It's Christmas Time
Facts, no nonsense
May you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas
along with health, happiness, and prosperity
in the coming New Year!
12/12/17: The first ever Council meeting in the newly renovated 33 Easy Street Building was held on December 5th. Although there are a few punch list items to address and some new furniture and equipment to be installed, the new Council Chambers are very attractive and comfortable. The meeting was brief. You can read the summary in the Archives.
11/21/17: You have my sincere wish for a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you travels may take you. We are Blessed. See the Thanksgiving note and issues involving the 'new' Post Office in the Archives.
11/08/17 Town Council meeting November 7, 2017: The November meeting was held in the Foothills Community Center as the new Council Chambers facility at 33 Easy Street is still incomplete. You can read the Newsletter summary in the Archives.
11/07/17 Celebration of Life, Councilman Jim Van Allen: The Celebration service was held this morning. The forthcoming Newsletter will have a summary, along with the Council Meeting report later this evening. A copy of my discussion notes can be viewed here.
10/09/17 Councilman James Van Allen: It is with great sadness, and a sense of true loss, that I inform you of Jim Van Allen’s passing Saturday afternoon.
Personal Note: In the stream of life I guess you could say that I didn’t know Jim very long, just about 6 years. Sure, I knew of him prior to that from his service with the MCSO Posse, and as a dedicated volunteer with the Chamber of Commerce and at various Carefree events. I had even been stopped and lectured by him for ‘rolling’ through a stop sign near my home. Jim was tough. He followed the rules and expected others to do likewise. Besides tough he was honest, decent, and dedicated to Carefree, giving generously of his personal time. Some might disagree, especially those unrelenting in their personal attacks and criticism of him, even during his last days. Some may breathe easier knowing that Jim won’t be watching or questioning any longer. Carefree residents have lost a truly dedicated friend and representative.
I may not have known Jim very long, but I knew him fairly well...
He’ll still be watching.
The October Council meeting summary is available in the Archives.
09/27/17 Some plans change, as did mine this past weekend: My good intentions to bring you up to date on several fronts got sidetracked so that I could help a friend. For now I'm just going to provide links to a few items that you may or may not have seen elsewhere. You can find them now in my Archives.
The first was a Letter to the Editor published in The Sonoran News on 8/16, titled 'Zoning For Dollar$'. A second Letter to the Editor, 'Where's the beef this time', SN 9/22, was a direct response to Carefree's Mayor Peterson who wrote 'Zoning for a promising future' which contained altered facts and several unsupported generalizations. I had to set the record straight and make it known that I would not accept the distortions and colorations, he presented, of meetings or events in which I was a part. There have been ample distortions and repeated character assassinations recently orchestrated by P&Z Commissioner Lyn Hitchon while the Mayor and staff apparently smile in Town Hall. Carefree doesn't need that kind of leadership or the Hitchon brand of vile attack letters. Carefree organizations and residents have had enough of that trash.
09/22/17 Lots to tell since August 29th, stay tuned this weekend: There is one important thing for my subscribers to consider right now: if you email the Mayor or Council, or have done so recently, those communications and any response you may receive become public records. However, they are not available for public review unless a Records Request [FOIA] form is submitted to the town, and 50 cents per page is paid for copies. Some readers have decided to copy CFM@CarefreesFutureMatters.com on their email in order to have their exchange more readily and more cost effectively available to others.
Why is that important? Real Transparency. The Mayor, and at least one Council member have been inviting individuals and groups to private discussions in order to 'clear up misinformation'. Such discussions are NOT public record and no 'paper trail' is kept. There is no accountability for any statements made by those elected officials, none. One recent example of an invitation from Mayor Peterson to a resident critical of the tall apartment complex development agreement read,
The Mayor was likely alluding to Councilman Jim Van Allen, the lone Council member that had asked the tough questions and ultimately was also the lone NO vote. He later explained that he could not, in good conscience, vote to approve a project that not only greatly exceeded commercial building height within the town core but also lacked the tangible documentation describing what the Council was actually voting to approve. Others on the Council apparently based their votes on trust, a few smiles, and handshakes.
Would anyone in their right mind purchase a new 'Luxury' home, yet to be designed, without any concrete details of what they would receive, based solely on a vague verbal description from the builder? I think not. Councilman Van Allen has since become the subject of ridicule and gross disrespect from an annoyingly vindictive termagant member of the P&Z and her husband. Forget the private meetings Mr. Mayor, it's long past time to dump the trash.
