FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about the issues and understand why Camelback Mountain is at risk.

What’s the issue?

One of the highest undeveloped properties on the north face of Camelback Mountain sits at an approximate 53 percent slope and is targeted for an almost 10,000-square-foot home, one of the largest ever constructed on Camelback Mountain. To access it, an approximate 600-foot-long roadway and driveway will be cut deeply into the mountain, scarring this iconic landmark forever. The property is surrounded on three sides by land which was given years ago to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

What is the goal of SaveCamelback.org?

The immediate goal is to save this iconic landmark for all time by preventing irreversible scarring of the mountain. The long-term goal is to purchase and donate this property to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve which will complete the preservation of Camelback Mountain above 1800 feet, as originally intended.

Isn’t hillside development subject to regulations?

Yes.  Town of Paradise Valley Zoning Ordinance. Article XXII. HILLSIDE DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS

Section 2200. INTRODUCTION

As valuable scenic resources, Camelback Mountain, Mummy Mountain and the Phoenix Mountains provide a permanent visual presence that exemplify what is unique about Paradise Valley. They define the location and character of the Town, shape our sense of place and contribute to the Town’s identity. These land forms, their foothills, and other areas over a 10% slope, offer a desirable setting visible to the entire metropolitan area and an intrinsic aesthetic value to the Town; therefore they require unique standards resulting from the characteristics of hillside terrain.

Section 2201. PURPOSE

This article exists to establish provisions to: a) regulate the intensity of development; b) preserve and protect the hillside environment; c) provide for the safety and welfare of the Town and its residents; and d) establish rules and procedures for review by the Hillside Building Committee of hillside development, building and construction plans through the implementation of the following: 1. Require building massing to adapt to the natural hillside topography thereby reducing the scarring effects of roads, drives, building pads and cut and fill slopes. 2. Encourage all improvements to be designed and constructed in a manner that minimizes the impact of development from viewpoints on the valley floor and adjacent slopes. 3. Prevent unnecessary grading or stripping of vegetation, preserve drainage patterns, protect the public from natural hazards of storm water runoff and erosion, and require revegetation in order to maintain the natural landscape environment. 4. Preserve visual open space, unique natural features, wildlife habitats and retain the integrity and natural states of the identified dominant peaks and ridges. 5. Provide development and construction practices and methods to ensure greater fire protection in hillside development areas. 6. Require limited and efficient use of exterior lighting to maintain minimal night-time lighting levels and preservation of the dark sky. This Article endeavors to enhance design quality so that the resulting development maintains the essential natural characteristic and context of the hillside consistent with the goals and policies of the Town’s General Plan.

Section 2202. IMPLEMENTATION

The provisions of this Article shall apply to all land within a Hillside Development Area as denoted on FIGURE 2 – HILLSIDE DEVELOPMENT AREA and to all lands where the natural terrain under the building pad has a slope of ten percent (10%) or greater (see example below), whether shown in Figure 2 or not. However, a 10% or greater slope, in an area not denoted on Figure 2, created by a natural wash on land that would otherwise not be classified as hillside land, shall be exempt from the hillside regulations. Hillside lands are also subject to special provisions relating to lot split and subdivision development as set forth in the subdivision code. If there is a conflict between the Hillside Development provisions and another section of this Ordinance or the Town Code, these provisions shall prevail.

Is there legal and secure access to the property?

No, this has not yet been established. To obtain approvals of permits in the Town, the property owner must furnish evidence that it has a right of legal access for the property to a public street.

In April 2016, the property owner sued the owners of Lots 22 through 25 of Stone Canyon East.  to grant a 50-foot wide easement through their lots s to build a road approximately 600 feet in length from the cul-de-sac on East San Miguel Avenue.  The owner claims the right to use private, gated driveways that serve Lots 22 and 23.  The owners of Lots 22, 23 and 24 have filed a countersuit declaring that the owner has no access rights through their properties. As designated, the roadway would extend along the common property lines of Lots 22 and 23 and lie about 50 feet away from each home.  If the 3 homeowners prevail, the property owner would be forced to find another location for access to its property.

What can citizens do to help save Camelback Mountain?

Sign the petition to show your support for saving Camelback Mountain and attend public hearings and meetings scheduled at the Town of Paradise Valley to consider this matter.

Is there a public safety concern?

Yes. The proposed house and proposed roadway would disturb a large, unstable boulder field resting at a 53% slope and a significant wash lying east of the boulder field.   Construction would occur directly uphill from the existing Stone Canyon East residences.  Dynamiting or jackhammering this boulder field could dislodge dozens of rocks and boulders, some the size of small summer cabins, potentially threatening existing homes as well as people, pets and wildlife.

Who will decide the fate of Camelback Mountain?

The Town of Paradise Valley.

So what is the problem?

The Town of Paradise Valley’s Zoning Ordinance requires the property owner to first apply for and obtain approvals of a subdivision plat, a conditional use permit and several variances of ordinance requirements before applying for approval from the Town’s Hillside Building Committee.  At this time, there is no assurance that the property owner will be able to satisfy the criteria for issuance of these approvals. Nevertheless, the Town staff has processed the owner’s application for Hillside Building Committee approval without first requiring the owner to satisfy these requirements.

Our attorneys have filed an appeal of the staff’s decision with the Town’s Board of Adjustment.  The Board of Adjustment will schedule a public hearing to take testimony from the Town’s residents and our attorneys.  It is important for all Town residents to become involved and attend the Board of Adjustment hearing and express their views.  We will notify all SCM members of the date and time of the hearing.

Without legal access to the property, how can this project procede?

SCM has challenged the Town staff’s decision to allow the property owner to proceed with its Hillside Building Committee application without first having obtained a court order granting legal access to its property.  This decision will also be considered by the Town Board of Adjustment at the public hearing.