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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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.

As of this date Planning Staff has not informed me about the future plans of Mr. Froke’s project for 70 town houses on 5 acres zoned for Low Density Residential on the west side of 83rd Avenue. That is because there have been meetings between Mr. Froke and the Planning Department but no finalization of any plan. As you may recall, it was tabled by the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) on April 28, 2002, with the applicant to decide when it will be reheard by the P&Z.

Recently I received an email from an old friend. This person lived in Glendale for 40 years and was extremely active in the community, having also served on many boards and commissions. This person read my previous blog on the Planning Commission meeting of April 28, 2022. The comments in the email really highlight one of the prime directives of the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z): “I have just skimmed over the report you made of the planning commission’s meeting to address the 83rd Avenue proposal.  I completely agree with you that this is totally out of bounds.  While I didn’t read the whole transcript, I did enough to know that the commission members seem to have had no training on what their duties are. They are to uphold the general plan.  The people have voted on the general plan, and no one or two people are competent enough or have the authority to overturn the public’s desires.  The property owner cannot do whatever he/she wants with their property; they must be held to the zoning regulations and the general plan.”

What is a General Plan? The city states, “A General Plan provides vision and policies that determine how a city will grow and develop in the future. The City of Glendale’s General Plan is a long-range comprehensive plan that guides development in the City by addressing various elements such as land use, housing, growth areas, urban design, military and aviation, open space, circulation, fiscal public health, environmental planning, energy, etc.”

Arizona State Statues requires municipalities to adopt, update, and readopt their General Plans every ten years. The Glendale City Council adopted an updated General Plan on April 26, 2016 and it was approved by Glendale voters on August 30, 2016. It is called Envision Glendale 2040.

Envision Glendale 2040 states, “The General Plan is designed as a policy and reference document to guide future development, projects, and programs.  It is used to determine how and where growth should occur, ways to wisely invest capital improvements, and techniques for enhancing and sustaining Glendale’s quality of life. Using a holistic approach, this plan looks to achieve a citizens’ directive for moderate, well‐managed growth.”  It also states, “Locational placements for private and/or public development investment are coordinated on the Land Use Map.  It is not a zoning map, but it does reflect the types and intensities of current land uses as well as intended development massing with which future zoning decisions are expected to be consistent.”

The Plan offers guidance on General Plan Amendments, and I found this provision very interesting: A Major General Plan Amendment can be applicable for less than 20 acres when,

“The Planning Director may determine an amendment as “major” if it is less than the minimum areas (20 acres) in the above table but: 1) the infrastructure demands are not offset by private investment or privately‐constructed extensions or expansions to publicly‐provided systems: and/or 2) the change has a substantial impact on the neighborhood or on furthering the goals of the General Plan.”

When you look at item 2, “the change has a substantial impact on the neighborhood…” It seems that going from 1 to 2.5 units to an acre to 20 units to an acre within a specific area general planned as low density residential, would certainly have a substantial impact on the neighborhood and should have been considered a Major General Plan Amendment.

Major General Plan Amendments are more complicated and can only be considered by the city at two specific times per year. However, I wonder why this request was not considered by the city as a Major General Plan Amendment?

Perhaps the P&Z Commissioners need a refresher course on their duties and responsibilities. They should be reminded that it is their responsibility to uphold the General Plan…you know, that document approved by Glendale’s voters. Any request for a change must be made by the applicant showing that it offers no “substantial impact on the neighborhood.” Mr. Froke took every opportunity to avoid the issue of density and never made the case.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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.

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.

This blog is for the CEO of every grocery chain operating in Arizona:

  • Aldi
  • Whole Foods
  • Kroger (Frys)
  • Trader Joes
  • Sprouts
  • Albertsons
  • Safeway
  • Bashas
  • Winco Foods

I have been on and off city council since 1992 and to date have served 22 years on Glendale’s City Council as the Yucca District Councilmember. Over the past 22 years a grocery store has never located within the Yucca District. Within the past 5 years a minimum of a dozen multifamily complexes have been constructed or will be completed this year within this geographic area. Each complex has a minimum of 200 units. That’s 2,400 units at 2.3 persons per unit or 5,520 new arrivals in the Yucca district. Add new residential construction of a minimum of another 2,000 units and you can add another 5,000 persons. The residential subdivision of Stonehaven alone will have 1,635 new homes. New construction, both multifamily and single family residential, has added an estimated 10,000 people to the district.

