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The Planning and Zoning Commission took the next step in implementing an overlay shopping district in the downtown area of Fountain Hills by voting unanimously to recommend that a zoning amendment be approved for the overlay area.

The proposed overlay would apply new zoning allowances for the specified area, which is bounded by Avenue of the Fountains on the south, La Montana Drive on the west, and Palisades and Saguaro boulevards on the north and east respectively.

Development Services Director John Wesley said during earlier discussions that an overlay applied to the area years ago was apparently unintentionally dropped with a Zoning Ordinance change in the 1990s.

Wesley reported that in working on the zoning request earlier this year, staff discovered that a Planned Shopping Plaza Overlay was adopted by the town soon after incorporation in 1992. However, that overlay was removed when the town adopted its own Zoning Ordinance separate from county regulations in 1993.

“In 1998 the town reviewed and approved an ordinance which amended the 1992…overlay district,” Wesley said in a staff report. “This amendment did some things to bring the overlay district in line with the…1993 Zoning Ordinance…The effect of this ordinance is unclear, since it still was not placed into the Zoning Ordinance.”

Wesley said it appears that some development in the downtown is not compliant with the Zoning Ordinance due to this confusion.

“This area was zoned C-2 with the initial development of the town, but was allowed to develop with setback, lot coverages, building heights, and parking standards not consistent with the requirements of the C-2 District,” Wesley said. “The previous and new Planned Shopping Plaza Overlay establishes standards consistent with the urban development form of this area.”

The action taken by the commission last week would apply the Zoning Ordinance amendment approved by the Town Council in September to the specified area as new zoning.

The council will consider the zoning amendment at a later session.