Saturday, October 31, 2009

Never Try to Teach a Pig to Sing...

“Never try to teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and makes the pig mad”

In other words, we can’t fight change. As we come upon voting for Wal-Mart or not, I feel compelled to express my thoughts. Recently I’ve read Letters to the Editor with statements such as…

“…Where’s the downside?”
“…Mother of all win wins for Cave Creek”
“…What’s the issue?”
“…Those people obviously bought their properties knowing commercial was right next to them.”
“…No harm to the “character” of Cave Creek”
“…town’s core will be unchanged”
“…where there is no vision people will perish, where there is no vision Cave Creek will perish”

Many of these statements have merit behind them… especially, bottom line we need Wal Mart because we need the jobs, revenue and Wal-Mart’s community contributions. However, I personally resent statements that character will go unchanged, that there will be no harm, that things will be unchanged, and that it is a win-win proposition. When Lowes came in, I sure wish there would’ve been some discussion like we have now about Wal Mart… but of course that only impacted a couple homes in Cave Creek.

For the past six years I’ve lived in Cave Creek, but I’ve been visiting for over 13 years. I’m privileged to own two homes on El Sendero Dr behind Lowe’s. One I live in, one is where which my senior mother lives. When I bought my property, yes, I knew that there was commercial property planned. The discussion was a small shopping plaza, nobody knew then a large “box store” was planned. What I did know was there was one acre between me and the commercial property. I felt I could live with that, as long as there were trees, space for wild life, and vegetation to buffer any noise and lights.

However, that’s not what happened. Lowe’s bought the acre for “overflow” parking; completely re-directed a major wash, built a huge hole with an 18 foot drain at the bottom. In addition, they had no plans to continue a fence to block off access to the adjoining properties. I did get that changed near my home, and they continued a fence (albeit not block). However, they did not continue this practice elsewhere (for example, at Doug’s house, which is completely open to Lowes unused parking lot.

For the past two years I’ve made several reports, observations and phone calls to Lowes’ management for the following:
  • Skateboarders, car racers, dumped furniture, parked cars with boom-box music at all times of the night, loitering motorcyclists, abandoned girl’s purse with beer bottles next to it, and most recently, a broken bent fence to the hole with at least 5-10 beer bottles and cans around and at the bottom.
There has not been a single space of Lowe’s overflow parking used in the past 2 years. Access to the parking is not blocked off, nor completely fenced and obviously a breeding ground for partying and “watching”….watching what? Currently I’m in the process of requesting Lowe’s to block the bridge and fence the property until they “need” the overflow. As a past banker of 27 years and a current licensed real estate agent, I understand from a commercial building perspective the requirements for number of parking spaces per building square footage. However, since opening, the store has never had the traffic to support that need. This is a thought I’d like people to keep in mind.

I’ve recently asked the sheriff’s department to monitor the parking area more and met face to face with Lowe’s management to bring their attention to the parking lot. With Doug’s recent death and burglary it has only heighten our awareness of how things change…and we really can’t stop it.

In summary, I’m not complaining, fighting change, blaming, “dislike Wal-Mart because they are Wal-mart” and not thinking I will not have my “core” Cave Creek gone. My letter is to bring forth questions/concerns to our town and to the people who live close to the proposed Wal-Mart.

I speak from firsthand experience …it will change! Wildlife (especially rattles snakes) will find a new homes, parking lot lights will ruin beautiful nights, noise will no longer buffered by the trees. Be prepared for your property value to decrease for a reason that will never change: Privacy is gone, people travel at 55mph in the neighboring 25 mph streets, there are ingress/egress issues. Where are the customers coming from that shop at Wal-Mart? Cave Creek, North Scottsdale and Carefree’s population? More traffic is guaranteed and the Character will change.

Why not consider other options for revenue on 10 acres vs. 20 acres? I’ve only heard of Wal-Mart (and Trader Joe’s). Are there others? Or is money so important we’ll make concessions. Why hasn’t “Fresh n’ Easy” opened? Economics? Are we being realistic for now and the future? I’m sure there’re answers to these questions, but ALL options are not being discussed.

There are blessings in all things. I still live in Cave Creek (my choice), this is where my grandchildren still enjoy coming to grandma Cheryle’s and Grannies’ house, I can still ride my horse out of my yard (with more restricted access), I still have a town core, I can still be involved in preserving our trails and lifestyle (which I have by laying rocks with my fellow volunteers), I can write a letter to the editor, go to council meetings, and I can still go to Dairy Queen (which I love!).

I do have hope and vision that Cave Creek will always maintain itself as a desirable destination different than any other community in Maricopa County.


Cheryle CarmitchelCave Creek

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Excerpts From the White Paper

Placed on the Agenda by Councilman Mozilo, Town of Cave Creek. (Councilman Mozilo is an author of the White Paper)

Council Action Needed: Motion to direct Staff to proceed with three priorities identified in the White Paper: 1) Hiring of a Chief Financial Officer - including researching any needed changes to Town Code to allow for the position and developing a job description for recruiting and hiring in the next fiscal year. 2) bringing the revisions to the Subdivision Approval Process with regard to the Final Plat and Site Plan Review Process. and 3) Begin the process of amending Appendix 'A' of the Zoning Ordinance.

