Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton proposal hits snag at Planning Commission

A view of how the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton resort community may look as motorists encounter it. (Submitted graphic)

A view of how the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton resort community may look as motorists encounter it. (Submitted graphic)

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission met Tuesday, July 7 to discuss traffic, parking and property perimeters and how they fit within the Statement of Direction recently approved by Paradise Valley Town Council on June 11.

Planning Commission members met to review rights-of-way, traffic and parking plans for the proposed amendment to the Ritz-Carlton Special Use Permit; however, updated studies were not presented to the commission as expected, town officials say.

Despite the lack of updated studies, the Planning Commission listened to what the developers of the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton had to say.

The traffic and parking presentations were made by Dawn Cartier of CivTech. She began by discussing the Palmeraie, a retail space that will be partially in Paradise Valley and Scottsdale. Ms. Cartier said she does see the municipal borders becoming an issue.

“Those two sites, when I look at the site plan, are being constructed to be integral so you won’t know when you’re in PV vs. in Scottsdale,” she said at the July 7 study session. “They’ll be conjoining in a way that I think will be aesthetically pleasing to that environment.”

The Palmeraie’s uses are not final, but could include office space, retail space or a grocery element. The road running in and out of the resort is planned to be two lanes — one lane inbound and one lane outbound. Due to the traffic patterns of the day, Ms. Cartier does not see this being an issue.

“We can service all of the traffic over different times of the day with just a two-lane road,” she said.
Lincoln is the busiest road in the area and developers want to make sure the resort doesn’t add to congestion or impede traffic flow.

Ms. Cartier presented statistics that predict what the resort’s traffic impact will be in 2038, 20 years after the projected opening of the resort. The numbers predict the resort will only account for 10 percent of the daily traffic on Lincoln toward Tatum Boulevard.

If you build it, traffic will come

Planning Commission Commissioner Daran Wastchak says added traffic is to be expected.

“I don’t think anyone is going back and saying, ‘We can’t build the Ritz-Carlton now because of this traffic issue,’” Mr. Wastchak said to Ms. Cartier in the meeting. “It is what it is. Unless you’ve got some fine ideas of how this can be dealt with, and I think we’ve already pressed you on that, it sounds like we’re just going to have to live with the reality that you can’t steer traffic away from it.”

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

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

According to traffic analysis presented by Ms. Cartier, the Lincoln and Tatum intersection was already graded poorly without the resort present.

The report presented was not up to date with the council-approved SOD, which is an official municipal document dictating the scope of scrutiny members of the Planning Commission are to use when evaluating a development proposal.

Commissioner Eva Cutro suggested the governing board should wait to take action after an updated report has been reviewed by a third party.

The discussion on parking was cut short due to the lack of comprehensive study submitted. There was brief discussion on the amount of parking to be available, which Mr. Frazee said was 4,000 in the application. Further discussion of parking will be placed on a future agenda.

The perimeter setback discussion was centered on a right of way into the resort and the amount of  required landscape setback.

Senior Vice President of Development at Greenbrier Southwest Corp. Richard Frazee, an architect of the proposed development, presented a graphic depiction of the resort.  But those depictions showed only one of four parcels of land actually meeting the required amount of setback outlined in the council-approved SOD — which didn’t sit well with some commission members.

“Every step of the way so far, you’ve disregarded the Statement of Direction,” Paradise Valley Planning Commissioner Thomas Campbell said at the work session discussion.  “The heights went up higher instead of lower, as per your Statement of Direction. The Statement of Direction says 30-foot, back of right of way; you’ve disregarded that … I feel you’re not following the Statement of Direction.”

Mr. Frazee said current plans are meant to generate discussion and input.

“It was really important for us to have you understand that the Statement of Direction was not a mandate,” Mr. Frazee said.  “But, as a Planning Commission, you would inject your expertise and your experiences in alignment with or contrary to Statement of Direction guidelines.”

Mr. Wastchak said challenging the SOD will only slow the process. The main challenge to the SOD was over the landscape setbacks, to which Mr. Frazee’s plans were falling below the minimal requirement.

Scottsdale Independent Sports Correspondent Justin Maskulinski can be contacted at jmaskulinski@newszap.com. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/Maskulinski.

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