General plan input includes ‘point of contention’

Dan Baxley
Dan Baxley

CAVE CREEK – The final public input session for revising the Environmental Planning, Circulation, Growth Area and Cost of Development elements of the town’s general plan was held on Thursday, Sept. 21.

The planning commission is now tasked with incorporating the multitude of, and sometimes conflicting, suggestions into the general plan.

Planning Commission Chair Bob Voris announced the commission will be holding a workshop on Oct. 10, which is open to the public for observation, and might schedule an additional workshop, if needed.

He said there are no planning commission cases currently scheduled for October, November or December and turned the meeting over to Dan Baxley to facilitate the input session.

At the start of each element’s input, Planning Director Ian Cordwell briefly explained what it entailed.

Beginning with Environmental Planning, Bill Basore said before he came here he read the entire plan and said it insufficiently addressed private property rights.

He said Desert Rural (DR) zoning is described but not the desert rural lifestyle.

Basore stated there’s no mention of where horses go or where the barn, corral or art studio should go.

Basore said the general plan should talk about the desert rural lifestyle rather than just as a zoning classification.

Even though DR is the only zoning classification where you can have horses, Basore said there is no mention of an equestrian lifestyle and said Cave Creek was about the three Hs – horses, Harleys and hot rods.

Martha Klare said the town should do a visual analysis of its view sheds and document on a map the view sheds the town wants to protect.

She said it was a high priority because things are happening quickly.

Kerry Smith said the town needs a mechanism to assure planning considers private property rights of adjacent properties to balance uses.

While recognizing private uses may conflict, Smith said what is missing is the mechanism of what to do if a conflict exists and the town needs to balance the common good with private use.

Adding to Klare’s comments about the view shed, Smith said there needs to be criteria so the town can quantify measurable outcomes in protecting views.

Bruce Arlen stated Cave Creek is a dark sky community but the law is currently not enforced, which he attributed to an apparent lack of manpower.

He said the general plan should explain in an educational way so it can be self-enforced.

Arlen said grandfathering in non-compliant lighting goes against the law and the visual environment.

The Circulation Element addresses all forms of transportation, roads, trails and bike lanes throughout town.

Maggie Bobrowitz said there was great disparity in the maintenance of roads within the town, claiming the southwest region of town doesn’t get the same attention as the rest of the town.

Bobrowitz said she would like to see a town policy that requires all roads in town to be hard surface.

As Baxley jotted down her comments, he told Bobrowitz, “This is a point of contention in this community. Just so you know.”

Carefree resident Leslie Hine, who refers to herself as a “regional citizen,” said the transportation framework study is an important part of the circulation element.

However, she said pieces of the general plan are at odds with the framework study and she was confused as to which she was supposed to pay attention to.

As far as the parking references were concerned, Hine said the only parking inventory is dated 2002, asked if the inventory hasn’t been updated since then and, if not, stated it should be updated.

She said the 4,000 acres of open space is noted but not the other 3,000 acres for development and the impact that will have on roads with 2,600 new homes.

Arlen wanted to clarify what Bobrowitz said about paving and asked if she wanted to pave all the roads in town.

Bobrowitz replied, “Yes.”

Smith said the goal stated for roadway design is to keep them consistent with the town’s rural character.

However, he said the circulation element also needs to include parking and how it affects circulation.

Although the all-weather crossings in the general plan that is supposed to be for emergency planning is presented as a means of facilitating development.

Voris stated the classification of the road has not been changed to allow for development.

Basore said the general plan does not include the island where he lives and the plan should reinforce the connection between the east and west sides of town.

He said he was not asking for a road and a trail would be good.

Klare said the resort area has been completely ignored in the general plan.

With the construction of bike paths through town, Klare said it eliminated medians and downgraded the pedestrian element in the town core.

She said there should be a hierarchy but no concrete sidewalks anywhere.

Klare would like the town to establish shared parking agreements for special events and said she opposed all-weather crossings, which she said conflicts with the town’s rural character.

During the Growth Element discussion, Basore said he asked neighbors and friends why they didn’t come to these meetings.

According to Basore, it’s because they want to be left alone, don’t want change and don’t see this process as something that will help them.

Ed Samples said the town wants to increase revenue but allowing higher density doesn’t improve his property values.

Smith said the reason we don’t have balance is because the town doesn’t have a policy on the cost of growth.

He said the town should calculate the costs of different types of growth but wasn’t sure what the town could really do.

Klare said she would like to see bonding in the plan and stated growth and cost should be combined.

She also said there should be a statement about what kind of tourists the town is trying to attract.

Baxley said the Historic Town Core Plan addresses many of the things she was talking about.

Klare asked, “How are we going to make the town core vibrant? What are we going to do to benefit us?”

At the end, Baxley allowed for additional input on any general plan element.

Basore suggested the formation of a water district while Cindy Johnson said the general plan should encourage the use of trails.

At the end of the input session, the planning commission, with commissioners Peter Omundson and Susan Demmitt absent, convened a workshop to incorporate the input received.