Big Park Council votes no on Patel property zoning proposal

Community expresses concerns over Red Rock views, VOC's small-town character

They ran out of seating early as Villagers poured in for the Feb. 14th Big Park Council Meeting at the Fire Station on Slide Rock Road,  Photo by Gail Simpson

They ran out of seating early as Villagers poured in for the Feb. 14th Big Park Council Meeting at the Fire Station on Slide Rock Road,  Photo by Gail Simpson

It was Valentine’s Day … 8:30 on a rainy, cold morning with no parking nearby. Yet, Villagers were coming to the local Fire Station on Slide Rock in significant numbers for the Big Park Council meeting, to listen and speak their minds on two issues that affect the future direction and character of the Village of Oak Creek.

There were so many people the fire marshal declared the room over capacity and about 40 people were asked to leave and be content to huddle outside in the covered walkway, where there was at least a speaker box mounted, or leave altogether.

Over and over, both the Council’s Planning & Zoning Committee, as well as a record 35 local citizen speakers, expressed the character and values that Villagers want preserved: a small-town, non-urban village that preserves a measure of serenity, iconic red rock scenic views, and lives up to the values of having your main street (SR-179) be designated a National Scenic Byway, as well as an “All-American Road,” an even higher scenic designation.

The main issue at hand: the Patel property’s proposed building of a three-story Hilton Garden Inn on the corner of Jacks Canyon Road and SR-179.

The Patels, property owners of the corner of Jack’s Canyon Road and SR-179 in the Village, seek a property zoning change with waivers to accommodate their development of a new 145-room Hilton Garden Inn along with a 20-unit extended-stay boutique hotel.

The Patels contend that the 1968 “rural residential" zoning designation is outdated and should be rezoned to commercial use, a C2-1 designation, consistent with a Municipal Growth Area (MGA). They contend that rural land use would not fit with the context of the existing development surrounding the site.

The Patels also are asking for a waiver from a 2-story height to 3-story because that height is the current hotel industry standard, also the Hilton requires this and such uses already are being allowed in the area with another 3-story hotel being built in the vicinity (the Westin Elements).

The Patels believe that the Village requires an internationally recognized hotel chain where guests can enjoy dining, fitness studio, pool, spa services, conference room facilities and that the hotel will serve a clientele that is often overlooked in the Village.

The complete presentation for the Hilton Garden Inn to both Yavapai County and Big Park Council, is embedded at the bottom of this page on the Council website:

https://bigparkcouncil.org/hilton-garden-inn-extends-schedule-at-the-request-of-big-park-council/

Substantive legal and logistical objections beyond character and charm were each given serious consideration, including but not limited to traffic, water, building specs, community outreach and neighborhood impacts. (Please see Big Park Council President’s Column for more details.)

When all was said and done, the council agreed with its P&Z Committee’s recommendation and voted unanimously "No" on approval of the Patel request to have their property zoning changed from residential rural to commercial. The room erupted in applause.

The Village’s fight for a no-zoning change at this location is far from over. As an unincorporated community, the Village is governed by Yavapai County, so this council’s approval of the P&Z Resolution now goes to Yavapai County Planning & Zoning for consideration and vote on March 21, 9 a.m at 10 S. 6th Street in Cottonwood and from there to the Board of Supervisors’ vote on Wednesday, April 17, also at 10 S. 6th Street in Cottonwood.

The other resolution the council voted on was to approve Dr. Reed Scudder’s proposed project to redevelop a vacant building on SR179 into a new, modern, well-equipped Village Veterinary Clinic. The Council voted unanimously "Yes" on this project. Considerations for approval included:

• Upgrading a longtime Village eyesore, turning it into a Village asset.

• Openly accepting the community’s conditions.

• Providing “family-sustaining” wage employment opportunities for people who live in the Village.

Both Council Resolutions and supporting documents are posted on Council’s website: https://bigparkcouncil.org/blog

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