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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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

In the two months since I returned as the Yucca district councilmember I have met with developers of at least 6 proposed residential developments in the district. Some good…some not so good. I will support those that support my goal of Upgrading Glendale. Occasionally there will be a project that doesn’t Upgrade Glendale but also does no major harm either. In those cases there may not be an opportunity to upgrade the proposal. Here is an overview of the current crop of applicants:

  1. Bethany Ranch – the property is located at the southwest corner of Bethany Home Road and 71st Avenue. The current zoning on the property is R 1-6 (6,000 square foot lots). All of the existent homes surrounding this property are also R 1-6. The applicant is asking for a Rezoning to R 1-6 PRD (Planned Residential Development) and approval of its Preliminary Plat. As much as I would like to see this property “upzoned” it is not realistic when all of the homes in the area are on the same lot sizes. I am concerned about the very skinny lots adjacent to 71st Avenue and will ask for further explanation at the applicant’s announced Neighborhood Meeting on March 1st at 6 PM at Coyote Ridge Elementary School, 7677 W. Bethany Home Road. I hope you will join me in learning more about this proposed project.
  2. Stonehaven – the property is located between the Grand Canal and Camelback Road, 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue. The applicant, Pulte Homes is asking for a “Minor General Plan Amendment” increasing the density from the council approved 1,100+ homes to over 1,400 homes with some lots as small as 3,000 square feet. I do not support this proposal as it is not in keeping with Upgrading Glendale. I hope you will join me in asking the Planning Department to recommend denial and asking the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council to deny the applicant’s request.
  3. Unnamed – the property is located at the southeast corner of Northern Avenue and 83rd Avenue (Yucca district’s large lot corridor). The applicant is proposing R 1-6 (6,000 square foot) lots. Across 83rd Avenue to the west are one acre, irrigated properties. To the south are two gated, large lot communities on the east side of 83rd Avenue. I do not support this proposal as its proposed lots are not comparable to the properties closest to it. It does not advance Upgrading Glendale. The applicant is in the preliminary stages and has not held a Neighborhood Meeting yet.
  4. Jaafar Estates – the property is located on the east side of 83rd Avenue, just north of Glen Eden Estates (at the northeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Glendale Avenue). It is a long, skinny piece of property, a little over 5 acres in size. It is on the east side of 83rd Avenue and just south of the Tennis Ranch. In its Neighborhood Meeting the applicant is requesting R4 zoning allowing approximately 24 lots. The Glen Eden subdivision is R 1-7 (7,000 square foot lots) and across the street on the west side of 83rd Avenue is Rovey Farm Estates with its minimum sized lots of R 1-8 (minimum of 8,000 square foot lots). I will not support this proposal as it does not advance Upgrading Glendale.
  5. Orangewood Terrace – the property is located on the south side of Orangewood Avenue, just west of 79th Avenue. The applicant has held its Neighborhood Meeting and has been sensitive to the requests of the adjoining neighborhoods. The applicant will place its largest lots abutting 79th Avenue (a street of acre, irrigated properties) and the balance of the project will be R 1-8, matching the lot sizes of West Glenn Estates. The applicant has made sure to accommodate the adjacent neighborhoods by making sure  Myrtle Avenue has no connection to 79th Avenue or to the streets in West Glenn Estates. It is a project that I can support.
  6. Bella Vista Homes – the property is located south of Bethany Home Road and east of 83rd Avenue. The existent zoning is SR-17 (17,000 square foot lots) and the applicant proposes to keep that zoning. The applicant has not held its Neighborhood Meeting yet and is in preliminary discussions with the city’s Planning Department. Based upon what I have learned to date it is a project that exemplifies the goal of Upgrading Glendale.

So there you have it. All of these proposals have further steps in the process to gain approval that have not been taken yet. Some will succeed. Others will fall by the wayside. As residents of the Yucca district it is our responsibility to support those projects that help to make our district and our city a better place to live. It’s also our responsibility to disapprove those projects that do not meet that goal.

