Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway. It is part of a number of town-generated initiatives to facilitate the development of land in the area of the superstore.

Planning director Ian Cordwell said when Walmart comes to town, development will come with it.

"Eventually there will be development in the area," he said. "We don't know when, but it's better to be prepared and be in a position to deal with it."

Councilman James Bruce voted against the amendment because the sense of urgency wasn't high and any number of types of properties could be built there with a mixed-use designation.

"With Walmart, we knew what was going to go there," Bruce said. "With this amendment, we don't know what will go there. Now is not the time for this."

Councilman Steven LaMar said the vote signified the council's and residents' desire to keep Cave Creek unique. The differences between the town and the sprawl of Phoenix must remain, he said.

"There is very little Sonoran Desert left in the area. We are more valuable if we protect it," he said. "The more unique we remain, the more attractive we are."

Next week, the town will begin meeting with neighbors to discuss the area's land use.

by Philip Haldiman The Arizona Republic Sept. 22, 2010 08:45 AM

Cave Creek council holds off development in key acreage

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