Scottsdale is a very special city and its northern reaches have a lot to do with it. There, lower densities prevail in an almost rural environment with the McDowell Sonoran Preserve anchoring its distinct character.
Recent years have seen numerous rezonings and increasing densities come to parts of the area. That’s not necessarily bad, but does it mean those who want to accentuate larger lots, bigger view sheds and a more sensitive approach to the land should be dispatched? No.
Cue Cantabrica Estates. There, at 118th and Jomax, a part-time Scottsdale resident bought 27 acres for larger lot homes to enjoy the lower density lifestyle and views of Tom’s Thumb, Four Peaks and the best Scottsdale has to offer.
Falling in love with the land he sought no zoning changes and was intent on investing $35-$40 million to bring to life the existing zoning in a beautiful, sophisticated way.
Then along came a speculator, on a narrow, ten-acre parcel next door, immediately to the east. A year ago he introduced plans to triple density from 3 homes allowed on the ten acres, the same density as Cantabrica, to 9 homes.
Anyone who has walked the land will know how offensive the notion is. Undulating desert. Significant boulders. It’s just wrong to pork it up as proposed.
Fortunately, Scottsdale City Councilmembers when made aware of the request expressed dissatisfaction. A “three-quarter” vote has been even been filed by adjacent property owners forcing the developer to get a supermajority of five votes.
But rather than do the right thing as Cantabrica Estates and many other enthusiasts of true “rural neighborhoods” have espoused, this developer has dug in. His high-profile attorney has told people he feels confident in getting the five votes. That’s a curiously, bold statement.
We are not aware of a single supporter of the application, only opposition by numerous, leading north Scottsdale voices.
Beyond the vote counting, however, what’s the benefit to Scottsdale? That should always be the test when seeking to change the rules. Many times there are benefits to rezonings and General Plan Amendments. Not this time. It is nothing more than a money grab that will blade the land for densities it should never hold. It will jeopardize the investment next door and perhaps even force him to seek more homes on his property.
Lacking any merit the developer’s attorney has resorted to spreading falsehoods, to put it mildly. He has said Cantabrica Estates is opposing the project to diminish the value of the neighborhing land so he could scoop it up. Nonsense.
It is true Cantabrica Estates has sought to acquire the land. But at full asking price. With no zoning changes. That’s commitment to a larger lot, lower density vision. That’s putting your money where your mouth is, again.
This case has the potential to become a real flashpoint in the city, especially since a referendum committee has been filed to ask, if necessary, the citizen’s to vote on the matter if illogic prevails. Anyone want to guess how that vote will go?
It won’t even be close.
Scottsdale is not a community that needs to say “Yes” to everything. It’s not Gila Bend. It’s OK to say no, especially when developers offer neither a supporter, or rationale, for upending the rules.
Ultimately don’t take our word for it. Go walk the land yourself. If you think blading it for a developer that’s never undertaken something like this in north Scottsdale to intrude on someone else’s vision for larger lots in the area well, you can become the project’s first supporter.