08/31/17 Council Meeting of August 29th: The Newsletter covering the meeting is now available in the Archives. In brief, your Town Council approved the (CUP) Conditional Use Permit & Development Agreement II for the Easy Street South parcel. The plan calls for a 6 floor structure consisting of 2 parking levels and 4 floors for 134 'Luxury Rental Units'. It will be a Tall structure fronting prominently on Easy Street. The Council approved 6 - 1, with Councilman Van Allen opposing.
On a different front, there will be further information concerning the proposed development of 100 acres located at the very northern side of town as well as the 35 acres on the east side adjacent to the Eastwood development coming soon.
08/22/17 Neighborhood meeting, 100 Acre Land Use Changes: This afternoon/evening there was a community meeting held at the Holland Center to discuss a potential request to rezone approximately 100 acres of land from Rural Residential to Low Density Residential and Rezoning R-190 to Residential Unit of Planned Development (RUPD). This is to allow for the development of 25 residential lots in far north Carefree, in Carefree Highlands, which is generally located north and east of 80th street alignment and Grapevine Road.
There were probably 3 or 4 times the number of residents in attendance compared to the Joint Workshop the Town conducted on 8/14. This was a somewhat more spirited Q&A gathering. It would be a fair to say that every resident in the area of the proposed development objected to the proposal. The primary point of interest, from my perspective, was the similarity of general concerns especially relating to lifestyle and development density that I heard from residents at this meeting and the concerns from the Stagecreek community meeting I attended several weeks ago. I firmly believe that all of us, regardless of where we live in Carefree, share common concerns about potential changes to the lifestyle and character of our town. I directed folks to the town website to review the presentation materials from the Joint Workshop. It can also be accessed by clicking here.
To the participants of today's meeting, that find their way here, I recommend that you consider subscribing to the CFM Newsletter, through which I will keep you informed about land use and potential zoning actions that may occur in Carefree. You can do so from the Contact page or by sending an email to: CFM@CarefreesFutureMatters.com, with the word Subscribe in the subject line. I would also like to hear from you regarding any information or activity that comes to your attention, since I live a bit more than 500 feet from the proposed site.
More on this subject in the days ahead.
08/22/17 Slight Correction to 'Zoning for Dollar$': In the August 16th edition of Sonoran News my letter to the editor incorrectly implied that the Carefree would not receive any ongoing revenue from the proposed luxury rental apartment complex on the south parcel which has been owned by Ed Lewis. In reality, after the initial Construction taxes/fees are paid the Town would receive local sales tax revenue on rental income. I overlooked the fact that local sales tax revenue from rental income is not limited solely to hotels. That oversight / error was mine alone.
Council discussion of the proposal is expected at the September Council meeting on 8/29. Assuming that the Development plan receives Town and Council approval, and also assuming that the project actually comes to fruition, there would be a local sales tax revenue stream generated from units rented. My thanks to Councilman Michael Krahe for pointing out my oversight. Our lively exchange of perspectives this morning was invigorating - and hopefully mutual. As I said during the Joint Workshop, discussion is better than no discussion, and discussion leads to solutions. Councilman Krahe and I agree that residents deserve to have all the information on topics that will affect Carefree so that they can arrive at an informed opinion and participate at the public meetings to address those topics. I'll do my part to keep you informed and aware of those important meetings; your part is to make your opinions known.
08/21/17 COINS Email of August 20th: It is always valuable to receive news and important updates from the Town. It is also import to understand that COINS is a combination of news, marketing, and advertisement material.
Critics be advised, I do not claim the following is news; it is my perspective.
The current edition of COINS contains information relating to the recent Joint Workshop of the Town Council, Planning & Zoning Commission, and two members of the Long Range Financial Planning Committee (LRFPC). What is now being labeled as a “strategic plan” is actually an overview of historic data and a current perspective of the continuing decline in revenue. It is not a plan but rather a presentation of several possible scenarios. I would be remiss if I did not provide a few counterpoints to statements in COINS, the same counterpoints I raised throughout the 2 years I served on that LRFPC.
