By Manny Siprut
Scottsdale Resident & Vice President Troon North HOA
In the movie Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger was the bad guy who just wouldn’t die.
Now, our 3000 residents at Troon North feel like we are watching the movie all over again. Except this time we are being forced to watch real estate speculators run amok, not fictitious villains.
The consequences for what we are facing are profound for every resident and neighborhood in Scottsdale. For if a well-heeled developer can scare our city leaders by threatening litigation after losing decisions by city staff and before citizen commissions we will enter in a new era of devilish developer behavior for which Scottsdale will have difficulties recovering.
A reminder on some of the relevant background.
Troon North is a great Scottsdale community of 1,800 single family homes. At our entrance are public golf courses ranked among the nation’s best. Nearby is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Life is good. People here are happy.
Then along came a real estate speculator who took control of a small 2.5 acre site right at our entrance.
Rather than respect the rights we long understood for the land, limited to 22 resort-style units, the new owner sought to supersize it, tripling the number for a terrible looking 64 unit timeshare like, motel- looking play. It wasn’t a matter of property rights. It was a matter of porking up a property at our expense. We have 445 households that share the same private street as the proposed project.
We had no choice but to fight. The speculators sought no common ground. Instead, they went out and hired a former city official to lobby for loopholes. They even sought to transfer the property rights of others in Troon North to themselves in order to justify their density grab.
Fortunately, in 2017 Scottsdale leaders responded and saw the greed for what it was. The city and a unanimous Scottsdale Board of Adjustment ruled in our favor, limiting the density to 31 resort units. It wasn’t to our total satisfaction but we could live with it.
The speculative developer apparently cannot. Recently, they filed a claim against Scottsdale for $30 million because of potentially lost revenue. Think about this for a minute. Residents and developers had a dispute, as often happens in Scottsdale. But as doesn’t often happen in Scottsdale the residents largely won. It is not the residents nor the city’s job to ensure a maximum return on investment, or any return on speculative development. Yet, after their loss, the developer claims the city should pay them the millions they were counting on because their absurd density grab was denied? Consider this very slippery slope for a moment. If the city settles or caves it will set a horrific precedent that a developer can largely ignore the process and citizenry knowing it can ultimately sue and scare for a more favorable outcome.
Our 3,000 residents are paying close attention to the upcoming city council elections and overwhelmingly want Mayor Lane, City Manager Jim Thompson and many others engaged in the process to again stand behind their own decision, and us.
If they don’t readers might want to watch Terminator anew. Unless you would like its horrors coming soon to a movie theater and neighborhood near you we ask you to join us and write the Scottsdale City Council at citycouncil@ScottsdaleAz.gov and encourage them not to cave to the Troon North timeshare/ motel-like speculator, or anyone else that doesn’t respect the city’s processes and people.