Marlow receives special recognition for service to town

Council doesn’t cave to gated community request
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francia, bartholomew, marlowMayor Vincent Francia (l) congratulated former Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow as Dick Bartholomew awarded Marlow with a plaque on behalf of the Water Advisory Committee to commemorate and honor her service to the town.

CAVE CREEK – Call to the Public brought Kim Brennan, owner of Big Earl’s, to the podium Monday night to praise the success of Fiesta Days, which she said brought a lot of new business to town.

Brennan called the week “stupendous” and said she hoped the town was working on new routes through the town core.

Buffalo Chip Saloon owner Larry Wendt stated although his is not a biker bar, he certainly reaped the benefits of a “very successful Bike Week.”

He also thanked citizens for “putting up with the crap.”

Mark Bradshaw, owner of the Hideaway and Tap Haus, thanked Town Marshal Adam Stein and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for a successful Bike Week.

mark bowmanMark Bowman, general manager of Hogs ‘N Horses, said he’s heard nothing but raves for both events and told council, “Cave Creek needs Bike Week and Fiesta Days.”

Korina Riggin said the Cave Creek Trail Run was coming up on April 19, the day before Easter and she desperately needs volunteers.

She said anyone wishing to volunteer should visit the website: and click on the “Volunteers” tab, where it explains the volunteer positions available and allows volunteers to sign up for whichever volunteer post they desire.

The Cave Creek Trail Run was started to showcase the lands being protected and help raise money toward acquisition of that open space.

Dick Bartholomew, on behalf of the Water Advisory Committee, presented former Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow with a plaque to commemorate and honor her service to the town.

Marlow expressed her gratitude to the town and became a little teary as she told about growing up in Cave Creek, having birthday parties at the Tree House and graduating from Cactus Shadows High School.

She said she enjoyed her work with the town and the camaraderie she felt with staff.

Lou Spelts was back before council with the exact same final plat amendment for Continental Mountain Estates that council voted down in October.

Councilman Mike Durkin asked Planning Director Ian Cordwell if council approved the final plat amendment if Spelts would be able to gate the community.

Cordwell responded, “That is correct.”

Councilman Reg Monachino asked Spelts if he planned to sell lots or build homes.

Spelts said he planned to sell lots, stating he’s not a builder or developer.

Vice Mayor Adam Trenk asked if there had been any more instances of vandalism on his property.

There had not been.

During public comment, Janelle Smith-Haff stated Spelts was seeking developer rights rather than individual private property rights.

She said, while the vandalism was unfortunate, it was no reason to receive special treatment.

Smith-Haff said Cave Creek has had a long-standing position against gated communities and asked council to send a message to developers that gated subdivisions in Cave Creek are taboo.

Anna Marsolo said she has been practicing real estate in Cave Creek for almost a quarter century and stated Spelts was asking council for a marketing tool.

She pointed out Spelts has a 4.5-acre lot listed for $795,000, whereas an adjacent 5-acre lot with no water line was listed for $225,000 and a 5-acre lot adjacent to Spur Cross sold for $225,000.

Marsolo stated, “His prices are too high.”

Shelley Anderson spoke in opposition to gated communities and said when people bought into gated subdivisions in Scottsdale they associated themselves as part of the gated communities in which they resided, not the surrounding community.

Riggin said she chose to move to Cave Creek seven years ago because there are not gated communities and because Cave Creek already was a tight knit community.

Eileen Wright said, “We all sacrifice private property rights to live in this community,” and pointed out the stipulations under which Spelts’ subdivision was approved included no gates, either functional or stationary.

She said, “I see no compelling reason to make an exception.”

Mike Bowman stated he just started going to council meetings and the last time people were trashing Gerald Freeman and now he asked, “You want gated communities?”

Spelts responded by saying he was here before everyone else and owned the property in 1982 with PAD zoning from the county.

He said, “I’ve been screwing around with this property for 30 years.”

Mayor Vincent Francia asked if there was any zoning grandfathered in from the county.

Cordwell stated the town adopted its own zoning ordinance in 1994 and all property owners were notified.

Councilman Ernie Bunch moved to approve the amendment, stating, “I think the man had rights prior to the town.”

Francia seconded the motion.

Monachino stated the issue at hand was property rights but said the town has the authority to issue rules. He said the town has a zoning ordinance and a general plan that do not permit gated communities.

He asked, “Why should we do it? I’m hard pressed to come up with a benefit to the town.”

Durkin said they all took an oath to uphold the Constitution and he has a problem with someone who lives three miles away depriving someone of their pursuit of happiness.

He said council wasn’t there to have opinions and asked Spelts if he wanted to respond to Marsolo’s comments.

Spelts stated he spent a lot of money invested on infrastructure.

Durkin commented, “Our decision here could markedly benefit you financially.”

Councilman Thomas McGuire said, “It behooves us to listen to the citizens who came out here tonight. I think this is about all of Cave Creek.”

Councilman Charles Spitzer said he voted no when it came before them in October and stated, “I can’t approve it now.”

Trenk said they took two votes in October and both failed.

He said he was worried about setting precedents, one of which was being worn down by developers that keep coming back with the same proposals over and over again.

Bunch stated, once Spelts sells one of his lots, the town doesn’t have the funds to support the maintenance of the roads.

Privatizing the roads would alleviate the town of that responsibility.

Monachino reiterated the town has rules and ordinances and the general plan does not allow gated communities.

Francia said he brought the item back to council because it was a matter of community rights conflicting with property rights.

The amendment failed by a vote of 2-5 with Bunch and Francia voting yes.

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