By Mark Carlisle
Two housing developments, totaling 405 homes, and one commercial development could soon be added to county land near Glendale.
Maricopa County’s board of supervisors pushed a vote on zoning amendments for the two vacant properties from Wednesday, Feb. 13 to Wednesday, Feb. 27.
One of the proposed developments, at the northeast corner of Northern Avenue and Cotton Lane, plans 66.6 acres for 279 homes and 27.6 acres for commercial use. The development, called Northern Crossing, was continued to the board’s next meeting “to allow the applicant opportunity to document plans for water and sewer service availability,” said District 4 Supervisor and the board’s vice chairman Clint Hickman, who represents the Northwest Valley.
The other development, at the southwest corner of El Mirage Road and Maryland Avenue, proposes 126 homes across 36.7 acres. The development, called Seasons at Riverside, was met with opposition from neighbors with concerns over density and traffic. At Mr. Hickman’s recommendation, the board pushed the vote to the its next meeting to allow the applicant and residents more time to reach a compromise and for the county to study traffic effects.
Both properties are county land within Glendale’s strip annexation area, meaning Glendale is the only municipality allowed to annex the land but does not have to and can allow it to remain county land.
Seasons at Riverside
About 100 residents signed a position opposing the proposed rezoning for the Seasons at Riverside development, which would allow for 6,000 square feet per dwelling unit rather than the currently authorized 10,000 square feet per unit.
Because more than 20 percent of property owners within a 300-foot radius opposed the change, a super majority of board members must approve the amendment to pass it. With one of the supervisor five seats vacant, the change would require approval from at least three of four supervisors to pass.
“We all have a choice of what type of home, what type of acreage, what type of community, what type of subsidiary we’re going to live in,” said Victoria Valenzuela, who lives just north of the proposed project. “So, when we purchased our home, along with our other neighbors…we were able to purchase the acreage and build a home that was consistent with the characteristics that have been there for over 30 years. And changing those characteristics of a well-established community is going to impact us.”
While many nearby areas are zoned for larger lot sizes than Seasons at Riverside’s proposed zoning change, many of those who spoke in opposition at last week’s board meeting were from the nearest housing development just south of the project, Wigwam Creek North, which is also zoned 6,000 feet per unit, the same as what’s proposed for Seasons.
The smallest proposed lots in the Seasons development are 5,175 square feet. The homes in Wigwam Creek North closest to the proposed development are each at least 6,000 square feet. However, the smallest lots in Wigwam Creek North are below 5,000 square feet, smaller than any proposed at Seasons.
Seasons’ developer, Richmond American Homes, has already made some concessions to residents. It decreased its total number of home to 126 from 144 and placed the larger lots, more than 10,000 square feet, on the outside of the property to serve as a buffer to nearby larger lots.
With resident concerns around the mine to the east, Richmond added a notice to potential homebuyers that the mine is nearby and will cause noise. It also rearranged its lots so only six lots would be on the eastern edge nearest the mine.
The County is requiring Richmond to install a designated left turn lane into the housing complex along Maryland Avenue to alleviate traffic.
Residents have more requests though. Residents are also concerned with traffic along El Mirage Road, which includes traffic from Crown Charter School north of the property. Resident Kathleen Ross noted accidents are frequent on the traffic heavy street and during spring training, which starts this weekend, nearby Camelback Ranch reroutes traffic along El Mirage Road, which backs up for about a mile and a half.
Resident Allison Bounds requested lot widths be increased to 65 feet from 45 at the smallest, which would increase the smallest lots from 5,175 to about 7,500 square feet.
Mr. Hickman, who said he lives half a mile from the proposed site, is “most of the way here” in regard to voting for approval of the site, but wanted to give the two sides more time to, he hopes, come up with a better compromise.
“You guys also have to realize, growth — you’ve been able to push it away — but growth is coming,” he said.
Residents opposed the proposed “starter homes” being added near them because they feared it would hurt their property values.
“The economy is changing,” Mr. Hickman said. “You need to give starter homes somewhere.”
The county is also required to do a traffic impact. The study usually happens later in the zoning process, but Mr. Hickman said he would “put the cart before the horse” and request the study be done before the Feb. 27 meeting.
The Northern Crossing residential and commercial development was not discussed in last week’s board of supervisors meeting but was continued to the next meeting on Feb. 27 to give the developer, Lennar Homes, time to put water and sewer service plans together. County documents say both services will be provided by EPCOR.
The entire property is under zoning meant for farms which allows one home per acre. Lennar requests the northern 66.6 acres be rezoned to allow for an average of one home per 6,000 square feet and the southern 27.7 acres to be zoned for commercial use.
The housing project will include 202 lots at 5,400 square feet each and 77 lots at 6,000 square feet. The development will also include 16 acres of open space.
Students from the new neighborhood would go to Luke Elementary School and Shadow Ridge High School, both under Dysart Unified School District. The district sent a letter to the county’s planning and zoning department saying it has no objection to the project but requests a donation from the developer. The letter did not say what amount was requested but said the district has been in contact with Lennar to discuss it.
Lennar has not provided plans for its commercial project yet, but uses allowed under the requested zoning designation includes automobile sales and services, furniture stores, hotels and motels, travel trailer parks, restaurants, and some commercial recreation and cultural facilities such as movies and instruction in art and music.
Restrictions under the zoning designations disallow adult-oriented businesses and medical marijuana facilities. Art metal iron shops, automobile repair, cabinet shop, drive-in restaurants, drive-thru restaurant, farm or animal hospitals, tinsmith shops and veterinary hospitals containing kennel or boarding within 150 feet of the northern property boundary.
Nearby Luke Air Force Base, a few miles to the east, wrote a letter to the planning department saying the housing development will not impact flying operations, but requested to provide additional comments once a plan is announced for the commercial development to ensure it will also not interfere with flying operations. The letter said the site will be subjected to about 170 flights per day.
Both the Northern Crossing development to the west and the Seasons at Riverside development to the east are just outside of Luke Air Force Base’s noise contour lines, which regulate land uses near the base due to noise from jets.