Ask the candidate: What is the future of development in Paradise Valley?

Posted 6/10/20

Paradise Valley has remained committed to a low-density, residential community since its inception --- however, the four individuals running for a seat on Town Council say elected leaders need to …

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Ask the candidate: What is the future of development in Paradise Valley?

The candidates running for Paradise Valley Town Council are, from left, Mark Stanton, Scott Moore, Jonathan Wainwright and Julie Pace.
The candidates running for Paradise Valley Town Council are, from left, Mark Stanton, Scott Moore, Jonathan Wainwright and Julie Pace.
Posted

Paradise Valley has remained committed to a low-density, residential community since its inception --- however, the four individuals running for a seat on Town Council say elected leaders need to actively protect the town’s character.

Those seeking election in the Aug. 4 primary election are incumbents Scott Moore, Julie Pace and Mark Stanton --- and newcomer Jonathan Wainwright --- who has been a longtime town volunteer. There are three seats to be filled.

Town Council members serve four-year terms, while the mayor serves a two-year term.

Leading up to the August primary, Independent Newsmedia is providing a question-and-answer series for residents to better understand the perspectives of the four Town Council candidates.

Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner is running unopposed for re-election in August as well; he was first elected to the position of mayor in 2018.

For the second installment of questions, the candidates were asked about development and density within Paradise Valley.

Read below to see what they had to say.

Julie Pace

• If elected to Town Council, how will you balance proposed development projects while maintaining Paradise Valley’s commitment to residential quality of life?

My initiatives and voting record demonstrate my passion for preserving the quality of life in Paradise Valley. I voted against a resort expansion that included three story high balconies directly overlooking and adjacent to one-acre family homes.

When reviewing development projects, I have a strong compass for our Town’s heritage. I also will integrate these views and my legal expertise into the upcoming general plan process to protect our town.

I will continue to be a watchdog for our residents on quality of life issues. I seek re-election because I have more to do to preserve our scenic views, mountains and unique residential character of our town.

Our town will confront more requests for variances, condos, and denser projects. Residents will need to choose who will roll over for developers and who will stand strong for our town values and responsible development.

Many of our residents have fatigue about the increased traffic, increase in construction density, and short term rental issues that have plagued some neighborhoods. I want to stop short-term rentals and stop party houses. I want to protect medians and the center turn lane on McDonald Drive, implement ways to reduce cut through traffic, and protect the one house per acre residential character of our community.

Working with residents, together we have the voice and the power to preserve our town values and withstand dense development and short-term rental pressures that continue to line up against our one house per acre residential character.

• What are your views on town density as it currently sits? What do you think density will be like in years to come?

Density will increase in the years to come if pro-development candidates are elected to council.

There are some dense projects already built in our town that residents are frustrated about and do not want to see more of. Paradise Valley is a gem and can be degraded very quickly.

Studying candidates and reviewing voting records is critical. Residents need to be wary.

A pro-development council will:

  1. Cause property values to go down;
  2.  Traffic to increase;
  3. Increase noise;
  4. Invite commercial activity; and
  5. Will irretrievably change the town away from its founding principles.

The town would never be able to return to what it was. If bad deals are made and increased density occurs, that bell can’t be unrung.

The higher density development and short-term rental pressures are high.

There will be many continued pushes to Town Council, Planning Commission, Hillside Committee and Board of Adjustment for variances, density, parking exceptions and special use permits (SUPs). It matters who is elected to Town Council and who is appointed to these positions.

Having said that, responsible development can and does occur in our town. We have creative architects and general contractors who do an excellent job in creating and using their expertise to integrate new construction into Hillside and non-Hillside neighborhoods. Those professionals should be recognized and applauded for their efforts.

• Is there any concern with the potential of too much density or resort development in Paradise Valley?

Yes, there can be too much density. There is a difference between me and those who would allow our town to turn into Scottsdale with short-term rentals, more density and for-sale condos, instead of one house per acre.