More and more frequently you are hearing Town officials use the term ‘Property Tax’, or ‘Real Estate Tax’. I have continuously objected to the unending reminders that Carefree does not have a local property tax. Some people may believe that the more often you hear a word or phrase the more accepting of that word or phrase you will become. Carefree voters have soundly rejected the possibility of a property tax by placing restrictions on the Town Council’s ability to approve one. It would take a super-majority Council vote to even get the question on a ballot. It would then take a majority of resident voters to approve such a measure. In the workshop presentation material there is a slide labeled, “Primary Municipal Revenue Sources ($000)”. Three items are listed, one of which is Property Tax. The figures for all years documented in that category are $0. Under the chart you see “Source: Carefree Audited Annual Financial Statements.” There is no such revenue category in Carefree’s financial statements. Why do you suppose property tax is listed as a source of Carefree revenue?
A bit further in the COINS email you saw the following:
There were no higher density communities adjacent to (‘next to or adjoining something else’) the new Eastwood project on the south side of Cave Creek Road. The Council allowed rezoning of that area for the explicit purpose of approving a high density community. Town officials made reference to the community of SkyRanch (north of Cave Creek Road) as an adjacent high density community. I suspect Realtors would not view the venerable upscale community situated across a four lane divided highway as “adjacent to”. Further, the Villas to the west of SkyRanch Airpark are nearly a mile away which doesn’t meet the criteria of ‘adjacent’ in my book.
In an appropriate location, a high quality resort would be a welcome addition to Carefree’s Commercial revenue generators; strip malls and fast food restaurants probably not so much.
08/16/17 Joint Council and P&Z Meeting Presentation Slides: Click here
08/14/17 Joint Council and P&Z Workshop: The meeting was a long one, wrapping up shortly after 7:30 last evening. Public attendance was sparse, possibly due to the COINS notice of a 2 - 2.5 hour session!
At the start of the joint meeting Mayor Peterson took a few moments to address a notice that had been displayed at the 100 Easy Street location of our Post office facility. Here is a brief summary of information, which also appeared in COINS:
It has come to the Town’s attention that the current Carefree Post Office Manager, Maxine Douglass, has posted a letter on the building doors stating they are saying goodbye. The Town was not aware of this and as we hear more, we will keep you informed. We are sad to see the employees go after many years of dedicated service and have received more information as to what is happening. Please be reassured that the postal service will continue in Carefree but not by the current postal subcontractor.
Once again the Town will keep you informed as we learn more. Again, we are very sad to see the existing, dedicated postal employees leaving town and wish them the best in the future
The presentation was directed by Mayor Peterson, and it was extensive. It covered a great deal of material, both historic and current, and was frequently interspersed with lively discussion among participants. The financials painted a picture of the Town's revenue and expense lines crossing in the not too distant future (5 to 8 years) as revenue continues to decline for a variety of reasons. I'll not go into all of that information at this juncture since I plan to make a copy of the slide materials available online in addition to expanded information on several topics.
As expected, the potential Land Use policy was the topic which generated the most comments/discussions. It was noted, more than once, that members of the Council, P&Z Commissioners, and resident advisers all live nearby one or more of the land parcels being considered for some type of development. High density - low density residential, types of commercial and where, as well as potential for resorts - everyone has an opinion on each topic.
In the end, more discussion is better than no discussion and certainly the support of residents for the Town's land use policies is essential for Carefree's future. Residents are the town; they founded it, they guided it, and love of Carefree's unique character has helped it grow. The Town Hall staff are merely advisers who are tasked with providing information to assist in the decision making process. They don't get to make those decisions. Most, if not all, of our Town Hall staffers are not Carefree residents. You can count on learning more about current and future plans as information becomes available, from a variety of sources. You’ll also hear more about terms such as ‘Real Estate Tax’ (property tax), ‘Remnants’, and ‘Legacy’.
As the joint meeting was breaking up, shortly after 7:30, the Mayor took a moment to thank the resident advisers for their time and contributions, and to release us from further Committee participation. At this moment I'm uncertain if that is a good thing, or not.
08/13/17 Petition Opposing Stagecreek High Density Development: Mr. Gordon Chagrin, a nearby resident on the south side of Stagecoach Pass near the proposed Stagecreek development, has created an online petition opposing the rezoning and development of 118 homes on that 35-acre parcel. You may find the petition here, Petition opposing Stagecreek development
On a personal level, I am not in favor of rezoning those 35 acres from Low-Density Residential (R43) to a far less restrictive RUPD which would permit significantly more homes than the original plat would allow, raising the number of from 31 homes to 118. I have already signed the petition.
08/13/17 Joint Council and P&Z Meeting Monday: This brief edition is intended to provide you with information that should be of interest to all Carefree residents as well as neighbors in surrounding communities.
