Council grants SUP for B&B over citizens’ specious objections

Louise Hoffacker
Louise Hoffacker

CAVE CREEK – During the Feb. 21 council meeting, Mayor Ernie Bunch announced the rodeo group is working really hard to make sure the rodeo and parade go on without a hitch.

Bunch said they are still looking for volunteers and urged anyone interested to visit the website: (formerly

He also stated there will not be a concert at the rodeo grounds this year.

Town Manager Peter Jankowski updated council on the Cahava water line and said it was testing at an average of 42 PSI.

Jankowski also announced the Kerkel case was resolved last week. However, he said Town Marshal Adam Stein will do periodic checks to ensure the property doesn’t revert back to the state it was in and caused the town to take legal action.

Council voted unanimously to approve the consent agenda, which included a deed of gift from Valerie Watters for a 15-foot wide trail pathway/trail easement along Cave Creek Road west of Jacqueline Drive to provide access for the public benefit.

The first case on the agenda was a request by Louise Hoffacker for a special use permit (SUP) for a bed and breakfast (B&B) at Wind Horse Ranch on a 4.79-acre Desert Rural (DR-190) zoned parcel.

Planning Director Ian Cordwell explained the previous owner was granted an SUP in 1992 for a period of 15 years and operated a B&B until the permit expired.

Councilman David Smith asked if there were any other B&Bs in town.

Cordwell said he believed there were about three still operating.

After reading the minutes from the planning commission meeting, Councilwoman Eileen Wright asked for some clarification regarding the commission’s discussion about ranch use.

She asked if there was a provision about trailering in and out.

Cordwell said there was not and explained the commission’s discussion veered temporarily from the SUP review to ranch use as a property right.

Vice Mayor Ron Sova asked if the town had received any complaints during the 15 years the former B&B operated.

Cordwell said he was not aware of any.

Councilman Thomas McGuire asked if the applicant would have “walk-in services,” and if that would be allowed under the current zoning.

Cordwell explained it was not zoned for commercial ranch use.

Hoffacker stated she was primarily interested in running a B&B.

Wright said the planning commission minutes indicated she was quite specific about having 15 equestrian clients.

Hoffacker stated she said she would like to have no more than 15 but the number will vary.

Hoffacker said she had five horses of her own, she was told she can have up to 25 on the property and has facilities for 23.

Cordwell said she can have a maximum of 24 at five per acre since her acreage is under five.

During public comment Mike Durkin said the reason the previous owners had no complaints was because they didn’t offer equestrian services and just ran a B&B.

Durkin said the applicant wants to add a B&B to the equestrian use and stated the road is not a two-lane road.

He urged council to deny the application.

Kerry Smith said he agreed with Durkin’s comments regarding the width of the road, stating, as proposed, the applicant would be adding a significant amount of people and traffic.

Smith said once an SUP is issued it’s difficult to enforce changes in use and asked council to allow just the uses under zoning but deny the SUP.

A woman who does not live in Cave Creek said she was a friend of Hoffacker’s.

She said the property is not a family home the way it is set up.

Noting there was fear amongst the neighbors, she said there are four B&B rooms and this was the kind of neighbor people would want to have.

She said Hoffacker was willing to work within the confines of the law.

Sandy Apple stated, “We live in Desert Rural zoning. That’s what we want in out neighborhood. We don’t want a business there.”

Nan Byrne wanted to know what the applicant was going to do with all the manure.

Katya Kincel said the property is three properties away from hers and stated a B&B is incompatible with the Desert Rural character of the neighborhood.

Kincel stated, “You can’t drop a commercial business in a Desert Rural neighborhood,” and said the town does not have an obligation to upgrade the land use for an applicant.

She said, “We object to a commercial B&B period,” stating she hoped council would not approve after seeing the letter opposing the application signed by 27 citizens.

Cheryl Carmitchel said she doesn’t know Hoffacker at all but there were other properties with no enforcement and stated there was one that hasn’t had manure picked up in eight years.

She said she was in favor of the application although she might make a lot of enemies by saying so.

Councilwoman Susan Clancy moved to approve the application but wanted to clarify that Carmitchel was talking about a completely different property when commenting about the manure.

