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"The argument now is: What makes it a private club?" says Zemp. "The argument that the homeowners are trying to keep out riffraff, that's baloney. In an R-5 district, you're not allowed to have a restaurant unless it's a private club or unless it is internal to a hotel."
When asked what would constitute a reasonable membership fee for a "bona fide" private club, he hedges.
"It's really the city that ultimately has to decide what qualifies as a private club under the zoning ordinance," he says.
The city waffles.
"We're trying to sort this thing out," says William Allison, zoning administrator for the City of Phoenix. "This is frankly not a question that we've had in the past."
He restates the facts: In R-5 zones, you can have a restaurant that caters to a private club. You can't have a public restaurant except inside a hotel. The Wrigley Mansion club has figured out how to straddle the hairline. Can they do it or not?
"And that's where we're not sure we're going to be able to come down," he says in a relieved flash of diplomacy.
Which makes some residents long for the good old days of the real estate crash.
"It was dark for a few years while it was in bankruptcy," says Michael Martindale, president of the Taliverde association. "It was a great neighbor."