Paradise Valley Town Council convenes fall session Sept. 12

Paradise Valley Town Manager Jill Keimach in action at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. (File photo)

Paradise Valley Town Council is back in session Thursday, Sept. 12 and will convene at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive where matters large and small will again be debated anew.

Paradise Valley Town Manager Jill Keimach reports the Sept. 12 agenda contains items specific to quality of life, public safety funding and essential infrastructure investments vital for future growth and services to residents.

Of particular note, Ms. Keimach points out, is a new art installation welcoming visitors to the Town of Paradise Valley on behalf of the Paradise Valley Mountain Preservation Trust.

“Artist Ed Mell and architect John Douglas are collaborating on a sculpture to honor current and future donors to the trust,” she said of initial Town Council considerations.

“The council will also consider, among other items, two grants to enhance DUI and traffic enforcement by funding overtime costs for our officers. These two grants in the past year contributed to the significant 18% decrease in traffic collisions in Paradise Valley.”

— Jill Keimach, Paradise Valley town manager

But from a resident’s perspective, investments in quality infrastructure is underway and of interest, Ms. Keimach contends.

“It is important to both invest in the town’s long-term underground infrastructure — water, sewer, gas, electric and stormdrain facilities — and work to minimize construction impacts on our residents,” she said.

“Examples of each these investments are occurring on Lincoln Drive, Mockingbird Lane and Indian Bend Road as these roads will be subject to the town’s five-year, no-street-cut moratorium to be enforced in 2020.”

Mr. Keimach says the “no-street-cut moratorium” is a good thing.

A view of Paradise Valley Town Hall. (File photo)

“In other words, after the town has reconstructed these roads or performed a mill and overlay, the town will prohibit utilities from cutting these roads, except for emergencies, for five years after the road work has been completed,” she said. “The town and its residents and resorts are grateful for all of the public and private utilities that have taken the opportunity to invest in our community now rather than to wait five years to upgrade their facilities.”

Sidewalk gaps, water lines and roundabouts further speak to the local government’s dedication to the details of running a smooth municipality, Ms. Keimach says.

“Concurrent with the EPCOR construction is the installation of new conduit and fiber to upgrade the technology infrastructure along Lincoln. That construction can be seen this week at the Lincoln Drive entrance to the Town Hall Complex,” she said.

“The town has also partnered with ADOT to complete the sidewalk gaps on Lincoln Drive from 32nd Street to Mockingbird Lane. The work has commenced this month and is expected to be completed by May 2020. Town residents have waited years for this project to increase safety for drivers and those living along Lincoln Drive. The town is fortunate to have been awarded $2.2 million in federal money to make this project possible.”

One key roadway project in the Town of Paradise Valley is nearing the final phases of design, Ms. Keimach explains.

“And, last but not least, Five Star Development is in the process of completing its final design of a roundabout on Indian Bend, just west of Scottsdale Road,” she said.

“They are also responsible for installing new electrical service lines under Lincoln Drive from White Wing Road to Quail Run. This electrical work is expected to start this month and be completed by December. Upon completion of this work, the town could then begin the reconstruction of Lincoln, Mockingbird and Indian Bend surrounding the Five Star Development as envisioned in the 2015 development agreement.”

Mr. Keimach says the project will kill two birds with one stone.

“The construction would address the historic flooding issues on the property as well as install landscaping, sidewalks, and medians on Lincoln Drive and Mockingbird Lane,” she points out.

“While this construction will temporarily impact travel on Lincoln in the short-term, the investment in the town’s underground facilities and roadway improvements will maintain and enhance the residents’ property values for decades to come.”

From a wide-angle lens, Ms. Keimach says Town Council is eying a strategic approach to evaluating local development projects as they make their way to Town Hall.

“This may also include a discussion on beginning an update on the General Plan to better reflect the values of the council and town in preserving the town’s low-density, minimum 1-acre lot character,” she said.

