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‘You have a relationship problem’
County OKs continued art shows at Sedona Vista Village

A use permit was renewed for the popular arts-and-crafts shows at Sedona Vista Village, but not without some controversy. (OCACS)

A use permit was renewed for the popular arts-and-crafts shows at Sedona Vista Village, but not without some controversy. (OCACS)

Despite complaints from several residents, Oak Creek Arts & Crafts Shows received county approval to continue its events at Sedona Vista Village.

The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors voted March 15 for a permit renewal for the events on the property that was once an outlet mall.

“The art shows are incredibly important to the small-business local tenants,” said Sedona Vista Village owner Martin Aronson.

He said the 15 weekends that include the shows are the best weekends for the restaurants in the shopping center, which is at the corner of State Route 179 and Jacks Canyon Road.

“Retail is still fragile in this day and age,” he said.

While the county received negative comments from community residents regarding the permit application, Aronson said he has not received a single complaint in two years. The previous use permit was issued in 2021.

The art shows in their current form have been going on for a decade. The original permit for outdoor shows at the site goes back to 1992, when it was granted a “permanent” permit for four shows.

Neither the county nor the fire district reported any permit violations related to the art show during the past two years. The renewed permit continues the stipulations that there can be no balloons or signs on the tents and there cannot be shows two weekends in a row.

According to county senior planner Becca Sirakis, the Development Services Department received 62 comments in support and 26 against the application.

“There are ‘concerns,’ and there are ‘violations,’” said Supervisor Donna Michaels. “There are no violations.”

Nevertheless, she said, the popular shows have resulted in an area “jammed” with cars and people.

The negative comments included claims that there were more than the allowed 50 vendors, that traffic circulation was dangerous, that entry was narrow and caused backup on SR 279, that there was poor directional signage and that parking was limited.

Attorney Jennifer Boblick, representing Oak Creek Arts & Crafts Shows, which also hosts shows in Bell Rock Plaza, in West Sedona and in Fountain Hills, said if there was a violation of the maximum allowed vendors, organizers were unaware of it.

She said organizers have created a clear traffic path through and out of the lot.

In her letter of intent to the county, Oak Creek Arts and Crafts Show owner Marlo Johnson stated, “The shows at Sedona Vista Village do not create either a traffic problem or parking problem. In fact, the shows minimize the use of the traffic already passing through the Big Park/Village Area. With over 280 parking spaces total there is always an ample amount of parking for businesses and art show attendees.”

Those complaining also requested the show be moved to the back parking lot and the number of shows be reduced to eight. Boblick said such changes would lessen visibility and reduce the success of the artists.

She said they were open to an inspection by the fire marshal, and there were plans for a walk-through during the next event to look for areas of improvement.

Before the supervisors voted to approve the renewal of the use permit, Michaels admonished the organizers of the art show to make friends.

“The challenge is this: You have a relationship problem,” she said.

Though the positive far outnumbered the negative, the high number of critical comments about the show indicated there was a disconnect between the shows and the community.

“You have a community that feels estranged from its own community on these event days,” Michaels said. The organizers, she said, need to figure out how to be a good neighbor.

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