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Lavitt Manor subdivisions garners Town Council approval

Oct 9th, 2019 · by Josh Martinez · Comments: 0

Paradise Valley Town Hall at 6501 E. Lincoln Drive. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

A lot on Ironwood Drive can move forward with subdivision plans after the Paradise Valley Town Council rendered a unanimous approval of the Lavitt Manor II final plat at its Sept. 26 meeting.

Town Planner George Burton presented on the two-lot subdivision with a private road on a 2.8-acre lot at 7525 N. Ironwood Drive. The 250-foot private roadway has plans of being 50 feet wide with a 45-foot radius cul-de-sac.

Mr. Burton spoke of several concerns and comments surrounding the subdivision and outlined stipulations to the project.

Concerns for the project boiled down to drainage, flow rates, obstruction of views and the split being out of character with the surrounding community.

Planning Commission Chair Jonathan Wainwright commended the town staff for their efforts on this plat, particularly in their handling with community concerns.

“I think we went to great lengths to answer all their questions and make sure everybody not only had transparency but also were heard,” he said. “I think everybody felt they were heard.”

Stipulations for the approval include:

  • The final plat and related improvements being in substantial compliance with the plans and documents submitted by the applicant;
  • The landscaping along Ironwood Drive and Belmont Drive shall be in substantial compliance with landscape plan;
  • The landscaping at the corner of private roadway and Ironwood Drive shall comply and must be maintained to ensure compliance with the Town Code;
  • Improvements on the private roadway for the subdivision shall be in substantial compliance with the private road conditional use permit and the Lavitt Manor II Paving, Grading & Drainage Plan;
  • The installation of a new fire hydrant for the eastern lot, the completion of roadway improvements and the demonstration of fire sprinkler system that is in compliance with the National Fire Protection Association standards; and
  • The submission within 60 days of Mylars of the approved plans to the town’s permanent record.

Another stipulation requires the developer to submit a grant of access easement and private roadway maintenance agreement; drainage easement and maintenance agreement; and improvement plans and other forms of assurances of the project’s completion.

An aerial of the site the Paradise Valley Town Council recently approved for a subdivision. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Paradise Valley)

The developer, Cullum Homes, must also remove all nonconforming structures prior to recordation of the final plat.

There is a wash that runs through the western edge of the property. This doesn’t meet the town’s qualifications of a natural wash and is not part of the drainage easement. Mr. Burton did say the wash was compliant with the storm drainage design manual.

Another concern revolved around water flow rates, which average out to 1,062 gallons per minute when the Town Code recommends 1,500 gpm.

Mr. Burton assured the council that Phoenix was considering improvements to increase flow rates and the council has the option of discussing flow rates at a future meeting. Town staff also plan to follow up with Phoenix representatives.

Town zoning standards require homes on both lots to meet building setbacks and height regulations of 24 feet from the lowest natural grade under the house. There are plans for a home to go on the northwest portion of the western lot.

Surrounding properties also carry the R-43 zoning, which requires a minimum lot size of one net acre. Both lots are slightly above one acre in an area where lot sizes vary.

Complaints about the subdivision have come from three sources: property owners on the east and west of the site as well as one to the north. The one north is not directly adjacent to the site.

Ron and Lynn Duff, who live to the east of the property, wrote a letter to the Planning Commission outlining their concerns in great depth of the subdivision.

“While we recognize the Planning Commission is not concerned about our personal loss of views or decrease in property value, the commission should be concerned about the continued creation of new subdivisions and lot splits that harm the character, beauty, charm and well-being of the Town of Paradise Valley,” the letter read.

Mr. Wainwright said the planning commission spent the majority of its Aug. 20 meeting to iron out the stipulations in response to the concerns and work with the community.

Because of these efforts, there was minimal discussion from the Town Council.

Scottsdale voters will decide $319M bond request on Nov. 5. Here’s what to know

Lorraine Longhi, Arizona Republic

Scottsdale voters will decide $319M bond request on Nov. 5. (Photo: City of Scottsdale)

Scottsdale residents Paula Sturgeon and Sandra Schenkat could often be found debating opposing views on local issues, whether online or at city meetings, but the women have joined together in support of the city’s $319 million bond request.

Schenkat says the bonds will provide funding to upgrade infrastructure and maintain residents’ quality of life.

Sturgeon says the funding will provide services and recreational facilities that residents deserve.

The Scottsdale City Council also unanimously supports thebond request that would pay for 58 potential construction projects, ranging from road improvements to public space upgrades. 

