Korte Abandons the Preserve: Development wave hits north Scottsdale

Although city leaders have spent nearly $1 billion over the past two decades to create the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which now spans 46 square miles across north Scottsdale, there are still several thousand acres left that could transform with bulldozers and backhoes.

In the past year, developers have filed plans for at least eight construction projects covering more than 1,000 acres of raw land north of Thompson Peak Parkway. Several have won City Council approval, while others are under review.Meanwhile, another 4,000 acres of state trust land in north Scottsdale took a critical step closer to development in early July, when the council approved denser zoning and paved the way for 5,000 homes and 76 acres of resort property to fulfill a promise made to the Arizona State Land Department 18 years ago.

And from incumbent city council candidate Virginia Korte:

Councilwoman Virginia Korte, who has been involved with desert preservation efforts since the 1990s, said she does not think the city should buy more land to expand the preserve. It could cost more to buy the remaining state land than it did to secure the 30,000 acres already in the preserve, she said.

“For us to go out and extend the tax or add another sales tax on top of what we have to purchase these properties that are so far above reasonable cost for us as a community — I don’t think that is being a good steward,” Korte said. “Let’s celebrate the completion of our preserve and move forward on how to sustain it.”

Nicely done, Parker Leavitt. Just as one “journalist” turns his back on us, another arises to bring back at least a token of resident-focused reporting via the old Republic. Let’s hope you can keep it up!

Source: Disappearing desert? Development wave hits north Scottsdale

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1 Comment

  1. There are some meaty comments (and a couple of meat-headed remarks) attached to Parker’s article. But I wanted to share my own comment here just to capture it independently of the Republic comment plugin:

    A fact that is unfortunately not discussed in Parker’s otherwise excellent article is that Scottsdale has a state-mandated General Plan from which the zoning code flows. The General Plan (along with the City Charter) is the ORGANIC LAW of Scottsdale, because it wasn’t developed by legislative act of the mayor and city council…it was crafted and ratified by vote of the residents, who therein expressed in great detail how they wanted OUR city to develop.

    The most egregious of the zoning cases that are discussed involve council-approved amendments to the General Plan. The amendment process is part of the plan, to be sure. But it was intended to be used RARELY, if at all. Mayor Lane, Virginia Korte, Linda Milhaven, Suzanne Klapp all think it’s a mechanism extract campaign contributions…like the thousands of dollars that Jim Lane got from RL Miller in exchange for his support for the Outpost project mentioned in the article.

    As I have admonished the council ad nauseum, the primary purpose of zoning is to protect and buffer uses of lesser intensity (like low-density rural residential areas) from areas of greater intensity (like commercial development). Secondarily, zoning should provide for clear expectations among the residents, upon which they can make decisions regarding where they choose to live. Both these principles lead to stability and maximum property values.

    On principle, there are only two reasons why zoning should be changed:

    1) It was wrong in the first place, like for example areas that were annexed into the city but had legacy zoning from the county that might be problematic.

    2) The area in question has changed so drastically (for reasons other than stupidity of the zoning authority) that the zoning is no longer appropriate. An example might be the McDowell Motor Mile, where traditional dealerships pulled up stakes and moved to locations more suited to their current business models

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