Hilton Garden Inn project receives unanimous endorsement from County P&Z
COTTONWOOD – The Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Commission is solely a recommendation board, with no power to approve or disapprove community matters.
But Thursday, a room full of people – as well as a lobby full – urged the commission to not support a residential-to-commercial rezoning application for the proposed Hilton Garden Inn at the southeast corner of SR 179 and Jacks Canyon Road.
After close to five hours of comment from the county’s Development Services Department, the applicant’s representative, and community members, the commission voted 10-to-0 to recommend that the county’s Board of Supervisors vote yes on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
“It’s been our dream,” said Chandrika Patel, who with her husband Jack owns the parcel. “We’ve been waiting to hear this for 26 years.”
Recalling the count of letters and emails received through June 14, Planner Leah Genovese told the commission that her department had received “seven letters of support” for the Patels’ request.
They had also received “about 1,000 letters of opposition,” Genovese said.
“There’s a reason there’s 1,000 letters of opposition,” said Village of Oak Creek resident Donna Michaels, a member of the group Preserving Our Scenic Legacy. “Good governance requires that we have leaders who make the hard decision for the long-term safety of our community.”
According to Dave Williams, the county’s Development Services director, some of the reasons of opposition expressed in the letters included the hotel is “too big,” there would be “too much traffic,” “detrimental to residents,” “too many hotels,” “fire concerns,” “public safety,” “air quality,” “quality of life,” “population,” and “conformance to general plan.”
The Patels, who purchased the land in 1992, plan to build a 154-room Hilton Garden Inn. According to Jennifer Boblick, the Patels “have been waiting for an opportunity to develop.”
“That time struck a couple of years ago,” said Boblick, the Patels’ representative and spokesperson. “It’s been a long road for them.”
Arizona Department of Transportation “has always looked at this as a commercial corridor,” Williams told the commission.
But former Sedona-area resident Hava Derby, who drove from her Phoenix-area home Thursday to attend the meeting, told the commission that she’s “not getting the feeling that we’re being heard today.”
“I am tired of the interests of a few taking precedent over the interests of the many,” Derby said.
The Patels are asking that the parcel be rezoned from RCU-2A, meaning residential rural two-acre minimum lot sizes zoning district, to C2-1, meaning commercial general sales zoning district.
For one resident, the “noise from a hotel is a huge impact on me.”
“I go to bed at 7:30 at night,” she said. “You guys [commissioners] are supposed to support us. If you can’t vote no, then please put it on the table. This is my quality of life.”
The commission’s motion included two amendments to the list of suggested stipulations that were part of Hearing Application H18052.
The initial stipulation on the hotel’s height was that it be no taller than 40 feet. The commission collectively agreed that if the site is built as a hotel, the building’s maximum height shall be 34 feet “measured from the natural grade, including the parapets,” with a “maximum height for the elevator, stairwells and shade structure” to be 44 feet “as measured from the natural grade.”
Should the land be built on as a “non-hotel,” the building’s maximum building height shall be 30 feet “as measured from the natural grade.”
The second stipulation pertains to the deadline for applying for a building permit. Rather than within four years, a building permit application “shall now be made within five years of the date of Board of Supervisors approval or the rezoning may revert to its former zoning classification.”
The stipulation also explains that “any reversion must be by action of the Board of Supervisors subject to a public hearing process as a zoning map amendment.”
According to Williams, should the Patels sell the property, the stipulations would “stay in force with the property for the life of the property.”
“Moving forward, this would be set in stone,” Williams said.
The Patels have also owned a hotel in Williams since 1991.
Though the June 20 agenda stated that this item would be “tentatively scheduled” to be heard by the Board of Supervisors on July 17, the commission announced at the end of the meeting that the Supervisors would hear this item at 9 a.m. Wednesday Aug. 21.
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