The Planning and Zoning Commission seemed intrigued by the mixed-use development concept presented by Dan Kauffman of Kauffman Homes at the Aug. 9 P&Z meeting, but they had concerns about the plan being used on the property at Saguaro and Kingstree boulevards. The commission voted 4-3 to deny a recommendation on the proposal.
Kauffman is proposing to build a three-building complex that has mixed use residential and C-C (Community Commercial) zoning. The plan was before the commission with a special use permit application to allow the residential in the commercial area.
A single building along Saguaro Blvd. would be two stories with office suites on the first level and four residential condos on the upper floor.
Two separate two-story structures to the rear would provide for eight units defined as live/work environments. Kauffman envisions uses such as cafes, salons, art studios and professional services on the first floor. The second floor would provide for living space for the business operators or possibly split business with a public office on the first floor and private workspace above, or a café with upper-level seating. A special use permit would not be needed for commercial use only at this location.
Town staff received a letter from the Saguaro Ridge Villas Association on Zephyr Drive, which is adjacent west of the parcel objecting to the plan.
“As an association, we are opposed to the granting of a permit that allows higher usage of the property than originally contemplated by the Zoning Ordinance,” the letter states.
The letter cites specifics related to the intensity of the commercial use, traffic at the intersection of Saguaro and Kingstree, rental of the property, dumpster locations (it was noted by Kauffman that the dumpster sites for the plat are already in place), town-wide commercial vacancy, building height and adequacy of parking.
The letter also notes that a letter residents received from the developer cites vacant commercial property as a reason for permitting the mixed use.
“Maybe 50+ years ago the planners overestimated the number of commercial enterprises the town needs,” the Association states. “Perhaps a better solution would be to change the zoning where possible to allow residential use based on the demand in that market.”
In his statement to the town, Kauffman says that the mixed-use development known as “Urban District” is a known method to attract and keep small entrepreneur businesses in Fountain Hills.
“We need to bring exciting new products to stay and live/work and play in Fountain Hills,” Kauffman said. “They will all benefit from each other utilizing the others’ services. Look at all the empty commercial lots all over Fountain Hills.
“Fifty-plus years, we should be built out by now. We need to change this by allowing more diverse business types for people to live where they work and own their own businesses to create a more vibrant and livable town.
“Let’s open our eyes to have a town which was planned over 50 years ago and has never been completed. We need to adapt to today’s changing market.”
Commissioner Dan Kovacevic focused on parking concerns.
“I would like to see a calculation on build-out of the site to show if the parking is adequate,” Kovacevic said.
There are 174 parking spots in the shared space within the plat and five unfilled parcels that may need to share those. Kaufmann’s concept would require 23 spaces for the residential. Commercial requirements can depend on use. Restaurants do require more parking and there is a vacant restaurant building within the plat. Uses for the unbuilt parcels is unknown.
Commission Chairman Peter Gray said he thinks this is a good concept but is not sure this is the right location for the “urban district” plan.
Gray and Kovacevic voted along with Vice Chairman Scott Schlossberg and Commissioner Roderick Watts, Jr. in opposing the SUP. Commissioners Susan Dempster, Clayton Corey and Jessie Brunswig supported the permit.
The Town Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and consider the SUP application when it meets on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
AUTHOR: Bob Burns