A number of concerned neighbors attended a concept review meeting hosted by the Paradise Valley Board of Adjustment at Town Hall Thursday, Sept. 8 to voice concerns over plans of a proposed mansion to be built atop Camelback Mountain.
The property in question, 5507 E. San Miguel Ave., has drawn ire from nearby residents over safety concerns since construction plans for a driveway to the property became public last March.
Records show the proposed site of the 10,000-square-foot home is about 3.44 acres large with a slope of approximately 53 percent, on an undeveloped plot of land.
The project consists of constructing a house, driveway, retaining wall and pool.
Prior to the preliminary hearing, about 40 homeowners who live in an enclave of Paradise Valley coined Stone Canyon have expressed safety concerns regarding planned blasting to make way for the driveway, the potential damage to Camelback Mountain and a lack of communication between town leaders and concerned residents.
The Stone Canyon community sits at the base of the north side of Camelback Mountain.
The Sept. 8 meeting was the first of two required reviews, before the applicant, in this case, TMS Ventures LLC Residence, able to obtain a building permit.
Town code states the Hillside Ordinance is meant to maintain the “valuable scenic resources” known as the Camelback, Mummy and Phoenix mountains.
“Once they get the input, then they will start working on the formal plans,” said Paradise Valley Planner George Burton in an Aug. 9 phone interview. “That’s where the bulk of the information will be.”
The conceptual review meeting is to discuss, review and give suggestions and guidance to the applicant.
The applicant was required to submit: copies of a preliminary site plan that includes proposed plans; a 3D representation of all proposed structures; a recent aerial photo of the site with topography, lot lines and the building footprint superimposed on it, and identification of significant natural features as well as adjacent lots and structures within 100 feet of the perimeter of the subject property; and calculations on land disturbance and cut and fill methods.
“The house will be constructed on a series of buttresses and spans two washes,” explained Mr. Burton during the review meeting. “The proposed design allows storm water to pass under the residence.”
The slim-rectangular shaped house is being presented as having a flat roof, and is long but not deep.
Concerns raised by the four-man Hillside Building Committee included: the buttresses being proposed to support the home in order to allow for rain water drainage; the driveway and it’s impact on the scenic property; and the safety and impact of construction vehicles.
“I think we’re left as a committee with as many questions as coming in,” said Hillside Committee Member Citizen Scott Jarson. “The scrutiny I believe the committee will place on this in formal review will be significant.”
Mr. Jarson said his desire to have a very precise plan for not only the house, but the order in which construction will be done and how work vehicles will impact the neighborhood and land.
“The applicants will have some challenges, as we’ve talked about that you’ll need to address,” he said.
“The appropriateness with how you work with this site — the engineering, the architecture — in order to meet the committee’s expectations must be absolutely exemplary. There’s a gift that comes with a site like this, but if you prepare to move forward on a site like this, there’s exceptional responsibilities that must be met.”
Two recently elected town council members, and neighbors of the site, addressed their concerns at the meeting in addition to a handful of other public comments including Copper State Engineering and a city of Phoenix resident.
Scott Moore, a rotating member of the Hillside Committee and a planning commissioner, raised questions about construction.
“A couple things we haven’t been talking about is the San Miguel roadway itself and what effect these cement trucks and construction vehicles are going to have?” he asked. “I live downhill from that and if you looked at San Miguel, it’s directly straight down to my driveway.
The concern is — I saw it during the tremendous rainstorm we had last year — the cul-de-sac completely eroded away.”
Moreover, from personal experience he has questions about the concrete trucks driving up the steep roadway.
“We talk about concrete trucks going up to construct this. I built a house in Clearwater Hills, it was the second house from the top and we brought concrete trucks up backwards because it was so steep. Otherwise you’re going to lose your load,” he said. “So I’d like to understand how these trucks are going to back up backwards all the way up there to get the concrete in.”
The public also took issue with the driveway, which is being presented as a cantilever.
“Do we understand how deep those footings are going to be and how that’s going to be dug and excavated?” Mr. Moore asked.
Julie Pace was the last to speak, and expressed her concern with being shut out of the planning process.
“I think the biggest concern you’re hearing from all of us and the frustration is we haven’t had access,” she said. “We all got shut out as neighbors when the lawsuit happened, so we’re hearing all this for the very first time today, just like you are.”
The on-going litigation regarding one neighbors driveway has resulted in a halt in communication.
“We haven’t seen anything. This time the applicant has not had a meeting with the neighbors. We don’t have anything but today as our only way to hear this information for the very first time.”
She asked the committee to direct the applicant to provide the neighbors with a means to view plans, without having to feel rushed and give neighbors the opportunity to ask their questions before hand.
“I’ve taken 30 pages of notes today alone, trying to grasp what’s happening, and what are the safety issues and what’s really going on,” she said.
The final review process has not been scheduled.
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