RECOMMENDATION SIX: “Vigorously pursue Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart has purchased a (residential) 20.5 acre site on the east side of Cave Creek Road, south of the Bullington property. The Town must aggressively pursue Wal-Mart to locate a retail center on that site, resulting in some $3.0 million dollars of annual, net new retail sales taxes to the Town. Specifically, the Town should facilitate submission of appropriate applications by April, 2009. Additionally, the Town should expedite processing of their applications through the Planning Commission and the Town Council and schedule all actions to result in Town Council approval in July, 2009. Spearhead a benefits of Wal-Mart education campaign.
Recommendation six has already started when the Council approved the rezoning. It’s those pesky citizens, who believe in the right of petition to oppose losing their residential zoned neighborhood. Spearhead a benefits of Wal-Mart Education Campaign are being conducted at “Neighborhood meetings” which include the Mayor, Councilmen, Friends of Cave Creek PAC Members and the Wal-Mart Team with a Power Point presentation. We are being vigorously pursued by and with Wal-Mart sponsoring the PAC with $23,000 dollars worth of “in kind contributions” to control of the “Education Campaign.” At these meetings we are being asked to spread the “Gospel” according to Wal-Mart. Very slick and very scary!
Twenty-nine recommendations are provided in this document to assist the Town during this difficult economic downturn and to put the changes in place that are necessary for the Town to prosper in the future. Today, the Town stands at a fiscal crossroad and its choices are simple: increase the sources of sales tax revenue well beyond the development limitation of the Town Core or institute a property tax (OR BOTH). The time to act is now!

6. Waste Water Treatment Plant no later than June, 2010 to accommodate Wal-Mart and associated commercial development.

Vigorously pursue Wal-Mart to locate a retail center on Cave Creek Road South of Carefree Highway.

7. Complete the Waste Water Treatment Plant no later than June, 2010 to accommodate Wal-Mart and associated commercial development.

FROM THE WHITE PAPER- PAGE 34 / The Waste Water Treatment Plant:
The WWTP must be built in order to attract retail opportunities in the Carefree Highway corridor but present loan terms require debt service payments prior to revenue generation. As outlined in the notes several possibilities exist to bridge this gap and the Committee feels some combination of the possibilities will be required. The opportunities are:
  1. Continue the water and sewer prepayment programs recommended for 2009
  2. Negotiate upfront infrastructure improvement payments from retailers
  3. Negotiate modifications to the terms proposed in the loan agreement for the WWTP such that interest only payments can be made in 2010 and 2011
  4. Implementation of Cave Creek property taxes
One or MORE of the following sources can address the projected shortfall:
  1. Continuing the water and sewer prepayment programs recommended in 2009
  2. Negotiating upfront infrastructure improvement payments from Wal-Mart at inception of construction
  3. Negotiating modifications to the WIFA WWTP loan to allow interest only payments

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How Much Should Creekers Sacrifice?

Propositions 400 and 401 affects all of us. It’s not just about Olesen Road residents or Walmart, it’s a Cave Creek issue. There are two propositions, and regardless of how you personally feel about Walmart or the rezoning of that residential property, if we approve Prop 400, we are telling the Town it’s okay to upzone the residential property next to each of our homes to provide the solutions made by the Town Council for additional sources of revenue.

A lot of thought went into where to put Cave Creek’s commercial core and in 2005, voters approved establishing 240-acres of general and commercial zoning between 28th and 34th Streets. The Town Council’s refusal to insist Walmart locate on this 240-acre commercial parcel is a loud and clear voice from them of their willingness to sacrifice you, your home, your investment and your lifestyle for additional sources of Town revenue whether it be now or in the future. It also tells future businesses that we can be manipulated and bought off. A “No” vote on prop 400 is about each one of us and tells our mayor and council members that they have it wrong; each and every one of us is entitled to the same rights as they have.

P.R.I.Z.E. has heard from residents living on the west side and many are opposed to having a Walmart on this 240-acre parcel. This was a zoning decision put in place before most of you were residents. We cannot undo this upzoning, but you, our west side residents, must understand how a “No” vote on Proposition 400 will protect you in the future. A “Yes” vote for Walmart will not stop general and commercial development on this 240-acre site. In fact, an international banking consortium which funds the building of large shopping malls has been in contact with the Town investigating investment opportunity at this site. The new economic model for the Town recommends vigorously pursuing general and commercial development. The 240-acre parcel is designated as commercial development parcel #2 on page 17 of the White Paper, for those who would like to learn the Town’s intentions for this property.

The Town has already proven it will sacrifice its citizens on Olesen Road for increased sales tax revenue. The proposed Walmart property was once pristine desert and zoned for seventeen homes. For the benefit of Walmart, the Town Council upzoned this property to general commercial. If you own a residential parcel abutting or near the 240-acres, how confident are you that the town will treat you with any more respect than it has treated the citizens on Olesen Road?

If you still feel strongly that a Walmart on Olesen will protect you from commercial development, then vote for Prop 401. But, if you want to preserve and protect your property, vote “No” on Prop 400.

This very same threat can apply to any homeowner, regardless of where they live in Cave Creek, which is why it is imperative for everyone to defeat Proposition 400 as it will affect you, your home, and your lifestyle.

