Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Note: As a councilmember representing the Yucca district and in opposition to the proposed Stonehaven changes, I may not lobby fellow councilmembers about this project. The Arizona Open Meeting Law prohibits “daisy chaining” by councilmembers. That means I cannot go to the mayor and each councilmember to try to convince them to oppose the project. I am, in essence, handicapped by state law. The proponents of the Stonehaven changes do not have such a constraint and are busy lobbying every councilmember to gain their support. Who will the councilmembers represent? Their citizens or special interests? We will find out on June 27th when this proposal is scheduled to go before the city council for a vote of denial or approval.

On Wednesday evening, I received the usual email blast entitled “Mayor’s Business of the Week.” In his email the lead headline is…Stonehaven is proof that Glendale has turned a corner.  Here is his statement:

“Stonehaven

 Office of the Mayor Jerry P. Weiers

Mayoral Statement Date: 6/7/2017 Issue/Event: StoneHaven

Description: Mayor Weiers is providing a statement of support for the StoneHaven Master Planned Community being proposed by John F. Long Properties and Pulte Homes near 91st & Camelback Rd.

Statement:

StoneHaven is Proof That Glendale Has Turned a Corner

In the coming weeks the Glendale City Council will vote on the most impactful housing development project our city has seen in years.

This is cause for celebration in Glendale, as two successful Arizona companies, Pulte Homes and John F. Long Properties, propose to invest $450 million on a nearly 400-acre residential and retail project near 91st Avenue and Camelback Road. The proposal has undergone careful study, and this one has all the signs of a winner.

StoneHaven will bring 1,365 high-quality, single-family homes and add neighborhood retail businesses to the southern part of our community generating $49 million in new local city revenues, according to a city-commissioned study. This will help improve our security and quality of life, as we provide funds for police, fire protection, roads and parks. An influx of new residents also means new customers for businesses at Westgate and other parts of the city.

Glendale has turned a corner.

Before I took office we were going through very tough times. It wasn’t too long ago that businesses were struggling, and the municipal budget was in the red. Together, we have overcome those obstacles, and Glendale is once again financially stable.

The city’s sound financial footing has spurred new economic development and growth.

But our work isn’t done.

That’s why approval of this project is so important. It is an infusion of confidence and a boost towards full economic recovery.

As we move forward, we must come to grips with another challenge: the shortage of new housing in Glendale. We are a landlocked city. Undeveloped land is in short supply. That’s why it is imperative that we consider every opportunity for a thoughtful development of vacant land whenever one comes along. StoneHaven is a carefully-crafted traditional master-planned community that integrates residential, commercial and recreational facilities.

I live not too far from the proposed StoneHaven site.

As a neighbor, I welcome the project. One of the many aspects of this project that I’m very excited about is the proposed construction of Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue, which is long overdue.

Many of my neighbors shop in Phoenix because of the close proximity to grocery stores and retail business, but with the StoneHaven development our tax dollars will stay here and help Glendale.

I am also gratified by the support from the Glendale Star, Glendale Chamber of Commerce and local school districts.

If I felt this project were bad for Glendale, I would be the first to oppose it. But every study, every review and every staff report tells me that’s not the case. City staff recommends approval.

As Mayor, I must look at the overall, long-term benefits of any project for the good of the city as a whole. StoneHaven is a project that has enormous long-term benefits to Glendale, and is an opportunity that does not come along very often. We must keep our positive momentum moving forward for the city.

We have a leadership team and a city staff that rolled up its collective sleeves and got our fiscal house in order. Our citizens kept the faith, and we are now headed in the right direction.

We should consider ourselves fortunate that we also have business leaders who stuck it out during hard times and are now prepared to invest in our future. We need to respond with the enthusiasm that such an offer deserves.

By embracing projects like StoneHaven, we can make Glendale the very best it can be.”

–Jerry P. Weiers

Media Contact: Kari Sliva, Chief of Staff Office of Glendale Mayor Jerry P. Weiers Office (623) 930-2260 | Direct (623) 930-2292 | Cell (602) 574-2481 | Fax (623) 937-2764 City Hall | 5850 W. Glendale Ave. | Glendale, AZ 85301 | ksliva@glendaleaz.com

The Mayor’s statement sounds as if it was written for him by the PR firm of RoseMosserAllyn, hired by the John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes. For all we know, that may be the case. Some of the more familiar catch phrases used in the Stonehaven PR material are  

