Housing density, hard cider, an apartment complex and a parking lot were once again the topics at hand being discussed by city officials. This time it was the Sedona City Council’s turn to discuss the four proposed Major Community Plan Amendments during its Oct. 11 meeting.
This meeting was for discussion only but council will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at which time a vote is expected to be made. Public comments will be taken at that meeting.
When the proposed amendments were discussed last month during a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing, it was nearly standing room only. By state law, Major Community Plan Amendments are considered once a year.
It is up to the city to develop criteria that meet this definition. In addition, they are subject to public participation procedures adopted by the city council; required to be presented at a single public hearing in the same calendar year the proposal is made, must be approved by an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the council; and must be initiated by the city or requested by the private sector.
The following are the four Major Plan Amendments being considered by council
Son Silver West parking lot:
Location: 1535 State Route 179
Applicant: Francis Slavin, Esq. and Heather Dukes, Esq.
Request: Major Community Plan Amendment to the Future Land Use Map from single-family low density to planned area.
Purpose: To allow for the development of a parking lot to serve the adjacent conditionally allowed commercial use.
P&Z recommendation: 3-2 for denial This proposal calls for adding 36 to 40 additional parking spots adjacent to the current 20 spaces in front of the business.
Staff has recommended denial of this project, listing nearly a dozen reasons for that decision, several of which include the fact that nearly all the lots in that area are zoned single-family low density.
One of those, according to Community Development Director Audree Juhlin, was because the city had requested that the plan amendment be heard at the same time as the Robsons’ zoning change request. They were given an early June deadline and then a two-week extension.
The city didn’t receive the zone change application until Aug. 29. “Without a concurrent zone change application, there are no assurances that the representations made in the applicant’s letter of intent would be accomplished,” Juhlin said.
She said the biggest concern from staff is, “Because the conceptual parking lot proposal supports a use located off-site, it is difficult to evaluate the extent and need for the proposed parking lot and whether the demand could be addressed in a different manner.”
Councilman John Currivan said he doesn’t see the need for the zone change application to be submitted at the same time because if the owners did “pull a fast one” and try and use the parking lot for another use, the zone change request could easily be denied.
He then suggested that a vote on the plan amendment be postponed until staff can thoroughly vet the zoning change request. Then, if possible and “without showing favoritism,” include Son Silver West with those applicants already in the city’s queue to be heard before the Sedona Planning and Zoning Commission.
This would allow Son Silver West’s request to be heard in a matter of months as opposed to another year. However, that would also mean those businesses or individuals already waiting in the Planning and Zoning queue would be delayed.
“This is not a bureaucratic roadblock,” City Manager Justin Clifton said. “Everybody has a level playing field in respect to deadlines for these proposals. In this case, this applicant did not meet those deadlines — and wasn’t very close. We’re generally sensitive to the idea of burdening the people that do meet those deadlines.”
Multifamily high-density plan amendment
Applicant: City of Sedona
Request: Major Community Plan Amendment to the text of the Land Use, Housing and Growth chapter.
Purpose: To create a multifamily high-density designation allowing for more than 12 dwelling units per acre for development project that provide strategies for achieving housing diversity, affordability and availability in order to address local housing needs.
P&Z recommendation: 5-0 for approval Senior Planner Mike Raber said there is a great need for workforce housing in Sedona as apartments make up just 4 percent of the overall housing market.
In terms of density, Sedona now allows 12 multifamily units per acre. That’s compared to Clarkdale at 14 and Cottonwood and Flagstaff at 29 each. Some on the council expressed concern that staff. Planning and Zoning, has recommended a specific cap in terms of the density.
Juhlin said that’s because the city’s development and design standards, such as height restrictions and lot coverage, will limit density. She feels flexibility is needed, which allows creativity from developers proposing multifamily developments.
Councilman Joe Vernier asked staff to clarify whether or not this request was solely for the purpose of providing additional affordable housing.
“I think people sometimes think that we’re trying to reach some particular segment of the population in terms of affordability,” Raber said. “What we’re really trying to do is fill a niche that we’re missing that will create more diversity for housing.”
On those lines, Mayor Sandy Moriarty said, “I don’t feel making a text amendment is going to be the end of the world. I think it’s a good thing to encourage flexibility, innovation and some creative ideas when it comes to housing. This [amendment] is not an entitlement in any way. There’s all kinds of hurdles in between.”
Pinon/89A multifamily project
Location: 3285 W. State Route 89A
Applicant: Keith Holben, MK Company Inc.
Request: Major Community Plan Amendment to the Future Land Use Map from commercial to multifamily high-density.
Purpose: To allow for the development of a 45-unit apartment complex.
P&Z recommendation: 5-0 for approval According to Senior Planner Cari Meyer, this project is contingent on the city's high-density amendment being approved.
In regard to the project, she said the developer has agreed to no short-term vacation rentals, no condominium conversions, a minimum of 90-day lease and priority will be given to 25 units the local workforce.
Meyer also said that since the property is zoned for commercial use, businesses that could be built there include a restaurant/bar, fast food restaurant, bowling alley, theater, supermarket and gas station.
“For this property, if one of these uses came in and proposed a development, the city would have to allow it since that’s what it’s currently zoned for,” she said.
Sedona Hard Cider
Location: 145 Copper Cliffs Lane
Applicant: John R. Graham
Request: Major Community Plan Amendment to the Future Land Use Map from single-family low-density to planned area. Purpose: To allow for the production of hard cider within the existing buildings.
P&Z recommendation: 5-0 for approval Vice Mayor John Martinez asked about the production of the cider and the process of going from non-alcoholic to alcoholic cider.
“There’s not room there to put in a bottling line,” said Alan Everett, who is representing the company. “This is to get the process started and get his business going. If it catches on and grows, then he would have to move to another location to really do the bottling and ramp up the sales.”