Town Triangle development pitch continues in Paradise Valley

A view of the yet to be plotted 4.4-acre lot locals refer to as “Town Triangle” within the Town of Paradise Valley. (File photo)

Week after week, meeting after meeting, residential and commercial blue prints, plans, amendment requests and other developer desires are filed through the Town of Paradise Valley’s planning department.

At any given time the town staff, town council or planning commission could be consumed with the latest submitted plans to be evaluated by municipal officials.

Most recently, during the last week in May — just before most Arizonans are escaping the heat during Memorial Day Weekend and celebrating the last days of school — Paradise Valley Town Council was presented with the request for a special use permit for a residential community gate.

Curiously, there hasn’t been any approved plans for the property this gate would be protecting.

Confusing as the residential and commercial building process might be within the Town of Paradise Valley, it is the preferred method, Community Development Director Eva Cutro said during a May 25 study session.

Paradise Valley Community Development Director Eva Cutro at Town Hall Tuesday, April 18. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

“This is the way we do applications — concurrently,” she explained.

The May 25 agenda item, discussion of a statement of direction for The Villas at Cheney Estates private roadway gate, shed some light on the convoluted processes happening behind the scenes at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

Just off of Scottsdale Road and Northern Avenue sits a vacant 4.4 acre piece of land adjacent to the Indian Bend Wash and Cheney Estates, being eyed for eight single-story residential subdivision coined “The Villas at Cheney Estates.”

Owned by Town Triangle, LLC, the plot of land was recommended denial of the major General Plan amendment that would change the parcel from low density to residential to medium density residential on Dec. 6, by a 4-0 Paradise Valley Planning Commission vote.

On Dec. 15 Paradise Valley Town Council voted to continue the General Plan amendment; however, the request was withdrawn in May, according to Senior Town Planner Paul Michaud.

The Villas private gate is considered an anomaly, town officials say. Special Use Permit guidelines specifically stipulate private gates need a statement of direction.

The Villas gate requires a statement of direction from the town council, to provide its planning commission with a general outline of the direction the town wants to go.

“So what we have today is a parcel of land that has no subdivision plat or no approval on any preliminary plats or anything like that, correct?” Paradise Valley Councilman Scott Moore asked of town staff during the May 25 study session.

“So the question is: is there a purpose for looking at a statement of direction on a private gate on a roadway, when there’s no subdivision plat in place to look at? To make sure it meets all the safety standards, and the setbacks and the design and all of those things? I’m just completely confused on why we’re looking at this.”

Town Manager Kevin Burke says the code is set up to allow for a concurrent application.

“For good or for bad, the way the code is set up it does allow for that concurrent application, and I understand the sequencing is preferred, and makes sense as far as having an established road before you have an application for a gate,” Mr. Burke noted during the May 25 meeting.

“Our code does permit you to make those simultaneous and concurrent applications. What gets awkward is this idea of a statement of direction before you’ve even looked at the plans.”

Ms. Cutro says she and Mr. Michaud did question the unique process of The Villas gate special use permit, but it was the applicant’s choice.

“We did have that question, as you did, and it does seem a little different,” she said.

“It’s odd to bring this first, but again, the SOD doesn’t give them any approval, it just guides the commission. So the commission will receive all portions of this application at the same time and the public, of course, we like them to see all of it at the same time.”

Prominent zoning attorney Doug Jorden, on behalf of Town Triangle, says his client submitted the gate application first, for a more efficient process.

“I think it’s going to be a lot more efficient for the town, for the neighbors, and for us to be able to see everything at one time, as opposed to having to go through the entire process except the private gate,” Mr. Jorden said in a May 30 phone interview.

“It makes sense for everybody — particularly the neighbors to see everything at one time.”

The Villas project has five different applications — rezoning, a preliminary plat, a conditional use permit and a special use permit.

“Of the various applications the only one that requires this statement of direction is the SUP for the gate,” he explained. “The SUP is typically reserved for the more important, significant type projects, but the town still requires an SUP for these private gates.”

Mr. Michaud says to the public it seems like this project is out of sequence, but it really isn’t.

“They submit everything together, the one thing is this gate, but because the gate is the only thing that needs a statement of direction, that’s why we bring that ahead and then it all ties up at commission,” Mr. Michaud said in a June 1 phone interview.

The Town Council is expected to move forward with a statement of direction at its June 8 meeting.

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached by e-mail at mfittro@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro

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