For every Walmart Supercenter, two existing grocery stores go out of business. Some of us may have friends and neighbors that work at these existing grocery stores. They will lose their job if a Walmart is built. Please consider them in your decision. We are not a large town with nameless, faceless people–we are a community and we showed how strong of a community with Spur Cross. We need to rekindle that same, proud spirit to guide our future.

The money Walmart is expected to generate is being spent, several times over, before being earned. The Town Council has said that a Walmart is necessary for sales tax revenue to fund the yearly budget and reduce Town debt. With growing opposition to Walmart, however, the Town Council is not addressing the debt of the Town, but claiming that without Walmart the purchase of open space land is in question. Before casting your vote on November 3rd, ask the Mayor and Council members to detail how the sales tax revenue generated by a Walmart will be used to offset the financial mismanagement that has created the Town debt.

The question has been asked what will the Town do for revenue if Walmart is voted down. Who is saying that it’s our obligation to sacrifice our homes and lifestyle because of the financial mismanagement by our elected officials? Our elected officials didn’t discuss the financial mismanagement with citizens other than to say we needed a Walmart to bail them out. They are not talking about a responsible solution, yet they are imposing on us a Walmart which is to be the end-all-be-all solution to the financial mismanagement issues they created. So in answer to any question that someone raises about what will the Town do for revenue without a Walmart, ask yourself:

“Is it logical that Walmart will be the solution when the underlying financial mismanagement has not been resolved?”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shopping Cart Derby

There were 15 shopping carts littering the parking lot at this local Walmart. This would not be a good reflection on Cave Creek for tourists as they drive into our Town.

Life With A Cave Creek Walmart

This is what living 159 feet from a Walmart Supercenter will look like. It is approximately the equivalent of walking 8 or 9 parking spaces to your car from the building. Cave Creek’s 240-acres, 120-acres of which are zoned for big box, has an 80-acre buffer already in place.

This is what the views driving down 56th Street very likely will be of the back of the Walmart store. Not a very nice welcome for the school kids and visiting schools.

Advice From Experience

This is an Email sent to P.R.I.Z.E. from someone who found us on Twitter. They had a similar fight with their Town and proposed Walmart.

I live in Spooner, Wisconsin, a small town in the northern part of the state. We have very little industry here, we survive on a summer tourist trade. Population of around 2,600, we do have a nice downtown and new modern grocery store. There are Walmart Supercenters 25 miles away in two directions. We were shocked to find out after illegal, closed-door meetings, that our county sold 35 acres of land to Walmart in November of 2005. There was much secrecy and Walmart didn’t come forward for many months, so that the ground work could be laid. There would need to be millions of dollars of road work done to accommodate them. I am a retail meat cutter and would certainly be in jeopardy of losing my job if they came to town. Many business people had concerns and we formed Washburn County First, concerned citizens for real growth. We met at a local church in March of 2006 for the first time. Our goal at first was to expose the open meeting violation by the county and hopefully negate the land sale. We needed a land use lawyer, we gathered $10,000 from local businessmen. After many months and meetings, we attended every county board and city hall meeting, also committee meetings such as planning commission and zoning. It was a long, long process. One I am just now getting over with.

The city overturned an ordinance for Walmart for highway access, with an underhanded variance hearing. So we filed two law suits, one against the city and one against the county. It took many months to come to trial, they dismissed the city suit on the variance and the county was found in violation of the open meeting law and had to pay a fine.....

The ruling on the open meeting violation was, in the end our only victory. Never, over a 3 year period, did a single other ruling, county board vote, city hall vote or any other decision go in our favor. At every turn the deck was stacked to help Walmart come to our little town. Like you, our comprehensive plan was re-written to remove a section that specifically warned of the dangers of big box stores on a small towns economy! Our officials took the bait from the Walmart PR people, hook, line and sinker. They were sold on a concept of new jobs, new tax revenue and more people moving here to grow the economy. They were wrong on every level. These jobs would have come at the cost of other small businesses. Walmart is know for not paying their share of taxes and go to great lengths to avoid them, and no one is moving here for their minimum wage jobs. This debate really divided our town. We received hate mail, harassing phone calls and even a personal attack by our Mayor in the newspaper.

As this played out the economy slowed, the cost of building rose and Walmart’s interest faded away. In the end they failed to pay for an extension on the land sale and walked away from our town. The city and the county wouldn’t take no for an answer, so they offer a $1,000,000 tax payer bailout to help with construction and a TIFF deal. Fortunately, Walmart moved on. This was just last March 2009.

Monday, September 21, 2009

10 Years And Much Has Changed

Cave Creek resident George Ross published in the September 16th, 2009 Sonoran News a letter that contained little more than hate and blatant lies. We thought reviewing a letter (below) he published in that same paper just 10 years ago was very telling as to how much things have changed. It appears he is now bullying citizens from the other side and he is the one who should be issuing the apologies–a lot of them.

We Can Agree to Disagree
by George Ross
Sonoran News, September 29, 1999

On Tuesday night, September 21, at the Board of Adjustment meeting, a heated discussion on the placement of a septic system occurred. Good, honest, fair and respectful debate is the democratic process but labeling, prejudicial remarks and unwarranted accusation are not.

