opinion

General Plan: In Cave Creek it’s an exercise in deception

Editor:

Cave Creek is in crisis. Considering how we never wanted to become Anytown, USA, that path has come and the future of our town is right now. It’s really staggering for existing residents to witness the demise of rural Cave Creek — to an exploited urbanized extension of Phoenix.

General plans should bring order and management to haphazard growth. When citizens voted 2-1 to approve our plan just in May, they outlined effective methods of attainment for our goals and policies. Hardly dried ink on that plan, planning commissioners have rushed ignoring goals by approving five exceptions to our subdivision ordinance for a California developer. 

The 76 acres called Hidden Canyon is at Surrey Drive, north to Skyline, west of Cave Creek Road.

I remember. It’s been five years, when our town council was trusted by the community to put residents and neighborhoods above special interest groups, commercial development, and holding sacred our goals and policies.

I remember. It’s been five years, when our town prided itself on its brand as a rural western town. When our town valued the small-town look and feel that promoted tourism. Ironically, it’s the tourists we chase away by giving up our brand.

I remember. It’s been five years, when leaders welcomed and sought resident input and guidance on key decisions and showed sensitivity to resident needs with respect to health, safety and welfare. The 155 signers on the petition opposed Hidden Canyon Exceptions fell on five commissioners’ deaf ears.

I remember. It’s been five years, when protection for our rural, low-density, equestrian lifestyle was not in full retreat, being pushed closer and closer to the point of no return. When town management allowed proactive enforcement of our town’s codes and laws.  

I remember. It’s been five years, when a balanced budget with sufficient funds for capital maintenance and needs and no fear of a property tax assured our Western survival and lifestyle.  

Is getting into a firefighting business deja vu visions of the Cave Creek Water Company purchase/sewer plant utility business which spiraled our town into $65.2 million in debt?  

We citizens enacted a meaningful general plan, spending $44,000 tax monies for a consulting firm hired by town council to lead us in developing that plan. We were told that “ordinary citizens” define general plans, but what is the good when committees and Council constantly override that plan?

Look at Galloway Ridge 72 patio on School House, an example of haphazard growth on commercially zoned lands. Imagine the traffic/safety issue for our citizens using that hill for ingress and egress at full occupancy.  

Galloway Ridge is the exact same built at the Summit/Scottsdale Road and at Hayden/Pinnacle Peak roads. Why is emulating the Scottsdale-Phoenix style motivating our officials? Has our plan simply become doctrines to amend for developers being led by a compliant council?

Like Galloway Ridge, if the Hidden Canyon application is approved, the plan does not allow us any means to temper bad actions by appointed commissioners or council members. Referendum by citizens to overturn a council vote only is good for legislative actions approved by council; administrative actions cannot be referred. Hidden Canyon would be an administrative act — a done deal just like Galloway Ridge.  Our only recourse is at the ballot box on Election Day.

Our subdivision ordinance was written with the express concerns in mind that for every right to property there is a corresponding responsibility to the desert and the community. Yes, our town has more restrictive standards for development than those around us. Yes, this developer says he has rights to 63 homes, but throws 48 homes as a “carrot” to gain exceptions to our subdivision ordinance.

The 155 citizens on the petition believe the objections to flag lots, slope, grading and drainage, fire suppression ability, private roads and preserving the aesthetics of the hillside remain important concerns.  

It’s up to us citizens. Attend the public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1, at the Cave Creek Town Hall. Or call or email our town council today. Although we are destined to grow there is no reason for council members to eradicate our general plan/subdivision ordinance and set a precedent for other developers to maximize their profits by accelerating our town’s growth. 

Anna Marsolo

Cave Creek