Ballots were mailed last week for the Nov. 5 all-mail election. 

The bond proposal is not expected to increase property tax rates, according to the City Treasurer’s Office. 

Voters will see 3 questions

Voters will decide on three funding requests:

  • Parks, recreation and senior services: 14 projects, $112.6 million
  • Community spaces and infrastructure: 20 projects, $112.3 million
  • Public safety and technology: 24 projects, $94.1 million

If the bond questions pass, some projects will begin immediately, but most are expected to begin within three to five years, according to the city’s voter pamphlet.

If the bonds are rejected, projects may remain unfunded and unbuilt.

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What will this cost taxpayers?

Cities often sell bonds for large capital projectsand repay the borrowing with city property taxes.

The amount a property owner would pay depends on the value of their property and the city’s timing on issuing the bonds.

If all three bond requests pass, the owner of a $375,000 home, which is the estimated median home value in Scottsdale, would pay just less than $108 per year, according to the city. 

However, the bonds can be issued over time as existing bonds are paid off to keep the city’s secondary property taxes at or below current levels, according to the city. 

Sturgeon, who is chairwoman of the pro-bond political action committee For the Best Scottsdale, said residents will lead a bond oversight process, which she hopes will help allay concerns about how the tax dollars are spent. 

Projects also must go to the City Council for approval before work begins.

Proponents hopeful

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Proponents are working to improve the city’s record over the past decade of not passing bonds.

Voters passed two of six requests in 2015 but rejected all bond requests in 2010 and 2013.

The council nixed pursuing a bond request last year as controversy and mistrust swirled amid the Desert Edge debate, which voters settled by banning commercial development in the city’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield said the bond outreach process was more meticulous and projects were more thoroughly vetted for this election.

The funding requests have the support of Councilman Guy Phillips, who has opposed bond elections in the past that burdened property owners, were too ambiguous and that he believed could be accomplished in other ways.

But Phillips says projects such as makeovers to Civic Center Plaza and Indian Bend Wash are long overdue.

“This has been a long time coming,” Phillips wrote in a column earlier this month.

Past bond elections have seen formal opposition campaigns, but none have formed this time out. Mary Turner, the campaign manager for the pro-bond effort, credits this to the unanimous council support. Littlefield attributes it to the outreach. 

There were 61 arguments submitted in the city’s election information pamphlet: 59 in favor of passage and two against. More than half of the pro-arguments were paid for by the For the Best Scottsdale political action committee. 

Proponents say a poll conducted in May gives them reason to hope. The poll of 300 Scottsdale voters conducted by national polling firm Public Opinion Strategies showed the measures passing. 

Jason Rose, whose firm is handling public relations for the bond effort, said that while the poll numbers are from May, the committee has seen good numbers in subsequent polling.

2 residents pushed for line-item vote

The two residents who submitted arguments against the bonds, Patricia Badenoch and John Washington, wanted a line-item vote on projects so voters could approve or reject each individually.

“They’ve created a shell game of ‘groups’ in which you can’t vote for what YOU want without approving the fluff that THEY and their campaign contributors want,” Washington wrote.

Badenoch told The Arizona Republic it’s about a lack of trust. “Citizens don’t trust the council and the council does not trust their citizens,” she said. 

Sturgeon said a line-item vote is unrealistic.

“If we had four items, maybe,” she said. “We’re talking 59 different line items.”

Cities typically group funding requests into broad categories as opposed to line-item requests. Scottsdale grouped all of its bond proposals into categories in 2000, 2010, 2013 and 2015.

WestWorld upgrades

The Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction at WestWorld has helped make Scottsdale the epicenter for classic car enthusiasts each January.

The Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction at WestWorld has helped make Scottsdale the epicenter for classic car enthusiasts each January. (Photo: Thomas Hawthorne/The Republic)

Badenoch opposes a $40 million project, included in Question 1, to build multi-use sports fields near Bell Roadthat would double as parking during large events near WestWorld of Scottsdale and the Tournament Player’s club. 

The city proposal comes as state land near Hayden Road and Loop 101, used for parking during the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction and the Waste Management Phoenix Open, is expected to be sold.

Anticipating the sale, Scottsdale would build new multi-use sports fields that address a need for more soccer fields and can double as parking to support large events.

Question 2 includes nearly $11 million in upgrades at WestWorld, the city’s event center that hosts events from car auctions to horse shows. The spending would include renovating horse barns to increase rentable space, a new public address system, upgraded lighting, expanded restrooms and widening 94th Street to improve access to the venue. 