I’ve previously written about the next proposed, high density, development adjacent to Eastwood, between Cave Creek Road and Stagecoach Pass. A quick look at the General Plan indicates that there are only a few relatively large parcels of undeveloped land remaining in Carefree. Current economic factors suggest that more houses per acre and some focused commercial development have become central themes within our town government.
This Monday afternoon/evening there will be a joint meeting of the Carefree Town Council and Planning & Zoning Commission at the Holland Center, 34250 N 60th St, Scottsdale, starting at 5PM (Building B, Quail Room). The Mayor is expected to present a combination Long Range Financial Outlook & Economic Development Plan for Carefree over the next 5 years and beyond. It will encompass our recent past, present, and future economic situations. He is expected to outline several steps, or initiatives which are on the drawing board, and will include potential development plans for certain land parcels within the town. The presentation will be comprehensive.
The proposed development of Stagecreek (118 homes on 35 acres) may be mentioned as part an overall land development strategy, but there is not expected to be any voting on that specific matter at this time.
As I mentioned earlier, I encourage everyone interested in hearing the Town’s strategy for Economic Development and Land Use to attend. Monday, August 14th 5PM at the Holland Center. Carefree’s future as a quiet, semi-rural enclave will ultimately be in your hands.
07/23/17 StageCreek Community Meeting: The meeting outlining the proposed development across from Sky Ranch & Airpark was held at the Holland Center on July 18th. Although I did not take an actual count, there appeared to be between 25 and 35 people in attendance. Rather than repeat the contents of the newsletter I'll be sending out, you can read it by clicking here.
07/16/17 Council Meeting of July 11th: My last update sure generated quite a few comments, almost exclusively very positive, and a few (indirectly) just a bit more than negative. That’s life, here in Carefree as it is everywhere that free speech is still tolerated. I gave you my perspective and made that clear. When this Newsletter and associated website were started I made a point of saying, “Facts, no nonsense”. When I do express my opinion I try to make that clear and I don’t pretend it is news. Now I’ll get back to the more typical Council meeting updates and some other news. You can read the current Newsletter here.
Late Breaking News: It has been brought to my attention by a neighbor that there is another high-density development being proposed for the 40 acre parcel with Eastwood on the east border. The property is bordered on the west side by Windmill Lane and sits on the south side of Cave Creek Road across from Sky Ranch Airpark. An original plat plan filed by a different developer several years back called for 40 homes in a gated community. This new development anticipates 118 homes and will require zoning changes and probably an amendment to the Carefree General Plan. If approved, after review and discussion by the P&Z Commission, the plan would go before the Town Council for their final approval. A letter advised that a meeting will be held at the Holland Center, Quail Room, at 6PM on Tuesday July 18th, presumably open to the public. You may view the letter and preliminary plan layout for StageCreek on the CFM website, here.
[OPINION: My perspective as a close neighbor to both Eastwood and this proposed development is that it appears the town may be willing to change the semi-rural character of Carefree’s east end, forever. Sadly, construction revenue is short lived and will not sustain any municipality unless the municipality has attractions to draw in both residents and visitors who are willing to open their pocketbooks in Carefree establishments. You may recall that when Eastwood was approved, after much discussion, and the existing zoning was changed to allow high density, we were assured that Eastwood would serve as a “buffer” between the low density zoned land to the west and the Garden Office complex to the east. What will be said about this new development, if approved? Another “buffer” or will it be yet another opening to more high density development on the adjourning 40 acres to its west?]
07/04/17 I'm back: On a personal level it's been a very difficult few months. I'll dispense with those details which are irrelevant in light of bigger issues facing Carefree. It is time to share some unsettling things, and yes, my opinion. If you are put off by that, so be it. Sometimes the real world is neither pleasant nor as we wish it to be. We have a town government which is losing perspective and a clear understanding of why people live here and love the Carefree they moved here to enjoy. For 3 years now the town has washed away more than $1.4 Million in Sales Tax revenue on Marketing which has yielded zero tangible results. Businesses continue to struggle, or worse yet, simply fail. The town implements plans and events that can actually be detrimental to business opportunity. Our seasonal visitors arrive in October and leave in May, as they always have, yet they are spending less and less money here while taking advantage of all our free marketing events. Capital projects, such as Gateways and lighting up empty parking lots also add nothing to the coffers. I'm sick of hearing some people say it was necessary. People found Carefree long before GPS, signs, lights, and Gateways were implemented. Was some additional lighting a good thing? Probably, but enough is enough. This isn't the city, this is rural living and so flashlights can be useful devices. Those craving city services, city lights, and cramped living are welcome to live in a city that already provides the things they enjoy, or need, without attempting to transform this environment into something it was never meant to be. How many more years should Carefree throw money at the same stone wall without ever cracking it? The town has even resorted to rezoning our desert acreage into much smaller lots, well outside of the accessible core, all to increase short-term income from construction fees - that won't last or sustain any town. If left unchecked it will likely continue until Carefree completely loses its character. Who wants that?
