Get involved Carefree!

Carefree’s General Plan shapes the future of our town.

These are the issues we believe need addressing. If you agree, please provide your feedback.


A SPECIAL PLANNING AREA (SPA) was approved by town council in December 2021.

This SPA is narrowly defined to allow for the development of a destination-based hospitality/resort.

The SPA was approved during the Covid lockdown. As a result, most residents were never given an opportunity to participate in this Major Amendment to our General Plan. The feedback that residents are now finally able to provide suggests there is strong opposition to a resort on this corner.

Therefore, we strongly recommend the SPA for the NW corner of Tom Darlington and Carefree Highway be removed from the Future Land Use Map.


Residents number one priority is to preserve more open space in Carefree. Carefree Park, a non-profit 501(c)3 is dedicated to acquiring 48 acres of State Land located 1/2 mile from Town Center and turning it into a nature preserve with walking trails.

This is the last remaining multi-acre parcel of land in Carefree. Carefree doesn’t need anymore residential neighborhoods - we need a place to enjoy a long walk with friends and this is our last chance to do that. Carefree must commit to residents number one priority.


Most residents agree that the height of the Hampton Inn and View Town homes have blemished the magnificent views Carefree residents once enjoyed in our Town Center. These structures detract from Carefree’s scenic community character.

Adding a second story residential development to the retail shops will only further detract from our Town Center.Carefree’s General Plan Draft is available here:

Your Feedback:


Your name is not required to provide feedback. If you don’t wish to provide your name, just hit ‘Next’.

Select the middle option (I have general comments) and hit ‘Next’.

A white box will be provided at the bottom of the screen that allows you to type in your feedback.

Hit ‘Next’ after typing your comments and you are done.

Thank you for helping to shape the future of Carefree!

See more information about Carefree below:

October 2023 Town Council Meeting

October 2023 Town Council Meeting

October 04, 20237 min read


Ralph Ferro, Planning and Zoning Commissioner has resigned.

Carefree is currently accepting applications from interested residents (click here to apply). The deadline to apply is Friday, November 3. At the December 5 Council meeting, a new P&Z Commissioner will be appointed.


The Economic Development work plan for 2024/2025 was not approved. Instead, Mr. Prokopek (Economic Development Manager) was asked to revise the work plan and bring it to a vote at the November 7 Town Council Meeting.

Residents took the Town Council’s decision to modify the work plan very favorable. Multiple residents spoke requesting a delay in the Economic Development work plan which seemingly has been out of of alignment with the General Plan process.

The key changes the Council asked Mr. Prokopek to revise include:

  • Focusing efforts on the two most important priorities:

    1. Developing the NEC of Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Rd along the commercial Carefree Highway corridor.

    2. Town Center Revitalization.

  • Remove any plans pertaining to the NWC of Tom Darlington and Carefree Highway at this time.

  • Have a resident/business owner committee determine what limited number of signs will have the biggest impact on town center and solicit multiple quotes - present recommendation to council.

  • Report once a quarter at the Town Council meeting on the development progress of the NEC of Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Rd.


October 11, Matt Klyzsieko with Michael Baker Intl. presented the highlights of the first draft of Carefree’s General Plan.

All residents are encouraged to review the General Plan draft and to use the comment form to provide feedback.

The feedback period closes December 1. The final draft will then go before the Town Council for a vote. Once the Town Council approves the General Plan, no further changes will be made. Carefree residents will vote during the November 2024 election to either adopt the General Plan or not.

Comments/Questions from residents during the October 11 meeting include:

Goal SC-10 - Support growth in identified SPA areas at the northeast corner (NEC) of Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Road and the northwest corner (NWC) of Carefree Highway and Tom Darlington Road ....

  • Residents asked what an SPA area is and how this is different from a re-zoning process. Residents remain concerned about the language ,“supporting growth”, as it pertains to the NW Corner of Carefree Highway and Tom Darlington when so little is known about what is being proposed for this corner or how the SPA came about with so few residents being aware of it.

  • An SPA is a Special Planning Area. It allows for a multitude of development options to be considered versus a more narrowly defined zoning designation. Carefree has two Special Planning Areas.

  • 1. Northeast Corner (NEC) of Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Road - approximately 23 acres located within the thriving commercial Carefree Highway corridor. The SPA for this area was ratified by residents during the last General Plan revision in 2012. In 2018, a developer initiated a public re-zoning process. As a result, this SPA area is now zoned for commercial development. The Carefree Highway commercial corridor contributes the majority of Cave Creek’s sales tax revenue and is Carefree’s most important undeveloped area for generating significant future sales tax revenue.

