City News

The city of Sedona is in the early stages of a multi-year process of establishing more than a dozen Community Focus Areas. And on April 11, one that staff feels is near the top of the list was approved.

The Sedona City Council unanimously approved the Schnebly CFA, which is the third to be completed.

“This one, out of all the CFAs, probably is the most unique,” Senior Planner Cynthia Lovely said. “Part of why it’s unique is that this was the original heart of Sedona. This was the original settlement as everything was focused along the creek.”

In the summer of 2015, the city began the CFA planning process with 14 property owners in the Schnebly area to review and discuss the existing planning documents and to get their thoughts and ideas for the area. A draft CFA plan was created by city staff based on property owner input and additional research. The plan has since been revised several times following feedback from the public and the Sedona Planning and Zoning Commission.

“The Schnebly CFA is a unique area of the city with potential for future development due to the amount of undeveloped land in close proximity to the Uptown commercial area, Oak Creek and the National Forest,” a city report states.

Expectations of this CFA, as addressed in the Sedona Community Plan, include:

  • Retain large parcels and rural character.
  • Support agriculture as a key character element.
  • Support non-residential uses [i.e bed and breakfast, neighborhood cafe] if tied to the preservation of large land areas and generates less traffic than medium-density residential.
  • Retain similarly affordable housing currently provided in existing mobile home/RV park.
  • Protect riparian environment along Oak Creek.
  • Evaluate potential for environmentally sensitive public creek access.
  • Preserve historic resources such as Gassaway House.

This CFA consists of 91 acres with 92 percent of the zoning in that area listed as single-family residential. There are currently 41 homes in the area but under current zoning it could allow for 260 additional homes.

The city report states that future development could include new houses on the vacant lots, existing parcels being split into smaller residential lots and the RV park property being developed as housing. There are limitations to development such as steep hillsides and floodplains however there are few incentives to preserve them under the current zoning.  

Lovely said the CFA proposes a new zoning district specific to this area — the Oak Creek Heritage District, which would offer an alternative to single-family residential zoning. This would expand the options available to a landowner that may be considering development or redevelopment of their property. The land uses would be limited to a density, scale and style appropriate to the CFA with uniform design and development guidelines tailored to the area.

In regard to the Heritage District, the report states that to better enable new development projects to meet the objectives of this CFA plan, a new zoning district is recommended. It will offer options for multiple compatible land uses that may be more suitable to the area’s features than residential zoning.

Community Development Director Audree Juhlin said the new district will encourage creative site design that will preserve the area’s natural and cultural resources while strengthening the sense of place. The new district will be an important tool in the implementation of this plan, and to facilitate the plan’s implementation the city will initiate the rezoning process at the request of the landowner following adoption of the CFA plan.  

“As Cynthia pointed out, this is the heart of Sedona,” Juhlin said. “How do we preserve the heart of Sedona so it doesn’t become like anywhere else in Sedona — just another residential development?”

She went on to add, “This is a zone change. If the CFA is approved, you have to create a district in which property owners can come forward and request a zone change. Just because you approve this, it doesn’t mean that any of these things will happen tomorrow. It will only happen with Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation and City Council approval.”


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