Dembow: Don’t toss out Sanctuary’s Casa Three application prior to its review

I’m emailing you to frame Councilwoman Julie Pace’s well penned article on the Sanctuary SUP application for Casa Three.

Paul Dembow

Serving with two members who live in Stone Canyon (Council members Pace and Moore) and having the privilege of knowing several residents who live in the neighborhood I understand the community concerns well.

There is zero possibility that I will be in support of a plan that has noise and lights that disrupt the residential neighborhood next to the Sanctuary resort. Period!!!

This said I believe that the Sanctuary owners and Paradise Valley residents Bill Nassikas and Scott Lyons and their general manager Mike Surguine have been good neighbors and community members. I know several Paradise Valley residents who are members of the Sanctuary and enjoy their resort for: exercise at the gym, spa treatments, massages, drinks and world class dining.

The Sanctuary Casa Two, that was approved and built in the recent past, shares almost the identical issues as Casa Three (the current project). Looking at the lack of complaints filed with the Town for Casa Two, it seems to me, not even considering the Casa Three application is unreasonable.

Looking at Casa Three through the lens of ensuring noise, lights and privacy (and all things that would put a dent in lifestyle to the residents that live adjacent) I believe should be carefully considered. This is the Planning Commission’s job.

I greatly respect Julie Pace and Scott Moore. Julie Pace ran for office with “saving hillside” as her platform.

Their perspective helps shape me and my actions. They both have more experience with the Stone Canyon neighborhood than I do. Frankly, I’ve found them both to be reasonable, smart, and very consistent with their positions.

I try to live up to their consistency.

I don’t think that if Casa Three was only one key we’d have as much push back with the application. Now imagine Casa Three, is only one key, and the entire unit faces directly west with the patio on the west side… I believe that would be more impactful for the Stone Canyon neighbors than having three more keys than what is there now properly designed to minimize impact to the neighbors.

My belief is the design is the critical issue, not adding three keys.

The 100 foot setback buffer for resorts in Paradise Valley is an urban legend.

The idea of a 100 foot setback was brought up during the Sanctuary Casa Three discussion. I don’t think that there should be a 100 foot setback included in the Casa Three Statement of Direction. Why?

To impose a 100 foot set back for a Special Use Permit makes sense, when the circumstances provide. The Five Star property is a great example (shown below).

(Submitted photo)

Several residents mentioned Camelback Inn as an example of how a resort should be designed and how the setbacks were “perfect”… One resident said, “The Camelback Inn’s motto of ‘In all the world, only one’ sure refers to its unique place in town as well as the world. It’s proving to be the only appropriate, befitting architecture and spacious feeling resort left in town.”

It is another example of many rooms much closer than 100 feet from the adjacent residential homes (shown below).

(Submitted photo)

Hermosa Inn is also a great example of how 100 foot buffer does not work because the resort rooms are already closer to residential homes (shown below).

(Submitted photo)

I’m following the same logic with the current Sanctuary resort application, rooms are closer than 100 feet from the property line already.

(Submitted photo)

I spoke with Police Chief Wingert and since 2017 there have been only three recorded complaints generated by the Sanctuary. Does this mean that there is no noise or lighting issues ever? No. However we have other residential homes that generate many more complaints than the resort.

Using a 100 foot setback, which is in our guidelines, would hurt the health of the most important revenue stream the Town of Paradise Valley has, our resorts! I believe most of us enjoy our local resorts and we need the revenue from their bed tax and the sales tax.

Our process is to have the Planning Commission go through a SUP application after being given a carefully crafted “Statement of Direction” or SOD by the Town Council. The Statement of Direction (SOD) is a document that council prepares that identifies specific items the council wants the Planning Commission to “do a deep dive on” and ensure the end product that comes back to council has considered specific points.

The SOD that will be issued for the Sanctuary Casa Three application will have items that have been brought up by residents considered. The SOD will be requesting the Planning Commission review: noise, lights, design, parking, etc. that impact the Stone Canyon neighborhood.

This is something that was unanimously approved by all on council.

Our Planning Commission is filled with many people I respect and have seen fantastic work product generated from these folks.

Unfortunately, at the last council meeting Planning Commissioner Chair Daran Wastchak opined that the process, he is responsible for leading, did not work. He blamed the Council for the supposed lack of communication in the process.

Blaming others, for your poor management, is the sign of weak leadership. Chairman Daran Wastchak should have accepted responsibility for his shortcomings and not try to pass the buck by hanging it elsewhere.

With Wastchak’s term ending in April I’m confident that the Planning Commission can overcome weak leadership from Chairman Wastchak on managing the SOD for the Sanctuary Resort until the next Chair person is selected by them.

I completely agree with council members Pace and Moore that the Planning Commission should come back with a fully vetted project that protects the neighborhood where the Sanctuary operates. All interested parties need to be part of the process!

Please get involved in making the project better or making it obvious it won’t work for the neighborhood. However, please don’t toss the baby out with bathwater before the Planning Commission has performed an in-depth review (with your thoughts and input).

I would ask that you relay your opinions not only to the Chairman Daran Wastchak <dwastchak@paradisevalleyaz.gov<mailto:dwastchak@paradisevalleyaz.gov> but to all the other members of the commission who do have my support:

  • Pamela Georgelos <pgeorgelos@paradisevalleyaz.gov<mailto:pgeorgelos@paradisevalleyaz.gov>
  • Jim Anton <janton@paradisevalleyaz.gov<mailto:janton@paradisevalleyaz.gov>
  • Charles Covington <wescov1@yahoo.com<mailto:wescov1@yahoo.com>
  • Tom Campbell <TCampbell@ParadiseValleyAZ.gov<mailto:TCampbell@ParadiseValleyAZ.gov>
  • Jonathan Wainwright <JWainwright@paradisevalleyaz.gov<mailto:wainwright@paradisevalleyaz.gov>
  • Orme Lewis, Jr. <olewis@paradisevalleyaz.gov<mailto:olewis@paradisevalleyaz.gov>

I’m sure at the end of the process we will have a project that does not negatively impact the neighborhood, but is an additional gem to a great property that the neighbors will continue enjoying.

If you wish to contact council members or the Town Manager their email addresses are below.

  • Mayor – Jerry Bien-Willner <JBienWillner@paradisevalleyaz.gov<mailto:JBienWillner@paradisevalleyaz.gov>
  • Vice Mayor (and the Planning Commission Liason to the Planning Commission) Scott Moore <SMoore@paradisevalleyaz.gov<mailto:SMoore@paradisevalleyaz.gov>
  • Councilwoman Anna Thomasson <AThomasson@paradisevalleyaz.gov<mailto:athomasson@paradisevalleyaz.gov>
  • Councilwoman Ellen Andeen <EAndeen@paradisevalleyaz.gov<mailto:EAndeen@paradisevalleyaz.gov>
  • Councilwoman Julie Pace <JPace@paradisevalleyaz.gov<mailto:Jpace@paradisevalleyaz.gov>
  • Town Manager – Brian Dalke <BDalke@ParadiseValleyAZ.gov<mailto:BDalke@ParadiseValleyAZ.gov>

Editor’s Note: Paul Dembow is a Paradise Valley Town Council member.

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