  • 2. Northwest Corner of Tom Darlington and Carefree Highway - approximately 21 acres. The SPA for this area was obtained by a Major General Plan Amendment in December 2021. Despite this, there is very limited visibility among residents about the proposed development of this area. The significance is that by approving the General Plan during the 2024 election, residents will also be voting to accept the SPA on this NW corner of Carefree Highway and Tom Darlington.

RECOMMENDATION: Break Goal SC-10 into two goals addressing each of the two SPA’s separately. SC-10 language remains the same but applies only to the NEC of Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Rd. This area has been previously ratified in the 2012 General Plan and was re-zoned commercial in 2018 after an extensive public process. Add a new goal SC-11. SC-11 would address any potential development on the NWC of Carefree Highway and Tom Darlington with language that must consider most residents have had little to no input on this area nor has it gone to a resident vote. Currently it is zoned Very Low Density Residential, however the SPA designation allows for significantly higher density options to be considered, like a resort/spa development. If you agree with the recommendation to break this into two goals, please use the General Plan feedback form ( LINK) to provide that feedback prior to December 1.

• Theme Prosperity and Fiscal Stability

  • A resident questioned the rationale for extensive economic development in Carefree. A P&Z commissioner in the audience referenced an analysis that indicates Carefree will face a roughly $3 million budget deficit by 2030. This analysis is being used as the underlying reason to explain the need for significant Economic Development growth to generate new sales tax revenue to close the projected deficit gap.

RECOMMENDATION: Residents asked for this analysis to be made publicly available and specific. In addition, residents requested the General Plan incorporate more balanced goals in the Prosperity and Financial Stability theme to include conservative spending measures to address this forecasted budget deficit versus primarily focusing on economic development growth. If you agree with this recommendation, please use this form (LINK) to provide that feedback prior to December 1.

Residents are encouraged to submit feedback on the General Plan draft. Mr. Klyzsieko encouraged people that if they have similar concerns about an issue, please submit their comments versus assuming it has already been addressed. If multiple residents have the same concern, it will ensure those concerns are addressed prior to the final resident vote.

Review the General Plan Draft (LINK)

Provide feedback on the General Plan Draft (LINK)


Mayor Crane announced that the Call to the Public has been moved to the end of the Town Council Meetings. In addition, the new meeting format will include time for public comment after each agenda item. The public comment will be prior to the council voting on that specific agenda item. With this new format, the council can answer questions and consider resident concerns prior to their vote on that agenda item. This establishes a two way dialogue between Council and residents.

The Call to the Public, which will now be at the end of each Council meeting, is set aside for residents who wish to speak about things that are not on the current agenda. Legally, the council is not allowed to comment or discuss any topic that is not on the agenda. However, because the meeting adjourns immediately after Call to the Public, a council member or staff can stay after the meeting ends to discuss the issue.

Arizona League of Cities and Town’s advises Council Members that, “one of the most important jobs of the council is to hear both the requests and grievances of local citizens”.

A recent NYT article writes, “a defining feature of the country’s most effective leaders has been their willingness to listen and work with people whose views they do not always share”.

While we might not always agree, the more we find in common to work on together, the easier it will become to resolve issues where we do not agree. Differing opinions ultimately lead to better solutions when we can actively and respectfully listen to one another.

Thank you Mayor Crane for taking this step forward. We will eventually become a stronger town as a result.


October 21, 2023 3pm Sanderson Pavilion - Carefree Park will hold an important informational meeting with guest speakers from Maricopa County Parks and Arizona Parks and Trails.

Carefree Park is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to acquire, preserve and make accessible to the community 47.815 acres of open Sonoran Desert land. This is the last remaining and only accessible large, non-private parcel within Carefree’s Upper Sonoran Desert. It therefore holds significant value to the community.

November 3, 2023 - Last day to apply for Planning and Zoning Commissioner (LINK)

November 7, 2023 5pm Town Council Center - Town Council Meeting

November 10, 2023 9am -11am Sanderson Pavilion Visitors Center - Community Conversation, an informal chat with Mayor John Crane and other Council Members. It is a wonderful and non-threatening environment to talk to our town leaders if you do not like to speak in front of an audience at Council meetings.

December 1, 2023 Last day to provide comments to the General Plan Draft (LINK)

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