In the coming months there may be the opportunity to welcome some wonderful commercial developments to Glendale. They are still in the “talking stage” and thus must remain confidential. When the principals are comfortable with making their announcements, I will be introducing those to you as well.

As the economy rebounds, the Yucca district has once again become the “hot spot” for residential and commercial development. It’s up to us to be discerning and to remember, does this proposed project Upgrade Glendale?

© Joyce Clark, 2017        

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

On the evening of January 11, 2017, the applicants, John F. Long Trust (property owner) and Pulte Homes (proposed builder) held a neighborhood meeting at Sunset Ridge Elementary School at 6 PM. I want to thank all of the citizens who took the time out of their busy schedules to attend. The final count of  citizens who attended 72. You rock! Thank you!

Residents attend Stonehaven meeting

Be advised you will have to repeat that night’s attendance again when the applicants’ Minor General Plan Amendment request is heard before the citizen Planning and Zoning Commission and also before the city council.

The meeting room had boards ringing the room depicting the proposed development. Various Pulte and John F. Long Trust personnel were stationed at each of the presentation boards. Did I ever mention how much I hate this type of meeting presentation? It’s a travesty. It’s designed to talk to small groups making it less difficult to sell a project. It’s so much easier to pick people off and convince them of the wonderfulness of a project this way.  If a citizen is not savvy enough to ask the right questions, the person never is told the complete story about the project.

I was pretty darned angry. So I talked (maybe talked forcefully) to the Pulte people and advised them that citizens would be placing chairs in the center of the room where everyone would sit and wait for a presentation from them. That way everyone would hear the same information at the same time and could ask questions or make comments to the presenter(s). Here’s the result of our polite but forceful insistence (resistance??).

The presenters were Jim Miller, John F. Long Trust attorney and Susan Demmitt, Gammage & Burnham attorney representing Pulte Homes, and Greg Abrams, VP of Land Acquisitions for Pulte Homes. The neighborhood meeting was required because the applicants are asking for a Minor General Plan Amendment changing the land use on 65 of the 300+ acres from Medium Density (2.5 to 3.5 homes to an acre) to Medium-High Density (5 to 8 homes to an acre).  The result of this change, if approved by the citizen Planning & Zoning Commission and the City Council, would result in some lots as small as 3,000 square feet. What on God’s green earth will this single family, detached home look like? How about a cracker box?

One of the citizens commented that he was familiar with a similar project in another Valley city where 3,000 square foot lots and small homes had been allowed. The homes could not be resold and so the area became a mass of rental properties. We all know what happens to rental properties and generally, it’s not a pretty picture.

Another citizen commented that there was every possibility that the close proximity of these tiny lots and tiny homes to the University of Phoenix stadium (approximately a mile away) would make these properties extremely attractive to investors who would purposefully buy them as rentals to accommodate football fans, especially for events like the Super Bowl or Fiesta Bowl.

One of the presenters commented that this type of lot size and home would be purchased by millennials. Excuse me, but aren’t millennials living at home with their parents because they can’t afford to buy a home? And many of them simply don’t want to buy a home… period.

Think about it. I live in a 2, 964 square foot home. I suspect some readers of this blog have homes the same size as mine or larger. I have been trying to image a lot size the same size as my home. I can’t do it.  It literally boggles the mind. Glendale has never allowed 3,000 square foot lot sizes…anywhere, at any time. They should not allow them ever and certainly this residential development should not become a guinea pig for such a lot size and product.

Equally as discouraging, was Pulte’s reduction of lot sizes adjacent to Missouri Ranch (a subdivision of 10,000 square foot lots). Originally the lot sizes adjacent to Missouri Ranch and south of the Grand Canal were supposed to be 8,000 square feet. In this new proposed Minor General Plan Amendment these lots sizes shrink to 7,000 square feet.