Only one individual at the meeting resorted to small-minded, vitriolic and libelous accusations. This particular individual, at the pervious meeting, labeled fellow townspeople as vigilantes and now referred to them as Fascists; he also accused a board member of improper actions. Look ashamed, Sir; you owe some of your fellow town members a public apology.

I don’t expect this will happen since small-minded people never understand the difference between honest disagreement and hate. The ends do not justify the means; they never have and they never will. In a democracy, we all agree to disagree with dignity and honor.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cave Creek on Sprawl-Busters

Below is an Article from the Sprawl-Busters Website Regarding the Cave Creek Walmart

Wal-Mart To Spend Big To Win November 3rd Rezoning Vote
2009-09-20, Cave Creek, AZ

Voters in Cave Creek, Arizona better fasten their seatbelts. Wal-Mart is going to hit them with a tsunami of cash designed to buy their votes. Residents are taking sides in preparation for a major ballot question on November 3rd, 2009 regarding a rezoning for a Wal-Mart supercenter. The giant retailer is opening up its corporate wallet to try to “buy” the vote.

An “astro-roots” group, the “Friends of Cave Creek,” has been formed to spend Wal-Mart’s money during the run-up to the election. On April 7, 2009 Sprawl-Busters reported that Cave Creek already has 10 Wal-Marts within 20 miles, half of which are superstores. There are two giant superstores just 12 and 13 miles away in Phoenix. The tiny town of Cave Creek had a 2007 population of 5,120—about one-tenth of what it takes to keep a Wal-Mart supercenter alive. But according to the
Arizona Republic, Wal-Mart has not finished saturating this area with stores.

The retailer set up neighborhood meetings in Cave Creek in May, 2009 to let residents know of its plans for their proposed store, located on Carefree Highway. But resident response was anything but carefree. Opposition formed quickly to the project. Residents charge that the superstore will make traffic congestion at the busy intersection even worse, and take away from the town’s rural character. Cave Creek promotes itself as “the True Arizona” experience, with its “eclectic shopping, art galleries and the unrivaled beauty of the Sonoran Desert.” The town is trying to attract tourist dollars with its “rodeos, country and western dancing, museums, parks and nature preserves, hiking and biking and old mining tours.” But there is nothing very eclectic or beautiful about another big box Wal-Mart.

The retailer first had to get the zoning on its 20-acre property changed from residential to commercial. To create a supportive political climate, Wal-Mart had to soften up the voters with a few neighborhood meetings, the first of which took place in early May. “The meetings are to inform the community about what we’ve submitted,” a Wal-Mart spokesman explained. Wal-Mart seems to have a good lock on town officials, who expressed support before the project even reached the public hearing stage, because of misconceptions about the sales tax revenue they believe the town will gain.

Wal-Mart claims their supercenter will generate between 300 and 350 jobs. At 115,000 s.f., the project is smaller than the average footprint of a superstore. “We have supercenters that are 100,000 s.f.,” the Wal-Mart spokesman said, “and we have supercenters that are 220,000 s.f.” Wal-Mart has described the store’s architecture as “modernist,” and will paint the skin of the store with a “desert color palette,” according to The Republic. The town’s manager is already in Wal-Mart’s pocket too. He said Wal-Mart’s plan meets the town’s ordinances–even before the project has been before any town boards. “The store looks like it’s not a typical Wal-Mart store,” the Manager explained. “It’s going to be responsive to the Cave Creek environment and the Cave Creek lifestyle.” But at the May 6th hearing, some very unhappy residents of Cave Creek expressed their opposition to placing this store in their residential neighborhood. The land, after all, is residentially-zoned.

Cave Creek’s Town Council voted on June 15th to rezone the land. “The store is basically in front of my house," one neighbor was quoted as saying by the
Arizona Republic. “The day the 24-hour superstore opens, my house is worthless.” This project has kicked up dust since Wal-Mart first tried to get the town’s General Plan amended in 2007. That proposal was later withdrawn by Wal-Mart as their growth plans changed. Then, in 2008, Wal-Mart bought the 20-acre property for a reported $8 million. Residents opposed to the project have openly asked why Wal-Mart is trying to rezone residential land, which was clearly not meant for commercial use, when there are parcels nearby already commercially zoned? “This type of rezoning is so anti Cave Creek values," Councilwoman Grace Meeth told The Republic. “What’s the big deal about leasing land when there is commercially-zoned land (nearby)?”

Shortly after the Town Council voted to rezone, a citizen’s group announced it would appeal the rezoning. A group called P.R.I.Z.E. (Protect Residential Integrity Zoning and Environment) organized a citizen’s referendum to overturn the Council decision to change the town’s General Plan to support the Wal-Mart. According to the
Arizona Republic, the Town Council hearing was a standing-room-only crowd. Rebecca Lester, the then Chair of P.R.I.Z.E., said the voters will have a chance to decide Wal-Mart’s future by voting in the referendum. “I certainly want all of our neighbors and the community to have input in the process,” she told The Republic. P.R.I.Z.E. gathered sufficient signatures to place the referendum on the November 3rd ballot. The Cave Creek town clerk said a special election will cost the town between $8,000 and $10,000—far less than the town will have to pay in added police and fire costs if this project is approved.

