Town Council mulls over administrative land modification changes to town code

A view of Paradise Valley Town Council at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Changes are coming to chapter six of Paradise Valley’s Town Code regarding administrative land modifications.

The Town Council heard a presentation from planner George Burton during a study session of its Thursday, May 9 meeting at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

Mr. Burton presented ordinance and resolution drafts that would lead to the changes in the Town Code. In the ordinance, there are six new definitions and one modified definition as well as a new section about land modification procedures.

Town staff hope to add new definitions regarding administrative land modifications; easement modification, lot line adjustment; exempt lot splits; and replats. The definition of lot split may also receive an update to “be consistent with state statute,” Mr. Burton said in his presentation.

“A lot of what’s in the draft ordinance is what I like to call housekeeping items,” Mr. Burton said. “We’re codifying a lot of our processes and we wanted to clarify some of those.”

That adjustment would include changing the current definition of “the division of property into two or three tracts or parcels of less than five acres.”

The proposed change would be “the division of improved or unimproved land whose area is two and one-half net acres or less into two or three tracts or parcels of land for the purpose of sale or lease.”

Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner requested town staff add more clarification to this language so developers don’t think they can bypass other zoning laws that don’t allow for lots smaller than an acre.

Mr. Burton also reiterated none of the proposed changes would bring any drastic changes, just refine the town’s current process and add more clarity.

The resolution would only update a fee schedule to better clarify administrative land modification application fees. There are not plans to change an application fee, only to change a name/title in the application.

Through the proposed ordinance, town staff also laid out a new section to chapter six of the Town Code, lining what land modification applications town staff may process.

This section included six bullet points detailing how administrative processes such as easement modifications, lot line adjustments and exempt lot splits would fall under staff approval.

It also specified that complete abandonments of easements and any requests that deviate from the town’s development standards and codes would still go to the Town Council for review and approval.

One point Mr. Bien-Willner brought up was some of the language he saw regarding administrative approval on administrative land modification applications didn’t clarify who would be doing the approval.

“Speaking for myself, I’d feel more comfortable having the town manager or the town attorney or both sign off on that because they’re accountable to the council,” he said.

Councilmember Paul Dembow also raised concerns about having town staff make decisions on applications such as splitting lots, saying he can see a “political consequence” for staff making these decisions.

“It is the current process,” Mr. Burton said in response. “There may be a political issue but it is the current process.”

Town staff will take the council’s input and apply it to the drafts. Staff will then bring the item back at the May 23 Town Council meeting for the ultimate approval.

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