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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local May 24, 2016


3/8/2014 1:17:00 PM
Cornville hears Camp Soaring Eagle request
Cameron Carter, an attorney representing the Camp Soaring Eagle Foundation, presented an overview of the plan, saying that a permanent zoning is required by the board for purchase of the property. Otherwise, planners say a conditional-use permit might also apply. VVN/Jon Hutchinson
Cameron Carter, an attorney representing the Camp Soaring Eagle Foundation, presented an overview of the plan, saying that a permanent zoning is required by the board for purchase of the property. Otherwise, planners say a conditional-use permit might also apply. VVN/Jon Hutchinson

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter


CORNVILLE -- The planning and zoning committee of the Cornville Community Association delayed a recommendation Wednesday for a proposed rezoning of half of the Living Waters acreage.

Committee member Gregg Law said the board first should see an updated letter of intent from the Camp Soaring Eagle Foundation, but the committee still received plenty of comment during the two-hour hearing.

The meeting was moved from the Verde Valley Fire station in Cornville to the gymnasium of the Oak Creek School to accommodate the crowd.

Camp Soaring Eagle wants to use the southern half of the land as a camping experience for Arizona children with serious illnesses.

Cameron Carter, an attorney representing the Camp Soaring Eagle Foundation, presented an overview of the plan, saying that a permanent zoning is required by the board for purchase of the property. Otherwise, planners say a conditional-use permit might also apply. The application for the zoning change from residential to planned area development was filed Tuesday.

The PAD zoning has been a red flag for some neighbors, who suspect it could lead to more intense usage.

Dave Williams, Yavapai County's land use manager, defined a PAD for the crowd as a "zoning to accommodate site-specific issues and cannot be carried over to other uses."

The audience was told Yavapai County has hundreds of PADs. The county planning department during the past couple years has formalized about a dozen camping operations throughout the county and the Living Waters religious use could not be extended to the new non-religious 501(c)(3) camp.

Carter said the Foundation is proposing a total of 32 events on the property annually, mainly camper and family weekends, some week-long summer camps and some third-party events.

The French family, which started the Living Waters Retreat, will retain the five-acre property and home at the south of the holdings adjacent to Willow Drive. It is not part of the camp request. There will be no access to the camp from Willow, said Cameron.

The attorney said the only additions to the existing facilities would eventually be an equestrian area, a pool, pool house and archery area.

There will be no expansion of the existing 120-bed capacity, he said.

Among the events would be 10 to 12 camper and family weekends, up to 10 third-party events and fundraisers as well as an annual Cornville community event on the land.

The public asked a lot of questions about the proposal for the third-party events. It was explained that the organization is modeled after Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut. But Board Member Rob Olsen, who personally operates Oak Creek's Briar Patch Inn, said the CSE Foundation is a small non-profit that needs to raise funds in order to provide the free camping experiences for children with serious illnesses. He said contracts for third-party events will require the same restrictions used for campers. Those activities include no recreation use in Oak Creek, no large bonfires, no noise and lights out at 9 p.m. Busing provisions will be provided for all users including third-party users. A facilities manager will live on the property and third parties will be required to provide private security.

In addition to third-party events and fundraisers, Eric Meyers, another CSE board member, said, it was his intention that the northern parcel be sold to generate funding for the non-profit.

Despite the assurance of restrictions, neighbors still had many questions for both the CSE staff and county planning officials. The crowd seemed to suspect there were issues that were not disclosed. They questioned the camp representatives about third-party use, Oak Creek access, traffic, whether campers came from out of state, signage on North Aspaas Road and how the PAD could be revoked.

They were asked about the revenue the camp might bring to Cornville and how taxes were paid. They were asked also about a new CSE program for children of veterans and why they did not have local hospital outreach.

Despite the many objections, counting of cars, trips, and events, two members of the audience supported the proposal.

Carter said the Foundation has contracted a traffic impact study to assess the potential traffic volumes. Both he and Rob Olsen said they suspect counts will be less than before and less than if the property were built as 27 home sites.

