They came, they saw, they saved their thunder.
Residents in Queen Creek’s Sonoqui Creek Ranch subdivision attended the July 10 meeting of the Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission with one thing on their minds.
That was to oppose a proposed change to the town’s General Plan for up to two homes per acre in a subdivision being proposed on the land adjacent to Sonoqui Creek Ranch, which is zoned for up to one home per acre.
Instead of voicing their opposition, the residents followed a recommendation from commission chairman Steve Sossaman.
While the commission welcomed comments from the public, he told the 20 or so attendees, he said speakers might want to “save their thunder” for a future meeting since the commissioners were not yet fully educated about the major amendments being proposed to the General Plan.
He noted the commissioners would be able to address public concerns “more impactfully and efficiently” once they are better informed.
“We’re here to officially start the clock,” he said.
That clock refers to a statutory 60-day public agency comment period for the 2013 applications for major General Plan amendments, according to a staff report prepared by Queen Creek Planning Administrator Wayne Balmer.
The town defines major amendments as larger projects of more than 20 acres that wish to change the zoning from non-residential to residential or from low density residential to higher density residential, Mr. Balmer said during a phone interview.
In June of each year, the town of Queen Creek accepts requests for possible major General Plan amendments, according to the staff report.
By state law, requests for the major amendments are accepted once a year and must be acted on within the same year.
As part of the process, the town council must officially act to initiate the amendment cycle, which it will do at its July 29 meeting. The 60-day review will include two open houses — one on Aug. 28 and the other on Sept. 25.
Afterward, public hearings will take place during planning and zoning and council meetings this fall.
The town is reviewing six proposed General Plan amendment case summaries. They are:
•GP13-025, La Jara Farms
A request by Lindsay Schube on behalf of VIP Homes to change from Employment Type A to very low density residential (up to one house per acre) on 140.76 acres at the southwest corner of Hawes and Germann roads. The property is zoned R1-43, single family residential, and is being developed as an acre-lot residential subdivision.
•GP13-026, Estates at Queen Creek Station
A request by Ralph Pew on behalf of RSF Property LLC and RSF Queen Creek Property LLC to change from Employment Type A to low density residential (up to two houses per acre) on 156 acres at the southeast corner of Ellsworth and Germann roads. The property is zoned R1-43, single family residential.
•GP13-027, Meridian Crossings
A request by Mario Mangiamele on behalf of Westcor/Queen Creek LLC Company to change from regional commercial to medium density residential (up to three houses per acre) on 466 acres on the south side of Riggs Road, west of the railroad. The property is still under the jurisdiction of Maricopa and Pinal counties, having not yet been annexed to the town.
•GP13-028, Barney Farms
A request by Mario Mangiamele on behalf of Ken, Newell, Gail and Pamela Barney and Dane Chaffee to change from Employment Type B and recreation/conservation to mixed use and medium high density residential (up to eight houses per acre) on 241 acres at the northeast corner of Signal Butte and Queen Creek roads. The property is zoned I-1, heavy industrial.
•GP13-029, The Vineyards
A request by Ralph Pew on behalf of Healy Faulkner LLC to change from commercial and mixed use to medium density residential (up to three houses per acre) on 55 acres on Combs Road, west of Ironwood. The property is zoned R1-43, single family residential.
•GP13-030, Sonoqui Creek Village
A request by Ralph Pew on behalf of KEMF Hawes and Riggs LLC to change from very low density residential (up to one house per acre) to low density residential (up to two houses per acre) on 107 acres at the northwest corner of Hawes and Riggs roads. The property is zoned R1-35, single family residential.
During the commission meeting, Sonoqui Creek Ranch resident Marie D’Angelo presented Mr. Balmer with a list of names and comments from her neighbors who signed a petition opposing the application that would allow higher density housing at Sonoqui Creek Village.
Before buying their home in the equestrian community, at Riggs and Hawes, Ms. D’Angelo and her family reviewed Queen Creek’s General Plan to see what zoning surrounded the subdivision, she said during an interview after the meeting.
When she heard about the proposed amendment, she walked to 100-125 nearby homes to circulate petitions to oppose it.
She and the other petition-signers are against the denser housing. They also are afraid of losing their view corridors to multiple-story homes.
“When you put a 3,000-square-foot house on a smaller lot, the only way to go is up,” she said during the interview.
Attorney Ralph Pew, who represents the applicant, hopes the high quality of homes being proposed will assuage residents’ concerns, he said during an interview after the meeting.
“We’re still talking about buffering and single-story limitations,” he said, noting a builder has not yet been confirmed. “Two homes per acre is still pretty low density. I hope they can appreciate the quality that we will bring to the homes.”
Future planning and zoning meetings will address the commission’s concern that commercial land, which could provide job opportunities in the future, could be rezoned as residential.
“This is a long-term issue,” Commissioner Gregory Arrington said during the meeting. “Every community is concerned about a financial, economic base.”
Commissioner Kyle Robinson asked for more information “before we jump headlong into sacrificing our employment opportunities.”
The town may contract a third-party consultation firm to review the proposed amendments and “what we need to do to be financially sustainable,” Mr. Balmer told the commission.
The Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission meets on the second Wednesday of each month. Study sessions, if scheduled, are at 6 p.m., and regular meetings are at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 14.
For more information and meeting agendas, visit www.queencreek.org or call 480-358-3000.
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