This Tuesday, the City Council will vote on a substantial up-zoning request in Scottsdale’s remote and rural area near Rio Verde.
The eastern portion of the Dynamite-Rio Verde corridor is home to large ranches, big washes that flood, and little water the rest of the year.
Homeowners east of the city border rely on limited groundwater or pay to truck water to their homes. The area is also critical wildlife habitat connecting the north and south part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the Tonto National Forest, and the Verde River.
The Fiesta Ranch proposal chops a beautiful, country parcel into 227 suburban homes almost doubling the current zoning of 116 homes.
I believe this development will have tragic consequences on Scottsdale’s quality of life, wildlife, and the Preserve.
The development will bring hundreds of cars in to an area that is a critical wildlife crossing. Adding the density may place insurmountable pressure on the city to build a road through our McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
Scottsdale resident’s pocketbooks will take a hit, too. Developing density in this far flung area will exacerbate perpetual maintenance costs that the city is already struggling to cover.
Servicing remote areas with police, fire, and sanitation services cost municipalities far more than central locations yet all residents pay the bill.
Infrastructure maintenance is another safety and cost concern. A 2019 audit found that the city’s Public Works department was not sufficiently keeping up with routine maintenance which led to the costly failure of two bridges.
Fiesta Ranch will increase infrastructure without providing funding to maintain it.
Based on my interpretation of the General Plan, Fiesta Ranch is a major amendment and should require a super majority (five votes) for approval.
I also worry that approving the requested zoning opens up the possibility that a future developer can get approval for an even greater number of homes on this fragile land.
For these reasons, it seems that a vote for Fiesta Ranch is a vote against Scottsdale.
Editor’s Note: Solange Whitehead is a Scottsdale City Councilwoman.