At the core of these struggles we employ a town administrator who has been not so discreetly throwing around the phrase 'property tax', yet has been unable in 8 years to return Carefree to the prosperity we once enjoyed, while towns all around us have rebounded from the 2008 debacle. Instead of constantly highlighting his 2-legged stool lament perhaps he should be focusing on a large center support structure in lieu of fragile legs. Existing property and business owners seem to be ignored, or disparaged, in favor of pursuing outside interests. Perhaps some will be attracted but at what cost. The Easy Street project received several very favorable incentives and lots of press yet Carefree, with all of its beauty & charm continues to languish. Who will be the next potential investor to be granted favorable treatment while long standing investors just get to hang on with little to no support. Being unable to manage an economy that has prospered on thriving businesses and their Sales Tax revenue for more than 3 decades of incorporation, and prior, he'd probably like to have a Property Tax to cushion the ineptitude. Who, in God's name, actually believes he'll do better with more of our resident tax money? Not me, and not the seniors on fixed incomes. If he couldn't manage our local economy before a Property Tax what would make anyone believe he could use Property Tax money any more wisely? In reviewing the newest budget, it sure seems that the only economic benefit goes to those who are spending the money. What sound business hands out large salary increases as it faces declining income and rising expenses? Only governments with the ability to tax can get away with that strategy. You'll hear all about grand plans, as you did with the Easy Street project, awards for projects that yielded no income, and grants that any municipality with competent management would have obtained. It's beyond time for a change in management and a new focus.
Have a Happy and safe Independence Day Holiday
See the latest CFM Newsletter in the Archives.
04/05/17 Other People's Money: It never ceases to amaze me how generous certain folks are with other people's money. Really. In a recent Council meeting, and again this week in a letter to another newsletter, one opinionated resident just bubbled forth with their misguided rationalizations of why we (all the other residents) should pay for the huge miscalculation and blunder Carefree Town government made over a decade ago. Instead of proposing that we all pay a "fee", which that person suggests would be tax deductible [it would not be], I suggest they make a very generous annual donation to the Town of Carefree, which might be a legitimate tax deduction, or not. Charity should begin in their home.
I don't publish letters. It is rare, but I sometimes pass on redacted letters to town officials, if appropriate or if they relate to public safety issues. I occasionally do insert my editorial comments, clearly [bracketed and/or highlighted], a fact I disclosed in Newsletters past. I don't pretend those comments are news. I sometimes publish a portion of comments I receive from readers who express their concerns. Today is such a time. The comment below fits because there seems to be a concerted and growing effort to desensitize our residents to the potential of a Property Tax, or some other reach into their pocket. The more our public officials and/or their shills mention "Property Tax" the more you should be concerned. It doesn't matter if they say, "I'm not proposing a Property Tax" or "I'm not in favor of a Property Tax" or we do all thee wonderful things without a Property Tax, you keep hearing about a Property Tax! The following was from a reader today:
"A few minor details not mentioned by a reader of that other publication. The voters of Carefree were never asked if THEY wanted the Town to pay for their fire coverage PLUS the fact the 1% sales tax increase would not cover the cost in future years was downplayed intentionally because “free” would not have been free. Secondly, ambulance service in a town of 55+ year old residents has proven to be much more important than fire protection and was the first thing eliminated in the fire contract extension. A friend said many years ago that the town would have been better off by paying for the re build of any house that burned. BTW, how many have over 10 years? I do not count Alberto’s because that fire was deemed to have been the result of owner modifications performed without required permits. Thankfully no one was injured."
"The whole fire protection blunder had the scent of a mayor taking care of a few buddies by paying for their fire coverage because they live or own property in poorly serviced areas. Then compounding one mistake with another, the Town buys a fire truck that is designed for urban use. MAMA MIA!"
For the record, this post does contain personal opinion. Like I said, I'm not claiming it is news.