P.R.I.Z.E. told Sprawl-Busters this week that their group is sponsoring a forum on October 4th to explain why a “NO” vote on Propositions 400 and 401 is critical. They also report that Wal-Mart has created the “Friends of Cave Creek” as the group through which the corporation will funnel its money for the campaign. “Under Cave Creek’s General Plan,” P.R.I.Z.E. explains, “commercial businesses are prohibited on residentially-zoned property. An amendment to Cave Creek’s General Plan is necessary to up-zone residentially-zoned property to general commercial zoning. Cave Creek Proposition 400 was a Major Amendment to Cave Creek’s General Plan as it changed the overlay to allow general commercial zoning on residential land. It is the more important of the two propositions as the General Plan dictates land use on any given piece of property. Cave Creek Proposition 401 was a rezoning of residential land to general commercial. This rezoning is contingent on the passage of Cave Creek Proposition 400. Cave Creek Propositions 400 and 401 have stayed the Town Council’s actions until after the Cave Creek election on November 3rd. The General Plan Amendment, Proposition 400, is the more important of the two propositions. Only a “No” vote on Proposition 400 will restore the private property rights of Cave Creek citizens.”

If residents of Cave Creek vote NO on both Propositions, the Wal-Mart project is dead, because the land will remain residentially zoned. As long as the rezoning in Proposition 400 is defeated, it doesn’t matter what happens to Proposition 401. P.R.I.Z.E. says that the Wal-Mart will be only 159 feet from homes. Wal-Mart has reportedly just pumped $23,000 into the Friends of Cave Creek (aka Friends of Wal-Mart) Political Action Group coffers. P.R.I.Z.E. does not have access to that kind of money. Wal-Mart believes that in a corporate democracy, the corporation with the most votes wins.

What You Can Do: Wal-Mart will spend like a drunken cowboy to win this November election. The major advantage they have over P.R.I.Z.E. is their unlimited access to corporate funds to influence voters. Giant corporations have all the rights of individual citizens, but they have more rights in the sense that they can vastly outspend their opponents. Wal-Mart has been known to spend more than half a million on such ballot questions. The “eclectic” desert lifestyle of Cave Creek does not seem a good fit with the suburban concrete image of a Wal-Mart superstore. The scale of the store, which will be bigger than two football fields, is definitely out of scale and uncharacteristic of a rural Arizona community of less than 5,200 people. Cave Creek can enjoy all the amenities of big city life being a suburb of Phoenix. Area groups, like the Black Mountain Conservancy and the Desert Foothills Land Trust are not likely to warm up to the idea of paving over 20 acres of land for suburban sprawl. Tourists who come to the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area to see the wildflowers, will not cheer the coming of yet another over-stuffed Wal-Mart.

Readers are urged to send a letter to the
Sonoran News at:, with a message similar to the following:

To the Editor: Cave Creek doesn’t have the population base to support even a medium-sized Wal-Mart supercenter. Studies show that for every supercenter that opens, two other grocery stores close. The store being proposed for Cave Creek is bigger than two football fields. This is totally out of character with what the town describes as its eclectic, desert character. The land Wal-Mart wants is not correctly zoned. The people who live around this parcel bought their homes anticipating that this land would be used for residential purposes, and they made plans based on that land residential use. Wal-Mart is asking for not just a rezoning to commercial use–but rezoning for the largest commercial building in the history of tiny Cave Creek. This store will not be buffered in any way from surrounding land uses, and it will harm the residential value of any properties nearby. This is a wholly incompatible use dropped in the middle of other land uses, and will harm all of them. The only thing that will increase in Cave Creek will be traffic and crime. I urge you to reject the rezoning for this parcel. Vote NO on Proposition 400. Make companies like Wal-Mart find land that is already properly zoned, and will not harm other property owners. Cave Creek was under no legal obligation to change its General Plan or rezone land for any developer. Wal-Mart will now try to prove that in a corporate democracy, whoever spends the most money wins. Is Cave Creek for sale to the highest bidder? I hope the voters will tell Wal-Mart on November 3rd that your Cave Creek is not for sale.”

Readers can also contribute to the P.R.I.Z.E. campaign by sending a check to P.R.I.Z.E., c/o Dean Phillips, 5535 E. Olesen Rd, Cave Creek AZ 85331. Include with your check a note which has your name, address, employer and occupation. The group’s website is They also have a Twitter page, and a blog:

“We are David fighting Goliath,” P.R.I.Z.E. says. “We are just one in a long string of big box victims.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cave Creek Resident Questions Mayor

Dear Mayor Francia:

“A property tax has been suggested in order to resolve the town’s financial obligations. The only property tax that I as your mayor have or ever would support, is the one that saved Spur Cross (to be retired in 2012). Beware of activists proposing property tax. It’s a sign they’ve given up on the creative power of their God given intelligence to find better solutions.”

Mayor Vincent Francia, Cave Creek
Sonoran News, Letter to the Editor, September 09

For you to make the above statements, that concerned citizens or activists are responsible for proposing a property tax and to beware of them, is absolutely incorrect. This recommendation and conclusion was reached by the authors of Cave Creek’s “White Paper,” as stated on page 5 of the document.

