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.

PLEASE NOTE: On this day before the city council makes its decision I ask you to comment by sharing your thoughts on this critical issue.

Tomorrow evening, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, the Glendale City Council will vote to approve or deny the modifications requested by the Stonehaven applicants, approved by this very same city council (with one exception—I have replaced the former councilmember in representing the Yucca district).

I have faithfully tried to represent the overwhelming numbers of Yucca district residents opposed to the Stonehaven changes. They are not opposed to the original Stonehaven plan but they are angry and do not support the proposed changes.  I just finished reading an email sent to the city council on June 24th by a Rovey Farm Estates couple who said something that struck a chord within me for it is not the first time I have heard this. They said, “Have you asked yourself, ‘would this change be approved in the Arrowhead Community, and if the Arrowhead residents were not in favor of the change?’ We would think not.” Sadly, that sums up the sentiment of many who live in south and west Glendale.

Waiting 20 years for the completion of Heroes Park has caused south Glendale residents to feel forgotten. They raised their children without the benefit of a nearby park with a library and recreation center. Now they have grandchildren and wonder if their grandchildren will be able to use such facilities before they, too, are grown. They wonder when their voices will matter.

They have seen that when twenty Arrowhead residents show up in opposition or support of an issue, they are heard. Look no further than billboards or the Foothills Library—issues specific to north Glendale. Residents prevailed on those issues and it should be no different on the Stonehaven issue. It appears to them that the only difference is that Stonehaven is in south Glendale.

They are pleased that the Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of the Stonehaven changes. The Planning Commission’s action was a wonderful surprise for them and they were grateful.

Other than this recent affirmation they generally feel no sense of equity when over 1,000 Yucca residents sign a petition in opposition and then show up in large numbers at a city meeting, only to be ignored. Can you blame them for being angry and frustrated?

With only 3 minutes offered at a city council meeting to speak while expressing their concerns over traffic, schools, active open space or the intense concentration of small lot sizes, many are emotional, or nervous or intimidated. Sometimes they just are unable to adequately describe their opposition to the proposed changes. In my series of blogs on Stonehaven I have tried to express in depth and as factually as possible why they oppose these changes.

The John F. Long Trust’s use of the media has been to divert public opinion away from the fact that there is an accepted land plan in place to develop Stonehaven. The Trust negotiated with the city for years regarding this parcel of land, according to their publicity, and gained city council approval in April of 2016. Neither side got exactly what they desired, however the plan was accepted. Now the Trust is requesting modification to that accepted land plan for a variety of reasons, none of which seem to be advantageous to the City or its residents.

Fourteen months ago the city council approved a fair and balanced plan for what is the last major Glendale parcel east of the Loop 101. That fair and balanced plan had a relatively equal distribution of lot sizes: 5,500 SF, 7,000 SF and 8,000 SF. With 1,162 homes it was bound to put pressure on local traffic, local schools and delivery of public safety services but not as intensely as the proposed changes to the plan will do.

However, the intensity of the proposed changes to Stonehaven will destroy many nearby residents’ quality of life. I am not going to reiterate their concerns about traffic, schools or open space and amenities. I have done that in my blogs.

The overarching area of concern for all Yucca residents is the proposed intense concentration of 4,000 SF and 4,500 SF lots on one parcel in Glendale. All of the other districts in Glendale have R 1-4 lots but the difference is that they are scattered parcels throughout each district. None of them are of such a  magnitude with 616 lots on 133 acres, on one site. None of them have had the impact on other districts’ nearby neighborhoods or Glendale as a whole as this proposal will have. This is reason enough for the city council to deny the applicants’ request.

Make no mistake…this is a public battle between the John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes vs. the residents of the Yucca district. John F. Long Sr. had a vision for Phoenix south of the Yucca district. It’s called Maryvale. Maryvale has not aged well and has taught many cities much about urban planning and development. The modifications sought to Stonehaven’s already approved development plan ignore those lessons.

The applicants are fighting to insure their ability to make money from this proposed project. That is their right. It’s the American way. Residents are fighting to diminish the impacts on their quality of life. That is their right. It’s an age-old war fought in countless communities throughout the country. Usually, money, power and privilege win but not always. Every once in awhile the facts presented by residents are so overwhelming they prevail. Let’s hope that is the result this time.

The Stonehaven publicity campaign to garner support for the proposed changes was centered on the concept of “Glendale’s Momentum.” “Glendale’s Momentum” is a direct result of the difficult financial decisions made by the current city council. That is why Glendale’s economy is rebounding. Stonehaven’s applicants have recognized that momentum and cite it as the reason for their investment. It’s as if they acknowledge that somehow now Glendale is worthy enough in which to invest. It’s condescending.

They have studiously stayed away from the facts of their requested changes —concentration of small lot sizes in one large area, a lack of active open space and amenities, impact on local traffic and local schools. They have garnered support from 2 sources: the Glendale Star and the Glendale Chamber of Commerce – but the people representing these institutions do not live in the area of impact. What do they care?

The Stonehaven applicants, in their material submitted to council on Friday, state that they have collected 1,322 signatures of support. I am sure they have — from solicitations at grocery stores and other commercial venues throughout Glendale. Yes, they will have signatures from Glendale residents and probably Peoria and Phoenix residents as well. Why wouldn’t these people sign? It has no direct impact on their immediate quality of life. Also note that they will not submit these signatures until the night of the meeting. It’s so that no one, and especially the city council, has the opportunity to review the signatures, addresses and zip codes. I’ll wager very few come from zip codes 85303 or 85305, the two zip codes to be directly affected.

I urge Yucca district residents to attend this critical council meeting and to express your opinion on Stonehaven. If you attend and oppose Stonehaven’s changes, please wear something red…shirt, TShirt, blouse, jacket, etc.

Glendale City Council meeting

Tuesday, June 27th

6 PM

City Hall Council Chambers

5850 W. Glendale Avenue

Glendale, AZ 85301

I respect this city council. I place my faith and hope in their ability to see through the publicity hype campaign wagered by the Stonehaven applicants. I believe they will review and will carefully consider the facts of the requested changes. I believe they will decide that these changes are not good for the health and well being of all of Glendale and that Glendale (and the Yucca district) deserves better.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

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