Scottsdale's City Council could decide Tuesday to narrow an equestrian trail at Northsight Park to accommodate private development, a move which horse enthusiasts say would be dangerous.
The 19-acre park sits on the northwest corner of Thunderbird Road and Loop 101, and the surrounding neighborhood to the south and west is heavily populated by horse riders.
Development firm Calvis Wyant demolished the Pretty Penny Ranch commercial horse boarding facility - on Northsight Park's western border - this summer to make way for the planned Cavallo Estates subdivision, where they plan 11 houses on 1-acre lots.
The developers own a 40-foot-wide roadway easement that extends to the middle of 84th Street - the park's southern driveway. The easement includes the 20-foot-wide equestrian trail used by many of the neighbors.
A proposed deal calls for reducing the equestrian trail to 8 feet wide so the developer can build a privacy wall and plant some landscaping for several planned homes bordering the park.Scottsdale would get ownership of the eastern half of the easement in exchange, to preserve the southern vehicular access to the park.
Neighbors have said that reducing the trail's width means that if a horse becomes startled, there would be no room to turn it around, which could be dangerous to riders.
City spokesman Pat Dodds said a citizens' task force is working on how equestrian trails should be designed.
"It's a bit of a gray area," he said.
The city's Planning Commission voted unanimously Oct. 1 to recommend that the council approve the deal.
The developer's lawyer, John Berry, has said Calvis Wyant has gone out of its way to appease horse enthusiasts.For instance, the developer is installing a horse trail along Thunderbird Road at the southern edge of Cavallo Estates, even though the subdivision will not be geared to equestrians.
It's not the first time the desires of the developers have clashed with neighbors. Previously, the developers planned to put the primary entrance to the Cavallo Estates subdivision on North 84th Street - using the developers' roadway easement - essentially funneling traffic onto the park's driveway.But neighborhood opposition forced the developers to relocate the entrance to 81st Street, and then again to Thunderbird Road, according to city documents.
Berry has said the Thunderbird Road entrance was the least desirable location, and that the developer agreed to move the vehicle entrance three times in response to neighbors' concerns.