Two proposed developments near Anthem could soon appear on an agenda before the Phoenix City Council.
The developments, both adjacent to the large master-planned community bordering on the city in its northern area, have been highly contested by some leaders of Anthem in recent months.
On Wednesday, Phoenix Planning Hearing Officer Adam Stranieri decided to approve the site plans with a few minor adjustments including different landscaping and color changes to the residences.
Terry Mullarkey, executive director of the Anthem Community Council, is opposed to the developments because he believes the new communities could negatively impact traffic flow and give emergency personnel limited access to the area.
The proposed developments, two separate single-family rental communities, would go up on each side of Interstate 17.
“Am I disappointed? No, to me, it was expected,” said Mr. Mullarkey.
Mr. Mullarkey admitted zoning changes to proposed developments aren’t easy to get done. Instead, the hearing officer asked for minor adjustments to the proposed plan including tweaks to the color of primary residences and landscaping around the properties.
Increased traffic and limited access for emergency personnel are among the reasons Anthem leadership members are against the plans.
Anthem leadership also asked that desert landscape replace palm trees, which were planned in both developments.
The matter will go to the Phoenix Planning Commission first before the full council would vote on the issue. No specific date has been set on the matter.
Julianna Pierre, Phoenix city planner, said Anthem officials have seven calendar days to appeal the decision.
The planning commission could hear the matter as early as May 6. But that date may be delayed because the public meeting needs to be advertised.
In an interview, Mr. Mullarkey didn’t say if Anthem leaders would challenge the decision.
“Based on what we’ve kind of been hearing today, I wouldn’t be surprised (if officials file an appeal),” Ms. Pierre said.
One of the planned communities — formerly called Arise Arroyo Norte — is touted as “a luxury, single-family rental community” that would be built around a large park. The rental structures are shown as unattached rather than looking like traditional apartments with a stacked design.
An area that will include a pool, cabanas, a dog park and other smaller parks and common areas for its residents is also planned.
Anthem officials asked the name to be changed since there was an existing community with a similar name. The developer agreed to change the name to Arise North Phoenix.
Last month, the developer, FDG Acquisitions LLC, asked for public input about the proposed 170-unit single-family rental community.
Several Anthem residents commented during the meeting and said the developments would hinder traffic and “landlock” current residents who may need to exit the Anthem area in an emergency situation.
But David Cisiewski of FDG Acquisitions said he believes Arise North will add to the community.
“We believe we are going to add a new, diverse residential (space) in the north Valley area,” Mr. Cisiewski said.
The other development, called Avilla Vista Norte from Phoenix-based NexMetro Communities, would be off Interstate 17 between Old West Trail and Circle Mountain Road near Anthem’s border.
Avilla Vista Norte is planned to have 191 one-story multi-family units that are “predominately detached residences,” according to the city of Phoenix. The development would use 18.04 acres.
Mr. Mullarkey said he plans to ask for help from the county Department of Transportation and Phoenix Councilwoman Ann O’Brien, who was sworn in earlier this week.
He said he wasn’t sure when the matter would be heard next.
“It’s one of those things we have to keep an eye out for,” Mr. Mullarkey said.