The “White Paper” was written by the very committee you hurriedly formed on Jan. 7, 2009 to deal with the problems created by non-existent Town financial management. On page 5 we were given two simple choices by your committee: 1) Increase the source of sales tax revenue outside the Town Core or 2) Institute a property tax,
or both.


On Jan. 7, 2009, Mayor Vince Francia held a meeting with 12 residents of Cave Creek, Arizona. Mayor Francia asked the group of residents for their ideas on how each would approach the current financial condition of the Town. He then asked if the group would be willing to review the current financial condition of the Town, make recommendations that could rectify or ameliorate its short term needs as well as create a new economic model for the development and growth of the Town.

“Today, the Town stands at a fiscal crossroad and its choices are simple: increase the sources of sales tax revenue well beyond the development limitation of the Town Core or institute a property tax (
or both).” (White Paper, Page 5) The time to act is now!

It is the creator of the “White Paper” and its authors who have “given up on the creative power of their God given intelligence to find better solutions.” Your use of Cave Creek’s “Official Newspaper” to spread lies and fabrications was an excellent choice for your inaccurate comments.

Other White Paper recommendations, which fatally wound the land use and approval process, are as follows:
  • Change the definition of Major and Minor General Plan Amendment to “greater than 25 acres” and “25 acres or less” respectively.
  • Eliminate Final Plat review by the Planning Commission.
  • Final Plat approvals and Site Plan reviews on Town Council Consent Agenda.
There are many concerned citizens who participate in the democratic process and actually read and discuss the decisions documented in white papers, meeting agendas and Council and P&Z minutes. I expected honesty from you. This is a sad time for our beloved Cave Creek.

Forever a Concerned Citizen,

Herb Natker
Cave Creek
Published in the Foothills Focus September 16, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

About Cave Creek’s P.R.I.Z.E.

P.R.I.Z.E. is composed of and supported by concerned citizens who do not wish to see commercial or big box retailers destroy home values, neighborhoods or the vision and character of Cave Creek. Volunteer Cave Creek residents were solely responsible for collecting the more than 260 signatures for the referendum–only 126 were required. Because of this effort, on November 3rd all Cave Creek voters, not just Town officials, will have the opportunity to choose what they think is best for our neighbors and the future of Cave Creek.

If there is one thing that can be said about Americans, is that they will unite and offer help when fellow citizens are in need, be it next door, across town or across the country and world. We have learned from history that even a few voices can be heard loud and clear and have an impact that reverberates well beyond their front doors. Significant achievements have many times started with just one, single person who stood up, had a voice and stopped at nothing to do what was right–even if it meant going against the majority. With that one voice of courage, supporters quickly follow behind and extraordinary things can be accomplished. People have taken on tough challenges in the face of adversity time and again to protect our rights and the citizens who are involved with P.R.I.Z.E. are no different. The challenges are many, but the cause is worthy as the consequences of doing nothing are great. By protecting our residential private property rights, we protect not only our neighbor’s home values and quality of life, but we protect ourselves as well.

Some may say that the homes on Olesen Road should be sacrificed for Walmart revenue. P.R.I.Z.E. believes these select few homes should not bare the brunt of our financial crisis. Large-lot residential zoning and tourism in our downtown core have sustained and defined Cave Creek over the years as an eclectic and unique western community. There is much more at stake than Walmart sales tax revenue. By allowing rezoning of residential properties in inappropriate locations, we are endangering not only what we are, but who we are as a community and what our future will be.

We simply ask that Walmart adhere to the wishes of many citizens by not locating on residentially-zoned property that is not well-suited for such a store and that would adversely affect its neighbors. Cave Creek has purposefully designated 120 of our 240 acres as General Commercial zoning specifically for big box stores such as a Walmart 24-Hour Supercenter.

Protecting our neighbors now will protect the future of Cave Creek. We are all in this together.

Vote “No” on Cave Creek Propositions 400 and 401.

The Heart Of The Matter

The underlying issues in Cave Creek are far more complex than simply rezoning residential land to accommodate a Cave Creek Walmart. While the rezoning is our main focus, the actions and decisions of the Town’s officials are troubling and warrant everyone’s attention. The problems are significant and much more serious than what could possibly be remedied by Walmart sales tax revenues. We are being sidetracked by the Walmart issue and in the meanwhile, the Town is moving us in a direction that many Creekers may find at odds with the reasons they’ve chosen to live here. More alarming, is that the Town’s financial stability and viability are at risk.

Much of the pro-Walmart campaign from Town officials is based not only on misinformation and scare tactics, but complete untruths. The citizens have a right to know the actual facts and deserve answers, the truth, from their elected officials regarding the state of the Town. We deserve an explanation as to how we even got to this point in the first place: residential rezoning, General Plan changes, possible property taxes (which requires a public vote), changes to the Town core and exorbitant water and sewer costs. If you look beyond rezoning and Walmart sales tax revenue, what really needs to be addressed is the lack of responsibility from the Town officials–both financially and to the community as a whole. If you read through the documented evidence outlined on our website it is clear that what is going on behind the scenes is in opposition to what the Town’s officials have been telling its citizens.

