September 14, 2004
A consultant for a Valley developer claims Carefree officials were told not to meet with him regarding a specialuse permit for a proposed resort hotel, and the developer’s attorney said a policy instituted by the town last week is aimed at his client.
David Schwartz, a principal in Goodman Schwartz Public Affairs in Phoenix, said GP Properties Carefree Cave Creek LLC wants to develop a boutique resort hotel on a 10-acre parcel at the northwest corner of Tom Darlington Road and Carefree Highway, a high-profile location near the Carefree-Scottsdale border.
Requests to meet and discuss a proposal for The Lodge at Carefree with Mayor Ed Morgan, Town Council members and planning and zoning commissioners — the property is zoned for 12 homes — were denied, according to Schwartz.
Town administrator Jonathan Pearson issued a memo to Morgan, the council and planning and zoning commission members on Thursday asking to summarize in memo form oral communication with applicants for rezoning, special-use permits or variances, and that written communication be copied to the town.
"It’s apparent this policy is a result of our client (Michael Peloquin of GP) wanting to meet with the council," said attorney John Marcolini of Phoenix. "Why now, when our client wants to meet? If they don’t want to meet, OK. If they want to create rules for our client, fine. It’s going to be very difficult to deny the special-use permit he seeks."
Carefree attorney Tom Chenal said applicants can request to meet whomever they want. He said the announced policy isn’t aimed at anyone. "This has nothing to do with their client," Chenal said. "It’s policy for everyone."
When asked if the policy or timing was aimed at Peloquin, Morgan said, "Absolutely not. That’s ridiculous."
Morgan said Peloquin has had more meetings with the mayor and town staff members over the last four years than any other developer.
"Our intention is to give every developer or their representatives an equal chance," Morgan said. "We just want to make sure we’re fair to developers and the citizens of Carefree."
Schwartz said a Town Council member and a member of the planning and zoning commission told him of a memo Chenal wrote regarding not meeting with applicants or consultants. Chenal replied to Schwartz’s letter to Pearson asking for a copy of Chenal’s memo and a list of all meetings at which town officials met with land use applicants over the last four years.
Chenal wrote that the memo "is attorney-client privileged and will not be produced." He added that the town clerk advised him that no list of meetings over the last four years exists.
The Lodge at Carefree was scaled back from Peloquin’s 2003 plan.
Carefree planning and zoning officials are expected to consider the project at their Oct. 11 meeting.