The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show at WestWorld happens in February.

The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show at WestWorld happens in February. (Photo: Tom Tingle/The Republic)

Badenoch says Barrett-Jackson, which hosts its massive collector car auction annually at WestWorld, has more than ample funds to pay for its own parking needs.

The company is one of the largest donors to the pro-bond effort. 

Craig Jackson, president and CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, submitted an argument in support of the bonds.

“Tourism is the engine that helps drive Scottsdale’s economy. Amenities and infrastructure, including at WestWorld, help put fuel in that engine,” Jackson said.

City spending on WestWorld outpaces direct tax revenue to the city, although Scottsdale officials tout the broader benefits.

The city spent $4.4 million to operate the venue during fiscal year 2018-19, while it brought in $3.9 million in direct tax revenue, according to a recently released economic impact report.

The report that WestWorld commissioned through Arizona State University estimates the events venue brought in about $111.7 million in direct spending during the 2018-19 fiscal year, and created 1,884 jobs, in addition to the city tax revenue.

Request whittled from $800M to $319M

City officials and residents have worked since 2017 to compile a comprehensive list of construction projects.

The city’s Capital Investment Program Subcommittee identified a backlog of $800 million in critical projects the city needed to address.

Littlefield, who serves on the subcommittee, said the city would never ask for $800 million in bonds, so they began whittling down the list in January.

After city staff members found other funding sources for some projects, the committee started with a list of $730 million in projects, ultimately settling on $438 million.

From there, the city asked residents to weigh in on the projects online and at open houses. City staff compiled feedback and eliminated projects that weren’t considered a priority.

“For me, to approve a project on this bond package, there had to be something in it for the citizens throughout Scottsdale,” Littlefield said.

What are the projects?

The first project on the list, which received overwhelming support from residents during the city’s outreach, was a massive overhaul of Civic Center Plaza. The $27 million upgrade would update aging infrastructure and turn the mall into an event venue to attract large-scale events, including Super Bowl Live.

Beyond the $40 million for the multi-use sports fields, some of the other pricier projects include:

  • $31 million: Build new swimming pools and replace a building at Cactus Aquatic Center.
  • $23 million: Repair lakes and irrigation at Vista del Camino Park in the Indian Bend Wash.
  • $18.3 million: Build a new Fire Department Training Facility.
  • $16.6 million: Renovate the Via Linda Police Station to increase efficiency.
Question 3 would fund multiple projects for Scottsdale police and fire departments.

Question 3 would fund multiple projects for Scottsdale police and fire departments. (Photo: Scottsdale Fire Department)

Schenkat, a member of the For The Best Scottsdale steering committee, said she believes Question 3 is the most important as it focuses on renovating and building new police and fire stations and replacing outdated 911 and emergency response systems.

Residents also gravitated toward a $3 million project that would expand the Granite Reef Senior Center to meet demand for an adult day care center, Littlefield said.

“They saw an area where Scottsdale needed to step up and do something to fill that void,” she said.

An expansion of the Via Linda Senior Center, 10440 E. Vía Linda, totaling $4.5 million was also added to the final list.

The full list of projects is included in the election information pamphlet online and mailed to voters. 

Who has donated to effort?

The campaign for the bond, For the Best Scottsdale, formed in April and has raked in nearly $76,000 in campaign donations, according to campaign finance reports.

The largest donors include:

  • United Scottsdale Firefighters’ Association: $10,000.
  • The Thunderbirds: $8,325.
  • Barrett-Jackson: $8,325.
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance: $5,000.
  • Rose Law Group: $2,500.
  • Rose Moser Allyn: $2,500.
  • Scottsdale Charros: $2,500.
  • Withey Morris: $2,500.

City’s first all-mail election

Maricopa County mandated that any elections held in 2019 must be conducted via mail-in ballot, leading to the city’s first mail-only election.

Ballots were mailed Oct. 9 to every registered voter in Scottsdale.

Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 5 to be counted.

Residents who need to request a replacement ballot can do so by phone at 602-506-1511 or 602-506-2348, or online at Maricopa.Vote until Oct. 25.

After that, residents can request a replacement ballot or drop off ballots at emergency centers that will be made available until Nov. 5:

  • Indian Bend Wash Visitors Center, 4201 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale.
  • Florence Ely Nelson Desert Park, 8950 E. Pinnacle Peak Road.
  • Maricopa County Elections, 510 S. Third Avenue, Phoenix.
  • Maricopa County Elections, 222 E. Javelina Avenue, Mesa.