03/07/17 Town Council meeting summary: This meeting featured a presentation by Dr. Debbie Burdick on the status of CCUSD followed by an abbreviated summary of the February 28th Council Workshop presented by Mayor Peterson. The meeting summaries are available in the Archives, for 2/28/17 as well as 03/07/17.
02/28/17 Special Council Meeting on Economic Issues: As noted in the Newsletter sent out yesterday afternoon, Mayor Les Peterson has called a Special Council Meeting (open to the public) on Tuesday, February 28th, 6PM at the Holland Center, in the Mesquite Room. According to the posted agenda the topics of note are as follows:
* Review and discussion regarding short and long range financial planning & economic development and strategy.
* Review and discussion regarding future fair and festival strategy.
This will be an important meeting for all who have an interest in Carefree’s economic future. As members of the Long Rang Financial Planning Committee, I and the others have heard a great deal about Carefree’s current economic situation as well as numerous activities and actions which may come to fruition in the not too distant future. The mayor and staff will be presenting information, on the topics noted, to the full Council and public.
I’m certain you have heard, many times over, the truism that “change is inevitable.” Only time and history can help us determine the relative value of any given change. However, knowledge and awareness are the best preparations for change, or to guide it.
Presentation materials provided last evening by Gina Kaegi can be found in the Archives, in the Slides and Charts folder; click here for the Economic slides, or here for the Marketing slides. Please note, the PowerPoint materials will have to be downloaded to your computer as a .ppsx type file and you will need Microsoft PowerPoint or their free PowerPoint Viewer to view the materials. The free Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer can be downloaded from Microsoft by clicking here. After clicking the Download button click the file to install it.
This morning the Mayor sent out a note to the Council members and the LRFP committee members which defined parameters of the meeting. Since that note did not contain privileged or confidential information I'll share it with you:
The purpose of the Special Carefree Town Council Workshop scheduled for this evening, Tuesday, 2/28, is to:
- Follow up upon the financial analysis provided to you previously and communicate the recommendations of the Long Range Financial Planning Committee, including John Crane, Gary Neiss, Michael Krahe and myself representing the Town, and outside members John Traynor, Jerry Wedda, Gary Hayward, Leslie Hine and Stephen Hatcher, regarding the business strategy and approach that we believe that the Town of Carefree should follow in the future, and
- Gina Kaegi will provide an overview of the marketing approach which the Town Staff, supported by Cheryl Kroyer and me, believe will best serve the interest of the Town for the future.
Please note that:
- This will be a Special Town Council Workshop, and only members of the Town Council and Town Staff will be permitted to participate in the discussion. The one exception here might be where a Town Council member calls upon one or more of the outside members of the Long Range Financial Planning Committee to provide their input on the overall Town strategy. Members of the public are invited to attend to hear these discussions, but they may not participate at this Special Workshop. If they have questions or comments they may address these at the next scheduled Regular Carefree Town Council Meeting on Tuesday night, March 7th.
- The discussion will be at a 30,000 foot level, and will not get into individual line-item budgets or other specifics. The purpose of this Special Workshop is for the Town Council to discuss and debate the strategies for the Town of Carefree in these two important areas, not to become mired down in specifics. Those topics are better left for discussions during the Budget Workshops which will be commencing shortly
I look forward to discussing these two important topics and gaining the insight and hearing the experience of each of you.
Mayor Les Peterson
02/08/17 Town Council Meeting Summary: On Tuesday the Council held their February meeting in addition to an Executive Session following that meeting. Heather Burgett was chosen to fill the P&Z vacancy and Joseph DeVito was selected to be an alternate. An architect was selected to develop plans for modifying the main level of 33 Easy Street to be used as the Carefree's Council Chambers. You can see the preliminary layout here, and you can find the full meeting summary in the Archives.
01/16/17 Updates since the January Newsletter: A number of other inquires were received regarding the question posed by a reader who wanted to know
“How much money is the Town out as a result of the Easy Street Condo project, if any? Direct and indirect, if you know or can find out.” I didn't have that information but Vice Mayor Crane was able to provide some insight in response to an email exchange between us. Since he said I was free share the information, I'm providing his response which I received January 9th:
As you noted, the figure of a $34,000 is simply the surplus of plan review fees paid by the Easy Street Condo project less the Town’s review costs. Over the years, in the Town’s dealings with Ed Lewis, inarguably much Town energy and time were expended. Like any business deal that does not come to fruition, those related expenses might be considered a loss, but in this situation, the Town, fortunately, received several monetary pluses, in addition to permit fees, to mitigate those expenses. To address, the below points you raised:
- During the one year lease of Easy Street, the Easy Street Condo project paid to the Town $32,160, plus utilities and rental tax. During the lease year, the Town paid the Holland Center $4,000 in lease payments.