I will continue to hold the line and keep what is the “paradise” in Paradise Valley. My voting record demonstrates that I have stood against dense projects, short-term rentals, party houses, and taller structures. We are fortunate to surround ourselves with first class resorts! And we have the benefit of not having a property tax based on the success of our resorts.
Resort development generally has been integrated into the neighborhoods, with buffers between the resort and one house per acre residences. Residents are proud of and greatly enjoy our town’s world-class resorts and restaurants. We all are anxious for them to return to their pre-pandemic glory.

Regarding new resort development or expansions, residents currently do express resort fatigue and do not want resorts encroaching on surrounding neighborhoods. Residents generally do not want to see denser or taller resorts in Paradise Valley.

We and the resorts are listening to residents who have concerns about loud music, blaring sound systems, party houses, big weddings or events, pool parties, rooftop bars, and intrusive lighting. Today, many resorts strive to partner with their surrounding neighborhoods to develop win-win solutions.

For more on my voting record and initiatives, go to www.paceforpv.com

Mark Stanton

•If elected to Town Council, how will you balance proposed development projects while maintaining Paradise Valley’s commitment to residential quality of life?

Paradise Valley is an exclusive, low density, single-family residential community. I will continue to work with my colleagues and town staff to protect and preserve that direction and course of action, in line with town values and supporting our residents’ quality of life.

There are certain areas of our town, detailed in the voter-approved General Plan, that are designated as Special Use Permit (SUP) properties, including schools, houses of worship, medical offices, and our valued luxury resorts. Each SUP application is carefully considered by town staff, the Planning Commission, and the council on its own merits.

My commitment is to maintain a responsible balance between fairly and thoroughly considering proposed SUP applications brought to Town Council, while preserving the residential character, charm, and quality of life in our town.

•What are your views on town density as it currently sits? What do you think density will be like in years to come?

I believe that Paradise Valley needs to remain a low density, single-family residential community. I do not see that changing in the future. There are some areas defined in the General Plan that have allowed for some SUP density, such as our valued luxury resorts and their adjacent residential properties.

Otherwise, our town is known and regarded for low density.

•Is there any concern with the potential of too much density or resort development in Paradise Valley?

Town leadership must remain diligent in protecting the character of Paradise Valley as a low density, residential community, and I fully support that direction.

To assure low density, the town has a SUP process to establish parameters and stipulations that an approved development or remodel must comply to. I believe our town must maintain safeguards and requirements which will keep proposed density and resort development in balance with the General Plan and in accordance with the values and character of Paradise Valley.

Designated resort development areas are clearly defined in our General Plan.

To maintain their respective properties and competitive edge, our world-class resorts will be updated and enhanced over time. However, they must adhere to stipulations within their approved SUP.

Paradise Valley is a beautiful enclave and historically sought after by people interested in developing or redeveloping in our town. I am grateful for those approved, quality developments that have invested in our town as they are valuable stakeholders and contribute to both our economy and town’s quality of life.

Jonathan Wainwright

• If elected to Town Council, how will you balance proposed development projects while maintaining Paradise Valley’s commitment to residential quality of life?

The town has a long history of balancing the interaction between residential and non-residential properties. Paradise Valley, while primarily composed of homes located on one acre lots (a tradition I strongly support) is also home to houses of worship, private clubs with golf courses, resorts, schools and medical office complexes. As Chairman of the Paradise Valley Planning Commission, I have found it is most beneficial to maximize the amount of transparency and interaction between homeowners and representatives of non-residential properties. The sooner in the process this dialog takes place, the better it is for all sides. I believe is it critical for our non-residential properties to remain the asset that they are today. A failing church, a dried-up golf course or defunct resort surrounded by a chain linked fence is in nobody’s best interest, particularly for nearby homeowners. I am confident the town can retain the residential quality of life we all enjoy today.

•What are your views on town density as it currently sits? What do you think density will be like in years to come?

I have had the privilege of growing up in Paradise Valley, was married in Paradise Valley and raised our children here. I have observed a great deal of change and past councils have made a commitment to low-density development. I am confident voters will continue to elect council members who share the goal of preserving those values. If elected, I am committed to preserve and protect the town which I have been a part of since 1965.

