Cave Creek afire

Because of Thanksgiving, we went to print on Monday, Nov. 21 instead of Wednesday, Nov. 23 to assure our paper is delivered before Thanksgiving. One consequence of the early print date is that we will not report on an important Cave Creek workshop and council meeting on the evening of Nov. 21 until the next online issue.

Lots of people are up in arms and are mobilizing for that meeting and there are threats of recall. Much of this comes from leaks of staff’s recommendations to council.

Here is an e-mail sent by officials of Harold’s Corral:

Urgent!! Harold's and all Businesses in Cave Creek Need (to attend)

“The agenda has far reaching ramifications for the Town of Cave Creek and Harold’s. Specifically, there are a couple of council members proposing restrictive changes to the Town ordinances. They are proposing that establishments be limited to the scope of main Business. Specifically, Harold’s outside music would be banned, Buffalo Chip bull riding would be banned, Big Earls volley ball would cease, etc. The basis of this nonsense has come from noise complaints with the majority of them coming from residents of Carefree.
We respect and value all residents of our community, but do not understand why the Town of Cave Creek wants to change the way we run our business. We have been doing the same type of events and the same amount of outside events for over 20 years. For the Town Council to decide we cannot do these events, or limit our ability to have outside events, could severely affect our ability to stay in business. This council needs to hear from Cave Creek residents (voters) that we don’t want our Town to roll up the streets at dusk like our neighbors to our East. This is an important issue, to retain the character of Cave Creek which we all cherish. Cave Creek will go from “Perfectly Uncivilized” to “Perfectly Town Regulated.”

Please show you (sic) support by attending next Monday’s meeting, as (sic) resident you will have the opportunity to voice your position to the council.

Council Chambers are adjacent to the Sheriff’s station on Cave Creek Road.”

This newspaper has always supported an open and dynamic town core and still does. But businesses have an obligation to recognize the desires of each other and needs of homeowners.

The town staff recommendations have been delivered to council.

The issue of noise traces to Harold’s anniversary party, which was so large that it impacted not only homeowners but other businesses as well. Outside entertainment created noise (but within ordinance limits) and the use of the parking lot for entertainment caused customers to poach on other properties.

Harold’s officials were asked by law enforcement to announce on their speaker system that some Harold’s customers were blocking cars in a parking lot blocks away. Harold’s refused.
Because of this incident, town staff finally recognized a long-standing problem of events causing widespread parking infringement. So they are recommending that parking lots can no longer be used for entertainment and businesses have to limit their customers to the available parking or make provisions for outside parking with transportation provisions. For example, Bob Kite’s property behind the post office is often used for overflow parking at $500 per day and shuttle service is usually offered separately.

Staff is also recommending a reduction of allowable noise to a level of 65dB from its current 75dB.

Buffalo Chip owner Larry Wendt provides not only a western bar and restaurant, but two nights of bull riding which draws huge crowds. It is the kind of entertainment a western town should have. Wendt’s beef is that the town’s ordinances cause expensive engineering costs and so he takes the less expensive approach.

Few businesses in town follow the ordinances and the town has been more than tolerant about the violations. However, the town’s position is that if there is an accident, the injured party’s lawyers will sue the town because of their deep pockets. And keep in mind, if the town is sued it is taxpayer’s money that will be used to defend the case and pay damages. Apparently, town staff is recommending an increase of liability insurance to $5 million.
Going back to Harold’s e-mail, it is not true that they have been doing business as they are now for 20 years. There was a time when special events were tightly controlled by council. The economy caused the town to reduce restrictions to increase business revenues and therefore sales taxes. The concept of “accessory uses” was employed which justified many outside events.

Councilman Jim Bruce, an attorney expatriate from Chicago, said he couldn’t see how bull riding or volleyball were accessory uses. He is totally wrong about bull riding but has a point on volleyball. Since Bruce lives in Black Mountain Shadows, where noise complaints are frequent, he perhaps should have recused himself.

I have a flyer from the Buffalo Chip urging attendance at Monday’s meeting. The Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce likewise urged attendance. Carefree also included a statement about the meeting in COINS. Carefree citizens were among those that sent angry letters to Mayor Vincent Francia about town noise. Carefree Town Clerk Betsy Wise has noticed that a quorum of Carefree councilmen may be present.

Some businesses have growled that the council doesn’t care about their business now that Walmart is active.

It seems to me there is ample room for a middle ground. But one clear objective is to retain western culture and entertainment.

A reminder about Sonoran News is in order. We are a free, local weekly news source. We develop a new issue online at every week and print every other week. If you don’t read us online you are missing a lot of news and commentary. With no space restrictions, our online version is huge. You will read about this important meeting in our next online issue.