Paradise Valley Town Council clarifies Ritz-Carlton, Shea Homes zoning

A view of a model outlining how the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton will ultimately be developed. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Paradise Valley Town Council issued a legislative decision to settle some confusion within the special-use permit for the newly-approved Ritz-Carlton resort and to settle a potential agreement with Shea Homes.

During a Thursday, Sept. 28 regular meeting, the town’s elected officials unanimously approved a motion to provide clarification to the town manager and zoning administrator regarding a Five Star Development Resort Communities, LLC rezoning request.

In addition, the town manager is authorized to execute a settlement agreement with Shea Homes with a number of required terms.

The Town Council meeting was held at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

The Paradise Valley special-use permit — which was approved by a 4 to 3 vote in early 2016 — entitles Five Star, through an investment of $130 million, to build a Ritz-Carlton branded resort community.

Shea Homes will debut a new high-end brand of housing stock that will appear on a portion of the Ritz-Carlton project where 66 single-family luxury homes will be built.

The proposed Ritz-Carlton community includes the following zoning stipulations:

  • Area A: 200-room resort on 18.1 acres
  • Area A1: 94 resort-brand-ed villas
  • Area B: 66 single-family homes on 31.3 acres
  • Area C: 45 resort-brand-ed, single-family homes on 22.5 acres
  • Area D: 53 townhomes on 8.8 acres
  • Area E1: A 54,000 square-foot luxury retail center on 7.2 acres
  • Area E2: Influx design as the use of 5.7 acres is yet to be determined.

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission at its July 11 work session began to deliberate what may be deemed a minor amendment by the Commission pursued by Shea Homes, which is seeking to change the special-use permit issued by the town allowing for the abolishment of the neighborhood walk, the creation of basements and an extension of the window well area of the proposed homes.

The proposed amendment is in what is called “area B” by town officials and allows for 66 single family homes on 31.3 acres on a portion of land adjacent to Lincoln and Scottsdale roads.

During the September meeting, the town council moved to illustrate their legislative intent was that the increased setback requirement for “accessory structures containing livable square footage” in areas B and C applies only to the 20-foot setback for rear or front yards that faces toward the public streets of Indian Bend Road, Mockingbird Lane, Lincoln Drive or faces St. Barnabas Church.

Additionally, the stipulation states area C, the open space-wash corridor referenced and shown in approved plans applies to these setbacks.

A setback defines the required amount between a structure’s edge and the property line.

Ultimately, platted lots numbered 8, 9, 13-28, 31 and 32 in area B will have a 20-foot rear setback for casitas and other livable structures, and that for area C a similar approach shall apply once the final plat lot numbers are assigned. Any side yard in area C that faces toward the designated streets or the church shall still maintain a minimum 15-foot setback on that side, according to a staff report.

“Recently when Shea Homes started submitting its house plans it was discovered that there were some questions raised about how to interpret some setback provisions regarding accessory structures for area B of the Five Star project,” Town Attorney Andrew Miller explained during the Sept. 28 meeting.

Detailed within the SUP stipulations is text that discusses 10- and 20-foot setbacks for accessory structures called casitas, porches, patios, gazeebos; and structures which contain livable square footage, Mr. Miller explained.

“Between those two there is some confusion,” he said. “Initially staff issued an interpretation through the zoning administrator clarifying the belief that 43-G took precedence over 43-F, and therefore all accessory structures in those particular lots would have a 20-foot setback.”

A view of ongoing construction at of the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton resort community due for its public debut in late 2018. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Mr. Miller said town staff has been going through old council meetings and talking with municipality officials in order to clarify the council’s original intent.

“As I understood the original intent from being in all meetings, and I think Eva as well, the preemptive concern council had regarding the setbacks for accessory structures, would be how the appearance of how the subdivision would be from the exterior perimeter streets — Lincoln, Mockingbird, Indian Bend, as well as from the St. Barnabas church property — so as you drive those streets you don’t see houses looming out very close to the walls or setback lines,” he said.

Councilmembers Mark Stanton and Scott Moore, as well as Vice Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner recalled their direction on the issue, which Mayor Michael Collins echoed.

“When we went through and evaluated in great detail how this would be interpreted, we were making the priority as Andrew had stated, to make sure the perimeter roads were the first priority, and I think that the first clarification that we’re looking for tonight is going to help preserve what that intent was,” Councilmember Stanton said.

“The idea that when we discussed it, it came through Planning, it came to the vote of the council, we were committed to preserving the best for the town in terms of what the perimeter roads were for both B and C, and that we believed and still do, that the intent was to maintain through the design process and in the discussions with the developer.”

Vice Mayor Bien-Willner said he fully agreed with councilmember Stanton, and believes the council fully intended to maintain a visual effect.

“I think what’s entirely unambiguous in the course of looking at this proposal that while there was a divergence of opinion on certain matters throughout the process of evaluating these proposals, I believe that throughout there was unanimity at the council at the time — which I was a member of and participated in every meeting regarding these proposals — of maintaining a visual effect along the public right of ways, and from the outside of the property that would preserve the setbacks that were agreed upon as part of this ordinance and I think that’s consistent with the clarification that’s been sought and council’s entertaining,” Vice Mayor Bien-Willner said.

Councilmember Scott Moore agreed with his colleagues, pulling from his experience on Planning Commission while the special-use permit worked its way through the municipal process.

“Just speaking as a Planning Commissioner that worked through this at the time, I concur with both Vice Mayor Bien-Willner and Councilmember Stanton that Planning Commission worked very hard at looking at the perimeter and to maintain that sense of open space on all rights-of-ways surrounding this property that includes parcel B and C, so I just want to reiterate everything they’ve said,” Councilmember Moore explained.

The settlement agreement with Shea Homes includes: Shea Homes agrees with any clarification of the Zoning Administrator interpretation; Shea acknowledges that any such interpretation clarification does not change any other development terms; No damages are to be paid to Shea or the Town and that each party bears its own attorneys’ fees and costs.

Prominent Valley attorney, Jordan Rose of Rose Law Group, stated Shea Homes is happy with the settlement terms.

The motion was made by Councilmember Moore, seconded by councilmember David Sherf and passed 7-0.

News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at or follow her on Twitter at

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