COVID-19 has forced significant changes throughout Paradise Valley and the Town Council is affording some leniency in certain cases to its zoning ordinance in the wake of the pandemic.
Council unanimously approved an emergency resolution at its May 14 meeting, allowing for a slackening of regulation for local special use permit properties concerning banner signs, on-site signage, temporary storage containers and temporary tents. The resolution immediately took effect upon its filing.
The resolution retroactively begins March 17 and will run until April 1, 2021, referred to as the pandemic period. Council, however, has the power to rescind, modify or renew the terms at its discretion. Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner emphasized the council would follow state and federal leaders and health experts in when it’s best to end the pandemic period.
The Town Council also has the option rescind or modify portions of the resolution depending on the needs of the town, Town Attorney Andrew Miller said.
Vice Mayor Julie Pace said she was happy with the resolution, calling it a “nimble and quick” help to Paradise Valley businesses, churches and schools.
“I think it’s a very well-done document and thoughtfulness, and it really is nice to be small enough and quick enough that we can act quickly enough in this circumstance and not get too caught up in bureaucracy, so I really commend everyone for doing that,” she said.
Per the zoning ordinance, SUP properties can use one banner sign for 60 days each year with the town allowing for signs to be up for seven days before coming down for 14 days.
The town won’t enforce these stipulations during the pandemic period and days with the banner sign won’t count against the 60-day limit, also allowing for up to two banner signs. SUP properties can also have on-site signage as long as it isn’t visible from any street or a public property and is advisory regarding social distancing direction or providing direction.
Temporary storage containers on the SUP properties can also be used for stashing store furniture and equipment, allowing properties to arrange their facilities to meet social distancing guidelines.
Town Manager Jill Keimach would have to approve the temporary storage facility and property owners would need to place it on the property so its impact on neighboring properties is minimized.
Temporary tents, which Ms. Keimach has approved, are also allowable as a way to better promote social distancing as long as the tents are limited in impact to surrounding areas.
Furthermore, the council authorized Ms. Keimach to waive any fees required for temporary structures and tents. She will also inform the council of all temporary approvals under the resolution. Mr. Miller said once the council does rescind the resolution, properties have 30 days to remove all temporary signs and structures.
In describing the process, Mr. Bien-Willner said this resolution won’t replace the process of the town under its zoning ordinance, but rather offer an expedited process for SUP properties. He also emphasized properties who don’t fit into these new guidelines can still apply through the regular process.
“It’s not intended to create an adversarial, ‘sorry, you don’t make it,’” he said. “It’s, ‘hey, if we can help you with this approved process from the council, we will and it’s expedited and no cost. And there’s a big public health benefit. There’s an economic benefit. It hits all the boxes.”
The onset of this resolution came after requests from the Jones-Gordon School hoping to build a temporary storage on its campus; and a local church hoping to put up signs to inform the congregation of changes. Both requests relate to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines.
Mr. Bien-Willner said seeing these requests led the town to realize it needed to approve a measure that would help not just the two requesters but the entire town amid the pandemic.
“We’re really privileged to be in a community where there’s been a high level of care and concern to try and do the right thing and so I fully expect that to continue and we’ll continue to support that and support each other,” he said.
“I think this is a really good step and I’m really happy and encouraged by the work from staff and the positive reception from council. This is the action side of the council and I’m excited to see this move forward.”