Planning Commission recommends Smoke Tree SUP denial

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission has recommended denial on Smoke Tree Resort’s Special Use Permit request. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission has recommended denial of Smoke Tree Resort’s Major Special Use Permit Amendment.

On March 5, the Planning Commission hosted a public hearing, followed by a vote on the project. The Commission voted 4-3 to recommend denial, with Commissioners Daran Wastchak, Thomas Campbell and Jonathan Wainwright dissenting.

Smoke Tree Resort was originally built in 1966 at 7101 E. Lincoln Drive, adjacent to the municipality’s border. Earlier this year, the legacy resort property changed hands for a reported $10 million, and new ownership is eying a new chapter for the boutique resort.

The original resort, which had been maintained in perpetuity, is now under the guise of Phoenix-based Geneva Holdings. The property is on approximately 5.3 acres, and plans call for a complete rebuild comprised of up to three story buildings with both rental and residential units.

SmokeTree’s application at this time includes:

  • 120 guest room units with various categories of sizes and configurations;
  • 30 dwelling units, 15 of which will have a lock-off feature, and related rental pool;
  • Forward facing resort facility to include a combination of 3-5 of the following potential components: Fresh market,
    café/eatery, restaurant, bar/lounge, micro-brewery, speakeasy, private dinning vignettes, pop-up retail, coffee shop, florist, sandwicheria, bakery, epicurean retail and sundries;
  • Resort pavilion: appropriately sized for banquets, meetings, ceremonies, and special events;
  • Open space gardens and grounds;
  • Resort pool area(s);
  • Resort Spa; and
  • 256 parking stalls comprised of 76 surface and 180 subterranean garage

During the March 5 meeting, Mr. Wainwright originally made a motion, which Mr. Campbell seconded, to recommend approval of the project. The motion failed 3-4.

Next, Commissioner Pamela Georgelos made a motion, with Commissioner James Anton seconding, to recommend the Planning Commission forward a denial to the Town Council.

According to the meeting minutes, Commissioner Charles Covington said he did not find the application as presently depicted to meet the Statement of Direction. Specifically, he noted the density and height do not meet those parameters, along with too many drawings to be revised.

Ms. Georgelos agreed, stating the application could have more progress on lowering density and height, along with increasing setbacks.
Additionally, there are also open-ended issues on how the site will be used, Ms. Georgelos said, noting auxiliary uses.

Commissioner Orme Lewis Jr. said the proposal has more substance and complexity than other resorts and in town, noting issues around too much intensity and density, according to the meeting minutes.

Mr. Anton said he wants the project to be done, but done right. He noted concerns of regret if the town approves this project at its height and setbacks.

The application is now headed to Paradise Valley Town Council for consideration.

News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at mrosequist@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mrosequist_

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