SCottsdale City Council members agree more public comment is needed on the Old Town Character Zone plan, but not much else in relation to the contentious document to determine what should look like downtown.
Thus, the city will publish an online questionnaire on its website in January and February.
“We need a better idea of what citizens want,” said City Councilor Betty Janik.
Mayor David Ortega had a number of proposals for the Old Town plan which he shared during a council working session on December 9.
The current Old Town Character Zone plan, which was adopted in 2018, divides the city center into four zones, or “types,” which dictate the height of buildings.
Ortega wants to lower those designations to 36 feet for Type 1, 52 feet for Type 2 and 72 feet for Type 3. He also wants to eliminate Type 2.5.
The mayor also wants to remap the area to eliminate the common border between types 1 and 3 and wants to demand 20 percent commercial development as part of planned block development guidelines.
“The council is re-examining the (old town character plan area plan) as mixed use is not defined or balanced,” Ortega said.
“Under the guise of what is called ‘flexibility’, limited commercial land-level uses of land are being systematically removed,” he continued. “Business uses are not just retail, but also (services) and personal shopping, which are dynamic and appealing to residents and visitors. As mayor, I am not going to embark on endless apartment projects. “
The Old Town Plan states that the guidelines “provide direction regarding site development, building form, design details and materials – ensuring that the new development contributes to and complements the urban design of the Old Town” .
By stating that the guidelines “encourage and promote unique solutions to design opportunities and challenges,” the plan says they help “guide design in a way that takes into account the larger context, complements the character. established, encourages universal design, enhances the overall downtown identity and upholds community values.
Ortega also wants to allow no more than 25 multi-family units per acre, saying, “We are becoming a bedroom community. “
But Deputy Mayor Tammy Caputi warned of limiting the density of multi-family units or the size of buildings, saying it would infringe on people’s property rights and lead to legal action.
“We cannot reduce the rights of owners to use their property,” she said. “It reduces fair market value and violates the law. Limiting height and density, imposing a certain amount of commercial or open space will decrease the market value, which will lead to lawsuits.
She pointed to Flagstaff, which faces $ 51 million in claims after passing a proposal demanding how the land could be used.
According to the Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff has bowed in the face of total claims and waived enforcement of a high-occupancy housing land use law for dozens of local properties.
Flagstaff City Council has approved a resolution excluding 70 parcels of land from the zoning code changes made by the High Occupancy Amendment it passed a year ago.
The amendment limited the density and maximum number of bedrooms that could be built on a property and, in some cases, required developers to obtain an expensive special use permit for high occupancy land.
Other provisions of this amendment, such as the parking requirements, are also being challenged by homeowners, who argued that the zoning code changes reduced their property rights and the land’s fair market value, the Daily reported. Sun.
Caputi also attacked Ortega’s proposal to require 20 percent business development as part of planned block development guidelines.
This would not only lead to legal action, but also to a scourge, Caputi said.
“The city of Phoenix has attempted to impose commercial spaces and residential buildings along the light rail route,” she said. “There are now empty retail stores all along this road. We need more people living and walking downtown to support this model.
“No one is going to drive downtown to the first floor of a residential building and shop in a flower shop … We need to build a lot more housing for this model to work. Commercial requires tenants. There is no additional retail demand at this time. We might want to have it, but we can’t do it.
Meanwhile, board member Solange Whitehead said she wanted more public parks and open spaces in developments and continue to create an “emerald necklace” that connects all city centers with a large footpath.
“We are not looking for the most (development), we are looking for the highest quality,” she said.
City Councilor Kathy Littlefield said she wanted to see lights wrapped around downtown trees to illuminate it at night. She and City Councilor Tom Durham also agreed that the lanes should be cleaned up and used as places to eat and listen to music.