If you don’t wish to believe us, then please find out for yourselves. Read the Cave Creek White Paper in its entirety–all 53 pages. Attend the Council meetings. Review the minutes from past Council meetings. Send letters or call the Town’s officials and ask questions. Ask about the Town’s financial documents. Research information online. Do whatever it takes to learn the truth. The character of Cave Creek and its future is clearly in jeopardy.

The citizens who make up P.R.I.Z.E. are dedicated to bringing you answers–the truth. Our group is available, as a resource to you, so if you have questions or concerns, please doesn’t hesitate to contact us.

Vote “No” on Cave Creek Propositions 400 and 401.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cave Creek Walmart Facts

The projected Cave Creek Walmart 24-Hour Supercenter traffic would add one million vehicles per year.

According to Security and Exchange Commission figures, to bring in the projected revenue, the 128,000 sq. ft. Cave Creek Walmart would need to generate twice as much in gross sales than every other Walmart in the U.S. The average Walmart is 186,000 sq ft., 45% larger than the proposed Cave Creek Walmart Supercenter.

P.R.I.Z.E. does not advocate for a property tax. Taking into account Walmart’s filings with the SEC, a property tax of $56/month per household would negate the need for a Walmart. Any property tax requires a vote by the residents–it cannot be imposed.

According to the Cave Creek White Paper–the new economic model for the Town–the new sewer plant won’t be operational for two years (2011). Walmart cannot open for business until the sewer plant is operational. Claims that the November vote is costing the Town sales tax revenue are obviously fraudulent.

P.R.I.Z.E.’s objection to Walmart is that they are refusing to locate in the appropriately designated corridor. Walmart chose to purchase residentially-zoned land with the intent of obtaining an up-zoning from the Cave Creek Town Council. Walmart claims they do not build on leased land, which the 240 acres is, yet Walmart has, in fact, built on leased property in Arizona, Connecticut, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania as well as other states. Walmart has signed a 12-year lease at 838 W. Elliot Road in Gilbert.

Once Walmart was approved by the Cave Creek Town Council, the Town lost legal authority to require Walmart to pay for water, sewer, and road infrastructure improvements that only the Cave Creek Walmart will require. If the November 3rd referendum fails and Walmart does not willingly pay for these infrastructure costs, they will become a multi-million dollar expense that citizens will have to pay for.

There are at least 20 million square feet of empty Walmarts across the country.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cave Creek Propositions 400 & 401

The only reason to amend any provision in Cave Creek’s General Plan is to refine a process which makes it possible to create or commercialize something that is currently prohibited under the existing General Plan. Under Cave Creek’s General Plan, commercial businesses are prohibited on residentially-zoned property. An amendment to Cave Creek’s General Plan is necessary to up-zone residentially-zoned property to general commercial.

Cave Creek Proposition 400 was a Major Amendment to Cave Creek’s General Plan as it changed the overlay to allow general commercial zoning on residential land. It is the more important of the two propositions as the General Plan dictates land use on any given piece of property.

Cave Creek Proposition 401 was a rezoning of residential land to general commercial. This rezoning is contingent on the passage of Cave Creek Proposition 400.

Cave Creek Propositions 400 and 401 have stayed the town council’s actions until after the Cave Creek election on November 3rd.

The General Plan Amendment, Proposition 400, is the more important of the two propositions. Only a “NO” vote on Proposition 400 will restore the private property rights of Cave Creek citizens.


These Two Scenarios Will STOP A Walmart:

A “NO” vote on both Cave Creek Propositions means that the General Plan amendment and the rezoning fails and that the land remains residential.

A “NO” vote on Proposition 400 will negate a Walmart by defeating the land use change in the General Plan, regardless of what the vote is for Proposition 401.

These Two Scenarios Will SUPPORT A Walmart:

A “YES” vote on both Cave Creek Propositions means that the General Plan amendment is approved and the land is rezoned to General Commercial.

A “NO” vote on Proposition 401 and a “YES” vote on 400 will merely delay the rezoning of the Walmart property. The General Plan dictates future land use. The “YES” vote on Prop. 400 (the General Plan Amendment) obligates the town council to again rezone the property in the future.

To protect residential private property rights, vote “NO” on Cave Creek Propositions 400 and 401.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No on Proposition 400

The Truth About Walmart and Taxes: Based on Walmart’s own financial filings, the average Walmart store would produce approximately $1.5 million in sales tax revenue per year for the Town. This breaks-down to about $300 per resident and is half of the figure dishonestly claimed by Mayor Francia and other supporters of Walmart.

Moreover, it will take several years before the Town benefits from the tax revenue produced by Walmart. The Town will have to pay millions of dollars to improve roads, bring in sewer and provide water. Town Council could have approved the rezoning subject to Walmart paying for these infrastructure improvements, but failed to do so. Now the expenses will add to the financial strain of the Town and ultimately be placed squarely on the backs of Town residents. This failure is much like those of the Water Company and waste water treatment facility for which residents are already paying dearly.

It is time Cave Creek demanded real solutions from its elected officials for the Town’s current financial crisis. A Walmart on rural residential land as a bail-out is not one of them.

I respectively request you vote no on this proposition and not allow the change in land use for the Walmart property.