The Yucca District base population before all this new construction is 40,000 persons. In other words, with the addition of the new residential, this district has a population of 50,000 persons with no place to do our weekly grocery shopping. There is a Super Walmart within the district, but a majority of the residents don’t use it. Instead, we are forced to use the closest Safeway in Phoenix or the closest Fry’s in Peoria, both of which are in neighboring cities, some miles away. A typical resident spends between $200 and $300 a week for food and household items.

The most common request I receive from Yucca district residents is for that of a traditional grocery store. Any grocery store that does a one-mile or five-mile demographic study will discover that there are sufficient rooftops and sufficient income to support a grocery store in this area.

I am personally sending this blog to every CEO with a request to do demographic research of this area. You will find that it not only meets your criteria but exceeds it. Better yet, I encourage you to contact Glendale’s Economic Development Department’s Director, Brian Friedman (623-930-2984; bfriedman@glendaleaz.com) or the Department’s Assistant Director, Jessi Pederson (623-930-2996; jpederson@glendaleaz.com) . They can provide the economic data that you seek. This is a community that wants you and will patronize you regularly.

I know my district and I know my residents. This is a community that not only wants you but needs you. I suspect that were you to locate in the Yucca District, your revenue projections will be greater than your best financial forecast. Please consider locating in the Yucca District. You won’t be disappointed.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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.

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.

This is another blog that is overdue. This topic is of special interest to me for many reasons. One of which occurred recently. On April 28, 2022, the Planning Commission took up GPA 22-01 and ZON 22-01. Well, what’s that? Mr. Jon Froke, representing the property owners, Dorothy Keith and Teresa Zaddack, for 5.3 acres located at 5136 N. 83rd Avenue in Glendale was seeking high density multifamily zoning.

Before I relate the events of that evening, it’s important to understand what zoning is and why it is important to a community. Zoning has been used by cities large and small, throughout the country since the 1930’s, nearly 100 years.

The purpose of zoning is to create a city plan that develops a balanced city. Zoning is how the local government regulates and develops land within its control. Zoning helps protect the local environment and keep property values stable. It is broken down into multiple categories to help balance a city to ensure proper land use and to provide value to citizens that own property.

Every city has multiple zoning categories, from residential to commercial to industrial to multifamily, to name a few. Usually, there are more zoning categories than you have fingers. Within each zoning category there are regulations and guidelines for the benefit of the property owner so that person knows exactly what is required.

By legal right a property owner can develop that property as it is currently zoned. For example, a property that is currently zoned for commercial can be developed as commercial after the property owner has had the plans approved. Approval would be required, among other standards, to ensure proper setbacks (distance) from a street and surrounding structures. That is not the only requirement. Usually, there is a list of items.

A property owner does not have the legal right to develop the property in a different zoning category without first presenting the plan to the Planning Department and seeking the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council.

This is important: by legal right a property owner can develop property within the zoning category identified for the property. There is no legal right for a property owner to develop outside of that identified zoning category. The property owner is legally required to seek approval from the city for any change in zoning. It is up to the property owner to make the case that a change in zoning is not detrimental to the city or surrounding property owners. Only if the case is made will the property owner be granted the right, by the city, to develop in a different zoning category.

That brings us to the night of April 28th and the hearing held for the property at 5136 N. 83rd Avenue. This segment, about an hour and a half, was a clown show. Once again, the Planning Commission (P&Z) demonstrated that it doesn’t understand its role as a citizen advisory body.

I took the time to transcribe this portion of the P&Z meeting. I reviewed it for accuracy and to remove typos, but I am sure that I missed some typos. So, please forgive them. I am providing the link here: Transcript Planning Commission Ap 28 2022

Before I comment on the meeting, let me explain exactly what Mr. Froke was requesting. a minor amendment to the Glendale General Plan from LDR-2.5 (Low Density Residential – 2.5 units/acre) to HDR-20 (High Density Residential – 20 units/acre); and for a rezoning from SR-17 (Suburban Residential 17,000 square foot minimum lot size) to R-3 (Multiple Family Residential) for 5.03 acres.

