On May 5, the Architecture Committee for the Neighborhood Property Owners’ Association (NPOA) convened a special meeting to discuss an application for a lot split on property located at 16400 Log Lane in Fountain Hills.
This is a 22-acre lot with one single-family home owned by Craig Grotzky, which he purchased in March 2021 for $1.6 million. Grotzky has applied with the Town of Fountain Hills for a preliminary plat to split the property with 12 additional single-family lots. He is also asking the NPOA to approve the lot split.
The major catch to this plan is a deed restriction placed on the property by MCO Properties in 1989. The restriction states quite plainly, “the real property shall be used solely for one single-family residence; subdivision of the property hereby is prohibited.”
The restriction is technically not relevant to the Town’s consideration of the plat request, as the Town is statutorily restricted from enforcing deed restrictions. The Town in fact must process the application. Ultimately, however, the council is not required to approve it.
The NPOA does have the authority to enforce the restriction and as such called the special meeting to hear comments from the applicant for a variance to allow the lot split. The NPOA bylaws have criteria for allowing a variance. Those include “good planning would require the exception;” “the exception would not be detrimental to the public welfare;” and “the exception would not detract from property of any person located in the vicinity.”
Grotzky made his case explaining that his proposal is consistent with ridgeline development throughout Fountain Hills. He also said he is conforming with Town, county, state and federal standards and regulations in developing the site.
Grotzky said the site has slopes ranging from 8% to 20%, all of which falls into the category of a moderate slope. He said Town regulations would allow a building envelope of up to 40% of the lot size, leaving 60% open space.
According to Grotzky, none of the new construction would block view corridors of existing residences in the neighborhood. He said roof lines would all be below existing properties. He also noted that the NPOA Architecture Committee would be reviewing all the individual building plans related to design standards.
“I have heard all of the arguments, all the complaints about how I am a greedy developer, traffic congestion and safety concerns,” Grotzky said.
He said he came from Canada 22 years ago and has been working hard to live the American Dream.
“I have been taught to always give back,” he said. “I am the opposite of a greedy developer.”
As part of its processing of the plat application the Town has requested a traffic study, which Grotzky said should be complete early this week. In comments on the plat. Town Engineer David Janover noted that the intersection between Log Lane and Golden Eagle Boulevard is closer to the Golden Eagle intersection with Paradox Drive than the Town’s Subdivision Ordinance allows. This has been permitted because Log Lane is currently essentially a driveway for a single residence.
Neighbors living in the area started bringing their concerns to Town officials last fall, and while the Town has no ability to enforce the deed restriction, staff did suggest Grotzky reconsider. In an email dated Oct. 30 responding to a resident’s concern, Town Manager Grady Miller stated, “Staff made it clear to the applicant that the deed restrictions would impact the proposed project and that the applicant should consider stopping before expending any more money on the project.”
Previous property owners expressed opposition to the subdivision of the lot. Patricia and John Rees, who sold the property to Grotzky, stated so in a letter dated April 22, “At no time prior to our sale of the property did the buyer…or his agent disclose to us his intentions for the property. It was never our intent that the property be subdivided, and we are both a little surprised that this matter has become an issue.”
MCO Properties, the developer who originally initiated the deed restriction, also opposes the subdivision request. Cassie Hansen, who remains a contract agent for MCO Properties in Fountain Hills, stated that opinion to the committee on behalf of the developer.
“MCO Properties continues to maintain that this deed restriction runs with the land and has consistently denied previous requests to remove or provide relief from said restriction,” Hansen said. “They felt a commitment to the surrounding property owners and neighborhoods that the original vision and preservation of this particular property remain intact for perpetuity.”
Numerous speakers told the committee about their opposition to the plat and reminded them of their obligation to adhere to the criteria for a variance.
The NPOA committee has five working days from the hearing to decide whether to grant or deny the variance (May 12).