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Pace: What you need to know in Paradise Valley -- the good and the bad


As we arrive at the council’s summer break, there are items residents need to watch in Paradise Valley.

Julie Pace

Let’s review the good and the bad so residents are up-to-speed and can let the mayor, council and town staff know your thoughts.

Let’s start with the bad:

1. Opposing 150 foot architectural spire and 90 foot tall buildings at entry to Paradise Valley;

2. Opposing Marijuana application because we want no increase in retail at entry to town;

3. Opposing FAA flight patterns that encroach into our town; and

4. There is a risk that land at the top of Mummy Mountain in the saddle could be developed into a house and would be the first house built on top of Mummy Mountain.

This is not in keeping with our town’s character or goals. We are working hard to get this land donated to the Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust.

5. Dealing with the new Epcor water line being installed down Lincoln all summer. Infrastructure has to be done so try to be patient and drive safely.

And, let’s celebrate the good:

6. I had a vision of creating a Paradise Valley children’s book to support our town’s Mountain Preserve trust, while making kids smile. And, voila, I enlisted the help of creative people and it is now becoming a reality.

The new children’s book will be available in the fall with proceeds to benefit the Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust. The story was written by long-term resident Pam Hait and her granddaughter Estelle Miriam Cohen and it is called “The Real Story of Camelback Mountain.”

This story was told to her children while growing up in our town.

Sebastian Millon is the Paradise Valley illustrator and he is doing amazing work so get ready to pre-order the book and we hope it will be for sale in the PV resorts also. There will be stuffed animals!

We have a generous underwriter who stepped forward to help get this launched so a big thank you to Sheila Zuieback for underwriting and supporting this wonderful effort. We have such great people in this town!

7. I have a vision of an original art sculpture by the fabulous artist Ed Mell to be placed at the entry to Town Hall to commemorate the new donors and the people who have donated over 200 acres to the Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust.

Progress is being made. We need donors so contact me at jpace@paradisevalleyaz.gov or Janie Russo, chair of our town’s Art Committee if you are willing to contribute to this sculpture. We need a little help from our friends in PV to make this a reality.

Ed Mell is collaborating with well-known architect John Douglas to create an art sculpture and creative entry to our Town Hall. John Douglas has designed the second bridge at the waterfront project and the art sculpture walk and public space at the Heard Museum and is evaluating options to make a welcoming artistic entry to the Town Hall that integrates successfully with the Ed Mell sculpture.

This is an evolving project but please donate to support it and to recognize our donors who gave hundreds of acres so that our mountain tops and surrounding areas remain in a natural state and the entire community can enjoy the iconic mountains. This is a collaborative effort that started from the PVMPT and is being supported by Mayor Bien-Willner, council, arts committee, residents and many more.

8. The Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust is reinvigorated and looking for donors of land and monies to assist in preserving more hillside lands from Mummy Mountain, Camelback Mountain, and Phoenix Mountains.

Clearwater Hills residents also can donate or establish conservation easements with the PVMPT.

There are good benefits to placing land into the PVMPT either in fee simple or with a conservation easement and it preserves the land forever in its natural state. Depending on which option the donor chooses, the donor can avoid paying real estate taxes and receive a tax deduction on the donation.

The PVMPT has been renamed to Paradise Valley Mountain Preservation Trust. The Town Council has named PVMPT a priority this year.

Chair Fred Pakis just granted $10,000 from his foundation to launch a new website, marketing materials, video and to re-energize the opportunities and to identify and work with donors to donate land or monies into the trust.

A big thanks to Fred for being so generous and committed to the mountains we all enjoy.

Please contact a member of PVMPT or me for more information if interested in opportunities to donate land or add a conservation easement to your property.

It started with a discussion to learn more and then you can decide whether to proceed. PVMPT trust members are: Chair Fred Pakis, Vice-Chair John Graham, Phil Schneider, Bernie Barry, Joan Levinson, Martha Graham, and Dr. Teresa Zachariah. Thank them for serving!

9. New Town Hall Entry Remodel is coming in the fall. Town is remodeling the front entry to make it less congested at the Post Office, to help people find the front entry to Town Hall and the services they want, to improve security, and make it a more welcoming experience.

10. Historic Designation Preservation from the Paradise Valley Historic Committee. Chair Catherine Kauffman and her committee have launched historic guidelines and residents can apply for their home or structure to receive this designation.

Thanks to Catherine for her vision in ensuring our town’s history is celebrated and remembered.

Doug Jorden, John Wintersteen and I have been working with artist Ed Mell to design a metal plaque that can be installed on the outside of our town’s historic homes. Ed Mell has generously been assisting with this project and the artistic plaque will be ready soon.

Ed’s design also will be used as a Mayor’s Recognition by our Town Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner.

More details on two of the bad items.

The developer of the Five Star property, where the Ritz-Carlton is to be located within the approximately 100 acre site at Lincoln and Scottsdale Road, is shockingly seeking a 150 foot architectural spire and to increase the height on one or more buildings from 60 feet to 90 feet.

This proposal is not in keeping with the Town of Paradise Valley and these extremely tall structures should be stopped.

The majority of the Five Star project is in Paradise Valley, but a small part of it is in Scottsdale. Knowing that Paradise Valley would never approve these two extremely tall items, the developer is pushing forward to apply to Scottsdale to approve these two items on the small portion of the project that is technically located in Scottsdale.

The developer never told Paradise Valley he was going to add these two tall items to the project even though the town meets with the developer regularly. It was hidden from the town.

This location is the entry way to our town and these extremely tall structures would look over the backyards of residents and our entire community.

It breaks the sight line and would be intrusive and not in keeping with our town’s character of low density.

A 60-foot building is already tall enough and the 100 acres is extremely dense for Paradise Valley.

Please write to the Scottsdale Design Review Board to oppose these two requests by Five Star at developmentreviewboard@scottsdaleaz.gov and to our Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner who will be advocating for our residents against these two proposals this summer.

Keep in mind this situation could have been prevented had the former mayor and council members who voted for the development agreement demanded this restrictive covenant to prevent this height at the Five Star project site.

As a council, we all absolutely support a quality project and the Ritz-Carlton is a shining star in this development and is the primary part of the bargain for the town. We are anxious to see it finished.

Next, a medical marijuana application is being pursued at the Lincoln Medical Plaza, which is owned by a Paradise Valley resident. The applicant stated that they were not seeking marijuana at that location during the past year regarding its remodel application process with the town. And now an application to sell marijuana at that location has been submitted.

Council noted throughout the remodel application process that it did not want retail of any kind at this entry point to the town. The entry to our town at the intersection of Lincoln and Scottsdale will be going from 13,000 cars to 21,000 cars within the next five years so it cannot handle an increase in retail at this location.

To oppose the application to sell marijuana at Lincoln Medical Plaza, write to the Town of Paradise Valley Community Development Director Jeremy Knapp at jknapp@paradisevalleyaz.gov and let our town know you oppose more retail at this location because of the traffic it will bring to that specific area.

Thanks for caring about our community and lets continue to work together to keep the “paradise” in Paradise Valley.

Editor’s Note: Julie Pace is a member of the Paradise Valley Town Council.