It has been 18 years and 147 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On March 3, 1953 a lovely, now historic, neighborhood was born in Glendale. It is known today as Historic Thunderbird Estates. This is a neighborhood of large lots, with mature trees and vegetation, many of which said properties still rely upon irrigation water.

The people who created this neighborhood lived in it for many, many years. Many of these people contributed a great deal to the rich history of Glendale. You may even recognize a few of the names. They were Philip and Bessie Rice, Opal and Earl Moore, Patsy Woods, Stanley and Gwendolyn McDonald, Ralph and Margaret Baskett, James and Sarah Sharpe, C.E. and Gladys McDonald, and Elias and Gaeta Coury.

Here are just a few of the accomplishments of the residents who formed Thunderbird Estates in the 1950’s. The Ira Moore building was used for Glendale Union high school’s very first classes. W. F. Moore was a Glendale councilmember from 1930-34. Willis Moore was on the Glendale Union High School’s first baseball championship team of 1923. R.E. Moore was manager of the Valley Bank, across from Murphy Park, in the 1940’s. Dr. Philip Rice was one of the very few medical doctors practicing in Glendale in the 1950’s. His wife Bess, was prominently involved with the Glendale Women’s Club and was known for her support of cleanup projects and tree planting throughout Glendale. The Coury family is remembered as prominent downtown Glendale merchants of the 1960’s with the Coury Market, also across the street from Murphy Park.

They created their Covenants, Codes and Restrictions (CC&Rs) for this historic neighborhood. Here is what they said and what they intended for this neighborhood …their land:

“The stipulations, restrictions and covenants herein contained shall be taken and considered as covenants irrevocable and restrictions running with the land, and with each and every part, parcel, lot and subdivision thereof, no made or hereafter to be made; and shall not only be binding upon the parties hereto, their respective successors and immediate assigns, but the same shall be binding upon each and every person, persons or corporation on who may hereafter become owners of or interested in said premises, or any part, parcel, lot or subdivision thereof, by or through conveyances, leases, permits or licenses, from or through any of the parties hereto.

“Further, all conveyances made by the parties hereto shall by apt words convey said lands and each and every parcel thereof, subject to the said restrictions and provisions. But in case such restrictions and provisions shall be omitted from any such deed or deeds, the same shall nevertheless be binding upon the grantee, his heirs and assigns, the same as though specially set forth in such deed or deeds and each and every such deed or deeds shall be taken by the grantee therein named subject to the covenants and provisions of this agreement.

“The stipulations, restrictions and covenants to which said premises are subjected are as follows, to- wit:

  1. Each parcel of land shall be used exclusively for residential purposes.”

There is nothing ambiguous about their words put to paper. We know exactly what their desire and intent was…to keep their land, in whole or in part, for residential use exclusively and in perpetuity. The residents of this subdivision have relied upon the CC&R’s for over 50 years.  When these residents purchased their parcels over the years they relied upon the character of their historic neighborhood to remain for residential use only.

Until Mr. Don Olson arrived upon the scene. For you see, Mr. Olson purchased one of the parcels within Historic Thunderbird Estates. He is using his newly acquired property within Historic Thunderbird Estates for commercial purposes – the sale of trees, big trees, little trees, all kinds of trees…and now he wants the city to grant him a Conditional Use Permit to bless his apparent violation of the Historic Thunderbird Estates CC&Rs.

5841 W. Royal Palm Glendale, AZ

5841 W. Royal Palm
Glendale, AZ

So what has the city done to protect this lovely, old, historic neighborhood?  On Thursday, May 5, 2016 Mr. Olson’s Conditional Use Permit request went before the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is composed of citizens. The current members of the commission are : Chairperson Steve Johnston;  Vice Chairperson Arthur Dobbelaere;  Commissioner Jack Gallegos;  Commissioner Rick Harper; Commissioner Gary Hirsch, Commissioner Al Lenox; and Commissioner David Moreno. They would decide the fate of this historic neighborhood by making an advisory recommendation to the city council.

The minutes of the Planning Commission of May 5, 2016 reflect the following: “CUP16-01: A request by Don Olson for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to operate a home occupation (Class II) business in a private backyard of a residence, which will mainly consist of growing trees and selling trees to customers with appointments on a property in the SR-17 (Suburban Residence) Zoning District. The site is located north of the northeast corner of 59th and Northern Avenues (5841 West Royal Palm Road) and is in the Barrel District. Staff Contact: Martin Martell, Planner. VICE CHAIRPERSON DOBBELAERE MADE A MOTION TO CONTINUE CUP16-01 TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING OF AUGUST 4, 2016. COMMISSIONER GALLEGOS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH WAS APPROVED WITH A VOTE OF 4 TO 3 (HIRSCH, HARPER, AND LENOX).

Mr. Olson requested that the item be tabled as apparently he has hired a zoning attorney to represent him when the CUP is heard on August 4, 2016. The motion to table was granted on a vote of 4-3 with only Commissioners Hirsch, Harper and Lenox willing to deny the motion to table the action and ready to decide the CUP without the benefit of Mr. Olson’s acquisition of yet another attorney…a  zoning attorney.

This neighborhood is upset, concerned and angry. They don’t have a slick, fancy, new homeowner’s association to protect their interests. As a historic neighborhood they must rely upon the city staff, the citizen planning commissioners and city council to protect them. This becomes more and more difficult as historic memory of what Glendale was and who contributed to shaping Glendale is forgotten by a younger generation.

Will they protect the legacy of Glendale or succumb to a commercialism that slowly eats away at older neighborhoods such as this one? This neighborhood hopes that it can be preserved  as do other historic neighborhoods in Glendale. If we don’t speak for them…if we do not value their legacy…then what is Glendale’s destiny? To become just another ‘burb in the Valley of the ‘burbs??

© Joyce Clark, 2016


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