- There were no expenses covered by the Town which were to be reimbursed by Ed Lewis which were not reimbursed.
- Yes, the Town incurred staff research time to purchase and conduct due diligence prior to engaging into a lease at the Holland Center. These costs were modest and not itemized and certainly a fraction of the delta in rent between Ed Lewis’ lease payments to the Town and the Town’s lease payments to the Holland Center
- Prior to acquiring 33 Easy Street, the Town hired an architect to review the feasibility of converting 33 Easy Street into a Town Council Chamber. This expense was part of the due diligence required when the Town considered purchasing 33 Easy Street and had nothing to do with leasing 33 Easy Street to Ed Lewis. Prior to the Easy Street Condo project occupying 33 Easy Street, the Town performed several repairs / modifications – roof repair, landscaping, front access – all expenses that the Town would have incurred had we immediately occupied 33 Easy Street.
- Upon vacating 33 Easy Street, the Easy Street Project donated several pieces of office furniture to the Town valued at several thousand dollars.
While we do not have a detailed spreadsheet itemizing each Easy Street Condo project expense incurred over the years, the above figures show that some revenue and benefit were generated to offset those expenses.
On a different subject, I have been somewhat remiss in not posting a link to audio from the Council meeting, Agenda Item 10, Carefree 2017 Fair & Festival Strategy. The Mayor's presentation comments begin at approximately 56 minutes and 33 seconds (56:33) into the recording on the Town website. Unfortunately the recording is available for download only at that location.
01/03/17 Council Meeting Summary: The first Council meeting of this New Year was held Tuesday evening at the Holland Center. I didn't think to ask, but there was no mention of when the meetings would be moved back to Carefree in the Town owned 33 Easy Street Building. The Ed Lewis sales office has been shutdown so that space is essentially available for redesign and use as the new Council chambers. I'll check on the status and post back here with an update.
Although there were just a few items on the agenda, the meeting was one of the longest since meetings have been moved to Holland center, ending at 6:38PM. The Garden Seminar presentation, the report on the Pumpkin Festival, and the 2017 Fairs & Festivals Strategy took up most of the meeting time. The Health & Resources Expo info is here, and the Fairs & Festival Strategy is here.
You will find the meeting recap in our Archives. Posted 01/05/17.
12/24/16 Merry Christmas! Friends of Carefree, although Jim Van Allen is no longer associated with this newsletter, [while he is a member of the Carefree Town Council] I’m certain he would join me in wishing you, and your entire family, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Whatever Holiday you celebrate, and how ever you celebrate it, I think we can agree that this is indeed the time of year for family, friends, and neighbors to share a common joy for all of our blessings.
I sincerely wish you the best life has to offer and pray that your New Year will be filled with Health, Happiness, and Prosperity.
12/07/16 Council Meeting Summary: The Mayor and Council members took the Oath of Office at the very start of the meeting. The highlight of this meeting was the announcement that the Easy Street Condo Project has been terminated by Ed Lewis and his two properties will be put up for sale. The reason cited was that Mr. Lewis has been unable to obtain construction financing, which he attributed to the stringent Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The entire meeting summary can be found in the Archives.
12/05/16 Some General News: As you probably know, Jim Van Allen has partnered with me to produce the CFM Newsletter since our inception. Because Jim will be sworn in as a Town Council member at the December Council meeting on Tuesday, 12/06, he will end his role in CFM for the duration of his Council service. Jim does not believe it is appropriate for elected or appointed Town officials to send newsletters or operate websites related to Town matters. The Sonoran News recently published his letter on this subject. Jim has provided me with a copy of the letter for republication in the next Newsletter.
Contrary to recent rumors, Cafe Bink will not be closing anytime soon. There were reports that the restaurant would close sometime early in 2017. My wife and I had the pleasure of attending the reopening of Kevin Binkley's midtown restaurant on Saturday evening. The 4 hour exquisite dining experience, with only 18 guests, was unrivaled in my personal and professional business travel experience. For a look at Saturday's menu, click here.
