Fire line at odds with Scottsdale officials By Paul Giblin, Tribune February 10, 2006

North Scottsdale resident Henry Becker raised the ire of neighbors when he raised colorful signs on his pristine desert property.

Now he has a new landscaping idea.

He plans to bulldoze 150-foot-wide swaths along Pima and Happy Valley roads.

It has nothing to do with his long feud with the city, said the former City Council candidate. Its about wildfire prevention.

Still, his anger with the current City Council is apparent.

On Saturday, Becker installed two sets of white and yellow signs that read, Politicians & diapers need to be changed . . . often for the same reason.

He hung heart-print mens and womens underwear and heart-shaped pillows from large candy-cane-shaped artwork.

And he erected 41 yellow No dumping signs on red and pink posts.

The retired Wall Street investor has feuded with city officials for years about development rights, sign ordinances and litter on his property. Becker said he is researching city regulations concerning bulldozing his private property. But he plans to blade it no matter what city regulations cover the subject.

It will be done, he said.

Scottsdale principal planner Don Hadder said Thursday he was unaware of Beckers plans.

Id think wed have to have a little talk about that and I suspect we will be talking about that, he said.

Scottsdale Fire Department assistant fire marshal Mike Lister said blading a 150-foot-wide swath exceeds standard fire prevention measures.

Weve given him some reconditions and asked for a plan, and were just waiting to see what he wants to do, Lister said.

A wildfire could devalue the land by 40 percent, Becker said. His 95.8-acre tract stretches 3,900 feet along Pima and 1,200 feet along Happy Valley.

After hes finished bulldozing, the only plants left standing in the swaths will be saguaro cactuses. He plans to transplant small cactuses, such as hedgehog and barrel cactuses, and sell trees, such as ironwood, Palo Verde and mesquite.

Beckers vision differs sharply with the idea of preserving desert landscape to create scenic corridors, said Tim Montgomery, a leader of the organization Volunteers@Scenic Pima Road. Fire prevention does not mean the complete eradication of 100-year-old trees, he said.

Becker already has hired crews to trim the lower branches of about 100 trees on his property. The work has taken five weekends so far and is about half finished.

The neighbors should be delighted that Im willing to take this time and expense to act in a fire-preventative way, Becker said.

Bob Vairo, president of the north Scottsdale group Coalition of Pinnacle Peak, said he doubts the city will allow Becker to blade the land. He noted that just north of Beckers property, a developer is replanting native vegetation in an area that had been excavated to install a pipeline.

If on the one hand, someone that disturbs the land adjacent to the road is required to put in and revegetate that whole property, why would the city even think about allowing anything like that? Vairo asked.

Contact Paul Giblin by email, or phone (480) 970-2331

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