SHOW LOW — Chances are, you’ve seen it.
If you ask any daily driver that travels White Mountain Road/SR260 in Show Low about “the cabin on the hill,” they recognize the unfinished, two-story cabin that has been a fly in the ointment for residents living in the same neighborhood.
In February, builder and developer, Bill Haltom, of Creative Development, appeared before the Show Low Planning and Zoning Commission, asking asking for a zoning change from “general commercial” (C-2) to “single-family residential” (R1-15) for the cabin on Meadow View Place.
In consideration of concerns expressed by residents in the area, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Show Low City Council approved the zoning change with a timeframe stipulation requiring completion of the outside of the building within 90 days.
As of Tuesday, Sept. 3, the cabin/building appears the same as it did in February, with only the frame and white tar paper (vapor barrier) attached to the outside.
Haltom has repeatedly met resistance from neighborhood residents, including some who spoke during the March 5 council meeting to share their concerns about the unfinished structure.
On July 18, a neighborhood meeting was held by the City of Show Low to inform area residents about a possible reversion of the zoning change due to non-compliance with the original zoning change stipulation. Additionally, a public hearing was held on August 27 in which residents were mailed notices and provided the opportunity to attend or respond.
Now, six months later after the requested zoning change, the issue has again come before the commission and council as a result of Haltom’s non-compliance with the original zoning stipulation. Following the August public hearing, the commission voted unanimously to recommend to the city council that the zoning Ordinance 2019-04 remain in effect with some conditions remaining. They also agreed to recommend deletion of condition number 6 which required completion of the outside of the structure within 90 days.
Condition number 6 appears most significant because the commission recommended that it “be deleted.” It reads: “applicant agrees to complete the exterior of the building within 90 days.”
The zoning change request appeared on Tuesday’s council agenda for discussion and a vote. It did not go unnoticed that Haltom did not attend the council meeting.
The discussion began with Councilman Crittenden asking Planning and Zoning Commission Director Justen Tregaskes, “60 days, 90 days — what’s going to make this project get completed?”
“Part of the standard building permits are active for a period of six months as long as there is activity on the project,” says Tregaskes.
“We recently completed an inspection on the property,” added Tregaskes. “Our building official met with the engineer on the project, walked the project, and inspected the progress to date. As part of that, he was given the okay to go ahead to move forward with construction of the project.” Tresgaskes indicated that some re-engineering work has been completed on the project that is not obvious.
Tregaskes explained that although the council made a stipulation, there is really no consequence, there are no teeth to the requirement.
“There are some requirements based on city code, but on adopted building code, it’s really up to the property owner to make sure they are moving forward,” assured Tregaskes.
“If they don’t, it’s always been our policy to work with the property owner to try to get properties and projects completed. However, in some cases as directed by, recommended by council, we could move forward with cancelling the building permit if they do not meet the timeline,” he added.
Councilman Leech asked Tegaskes for more clarification regarding the reasoning behind removal of “condition number 6” in the building permit.
“You have to remove that condition, otherwise he’s in non-compliance and it automatically reverts back,” answered Show Low Mayor Daryl Seymore.
“Basically, the 90 days has passed and he didn’t meet the condition and he didn’t comply,” said City Manager Ed Muder.
“We as a council put on there 90 days to have that thing done and it hasn’t been done and now we’re going to scratch it?” asked Vice Mayor Mike Allsop.
“I think what we need to do, as we come together as a council, we need to put something in process, we need to have something we can sink our teeth into and say this is what we are asking. Because, what we did is we had a lot of people coming to us and saying ‘what kind of ugly looking thing is that and when is it going to get done?’”
“So we, working with the voters of Show Low said okay we will take action on it and that’s about the only thing we can do,” explained Allsop. “So still, after that, he kind of thumbed his nose at us and didn’t’ do anything for 90 days … But it seems like when, whenever we did anything like this … council can’t do anything about it.”
“We’re getting the same pressure from the staff side and feel that same frustration,” acknowledged Tregaskes. “We receive seems like every week, we are getting phone calls related to this ... The building of these types of units is a permitted use. In this case it is difficult.”
“The only reason that the condition was able to be put on for 90 days is because the applicant himself stipulated that he would agree to that. In this case, recourse that the council has is that you can go ahead and revert back … That is one recourse because he did not comply with condition number 6. We issue hundreds of building permits each year. We seem to have a problem with one of them. We have one highly visible issue out of all of those permits,” adds Tregaskes.
“What’s making this really difficult, it this is a permitted use and the builder agreed to that stipulation,” confirmed City Attorney Morgan Brown.
“… (T)o revert it back is only going to punish the neighbors to revert it back to commercial... it’s now an active nuisance ... My neighborhood viewpoint is that, to revert it back to commercial, is going to hurt it further,” said resident Kim Fernau.
Other neighbors appeared to agree with her.
“I oppose the re-zoning … I agree with the Fernau with I don’t see any reason to revert it back (to commercial),” echoed Meadow View Place resident Kyle Thomas. “I don’t know that there is ever going to be 18 structures there if he can’t seem to get one done. So yeah, I say keep it residential zoning.”
As a result, the council voted 5 to 1 to maintain the existing property zoning as single family residential (R1-15).
“ … I think he should have been here … it upsets me that he wasn’t here but I agree with them, I lived there I would want it to stay to residential too,” stated councilman John Leach Jr.