Sanctuary SUP amendment deliberations at Paradise Valley Planning Commission

An overview of the site plan at Sanctuary on Camelback. (Submitted graphic)

The pursuit of amending the special use permit that governs day-to-day operations at Sanctuary on Camelback Resort & Spa is making its way through the municipality of Paradise Valley.

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission Tuesday, April 4 held a work session discussion to begin to dissect the SUP amendment proposal at Sanctuary through the guise of a Feb. 23 statement of direction provided by town council.

The Sanctuary on Camelback, 5700 E. McDonald Drive, is a beloved resort in the Town of Paradise Valley embedded within the landscape of Camelback Mountain on a 17-acre site at the corner of McDonald Drive and Superstition Lane.

The submitted request for an intermediate amendment to the existing SUP outlines the creation of additions to its existing casitas, the creation of two new casitas that will bring an additional 45 new keys to the property, a new pool and snack bar, and ballroom expansions.

In addition, the resort is pursuing modifying its parking layout to accommodate the planned improvements.
The statement of direction includes an evaluation of:

  • Encouragement in the General Plan to continue revitalization and improvement of the town’s special use permit properties;
  • Visible and audible effects the amendment may have on the neighbors;
  • Proposed setbacks;
  • Screening and setback of the additional stairwell at the ballroom;
  • Overall height of the ballroom;
  • On-site retention in relation to the proposed improvements;
  • Hours and operation of snack bar and pool;
  • Traffic.

Nicholas Loope, president and founder of HL Design Build, is the architect tapped to carry out the proposed development.

The resort recently unveiled $2 million worth of renovations to its spa casitas and spa suites as part of a two-year capital investment. The three-stage campaign also saw the 2016 introduction of spa house, a mountain enclave for small groups, and a complete redesign of the resort’s mountain casita accommodations in 2015.

A first blush look at how interstitial innovation can create new keys at Sanctuary on Camelback Resort & Spa. (Submitted graphic)

The commission

Members of the Paradise Valley Planning Commission spent just over an hour going through various items within the application with notable comments surrounding certain setbacks along the perimeter of the property and potential noise concerns.

Paradise Valley Senior Planner George Burton presented the case.

“For all the improvements in the casita and the ballroom that will increase the lot coverage from 19.1 percent to 20.5 percent, which is still below the lot coverage,” he said of an overall view of the project density increases.
“The improvements are consistent with the resort use. The improvements are substantially within SUP guidelines.”

A graphic rendering of the proposed new pool area. (Submitted graphic)

The existing lot coverage of the resort is 141,438 square feet, but with the proposed improvements total lot coverage will increase by about 10,663 square feet, according to an April 4 staff report.

Mr. Burton did point out that there is a setback deviation along Starlight Way where the town is seeking a 40-foot setback from the property line of the resort.

“The request comes with several items,” he said. “The infill keys do vary in size from 550 square feet to 850 square feet. The other keys are about 410 square feet.

Potential noise concerns became a topic of the first set of deliberations during the work session discussion.

“One of the things in our SOD had to do with audible and any concerns from neighbors,” said newly-appointed Planning Commission Chairman Daran Wastchak.

“I am worried unlike the other pool that is buried in the middle of the resort, we could have neighbors within 100 feet of that pool. I am not sure on the exact distance, but I guess it is up to neighbors if they have a concern there.”

Mr. Wastchak pointed out to the applicant, who was present for the work session discussion, some kind of screening may be appropriate.

“Is there anything that can mediate that sound?” he asked. “I am not looking to create a problem that isn’t there, but I am seeing the potential for conflict at the property border.”

Commissioner Tom Campbell pointed out one of the casita editions appear to be a bit too close to the property line per established resort SUP guidelines of the Town of Paradise Valley.

“What is the justification for one unit that is clearly not 40 feet,” Commissioner Campbell said of Paradise Valley resort setback guidelines appearing to not being met at this time.

“I don’t understand why you are pushing so hard for that. Is that where all the profit is? In that one unit? I’m much more flexible in meeting guideline when you are dealing with a private right of way. I would say this is an issue that isn’t going to get resolved tonight.”

Commissioner Campbell also pointed out that, at first blush, the planned enclosing and expansion of the ballroom looks like an effort to mitigate impacts on local residents.

“I actually see this as an improvement on the impacts on neighbors,” he told the applicant. “Instead of an open patio area it is now enclosed. The building will block sound and light. I think I am for this improvement.”

Commissioner Dolf Strom went over storm water retention requirements newly reinvigorated by the town specific to the additions to the ballroom.

“Anything that is anew — not existing — has to retain its storm water,” he said during the discussion noting the 5-foot addition to the ballroom deck. “If you didn’t add anything on to the deck then you wouldn’t have to worry about retention. That sliver we now have to consider retention.”

Plans show the applicant has made considerations for the water retention as Commissioner Strom pointed out, “they are retaining even more now.”

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission is expected to see updated plans with concerns addressed at an April 18 work session discussion with a possible recommendation vote coming at a tentative May 2 public hearing at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment