By: TARA ALATORRE –
DESERT HILLS – Residents may have recently noticed construction on a large parcel of land on the northeast corner of 7th Street and the Carefree Highway where a self-storage facility called Carefree Crossings is planned for development.
Grading began on the 17.25-acre vacant lot in Desert Hills about two weeks ago, grabbing the attention of many curious residents who live in the rural area. A sign regarding dust complaints was put up by Maricopa County, but otherwise no other information about the planned project was visible at the construction site.
The Foothills Focus reached out to Maricopa Planning and Zoning Department for information about Carefree Crossings including potential permitting violations, but the department did not respond to our requests. However, The Focus was able to find site plan documents from 2016 regarding Carefree Crossings, although the information may not be the most current.
A special use permit was approved on November 2, 2016 by the Board of Supervisors that rezoned an 8.9-acre portion of the lot from residential to commercial, allowing the parcel to be used for an indoor and outdoor self-storage facility, according to public records filed with the Maricopa County Planning and Zoning Department.
The rezoning request was made by the land owners by Pat, Jim and Catherine Mahoney. Once construction is finished it will be one-story storage facility with a two-story building for an office and living quarters, and open from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Saturday, according to the site plan.
There will be 467 self-storage indoor units, approximately 40 covered and 42 non-covered outdoor spaces that measure 12-feet by 30-feet, and seven parking spots. The facility will receive water from the Town of Cave Creek and use a septic system until sewage lines are available, according to the special use permit received on July 28, 2016.
Carefree Crossings is located on a flood plain with Desert Lake Wash running through the property, which is why the special use permit (SUP) was required, and one of the many reasons the New River Desert Hills Community Association opposed the development.
On October 26, 2016 The New River Desert Hills Community Association (NRDHCA) filed an appeal with the Maricopa Planning and Zoning Department that recommended denying the SUP, citing that the facility was not in accordance with the Carefree Scenic Corridor Study and caused safety issues.
“Any new access on Carefree Highway would be a major safety hazard especially since it is near a very major intersection,” the NRDHCA stated in its appeal. “Concern that ‘Existing Wash to be rerouted into new channel’ will not address concerns raised in the September 2004 Adobe Dann/Desert Hills Area Drainage Master Plan.”
According to the SUP, the wash would have to be re-routed through channelized drainage along the north and east property lines and a storm water Site Plan must be approved prior to acquiring building permits.
“The applicant does not seem to understand the Carefree Scenic Highway Study post-dates the 1999 New River Area Plan…care was take to mention only those that would affect their application in a positive manner,” the NRDHCA appeal stated.
The NRDHCA also had objections to the “monster” 18-foot sign that they claim is not in accordance with the Carefree Scenic Corridor stipulations and requested that the signs be reduced in size.
However, the SUP was revised four times addressing concerns from residents and NRDHCA, and several variations were stipulated including addressing the drainage of the wash before the final SUP was unanimously recommended for approval by the county planning and zoning commission on October 6, 2016.
“This will be a low intensity minimal traffic-generating, attractively designed low-height and well-screened facility that will serve the needs of the community,” stated county officials in documents filed with the SUP. “Approval is requested.”
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the SUP at its Nov. 2, 2016 meeting, essentially allowing the development of Carefree Crossings, after they stipulated that the developers reduce the size of the monument sign to 16-feet.
“This was a real challenge with the drainage,” Andy Kunasek, the former supervisor from District 3 said at November 2016 Board meeting. “I’m going to support it.”