(Source: ScottsdaleIndependent): Terrance Thornton
A collection of north Scottsdale residents are calling into question a development proposal critics say is against the character of the existing neighborhood and behind-the-scene municipal moves on behalf of the developer of the project has some crying foul.
Leading the charge against a proposed 62-key timeshare resort property at Troon North on about 3 acres is Troon North Homeowners Association Vice President Manny Siprut.
“What is truly absurd about this is (the developer) hired a consultant who is a retired city planner,” Mr. Siprut said in an Aug. 1 phone interview. “He seems to have latched on to a potential loophole and these developers believe they can lump the unused density of the entire 55 acres that was originally designated for a resort.”
Troon North is an 1,800-home subdivision nestled around the Pinnacle Peak Foothills between Pima Road and Alma School Parkway.
The proposal, which is before the Scottsdale Development Review Board, was submitted by MBA Development LLC. The development has retained the consulting services of Don Hadder, a former Scottsdale city planner.
The proposal seeks to create a 62-key timeshare resort loosely titled, “The Monument Club” or “The Troon North Villas.” The proposed development would be directly connected to services provided by the Troon North Golf Club, according to Mr. Hadder.
Records show an initial application was filed with the Scottsdale Development Review Board, a six-member entity charged with the review of architectural design of development plans, by MBA Development in late 2016.
A response to city staff inquiries of the proposed development appears to have been filed in June 2017 by MBA Development.
If the Development Review Board would have rendered a decision on the proposal it would have been final. But that’s where prominent zoning attorney Doug Jorden of Jorden, Hiser & Joy comes into the picture.
Mr. Jorden has been retained by the Troon North Homeowners Association. On July 24 he filed a request for an interpretation of the zoning ordinance specific to the MBA Development timeshare proposal.
The legal filing sent to Scottsdale Zoning Administrator Randy Grant seeks a summary judgment on the amount of density allowed and should be rendered sometime in the next 30 days. The summary judgment would supersede a Development Review Board vote on the matter.
On Sept. 1 Scottsdale Councilman Guy Phillips takes over as chairman of the Development Review Board.
“As a city councilman I have real concerns about the way this applicant was allowed to assemble properties from other HOAs whose land they didn’t use; this can set a bad precedent for future developers who will start ‘borrowing’ land from adjacent parcels in order to justify their height and/or density,” he said in an Aug. 2 statement.
Councilman Phillips says he doesn’t see much synergy between the proposal and Troon North.
“As DRB chair I have to look closely at the architecture, materials and surroundings to see if it fits in the community and complies with city codes and standards,” he said.
“Right now I do not see any structure in Troon or the surrounding community that comes anywhere near the mediocrity of this project’s design or scope.”
Mr. Phillips says a happy medium could be struck, but only when all parties are brought to the table.
“Readers need to know the city council, the Planning Commission and the Development Review Board are there to serve the city residents, not just the developers,” he said.
“We are the last intermediary to make sure Scottsdale remains a quality place to live and that is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. As residents of Scottsdale you need to keep our feet to the fire and I applaud those who speak up. We don’t always know what’s going around us and I for one appreciate your input.”
Too dense or not too dense?
Mr. Hadder says a resort entity was always anticipated to be built in the Troon North community.
This zoning case, however, is tangled up with current and past property entitlements as three distinct single-family home groupings — about 350 homes — have been developed on the 55-acre parcel at Troon North where the timeshare development is envisaged.
“The proposal is to develop a resort use that would be immediately west of the Troon North clubhouse,” Mr. Hadder said in an Aug. 1 phone interview. “As part of that is basically up to 62 keys and keys are a way of denoting the unit type or numbers — some of the units could be one unit or two units or keys.”
The idea of 62 keys on about 2.55 acres on what is known locally as parcel 6 of the Troon North Resort land designation originally set aside for a five-star resort is the crux of the issue for the local neighborhood.
“It would basically be a two-story building on top of a parking structure that would be underground,” Mr. Hadder said of the development proposal.
“The area has been designated resort since about 1985 and was locked in with that zoning.”
The land in question is zoned R-4R — or resort residential — allowing for both commercial operations and a more dense housing product that nowadays often provides financing of a resort development, according to Mr. Hadder.
He says current zoning stipulations provide for up 424 dwelling units. He contends the R-4R zoning allows for the builder to “mix-and-match” dwelling units amongst development criteria.
“It is an interesting district as it allows for both resort or residential units,” he explained. “The expansion case in 1994 focused on the 55 acres and it allowed for the additional density. As part of that case, it established the zoning to include the clubhouse. This has been looked at as if it was a phased development.”
Mr. Hadder summarizes the position of his client, MBA Development, as this: the 1994 zoning case at Troon North allows for 37 residential units on the parcel in question, which can then be interpreted as 53 resort rooms — or 62 keys — given the dimensions of a hotel room compared to a residential dwelling.
“It is a resort property that would be very integrated in Troon North — things like food service and resort management would be through the clubhouse,” he said. “To some degree it wouldn’t be a fully, self-standing resort and it would be very much integrated into the clubhouse and golf course.”
The chagrin of Troon North
The Troon North Homeowners Association believes the land is designated for 22 single-family homes — not 62 hotel keys.
“We have approximately 20 subcommittees within Troon North and about 10 of those have their own HOA, which are called sub-associations in our community called ‘Pinnacle Canyon’ and we are all subordinate to Troon North,” Mr. Siprut said of the intricate level of HOA bureaucracy where checks and balances exist.
“There is a hierarchy of three levels of HOAs and although we have 1,800 homes there are 350 homeowners who are besides themselves as they are all on the same street. We are crying foul.”
Mr. Siprut confirms the community of Troon North is staunch in its opposition to both the zoning interpretation and the project itself.
“We strictly enforce our rules and we have filed several legal actions,” he explained. “The townhome project is totally offensive to the community.”
Mr. Jorden contends the density transfer suggested by MBA Development does not follow established zoning rules for pursuing such an effort.
“This density transfer is contrary to state law and to Scottsdale’s own zoning ordinance,” he said.
“Randy Grant will have until the end of August or thereabouts to issue a formal decision on this matter. If he disagrees with us then we will file an appeal. If you owned a property next door and you were entitled to build 100 units and I take 25 units from that — you simply cannot do that. There are procedures for doing that sort of thing.”