Paradise Valley Vice Mayor Scott Moore. (File photo)

Setting the table

To better understand how Paradise Valley Vice Mayor Scott Moore is viewing the unfolding legislative session, Independent Newsmedia asked the elected leader his thoughts on both short- and long-term goals. This is what he had to say:

•What are the major items from a municipal perspective on the upcoming Sept. 12 Paradise Valley Town Council agenda?

All of our ongoing SUP amendments are major items right now. The owner of the Five Star/Ritz Carlton development has notified the council over the summer break they would like to propose amendments to their approved SUP and to the development agreement.

I have also had meetings over the summer break with the Smoketree Resort owners and I’m encouraged by their willingness to take a whole new approach to their ongoing development proposal. Due to the size of the Five Star project, the density, heights, complexity and where it’s at in the process, this undoubtedly will be one of our major focuses as Council reconvenes Sept. 12 from the summer break.

•From a resident’s perspective, what are the most important topics?

As a member of the community I believe all our residents generally share in the same important issues. What I most often hear from our residents is:

  • Public safety is No. 1 and ensuring the sustainability of our pension plans for all our police officers who protect and serve this community.
  • To ensure responsible development, re-development by ensuring medical and resort developments complement our unique one to the acre residential town values and maintain focus on traffic safety that is consistent with the character of the community.
  • Ensuring fiscal responsibility and oppose any property tax from ever being enacted
  • Protecting our residents safety by enforcing responsible hillside development
  • Uphold fiscal responsibility including all capital improvement projects
  • Continue working within the confines of state law regarding SB 1350 on how to best protect resident concerns that short-term rental properties don’t become “party houses” and infringe on our quality of life
  • Continue our productive work on achieving better cell phone coverage

•As you look out into the fall season, what are major items facing the Town of Paradise Valley?

As a League of Cities Legislative policy member, sitting on the General Administration, Human Resources and Elections Committee, our primary activity is to represent the collective interests of all 91 Arizona cities and towns at the capitol.

One of the major items facing the Town of Paradise Valley is the ongoing concerns over the popularity of short-term “party houses” becoming more abundant and creating all sorts of nuisances within our quiet neighborhoods. Many of the protections put into place by local communities were overruled by the state when SB 1350 was approved. Looking forward, the town continues to work with our State legislators and our governor at ways to further regulate vacation rentals, moving us closer to ensuring all short-term rentals are treated similarly as resorts.

Requiring licensing of these short-term rentals, ensuring they have designated fire egress and to have them undergo inspections to ensure compliance with commercial health and safety standards are some examples of looking at better ways to find a more compatible approach to these new miniresort destinations. One example of legislation our council just recently passed was the Unruly Gathering Ordinance to curb partying and loud and unreasonable noise violations.

•What are you and town leaders carefully monitoring?

No question maintaining stable financial planning and management is crucial. Staying focused on long-range planning for Paradise Valley’s financial health and budgeting — especially when managing public safety, public works, planning/development and other key service areas remains a fundamental priority.

Consistent with our value of fiscal conservatism, the town has made great strides in reducing its police pension liability as one of our top priorities. The town always seeks to maintain adequate reserves and historically has maintained reserves above or equal to one year of operating expenses. However, Town revenue streams have been affected and continue to be threatened by state-level legislation.

Our collaborative efforts with our state legislators have seen success in addressing these matters through its strong relationships and advocacy, but this is an area that will require ongoing attention in order to preserve our current, mostly predictable revenue streams. Through the leadership of Mayor Bien-Willner’s financial strategic plan we have set forth solutions and contingency plans in these areas which have already proven to be effective.

•As you look into the fall season, what are the major opportunities before the Town of Paradise Valley?

To give one example, improving cell phone coverage throughout the town remains an important goal. Largely because of the town’s mountains and valleys (natural obstructions to signal), its low-population density, its focus on removing above-ground power lines and maintaining darks sky’s and findings ways to strategically locate cell phone antenna’s has always been a challenge.

Our other biggest obstacle is the tepid response by the cell phone carriers that look at costs vs suboptimal coverage. It’s anticipated that there will progress on this front in 2019 and beyond.

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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