The board asked the camp representatives to update their letter of intent and bring it back at the April 7 meeting of the Cornville Planning and Zoning committee.

The county will hear the rezoning request April 23 in Cottonwood.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Article comment by: Turn it into vineyards

It's wine country now, worth a lot of money... water and wine

Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Article comment by: Nearby Resident

Ms. Lattimore,

I've often seen it said here and elsewhere that anonymous opinions are without value. That anyone with the courage of their convictions should use their real name. Quite the contrary, using pseudonyms is one way to avoid having issues become personal.
Nobody has said you don't have a right to an opinion. You should know though, that the opinions carrying the most weight in this matter as far as the county is concerned will be be those of the adjoining property owners and nearest neighbors. All the signatures you've gathered from outside the immediate area are of little value. About as important, say, as Cornville residents getting worked up about Cottonwood selling the old rec center to a private concern for another bar. We might have an opinion, but the powers that be don't care.
Carry on.


Posted: Monday, March 24, 2014
Article comment by: Christine Lattimore

Dear Nearby Resident,

Thank you for your honest response to my inquiry regarding who would like to see at the property. Just so you know, my comments here, on Facebook, and "publically" in support of a cause I believe in are not in anyway embarrassing to me. If they were, like many on this thread including yourself, I would not be willing to publish my name here. You make it sound as though I was handing out job applications, which is just not the truth. However, it seems, the truth is hard to come by on both sides of this debate. Additionally, you are correct, I may not have any direct "skin" on the line as I was a child when I lived in the neighborhood in question. However, I have lived in Cornville my entire life and in many ways CSE will affect our entire community and we all have the right to have opinions over it and not be personally belittled for it. Thus, let's try to cease making it personal and focus on the issue at hand.


Posted: Sunday, March 23, 2014
Article comment by: Maren Joslin

According to CSE and their associates, The property will not be purchased unless they are granted a PAD. There are other zoning changes that could be requested, ie Conditional Use Permit and there is also a RCD zoning for camping use. Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball and can predict the future and the ultimate "owner" of the property. We can only discuss and decide our position on what is presented publicly by the interested party, and do the proverbial "fact check" to the best of our ability.........Any other party requesting a zoning change and "development" of the property would have to follow the regulated procedures in obtaining the changes they desire. Discussion should be at the facts at hand, not predicting the dire future of what "could be".

Posted: Saturday, March 22, 2014
Article comment by: Alna Laurel

I'm curious what types of "potential organizations other than religious or schools" Common Sense and Reality has in mind that "might fit in better in our current neighborhood". Anyone have ideas? Other than religious or School still would need a zoning change to make the attempt, together with a great deal of money. Which such organization would cause less traffic and "bother" for this neighborhood than CSE or Living Waters? -Given that an organization wealthy enough to purchase would want to recoup those funds and generate more, and that the property is set up for group use so it is highly unlikely to be used for anything else (at least that section). Of course new stuff could be developed on the open acres which would generate still more traffic etc....

Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014
Article comment by: Common Sense and Reality

Maren Joslin: Good questions about the location of the "accessory uses" versus the Yavapai County Ordinance. I suggest you contact our Yavapai County Development Services Rep (928-639-8151) and/or the Cornville P&Z about this.

Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014
Article comment by: Nearby Resident

Ms. Lattimore
It certainly is your right to promise people jobs in Cornville if they'll sign a CSE petition. It's just not the truth and it has obviously caused you some embarrassment. To give you the benefit of the doubt, perhaps your were mis or ill-informed.

You were a child when you last resided in the N. Aspaas neighborhood. Let's be real. Your "sympathy" for actually impacted residents rings hollow. You have no skin in this game.

In answer to your question, I will personally support CSE's letter of intent if and when it protects the neighborhood and is materially identical to the low-key, 10-12 weekend SMALL GROUP camps as it was described verbally in the first meeting held with residents last fall. I don't believe you were in attendance not being an impacted party, and all. Telling half truths and downplaying neighborhood impact is not the best way for CSE to have won people over to their "cause".

