The Meritage Development Shuffle

A Sonoran Truth Guest Editorial by John Vannucci, April 6, 2016


The proposed Meritage condominium development has managed to get the Town Council to ‘reconsider’ their March 21, 2016 no-vote on their request to upzone 12.2 acres behind the Lowes store, from Desert Rural to Commercial Buffer. This process is a perfect example of how developers game the system in their favor, with the assistance and encouragement of our elected officials.

The following is the sequence of events which took place in Meritage’s request for a ‘Do Over’ on their project.

  • It began in 2013/2014 with the passage of the Specific Area Plan (SAP) to commercialize the north side of Carefree Hwy. from 53rd street west to 48th street. Originally it was to be only One Parcel deep. Then it became Two parcels deep. Somehow, two large parcels totaling 12+/- acres, behind the Lowes were included, becoming Four deep from the Highway. The neighborhood residents fought this additional commercialization, forcing the Council to remove those extra parcels from the SAP.

The owner of these parcels threatened to sue the town, and the Cowardly Council  re-instated the parcels back into the SAP, thereby making them eligible for commercialization, and therefore more valuable for the owner.

  • Enter Meritage Home Development with a request to up-zone these parcels from Desert Rural to Commercial Buffer. Their proposal was to cram 55/56 condos on 12.2 acres (4.4 units/acre). They did not ask for Multi Residential zoning; they wanted Commercial Buffer. This would provide them with commercial options instead of residential, a more lucrative position. The neighborhood fought the proposal for a second time, convincing the Planning Commission on February 18th to vote unanimously to deny Meritage’s commercial buffer zoning request.
  • It’s tough to beat back zombies. On March 21, 2016, Meritage brought forth their request to up-zone before the Town Council . The presentation and arguments were the same as presented to the Planning Commission. They did NOT alter their request to ‘Multi Residential’; they wanted ‘commercial buffer’ zoning. Twenty-one brave neighbors once again fought to save their property values and neighborhood. Once again, they convinced the council to deny the commercial upzoning by a 7-0 no vote.
  • It was a shock and surprise to Meritage that the council denied them a victory. At the end of the meeting, Councilwoman Clancy was over heard telling the Meritage representative not to worry, because she would bring it back to Council for re-consideration, better known as the ‘Do Over’ maneuver.
  • Lo and behold, on the Monday, April 4, 2016, council meeting, Ms. Clancy introduced to Council her agenda item for a re-consideration of their 7-0 no vote, to be ‘re-considered’ during the April 18, 2016 council meeting. I ask, what is there to be re-considered?

On April 18th the neighborhood will have to fight to protect their property values and quality of life, for the FOURTH time, while the developer hopes to have exhausted their opposition; after all, that is what they get paid to do. It is this shuffle that corrupts the process and betrays the public’s confidence in its elected officials. Whose property rights is Ms. Clancy protecting? It is obvious she prefers to protect the developer’s interest, and not the citizens most affected by this development.

Hopefully, people remember this shuffle when Ms. Clancy asks for your vote on November 8, 2016.

JohnJohn Vannucci

The Fiscal Conservative Creeker








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