  • Pulte Homes and John F. Long Properties, propose to invest $450 million on a nearly 400-acre residential and retail project near 91st Avenue and Camelback Road.”
  • “StoneHaven will bring 1,365 high-quality, single-family homes and add neighborhood retail businesses to the southern part of our community generating $49 million in new local city revenues, according to a city-commissioned study.” (Oops Mayor. The study to which you refer was commissioned by the John F. Long Trust).
  • “…the shortage of new housing in Glendale. We are a landlocked city. Undeveloped land is in short supply. That’s why it is imperative that we consider every opportunity for a thoughtful development of vacant land whenever one comes along. StoneHaven is a carefully-crafted traditional master-planned community that integrates residential, commercial and recreational facilities.”
  • “We must keep our positive momentum moving forward for the city.” (This phrase sounds oddly familiar. Could it be the PR slogan the John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes is using? You bet it is).

Am I disappointed in his statement of support for the proposed changes to the originally approved Stonehaven plan? You bet I am. Am I angry that his statement of support was made 3 weeks before this item is scheduled to come before the entire council? You bet I am.

In his statement he says, “By embracing projects like StoneHaven, we can make Glendale the very best it can be.” How he can believe that creating another Maryvale, with people living cheek to jowl in 4,000 and 4,500 square foot lots either behind or adjacent to the two proposed commercial parcels of a “restaurant row” and a grocery store make Glendale the very best it can be? How can he truly believe that the proposed changes to the original plan of 6,000, 7,000 and 8,000 square foot lots in favor of a project with over 66% of the lots now 5,500 square feet or less be an upgrade for Glendale?

Oh wait, he says, “We should consider ourselves fortunate that we also have business leaders who stuck it out during hard times and are now prepared to invest in our future. We need to respond with the enthusiasm that such an offer deserves.” Really? No one truly believes this. We’re supposed to be grateful that the John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes have deigned to throw Glendale a bone? Don’t be fooled. It’s all about money. Neither of these entities is throwing all of this money to get a project they desperately want approved if they didn’t stand to make a bundle of cash. They are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts for Glendale and they certainly don’t deserve anyone’s praise.

Could the fact that Mayor Weiers received a total of $1,000 as campaign contributions from Jacob Long and Jim Miller (the principals of the John F. Long Trust) on 5/19/2016 for his reelection campaign have had any bearing? That’s for you to decide.

However, he seems to have forgotten that he also received money from and had petition signatures collected in his reelection campaign by the very Yucca district residents he now chooses to ignore. He seems to have rejected the notion that he was elected to represent and serve the very residents that voted for him and instead has sided with special moneyed interests.

This is a Mayor who rarely takes a stand on any major Glendale issue but yet has seen fit to announce his support for these special interests on an issue that is major and controversial for Yucca district residents… the very district in which he resides.

This is a Mayor whose major take away in his latest State of the City speech was to call on all of us to make someone’s life better every day. Well, he certainly isn’t doing that for all of the residents adjacent to or near the proposed Stonehaven.

This is a Mayor who has never declared his vision for Glendale. Perhaps if voters knew that it would include not just acceptance of but advocacy for a proposed residential project that will destroy the quality of life, increase traffic and overcrowd local schools for his residents – they might not have voted for him. He won his reelection by a margin of 400+ votes. Would he have won if voters knew that he would support projects such as this? I doubt it.

Lastly, Mayor Weiers says, “One of the many aspects of this project that I’m very excited about is the proposed construction of Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue, which is long overdue.” That it’s long overdue is debatable and may or may not be true but he fails to disclose that the city will pay the John F. Long Trust $1.2 million for the north half right-of-way for Bethany Home Road. That act, in and of itself, is precedent setting for the city. The city has never had to pay a developer for right-of-way necessary for a residential development project. Where does that $1.2 million come from? It comes from Development Impact Fees (DIF) paid by the buyers of each house in the project and passed on to the city by the developer. Usually DIF pays for new or upgraded amenities such as parks and libraries as a result of the new residential development. Not this time. The majority of the DIF generated by this residential project will be used to pay for Bethany Home Road right-of-way. Once again, the residents of the Yucca district get screwed.

By the way, the Stonehaven proponent media juggernaut is inviting Yucca residents to an ice cream social. It appears that their mailing list is comprised mainly of the 1,000+ Yucca residents who signed petitions in opposition to the proposed changes in Stonehaven. Somehow or another, I don’t think Yucca residents will sell their souls or principles and suddenly embrace this proposed project for a lousy ice cream cone. Do you? It’s insulting. How dumb do they think we are? They are desperately trying to buy good will…first with a slice of pizza and now with an ice cream cone…really?

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

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