Your adoption of various pet causes is admirable. Too bad you haven't done your homework on this one.


Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014
Article comment by: Christine Lattimore

@ "Nearby Resident": Yes, and I will continue to re-post it. I merely illuminated the "what if's" and solicited support for a cause I believe in, which is my right, just as it is your right to oppose it.

I actually completely sympathize with the concerns of the oppositional residents of N. Aspaas, being a former resident of N. Aspaas myself. However, I agree with those who state the blindingly obvious: The bottom line is that the property is for sale. So I pose the question to those who oppose the PAD and/or CSE, who would you like to see utilizing the grounds of Living Waters? Because someone is going to.



Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Article comment by: For all of our information

Mr Max James was interviewed and a story was published in the Phoenix Business Journal concerning his vision and plans for CSE at the Verde Valley School location in VOC. The article can be accessed at: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/05/26/story12.html
Please access this article and pay special attention to his last quoted comment.


Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Article comment by: Maren Joslin

CSE has requested that a pool, pool house, and Equestrian area with applicable buildings be situated at the front lot line of the property at N. Aspaas Rd. Their site plan defines these as accessory uses, and defends their location as well outside the floodplain in order to protect those areas.. The Yavapai County P and Z Ordinance defining a PAD states explicitly in section D Subsection (9) Uses Permitted..."Accessory uses and structures such uses and structures MAY be located in the front one-half of a lot, PROVIDED THEY ARE NOT NEARER THE FRONT LOT LINE THAN THE MAIN BUILDING OR BUILDINGS. As most of Living Waters is located within the flood plain and 100 year floodplain, written requests for modifications of these requirements is required by the County. These structures and accessory uses will be unscreened from the roadway and basically unsecured, especially the pool area, from unauthorized usage. CSE's LOI, Section V11 (Access & On-Site Traffic Circulation) defines N. Aspaas as an access road to the property. They are requesting that "the design and proposed improvements shall also apply to the ACCESS road in the areas that would not be able to accommodate TWO vehicles traveling in opposite directions...Implementation of this requirement could possibly involve encroachment onto private property along with their requested lit directional signs. Verde Valley School and CSE received a Conditional Use Permit for their construction of the first CSE in VOC, in 2007. For whatever reason, it did not pan out, and the "upscaling" of the land usage, in a smaller, less accessible area, does cause me concern.

Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Article comment by: On The Creek

The comments have become personal and not about the issue of CSE wanting to rezone a beautiful piece of property on Oak Creek to a Planned Area Development (PAD). Emotions are strong on both sides, but the people that have the most invested are those in opposition to the rezoning. Not because we the neighbors are not sensitive to the children, but because the intent of the Camp to hold 32 events a year, ranging from 60 to 300 guests plus staff every weekend and for several week long events will forever change our residential neighborhood. Events CSE intends to hold are not only for the children, CSE intends to rent out the facility to others that are not ill or disadvantaged, CSE intends to hold fund raising events, inviting their well to do, meaning well contributors to come to the Camp. CSE previously held events in the valley for several years, reportedly up to 12 events a year, at facilities that were donated or provided for each event. Now they intend to have 32 events and not all for their children. CSE claims they need the PAD zoning to get financing, the guarantor of the mortgage is the founder of the Camp, a self-described developer, in first position to own the property if the Camp cannot cover its debts. 13 acres with PAD zoning on Oak Creek is a developer’s dream. For those who think CSE cannot fail, ask about their previous attempt to build a Camp on Oak Creek, the unfinished buildings they left behind, the millions of donations that were squandered. This is not about the Camp’s altruistic purpose, it’s about our neighborhood and protecting what we’ve built and invested in. Take a step back and think about what is being asked for and what is at stake.




Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Article comment by: Perry Suden

Some of the recent favorable letters present their positions about a PAD rezoning change vs. no zoning change, and the implications of each in a clear way. Rezoning to a restricted PAD should no longer be an issue, as it is superior in its restrictions to the present classification.