Bunch asked how many of the people built their homes when the previous owner was operating the B&B.

Durkin said he’s lived in the neighborhood for about 30 years and claimed eight homes were built when the former B&B was operating.

Bunch stated the planning commission voted 7-0 to recommend approval and noted neighbor Charlie Spitzer spoke in favor of the application.

Wright questioned if they wanted to allow a B&B on top of all the other private ranch uses available to the applicant on DR zoned property.

She said, “We value our Desert Rural way of life … because of lack of enforcement we’re very protective.

McGuire commented there was a B&B operating there.

Hoffacker stated the property is designed to house 23 horses and the house is designed to be a B&B. She said, “It’s not a normal house design.”

She said she wants to bring the property back up to its former glory and is only asking for the same usage it’s had in the past.

She said, “I just want a nice quiet equestrian retreat.”

Council voted 6-1 to approve the SUP with Wright dissenting.

The second case was a rezoning application from DR to Multi-family Residential by Meritage Homes for the Reserve at Black Mountain to allow for 31 single-story, single family homes on approximately 12 acres in the area southwest of Lowe’s that was included in the Specific Area Plan (SAP).

Cordwell explained this was Meritage’s second application after the first application, requesting Commercial Buffer zoning for a 56-unit subdivision made up of duplexes and triplexes with some two-story buildings, failed.

Attorney Brennan Ray from the Burch & Cracchiolo law firm presented on behalf of the applicant.

He said the project was certainly appropriate behind Lowe’s, McDonald’s and Starbucks.

Although the SAP would have allowed for Commercial Buffer uses with building heights up to 33-feet tall, after holding neighborhood meetings, Ray said Meritage certainly listened to the neighbors.

He said 23 neighbors showed up at the first meeting and had eight major concerns.

Only 13 showed up at the second meeting.

He said one of the concerns was over the possibility of the applicant pulling a bait and switch, since they’re only asking for a rezoning.

Ray proposed stipulations that would require substantial conformance with the conceptual plan submitted with the rezoning.

He said it was a unique site that becomes a transitional piece from the commercial elements.

Wright said she is usually against such requests but was inclined to support this and asked if the applicant would be willing to agree it would pull permits within two years or the zoning would revert back to DR.

Sova asked if the concern was over the applicant flipping the property for profit once the rezoning was obtained.

Kerry Smith said the project was a wonderful transformation in design but his concern was over who would be supplying the water for the project, claiming the town is already over-committed.

Ron Price, who owns one of the 2.5-acre parcels making up the 12 acres, spoke in favor of the proposed project.

Carmitchel said she was speaking on behalf of five neighbors in favor of the project but stated the 12 acres should have never been included in the SAP.

She said the neighbors didn’t want a hotel or an assisted living facility.

Carmitchel stated Meritage had taken a big hit by the community when it first came forward with a rezoning request but said, “They’ve been very gracious.”

Valerie Smith urged council to vote against the rezoning, stating, “Meritage has been great but I don’t think it’s enough.”

Jo Long stated the project is good for Cave Creek and because there will only be one way in and one way out of the subdivision it won’t impact the neighbors.

Lisa Black called out, “I vote no!”

Todd Gilson spoke in support of the project and said, “I cannot recall a builder who has bent over backwards like Meritage,” pointing out they reduced the number of units by 45 percent.

Wright moved to approve the first reading of the ordinance to change the zoning.

Smith seconded the motion and said he chaired the planning commission when they voted to deny the first application. He said he was very pleased with the changes made since then.

Sova said he supported the project because it provides a housing option not currently available to people who want to stay in the community but want to downsize.

He said it would provide a residual ripple effect to the community financially.

Clancy said it was remarkable and stated, “You have to give a little to get a lot.”

Council voted unanimously to approve the first reading.

Stein provided council with information about the installation of two button activated solar lighted crosswalks, one between Harold’s and the Roadhouse and one between Outlaw Annie’s and the Hideaway.

He said the town will be installing the devices, the purchase of which was precipitated by the off-duty deputy and his wife who sustained serious injuries after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the street in front of Harold’s over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Stein said businesses will be contributing to the cost and will pay for one of the $10,000 units.