Carefree voices its opposition to Cave Creek general plan changes

By Curtis Riggs | June 3, 2009

Concerned about Walmart
CAREFREE – Carefree residents living near the intersection of Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway weighed in on proposed Cave Creek General Plan amendments last week, which they claim affect their residential neighborhoods more than those in Cave Creek.

The residents, all who live near the southwest corner of Black Mountain, oppose a plan to up-zone land south of the southeast corner to commercial to allow for a Walmart Super Center.

New Carefree Town Administrator Gary Neiss told the crowd of 30 “time is of the essence” for Carefree to state its position because the Cave Creek Town Council is set to discuss general plan amendments on June 15 and 22.

Neiss likens the battles over up-zoning residential properties near the Cave Creek/Carefree border to last year’s battle over a church school going in at Christ Episcopal Church. People in both towns voiced strong opinions.

Councilman Glenn Miller recently attended a Cave Creek Town Council meeting where the amendments were discussed. He called Cave Creek official’s attitudes about the amendments “arrogant” and disputed numbers offered in traffic counts put forth by applicants.

Miller said, “If they give us false numbers then we ought to nail them.” Carefree may want to take a position beyond opposing the amendments.

Longtime Sentinel Rock Estates resident Bill Rintlemann commented Walmart “sucks the life out of” small towns and businesses.

“If this takes place it will have a major devastating impact on both towns,” he said.
Officials with subdivisions surrounding the corner told the council how their residents felt about the applications. Alan Neely said none of the 72 households in Entrada supported the Walmart application.

Sentinel Rock’s Lyn Hitchon said only one of the subdivision’s 115 households favored Walmart.

Neil Swartz, of the Carefree Foothills Homeowner’s Association, said a majority of the 72 households there were “very opposed” to the proposed amendments.

Out-going Mayor Wayne Fulcher said the town had stated its opposition to general plan amendments in the area last year and stressed the town has not changed its position since then.

Carefree activist, and Sentinel Rock resident, Jim Peirce reminded the council Carefree was the first to rezone property in the area when it up-zoned the northwest corner in the mid-1990s to allow the CVS pharmacy and the new Lowe’s store.

“When you talk about dominos falling, remember who pushed the first domino,” he said. “For us to criticize Cave Creek is hypocritical.”