•Is there any concern with the potential of too much density or resort development in Paradise Valley?

There is always a concern for overdevelopment and a level of density that is not consistent with the town’s heritage or core values. In Paradise Valley’s case, over redevelopment of existing resorts is of the greatest concern, given that very few undeveloped sites remain. I cannot overemphasize the importance of considering each proposal on an individual basis. A redevelopment in one particular location could be totally inappropriate in a different location. The old adage that the three most important variables in real estate is location, location, location. Every proposal must be scrutinized and analyzed to determine the impact on surrounding neighbors and the town as a whole.

Scott Moore

•If elected to Town Council, how will you balance proposed development projects while maintaining Paradise Valley’s commitment to residential quality of life?

Saying, “yes” to every development that comes before the town is irresponsible and goes against what our town was founded under.

I have seen a lot as a longtime Paradise Valley resident and during my four years on the council and as Vice Mayor.

Prior to being elected to council, while serving on the Planning Commission, I saw many of our residents express fatigue and frustration over the increase in traffic, density and most recently the noise and the influx of short-term rentals. These converted homes are basically unregulated mini party hotels and they are popping up all over our residential neighborhoods. Residents may not think of this as a “development” issue, but it really is.

Unfortunately, our Governor has signed SB1350, a law that prohibits local cities and towns from banning short-term rentals in our residential neighborhoods. These mini-event party houses are being redeveloped right here in our own neighborhoods. Out-of-state investors and developers are converting existing homes from single family and adding bedrooms and beds anywhere they will fit, including converting garages into makeshift bedrooms. I have seen as many as 20 occupants in the listings as something that is welcomed and acceptable. I have spent many hours working with Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner, town staff and our local legislators down at the state capital trying to pass legislation that gives back local control. Our current Town Council is united in the fight to gain back local control.

My voting record is strong on preserving our unique residential character and quality of life. I have consistently pushed back on density, height, noise and supported conserving our view corridors and mountain views. I have always been for responsible development. My voting record on density and development is consistent with our town’s unique values of a premier, low density residential community that is reflective of excellence in development and design and protection of the natural Sonoran Desert environment.

•What are your views on town density as it currently sits? What do you think density will be like in years to come?

The Town of Paradise Valley was created in response to concerns that the sparsely populated desert lifestyle of this community was in danger of slipping away due to threatened annexation and the changing density and commercialization of neighboring Phoenix and Scottsdale. The incorporation effort provided a forum for direct citizen involvement in the creation of a vision for our community.

I’m a strong supporter and advocate for our town’s unique residential community. These values have continued through our past leadership and were instilled into our General Plan. That document was overwhelmingly approved by our voters in 2012. The General Plan is the fluid playbook to what our founding leaders envisioned. Every 10 years we are statutorily required to update our General Plan. Having council members with strong records on pushing for responsible density and heights, and keeping with our unique town values is crucial. With my professional background in civil planning and engineering I will continue fighting for our residents and Town’s values.

•Is there any concern with the potential of too much density or resort development in Paradise Valley?

There is absolutely the potential for too much density. It’s a slippery slope to approve zoning that goes against our SUP guidelines or our ordinances and codes. Once again voting records are stronger than a campaign message. As we move into 2021 we will be revising our General Plan that I mentioned previously. This document will guide future councils, Planning Commissions and even our Board of Adjustment members.

With my planning and engineering background, along with my years of community service, I look forward to working with Mayor Jerry and my fellow council members as we work on this very important document. I hope voters will stand by me at the polls so I’m able to continue fighting for our residents.

As stated in our General Plan the aesthetic beauty of our low-density residential community and open spaces coupled with the natural beauty of the desert welcomes residents, their guests and resort visitors alike. Our world class resorts, places of worship, schools and other limited non-residential community-oriented development will continue to evolve and change with the times, but will always respect the quality of life of town residents.

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