Christopher Aepli

Against Proposition 401

Anything for a buck. The Council’s action for this commercial rezoning of our residential neighborhood is the first of many steps cited in the Town’s white paper to change our Town, our Town core, abandon our existing general plan and abandon our current businesses, horsemen and horsewomen, and artists. Other White Paper steps include fast tracking rezoning and development and marginalizing citizen oversight. These are desperate reactions to try to increase revenue by desperate leaders and managers who have mismanaged our Town’s resources and assets.

The best indicator of the future is to look at the recent past. A quick look back is evidence of our Town’s mismanagement. And, there is no sign that future management is or will be any better regardless of the promise of future revenue sources or strategies.

This attempt to bring commercial rezoning, big boxes, fast track processes, and development to our residential neighborhoods are the first steps in a strategy to rewrite the values of our community. By their actions, current leaders and managers have no intention of keeping Cave Creek a place which values a western horse culture, western life style, dark skies, western businesses and artists.

Cave Creek’s values should not be Cheap Imports, but a strong community that unifies itself to preserve our natural beauty of our neighborhoods, horse culture, trail system, dark skies, existing western businesses, and artist community. We do not have to accept anything for a buck. Vote no.

John Meeth

Against Proposition 400

The General Plan is the town’s roadmap to the future. It contains the vision of the community. By changing the General Plan, which the Town Council has done for Walmart, the vision of the community changes to reflect a big box at our gateway.

Walmart did not buy commercial land. They purchased residential land directly abutting a residential neighborhood. The Town granted a General Plan amendment to accommodate them. With one hundred twenty acres of big box commercial on our western border, and not a single tenant, the Town has ignored the current General Plan in favor of spot – zoning.

Recent actions of the Council send a clear message to the citizens; the character of Cave Creek is about to change.

A General Plan amendment on the Walmart property will bring twenty-four hour a day noise, traffic, and lights. It will further congest an already dangerous and overloaded intersection. Even the possibility of it happening has made it impossible for the abutting homeowners to sell their homes. But there’s a bigger picture here; a Council with no respect for private property rights, paving the path to a town very unlike the one you chose to call home.

Good and fair planning created a commercial corridor on the western edge of town allowing an eighty acre buffer between potential development and existing residents. The Olesen Rd. neighbors are not being given the same consideration . Their homes are within one hundred fifty-nine feet of the proposed big box. I doubt that any of the Council members or their friends need to worry about such irresponsible zoning, but obviously the rest of us do. Whose neighborhood will be next?

Silence is acceptance. Vote no.

Grace Meeth

Opinion Against Proposition 400

Many of us purchased our land and built our homes, and lives, in residentially-zoned neighborhoods with residential property buffers from nearby commercial lands, fully understanding that the neighborhood property was not commercial property. We chose to live in these neighborhoods based on the official Cave Creek General Plan Land Use Map zoning.

The Cave Creek Town Council and Town Managers, by changing the General Plan as it has done for a single applicant,
Walmart, has done substantial damage to our lifestyle and our neighborhood. Should the unsound financial and management decisions of the Cave Creek officials require the personal sacrifice of your home and lifestyle in your residential neighborhood?

How much 24 hours/7 days a week commercial traffic, noise, light and vehicle pollution, and increased crime to the area is justified by allowing neighborhood residential land to be “Amended” for commercial use by this applicant?

Without the benefits of an independent traffic study, an environmental impact study, and comprehensive site plan analysis, along with input from the immediately adjacent property owners, this general plan amendment and up zoning is unconscionable.

Cave Creek annexed approximately 240 acres of land to be used solely for upcoming commercial development. This land further west on the Carefree Highway was designed with an appropriate buffer zone to the adjoining residential properties. The
Walmart site is approximately 600 feet south of the Carefree Highway and only 160 feet north of houses, with no appropriate usage buffer between them. This in itself shows poor land use planning and is contrary to the accepted zoning applications.

A NO vote on Proposition 400 will mandate the Town Council’s compliance with the General Plan process on this and other zoning matters.


Dean Phillips
Chairman, P.R.I.Z.E.
Protecting Residential Integrity, Zoning and Environment.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Propositions 400 & 401

Voting “No” on Cave Creek’s Propositions 400 and 401 this November 3rd protects your neighbor’s property now and could very well protect your property in the near future. We cannot allow ourselves to be swayed into believing that the Walmart tax revenue is worth sacrificing a few outlying Cave Creek residents for the good of the Town. The new changes to the General Plan means that no homeowner in Cave Creek will be impervious to commercial upzoning, including additional big box stores such as Walmart anywhere in the Town of Cave Creek. These changes have already been outlined in the Cave Creek White Paper (see sidebar for the link to read the White Paper). Being informed on what the Town Council has planned for your community’s future and how it will directly affect you and your property will make your decision-making process a little easier.

Proposition 400
 — Amendment to the General Plan
A “No” vote does not approve the Town Council decision to open up 20.53 acres of residential land for a land use change from it’s current status. This would revise the Land Use Map of the Town of Cave Creek General Plan and would change the land use designation from Desert Rural to Mixed Use on three (3) parcels located south of the southeast corner of Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway.

Proposition 401 — Zoning Change
A “No” vote does not approve the Town Council decision for a zoning change from Desert Rural/Residential to General Commercial to accommodate a 24-Hour Walmart Supercenter.