Paradise Valley OKs commission scope of Ritz-Carlton evaluation

A view of one of the several hours-long discussions on how the Town of Paradise Valley ought to evaluate a development pitch from Five Star Development to create a Ritz-Carlton resort community within town limits. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

A view of one of the several hours-long discussions on how the Town of Paradise Valley ought to evaluate a development pitch from Five Star Development to create a Ritz-Carlton resort community within town limits. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Five Star Development Inc. has submitted an ambitious plan for the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton resort community and now the evaluation of proposed heights and density for the 82-acre resort behemoth is under the guise of the Planning Commission.

The back-and-forth process so common to the municipal development process is now entering its evaluation phase regarding the Ritz-Carlton. Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, June 11 sent the most recent plans for the resort to the Planning Commission for its final review and recommendation.

Ritz 1

A graphic rendering of what the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton resort community could look like. (Submitted graphic)

That scrutiny is now under the direction of the Planning Commission as Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, June 11 held its final of three meetings of public review and unanimously approved what town leaders call a Statement of Direction at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

Known within Town Hall as an SOD, the official document dictates the scope of scrutiny members of the Planning Commission are to use when evaluating a proposed project. This SOD comes with an amendment allowing the applicant and Planning Commission flexibility when evaluating the 25 percent lot coverage charge of all non-resort attached structures throughout the entire project.

The Five Star plan, if approved, would allow construction of a Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton resort, along with a residential community, on 82 acres of a 105-acre swath of land at about Scottsdale and Lincoln roads.

Five Star Development, owned by Scottsdale resident Jerry Ayoub, is represented by Jason Morris of Whitey Morris PLC in this matter.

The matter was put to a public vote in November 2008 and Paradise Valley residents overwhelmingly approved the resort project by a more than 2-to-1 margin, archives state.

The project approved on the 105-acre site was for a 225-room resort, spa, restaurants and meeting space as well as 100 resort patio homes, 46 luxury detached residential homes and 15 one-acre estate lots on adjacent vacant land, archives state.

The new revised application proposal has been chopped into six development areas and, at this point, include these characteristics:

  • Area A: 200-room resort on 20.3 acres
  • Area A1: 80 resort-branded villas
  • Area B: 101 single-family homes on 28.7 acres
  • Area C: 59 resort-branded, single-family homes
  • Area D: 250 condominiums on 8.3 acres
  • Area E: 200 condominiums on 16.2 acres

“This proposal will be reviewed by the Planning Commission starting next Tuesday,” said Paradise Valley Community Development Director Eva Cutro.

Ms. Cutro says the council advisory commission will look at a decrease in overall density and has 120 days from June 11 to complete its review of the proposal.

“The commission should study open space on the entire property and the applicant should prepare an open-space study.”

Jason Morris

Jason Morris

Mr. Morris, the zoning attorney representing Five Star Development, says both developer and municipality have similar goals.

“We are here for the same reason: (to create a resort) the town can be proud of and distinguishes itself from this process because ultimately both the applicant and town council have the same goal in mind,” he opined at the public hearing.

Mr. Morris proposed four amendments with one being agreeable to members of Paradise Valley Town Council.

“The entire Statement of Direction document is completely town council and staff language,” he pointed out asking if the applicant could have some say in the scope of scrutiny.

“Nothing we are proposing is going to change this council’s ability … all we are seeking is some flexibility in the process.”

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins is not one for surprises.

“It is not a favorite thing of mine to be surprised at the dais with documents that haven’t’ been reviewed by staff,” he told Mr. Morris prior to his SOD amendment pitch.

A graphic rendering of the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton project. (Submitted graphic)

A graphic rendering of the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton project. (Submitted graphic)

But the mayor along with his fellow members of council found the requests reasonable and in good faith of the SOD process.

“I expected and understand the applicant’s desire to have some flexibility here,” Paradise Valley Councilman Jerry Bien-Willner said of the 25 percent lot coverage charge.

“It is a statement of direction — not a statement of mandates. This is intended to afford a certain degree of flexibility.”

Paradise Valley Councilman David Sherf, who is serving as council liaison for this project, agrees with the notion of flexibility on total lot coverage where applicable.

“I would support a little a little leeway on that,” he said.

The role of Paradise Valley Town Council is to question all measures put before the governing board, Councilman Mark Stanton said prior to the vote.

“We are supposed to question. We are supposed to evaluate,” he said. “I think the SOD is a fantastic tool.”

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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