Almost daily UPS and FedEx trucks travel our roads garbage trucks come rolling by, at times the Propane truck or septic truck, or well truck. How about including a bus carrying the camp's children, some more cars with parents, staff, and volunteers, to allow this wonderful concept to become a reality? Guaranteed, the kids' struggles with their illnesses will be forgotten during their stay here, and their enjoyment of life heightened. Children of veterans are graciously included in the Camp's concept.

The Camp needs financial support, therefore they would hold fundraisers here along with some third party events....Hopefully, we include the Camp in our peace and quiet as our contribution to the greater good.


Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Article comment by: Alna Laurel

From people who would be impacted, I hear strong protectiveness of the rural values we in Cornville all share – peace, privacy, interface with Nature, spaciousness, and sense of safety. I also hear a strong distrust of people or organizations with a lot of money (though who else could buy Living Waters?) and a hope that aggressive protest can trip the advance of ANY large new neighbor into our midst, preventing their interference with our enjoyment of aforesaid rural values.

I've heard neighbors insist they have no issue with CSE, yet claim many issues with changing the zoning to that required for the Camp. Yet the issues they list are fears of impact on personal peace, privacy, etc. They make it sound like changing the zoning would cause all these fears to materialize, whereas if the zoning were not changed they seem to think no impact will occur. I have not heard any lucid reasoning as to why CSE should not be our neighbor based on legal consequences of the proposed zoning change. If people are concerned about zoning change, I'd like to hear the legal reasons. If the concerns are impact on personal peace and privacy, which WILL happen when the land is sold whether the zoning is changed or not, then in my view the Camp's restricted PAD gives us the best shot at the LEAST impact among any potential new uses for this land.

If we do manage to oust CSE, several church groups and one school are presently interested. None would need to heed any of our concerns or try to mitigate traffic, etc. Wouldn't it be funny if one of them attracted similar numbers of people and so forth? We could crow over defeating zoning change and rejoice in the well-being of many new neighbors!


Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Article comment by: Common Sense and Reality

Camp Soaring Eagle is not "...bending over backwards…” to “…appease neighbors…” out of the goodness of their hearts. They are required by the county to address the resident’s concerns, if they want to rezone to a PAD. Regarding “mean-spirited” comments of the opposition, many people would call Slater Slater’s comment about the opposition being “jack azzs” mean-spirited. There are other potential organizations, other than religious and schools, that might fit-in better in our current neighborhood. Suggest the real estate agent for the property solicit a more quiet and respectful buyer. The neighborhood has changed in the many years since Living Waters started there, and so must that property change to fit-in respectfully and quietly into our CURRENT neighborhood.

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Article comment by: For The Children

CSE has presented and tried to sneak a permanent rezoning plan past the county and local residents that is materially UNLIKE what they originally proposed verbally.
It smacks of intentional dishonesty. Should we trust out of hand the word of an organization headed by an individual who got his start in the multilevel marketing of supplements? Who faced censure by the Federal Trade Commission in California for making false claims that his products could "cure" ADHD in children? Or for starting his mall kiosk business peddling Metabolife, a supplement responsible for many deaths and heart attacks and whose jailed inventors were former methamphetamine dealers?

Maybe this is all in the man's past and immaterial. Maybe his good works "for the children" make up for it. But it begs his credibility and intentions at Living Water.

CSE is going to have to provide serious repairs to this letter of intent or they will continue to meet resistance. We are not prepared to roll over on this "for the children". Referring to those who oppose the LOI as it stands now as "mean" and "selfish" is childish and naive.
Those of you who continually harp about sick children in this issue need to realize one fact : For the county planners and zoners who will ultimately decide this issue, sick kids are not an issue. The only issue is appropriate land use and the impact of change on a neighborhood. Get over it.

For C Ballard. Undoubtedly the same C Ballard whose name is on the for sale sign at Living Water. What's the comish on a 4.5 million dollar sale? In a hurry? I'll bet you are.



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