The presenters, when asked, shared that the number of homes under the presently approved plan of development was about 1,100 homes. This request for a Minor General Plan Amendment, if approved, would increase the number of homes to over 1,400 homes. Mr. Miller also confirmed that they did not have to submit a design plan for the construction of Bethany Home Road until the 200th home building permit was pulled and did not have to start building Bethany Home Road until the 400th home building permit was pulled.

I went back and reviewed the Bethany Home Road Agreement between the John F. Long Trust (JFLT) and the city approved by the city council on April 26, 2016 (as well as the original Stonehaven Planned Area Development [PAD] allowing 1,100 homes). The following was agreed by both parties with regard to Bethany Home Road : “The Parties acknowledge that the Bethany Home Road Extension will be completed and accepted on or before January 1, 2022.” That’s 5 years from now.

In Section 3.4 of the agreement, JFLT (John F. Long Trust) will have final plans and specifications for the Bethany Home Road Extension completed by the civil engineer and approved by the Parties prior to the City’s issuance of the 275th home building permit for the Residential Development Parcel (subject to Force Majeure Events and any mutually-agreed extensions).” It is safe to assume that it will be several years before the Long Trust even has to turn in a design plan for Bethany Home Road to the city.

Under Section 4.2 it states, “JFLT will cause the general contractor to commence construction of the Bethany Home Road Extension prior to the City’s issuance of the 400th home building permit for the Residential Development Parcel and to achieve completion and acceptance within one (1) year thereafter (subject to Force Majeure Events and any mutually-agreed extensions), but in no event later than the Outside Completion Deadline (January 1, 2022).” How long will it be before the 400th home building permit is issued? Several years probably. In the meantime Stonehaven residents will have limited access to their newly created subdivision. It will certainly put even more pressure on the traffic flow on Camelback Road which is already a mess with the development of the D.L. Horton subdivision on the north side of Camelback Road at approximately 93rd Avenue.

Of even more concern and precedent setting was council’s approval within this agreement of a $1.2 million dollar payment to the Long Trust for the right-of-way needed for the proposed city construction of the north side of Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue. When a developer builds a subdivision the developer is responsible for paying for and constructing the roads that will serve its planned community. If it’s a major arterial road, such as Bethany Home Road, then the developer will dedicate the necessary right-of-way for the entire road but only pay for construction of its half of the road with the city being responsible for paying for construction of the other half of the road.

Not so in this case and that is what is precedent setting. A senior staffer, part of a “city team” that negotiated with the John F. Long trust, acknowledged that the city had asked Long for dedication of right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road and that the Long Trust refused.  Having been refused its request, the city rolled over and negotiated a payment of $1.2 million dollars to the Long Trust for the right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road. This is precedent setting. I know of no other instance where the city had to pay a developer for right-of-way for a major road that would serve a planned residential development.

Why didn’t the city team decide that if the trust was unwilling to make the necessary dedication for Bethany Home Road that perhaps the entire residential project should not be approved?  The city could have decided that if the trust was unwilling to make the necessary dedication precluding the full construction of Bethany Home Road that the proposed residents of the project would not have adequate ingress and egress from the project. Under that scenario, the Long Trust eager to sell the land to a developer, would have had to dedicate the right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road, if it wanted to approval for Stonehaven and thus successfully complete the purchase of the land by a developer.

Stonehaven currently comprises over 300+ acres and proposes over 1,100+ homes. It looks nothing like Rovey Farm Estates, another planned area development. Rovey Farm estates had approximately the same acreage but only 800+ homes ranging on lot sizes from 7,000 square feet on the west side of the project to one acre lots on the east side of the project. It also contains 3 gated communities within it. If this Minor General Plan Amendment is approved instead of 1,100 homes on 300+ acres, it would be over 1,400 homes on 300+ acres.

Just as the city council listened to a neighborhood and denied the Bio-Life application at its January 10, 2017 meeting, let us hope that they will continue this practice and listen to a host of neighborhoods opposed to these applicants’ request for even greater density and the downsizing of lot sizes in this project.

