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07/06/16

Good afternoon, COGS E-News Reader.  It was a full house in the Kiva (city hall) last night with only two Regular Agenda items for discussion and council vote. The issues:  AZ State Land Trust rezoning and the 20 year Transportation Master Plan...aka increased density near existing homes and fixed rail.

If you live in Legend Trails, Sincuidados, Monterra, Bent Tree or others south of Dixeletta/E. and W of Pima Road…Dynamite Rd E and W of Pima to Hayden Rd…S. of Jomax to Happy Valley Rd and E of Scottsdale Rd-W. of Hayden Rd then Agenda # 21 should be of interest to you.

Agenda #21 was approved 6 to 1 (Councilman Guy Phillips) that rezoned 4,020 acres from Single Family Residential District and Environmentally Sensitive Land on rural land to Single Family Residential District/ESL with some smaller lots, Resort/Townhouse and Conservation Open Space included. Examine details at this link. This case began 18 years ago in 1998 when Scottsdale made a deal with the State of Arizona Land Department to reclassify 13,800 acres to "suitable for conservation" thus lowering its value so the city could eventually purchase it at auction for our Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The city did purchase 12,800 acres at auction and are hoping this September 2016 to win the remaining Parcels 1 and 1A.

Approximately 4,000 acres were left unclassified and the city agreed to rezone it to allow a higher value for a later State Land Trust sale that benefits public schools, Dept. of Corrections, universities and other trustees.  Well, "later" is now.  

The concern that brought out homeowners located along Scottsdale Road and south of Jomax Road was the realization that commercial is possible near their rural neighborhood.  Opposed public speakers stated concerns that focused on traffic, loss of open space, appropriateness of a resort use, and general opposition to further development of northern Scottsdale. They requested that city council approve a 90 day continuance to allow time for these homeowners to meet with officials from the AZ State Land Dept. to negotiate a change in the resort/timeshare/commercial use near their rural property. They cited that many of them were not advised of the public meetings held November and December 2014 nor of 2016 amendment to the re-location of the commercial entitlement parcels from just south of Legend Trails near Lone Mountain/Pima Road to the eastern side of Scottsdale Road in the southern parcel north of Happy Valley Road.  Councilmen Guy Phillips and David Smith and Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield supported the motion for the continuance. The motion failed 3 to 4. A subsequent motion approved the rezoning case on a 6 to 1 vote with Councilman Guy Phillips voting No.

Within the rezoning agreement are (1) Legend Trail—60 years ago built and now surrounded by our Preserve and state land will have a 100 foot scenic trail buffer and Preserve trail connections (2) Yearling Drive will be east and west off Scottsdale Road as traffic relief (3) Section 31 will have matching R1-190 --4.3 acres per home average-adjacent state land lots and development standards cannot be changed (4) R4-R was changed on Scottsdale Road from 26 acres to 38 acres when the commercial/R4-R was moved from the Legend Trails location to provide the added property value to balance the Land Trust Dept. commitment to highest sale price at auction. (5) There is a buffer along the 17 miles of the future adjacent Master Plan parcels and existing subdivisions.

“This rezoning is to complete an agreement made back in 2002 that benefited Scottsdale’s effort to preserve as much land as possible and resulted in Scottsdale being able to buy about 16,600 acres of State Trust Land at very reasonable prices, including 13,000 acres north of the McDowell Mountains. It also allowed Scottsdale to get significant matching funds from the state Arizona Preservation Initiative Land Acquisition Fund to help pay for all that land. Without this agreement, Scottsdale would not have been able to buy all the land for the Preserve it has acquired from the state.  So it is important to honor the agreement that made this possible.”  Quote from- Howard Myers,  COGS Board member and former McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission Chair 2002 to 2012 and Jim Heitel, McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commissioner Chair to 2016 and former Planning Commissioner in 2002.

Agenda Item #22  Scottsdale’s 20 year Transportation Master Plan.  Details at this link.

The professionals in the Transportation Department have made the following changes from the 2008 TMP: (1) Round-a-bouts are preferred traffic control for intersections of all combinations of one-lane and two-lanes per direction streets.  (2) 128th Street south of Dynamite Blvd will be designated for construction truck traffic until 118th Street is improved. (3) Cactus Road from 124th to 128th St has been eliminated as the property north is now part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. A multi-path use is retained in this right-of-way. (4) See the report for other road construction on Pima Road, Dynamite Blvd, Jomax Road, and Ranch Gate Road. (4) two new trolley routes and one express route additions (5) bike, pedestrian and other non-motorized maps and future trails    You are encouraged to scan the entire comprehensive report for details that interest you.

The Hot Issue was to keep “fixed rail and modern street car” excluded from the TMP.

After the AZ Land rezoning audience left the Kiva it was still three-quarters full of  humans wearing No Rail! stickers. At a previous work study session, the council consensus directed the Transportation Director to include text that specifically excludes fixed rail in a master plan.  Councilwoman Korte has been a strong advocate to include “all options” to encourage a continued community discussion.

Speakers representing the Downtown merchants had 214 property owner signatures supporting continued exclusion.  Scottsdale Road merchants/property owners from Osborn south to McKellips Road had 80 plus signatures.  Speakers from the Art Gallery added their voice.  

Four members of the COGS Board of Directors spoke in support of the business owners. The SunLink fixed rail in Tucson images were shown with its street wires and fixed route and compared to the modern, air-conditioned and unique Scottsdale trolleys purchased in 2015 with their route flexibility, lower environmental impact, lower operational costs and higher ridership.  The new Cactus route to the via Linda Senior Center and beyond and the new AirPark trolley plus the planned Express Bus on Scottsdale Road were all supported.

Councilwoman Milhaven’s motion to include the fixed rail text was seconded by Councilwoman Korte.  It was defeated 2 to5.  The motion to approve the Transportation Master Plan as written was approved by 5 to 2 vote.

NEXT COUNCIL MEETING: Tonight, 6 July.  Agenda link.

The Special Events User Guide is perhaps the item that will generate audience speakers. The issue of nearby neighbors and merchants being properly informed when a potentially negative impact special event has been requested in their area will be discussed.  The current text has the city posting the application on the internet and e mailing within a 300 foot distance. Details are in the agenda report. Property owners are seeking early alerts and appropriate action on their response/event concerns.

   For the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) Board of Directors, 
 
     Sonnie Kirtley, Chair e-mail sonniek@cogsaz.net 
     Coalition of Greater Scottsdale
     7904 E. Chaparral Rd., Suite 110, PMB 127
     Scottsdale, AZ 85250

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