Some context is required. There are only two areas within Glendale that have large swaths of land zoned as SR-17 (Suburban residential, lot size of 17,000 square feet). One is comprised of 500+ acres south of Union Hills and around 67th. This land has already been developed at 1 to 4 lots to the acre. Those lots appear to be around 4 homes to the acre with lot sizes in the 8,000 to 10,000 SF range. Was the development a deviation from the SR-17 zoning? Yes, but it was decided to be appropriate as it was single family residential to another single family residential category with a reasonable modification as to the lot sizes (or density). It appears as if the lot sizes went from 17,000 SF down to 8,000 SF, a jump in density by 2 zoning categories. The applicant(s) made their case that rezoning would not be detrimental to the city or surrounding neighborhoods.

The other large swath, about 200 acres, is along 83rd from Glendale to Northern. Much of the land has already been developed as single family residential on large lots. The property in question is within this sea of large lot development along 83rd and the applicant is requesting to go from single family residential to multifamily residential by placing 20 units to the acre. The applicant is seeking a jump in density by 6 zoning categories from SR-17; SR-12; R 1-10; R 1-8; R 1-6; R 1-4; R 2 to R3. That, in and of itself is excessive.

There were several things about this particular P&Z agenda item that were concerning and by reading the transcript, I think you will agree. The first was the P&Z philosophy seems to be that by right, the property owner should be granted the right to rezone the property to any zoning category and P&Z was there to ensure that it happened. Not so. The applicant comes before the P&Z to make the case that it should receive greater, more dense zoning. In my estimation, the applicant did not make the case. Mr. Froke said this property would be a transition between the commercial development to its immediate south and the large lot, single family residential to its immediate north. However, across the street there is commercial directly to the south of and abutting large, single family lots of an acre or more (where our Mayor lives). It has been like this for 20 years or more and there have been no issues between the commercial and the large lot residences.

Another area of concern was the belief of Chairperson Vernon Crow that it is the responsibility of the P&Z to facilitate consensus in allowing this type of development at that location and to do so, to broker a meeting between the applicant and the surrounding neighborhoods. That is not the role of nor the responsibility of the P&Z.

Yet another area of concern was Commissioner Tom Cole’s request that the Planning Department has an obligation to provide both sides of the request. Excuse me, the Planning Department’s obligation is to present the facts of the application and to present the facts regarding its recommendation. In this case, it was a recommendation of denial. It did that and is under no obligation to present the case for the applicant. That is the applicant’s responsibility.

I believe Commissioner Gary Hirsch was out of order. As the Interim Planning Director, Tabitha Perry, was summarizing the reasons for the department’s recommendation of denial, Commissioner Hirsch interrupted her and accused her of “selling” the recommendation of denial. He was rude and his comments were inappropriate.

I also was not impressed by the city’s senior planner, George Gehlert. His job was the present the facts and to support the department’s recommendation of denial. In my estimation, he failed to do so.

What was the result? The first motion, made by Commissioner Hirsch was for approval and failed for lack of a second. The second motion, made by Commissioner Nowakowski was for denial and failed due to a tie vote with Commissioners John Crow (no relation to Vernon Crow), Martin Nowakowski and John Guers supporting denial and Commissioners Vernon Crow, Tom Cole and Gary Hirsh not supporting denial. The final motion, made by Commissioner John Crow, was to table with the applicant deciding when it would be brought back before the Commission. All Commissioners supported the motion except for Commissioner Gary Hirsch.

My greatest concern is that if approved, this decision becomes precedent setting for the entire city. It opens the door to any large lot, residential property owner within all of Glendale to seek similar zoning. There are many single family, large lot properties throughout Glendale that would then have the potential to develop a property as dense, multifamily. If this action is approved, it is going to be extremely difficult to deny a similar zoning request to any other large lot property owner.