Glendale has many, many starter homes and mid-level homes throughout the community. Isn’t it time to demand upscale, upgraded communities on the vacant parcels it has left? Shouldn’t the goal be to upgrade Glendale rather than build to the common denominator of what’s already there?

How does this Minor General Plan Amendment serve the best interests of Glendale’s existent residents and the soon-to-be new Stonehaven residents?

© Joyce Clark, 2017        

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO ON SAMMY CHAVIRA’S USE OF TAXPAYER MONEY TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN

It has been 18 years and 146 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

At the city council voting meeting of April 26, 2016 there were two agenda items that should raise  eyebrows. One was the council approval of the Long Trust proposed residential project located between Bethany Home Road and Camelback Road, 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue called “Stonehaven.” It comprises over 300+ acres and proposes over 1,100+ homes. By the way, it will look nothing like Rovey Farm Estates, another planned area development. Rovey Farm estates had approximately the same acreage but only 800+ homes ranging on lot sizes from 7,000 square feet on the west side of the project to one acre lots on the east side of the project.

Stonehaven will have 1,100+ homes on lots, 43% of which will be 5,500 square feet…very small lots with very small homes. For this reason alone, many concerned residents asked that Stonehaven be tabled with council direction to take another look at these very small lots. The 5,500 square foot lot size does not even meet the city’s minimum standard for detached homes which should be R 1-6 (6,000 square feet). All of the citizen’s concern fell on deaf ears and city council approved Stonehaven unanimously.

Of more concern and precedent setting was council’s approval of a $1.2 million dollar payment to the Long Trust for the right-of-way for the proposed city construction of the north side of Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue. When a developer builds a subdivision the developer is responsible for paying for and constructing the roads that will serve its planned community. If it’s a major arterial road, such as Bethany Home Road, then the developer will dedicate the necessary right-of-way for the entire road but pay for construction of only half of the road with the city being responsible for paying for construction of the other half of the road.

Not so in this case and that is what is precedent setting. A senior staffer, part of a “city team” that negotiated with the John F. Long trust, acknowledged that the city had asked Long for dedication of right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road and that Long refused.  Having been refused its request, the city rolled over and negotiated a payment of $1.2 million dollars to Long for the right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road. This is precedent setting. I know of no other instance where the city had to pay a developer for right-of-way for a major road that would serve the planned residential development.

Why didn’t the city team decide that if the trust was unwilling to make the necessary dedication for Bethany Home Road that perhaps the entire residential project should not be approved?  The city could have decided that if the trust was unwilling to make the necessary dedication precluding the full construction of Bethany Home Road that the proposed residents of the project would not have adequate ingress and egress from the project. Under that scenario, the Long Trust eager to sell the land to a developer, would have had to dedicate the right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road, if it wanted to approval for Stonehaven.

There is more within the approved development agreement between the Long Trust and the City of Glendale, “The Parties acknowledge that the Bethany Home Road Extension will be completed and accepted on or before January 1, 2022.” That’s 6 years from now.

In Section 3.4 of the agreement, JFLT (John F. Long Trust) will have final plans and specifications for the Bethany Home Road Extension completed by the civil engineer and approved by the Parties prior to the City’s issuance of the 275th home building permit for the Residential Development Parcel (subject to Force Majeure Events and any mutually-agreed extensions).” It is safe to assume that it will be several years before the Long Trust even has to turn in a plan for the road to the city.

Under Section 4.2 it states, “JFLT will cause the general contractor to commence construction of the Bethany Home Road Extension prior to the City’s issuance of the 400th home building permit for the Residential Development Parcel and to achieve completion and acceptance within one (1) year thereafter (subject to Force Majeure Events and any mutually-agreed extensions), but in no event later than the Outside Completion Deadline (January 1, 2022).” How long will it be before the 400th (40%) home building permit is issued? Several years at least. In the meantime these new residents will have limited access to their newly created subdivision.

How does any of this agreement serve the best interests of Glendale’s taxpayers and the soon-to-be new residents?

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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