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The Sedona City Council had many questions for Fitch Industries on Wednesday, Nov. 15, but few council members were ready to comment.
By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers

The Sedona City Council had many questions for Fitch Industries on Wednesday, Nov. 15, but few council members were ready to comment.

The council got its first look at the new proposal for the Cultural Park property that Fitch Industries is now in escrow with Sathcupa for.

Councilman Rob Adams said they have “been working with a moving target,” which moved a bit more with three changes to its original site plan.

According to Fitch Industries President Kent Fitch, the number of seats in the amphitheater has been raised to 2,000 and a conference center including 80 hotel rooms has been added.

Letters of intent have been signed with Red Rocks Theater and Arenas for operation of the amphitheater and Tarsadia Hotels for the lodging.

Red Rocks Theaters and Arenas operates Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

“We’ll bring you the most experienced people we can to run the amphitheater,” Fitch said, noting that he felt confident in the company’s ability.

Fitch Industries is currently asking council to change the land parcel’s designation on the Plan Future Land Use Map from “public/semi-public” to “planned area” for approximately 20 acres of the 44 acre parcel.

The remaining property will be addressed during next year’s amendment process.

The original proposal submitted to the city at the beginning of the amendment process asked for the designation to be changed to “single family very low-density residential.”

Sathcupa, who submitted the original proposal, was granted an extension by the Planning and Zoning Commission at which time they went into escrow with Fitch Industries.

Both city staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission have recommended denial of the proposal, based on the short amount of time Fitch Industries has had to plan for the site.

“This is a very sensitive site,” Long Range Senior Planner Mike Raber said.

Therefore, Raber said the city doesn’t feel comfortable moving forward with a more definite plan.

According to Raber, the city did suggest Fitch Industries initiate a comprehensive planning process and then reapply.

“If the applicant comes to the game at the third quarter do we tell them wait until the next game?” Councilman Ramon Gomez asked.

Councilman Harvey Stearn questioned whether the council has the right or moral authority to approve the proposal without a more detailed plan.

Adams, on the other hand, asked if these details need to be worked out now or if they will be addressed later in the process.

“It seems to me we have what we need before us to make a Community Plan amendment,” Adams said.

According to City Attorney Mike Goimarac, if the council approves the amendment it does not grant Fitch Industries the zoning necessary to put commercial enterprises on the land.

This aspect was one of Raber’s main concerns.

The original letter of intent for the establishment of the cultural park said there would never be commercial on this site, according to Raber.

Stearn said arts activities generally require additional support, possibly making the commercial necessary.

“Everything I’ve seen suggests you need a blend of retail and arts,” Stearn said.

Fitch Industries’ relationship with Yavapai College was also addressed.

Fitch said they would like to work out some sort of land deal, but the college must first get appraisals of its land.

Yavapai College President Jim Horton didn’t receive new information from Fitch until the work session and therefore felt he could make only general comments.

“We want to be part of this city,” Horton said, but if worse comes to worse, the college and Fitch Industries may have to simply co-exist.

“I’m having a hard time determining if you’re happy or not,” Adams asked Horton.

“I’m challenged,” Horton commented.

“So am I,” Adams responded.

According to Horton, any final decisions have to be made by the college’s board and he will call a special session to gather comments prior to council’s next meeting.

The council will vote on the amendment on Wednesday, Nov. 29.


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