It makes the city’s zoning plan irrelevant. Why would a zoning plan be needed if the intent is to ignore it? It creates the ‘Wild West’ in development of the city. If current zoning is to be ignored then there is no rationale to adhere to it or keep it.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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.

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.

I’ve wanted to write this blog for several weeks but as city council work becomes more complex and time consuming, it leaves very little time for writing.

There were a flurry of press releases issued several weeks ago as well as discussion about the development at Tuesday’s, April 26th City Council workshop meeting. In case you missed it, here is what is happening to Crystal Lagoon.

The location of the development is at the southwest corner of 95th Avenue and Cardinals Way. It is just south of the State Farm Stadium. When the project was first announced and approved by council in June of 2020, as Crystal Lagoons Island Resort a 600-room hotel was envisioned with a lake area with white sand beaches, office, and retail space, a 100’ tall Aero Bar and a 400’ tethered balloon and a Mattel Amusement Park.

Two of the principles, Glen Bilbo, and Tommy Fisher, were involved in the project from the beginning. Tommy Fisher, a long-time resident in the Valley, has now taken over the entire project. Mr. Fisher is well respected in the development community.

Mr. Fisher and his son, Grant, reevaluated the project concept and in fact, have reimagined and upgraded it. The project is now called VAI and the VAI hotel has grown from the original concept of 600 rooms to 1200 rooms, making it the largest resort hotel in the state. I asked Mr. Fisher if their intent is to develop a 5-star hotel and he affirmed it that it is.

In essence, the office space and a substantial portion of the retail has been removed to make way for the larger hotel. There will be the main hotel and in essence, two annexes. All will look the same and offer the same level of service. There will be about 13 upscale restaurants on site as well as a “knock your socks off” wedding chapel. There will also be meeting and convention space.

The major emphasis will be on presenting live, musical events with plans for more than 100 events each year with well-known performing artists. Those who book rooms will be able to see the live concerts from the hotel where they will be performed on an island that faces the hotel. The live musical theater on the island will be able to rotate 360 degrees.

VAI Resort Hotel

One interesting feature will be a tunnel system able to accommodate service carts that will be used by employees to get from one structure to another. There will be some parking on site in the form of a parking garage for hotel visitors and overflow parking will be available on the city’s black lot on the east side of 95th Avenue.

The Aero Bar and tethered balloon concepts remain as does the Mattel Amusement Park under the management of Glen Bilbo. The Amusement Park, however, has nearly doubled in size.

All of the changes have affected the timeline for the project. The goal was to have the hotel open in time for the Super Bowl but with its expansion, the more realistic timeline has the hotel opening sometime between March and May of next year.

In summary the VAI Resort will include:

  • A 7-acre water way with sandy white beaches.
  • A 52,000-square foot man-made island.
  • A 360-degree, rotating concert stage.
  • More than 1,200 hotel rooms.
  • 170 stage-facing hotel rooms.
  • A 20,000-square foot spa and wellness center.
  • A wedding chapel.
  • A massive helium balloon that will take visitors nearly 400 feet into the air for an aerial view of the Phoenix area.
  • Aerophile’s Aerobar, a space that will offer food and drinks at 130 feet in the air, giving customers a high-up view of the Valley.
  • A 4D theater and a “fly theater,” similar to the “Soarin’ Around the World” ride in Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
  • Luxury retail shops.

In essence, many of the original deck chair concepts are still there. They have just been rearranged. The original principals involved in the project are still there as well. Their areas of responsibility have been rearranged too.

Make no mistake. This is an ungraded development that will still market itself to families to attend the Mattel Amusement Park but now it has branded itself beyond that concept. The live musical entertainment 100 days a year at a 5-star resort offering unique restaurant and retail concepts has taken the development to a whole new level.

This development enhances the Westgate area as it offers yet another recreational opportunity for Glendale’s premier experiential retail site. Music, sports and entertainment…the Westgate area has it all. There is no other area in the state quite like the Westgate area.

I continue to say that this is the most impactful project not just for Glendale, the state or the southwest but internationally. International visitors will be eager to enjoy a new destination/entertainment experience that offers something for everyone. As the development’s greatest cheerleader, I am eagerly awaiting its opening as well as everyone’s reaction to this blockbuster project.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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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