Shortly after we arrived Kevin came out to the patio to welcome us. We’ve known Kevin & Amy since the early days at ‘Crew’ in El Pedregal, when our son AJ was just a 1st grader. We’ve been fans and customers of Binkley’s ever since. During our conversation I asked Kevin about the rumors. He said that closing Café Bink was not a consideration. However he did need to free himself of the growing business responsibilities of running four restaurants in order to focus on his true passion, the food, and providing a unique dining experience. He sold his Scottsdale restaurant and closed the original Binkley’s in Cave Creek. He hired Christian Giles, a 16 year veteran and the 7 year general manager of Charlie Trotters in Chicago, to handle the ‘front-office’ business. He decided against selling the Café Bink business and instead has hired a top notch chef, one he originally trained and who had worked at Binkley’s in Cave Creek. The new chef (sorry, I forgot his name) is already at work and will have a free hand to run Café Bink. Kevin indicated that substantial changes there will be forthcoming soon. So Café Bink isn’t going anywhere.
11/02/16 November Council Meeting Summary: Our Town Council meeting summary is online in the Archives.
10/31/16 Council Meeting Tuesday, 11/01 @5PM: The meeting will again be held at the Holland center. There will be an important discussion regarding a Text Amendment to our Zoning regulations, Case #16-07-TA, which addresses Senate Bill 1350 (SB1350). That Bill restricts local cities and towns from being able to regulate or limit the use of vacation rentals or short-term rentals within municipal boundaries.
On an election related matter, Carefree Mayor Les Peterson has passed along the following information: Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery presented a very compelling case, at the Kiwanis meeting on 10/26, to vote against Prop 205 which would legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona. Attorney Montgomery referenced the negative experience of legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington as support for his point of view, and the far less restrictive provisions of the proposed Arizona Prop 205 when compared to those passed by residents of the two states just mentioned.
Mr. Montgomery suggested the website www.ARDP.org to learn more about the reasons not to support Prop 205. I would suggest a thorough review of this website to anyone interested.
10/10/16 P&Z and Development Review Board Meetings: Both meetings were quick affairs. SB 1350 applies to Municipalities, yet HOAs, as 3rd party agreements, appear to be outside the scope of the SB 1350. After some discussion by the Commissioners, I asked if our Town Attorney had given an opinion on the subject. Discussion ensued, resulting in agreement that the Attorney would be consulted. The proposed Text Amendment was approved 7 - 0, and will now be forwarded to the Town Council. A copy of the Text Amendment is in our Archives. The meeting adjourned at 5:25PM.
The Development Review Board met to consider a requested change to the perimeter wall material for the Eastwood Development. Staff explained the change was an enhancement to the plan, replacing one finish for another more aesthetic one. The developer explained that the change was a more expensive upgrade, in keeping with their Arizona Ranch theme. Because of wording in the Staff report resident Bob Schenkel inquired if other changes had been allowed without public review. He was assured that the progress of the development followed normal procedures. I asked the developer how a 3 step labor intensive block wall, stucco, and paint finish was less expensive than a one step slump block material. He responded that the custom block material was more expensive. The request was approved 7 - 0, and the meeting adjourned at 5:45PM.
10/10/16 Important Planning & Zoning Meeting Today: The meeting will be held this afternoon at 5PM at the Holland center. It will address a Text Amendment to our code in order to bring it into compliance with S.B. 1350. Governor Ducey signed S.B. 1350 in May. It prevents cities and counties from banning short-term rentals. The bill could have an impact on HOAs as well, depending on their pre-existing CC&Rs. If you have an interest in this matter you are encouraged to attend. See more in the Special Archives.
10/04/16 October Town Council Meeting: The agenda was a brief one. Please see the meeting summary in our Archives.
October Updates: Don’t miss the upcoming Carefree Enchanted Pumpkin Garden Festival (Oct. 17–31). Creator/Artist Ray Villafane will once again host live pumpkin carving demonstrations in the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion. Last year’s event was a huge success, so don’t miss this opportunity to participate and enjoy an even bigger spectacle. A special thanks is due Ray, as well as to Gina Kaegi, Carefree Marketing Director, for her hard work and commitment to this event.
See more on the event at Carefreepumpkingarden
Back in May Governor Ducey signed S.B. 1350 which prevents cities and counties from banning short-term rentals. It allows companies, such as Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) to collect lodging taxes on behalf of property owners while also keeping the properties classified as residential for tax purposes. On September 20th the Carefree P&Z Commission met to initiate a Zoning Ordinance text amendment related to short-term vacation rentals. This is necessary in order for Carefree to comply with new state regulations, effective December 31, 2016.
The October Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 4th at 5PM.
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