Litchfield Park and Goodyear residents living near Luke Air Force Base are feeling under siege, but it has nothing to do with the military.
They’re unhappy about developments proposed for wide swaths of open land around the installation, fearing that increased traffic and noise will ruin their quality of life and decrease their home values.
Among the proposed developments is a FedEx cross-dock truck terminal on the back half of 157 acres at Camelback Road and 152nd Avenue, the former site of Falcon Golf Club golf course, which closed May 31.
On May 28, the Maricopa County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-2 to recommend the Board of Supervisors approve a Military Compatibility Permit that would allow the developer, KW Projects, to move forward with the facility, a 24/7 operation which could add 1,100 truck trips per day on Camelback Road between the site and the Loop 303.
Supervisors are scheduled to consider the recommendation during their regular meeting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 22. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the meeting will be held virtually. To attend, visit https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6738460773237837326. Once registered, you will receive an email with links and call-in instructions.
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John Connolly, president of the Litchfield Greens HOA in Litchfield Park, and Domenic Passio, president of the Palm Valley V HOA in Goodyear, are two vocal opponents of the facility.
Both men, who were among more than 200 area residents who spoke to or wrote the Planning and Zoning to voice opposition, said they wouldn’t have an issue with developing the site for office or other industrial space instead of a truck terminal, and they wouldn’t have an issue with the terminal if was west of Sarival Road.
“We don’t expect this land not to be used,” Mr. Passio said. “An office building would be good.”
Mr. Passio’s neighborhood, the 1,463-home Palm Valley V, which is across Camelback from the proposed terminal, stands to be the most affected by the traffic and noise generated by the facility.
“It’s going to render Camelback useless to us,” Mr. Passio said, noting that 152nd Avenue is the main entrance into Palm Valley V from Camelback Road, and he fears so many trucks “will turn it into a death trap.”
As far as noise from the facility, he doesn’t believe the developer’s contention that the facility isn’t expected to generate a lot of noise because all unloading and loading will be done inside the facility, and the trailers will be pulled into the dock using a system that does not require trucks to back up.
“I’m a quarter-mile away and I can hear the racetrack,” Mr. Passio said, referring to the Arizona Motorsports Park at 15402 W. Camelback Road. The 2.26-mile private track is used by clubs and organizations that hold vehicle and motorcycle track events.
Mr. Connolly, who will ask supervisors on Wednesday to either deny the application or continue the public hearing to a later date, believes approving the Military Compatibility Permit will open the floodgates to similar developments that will overwhelm the area with thousands of daily truck trips.
“This is not just about cross-dock. It’s about our entire area. Once the first Military Compatiblity Permit passes, the land is more valuable, and more will follow,” Mr. Connolly said. “Who is looking at the cumulative impacts of all of these facilities, where is the strategic vision and partnership with the public?”
Mr. Passio agreed, saying he understood industrial uses were planned for the area when he moved there, just like he understood he and his family would hear jets taking off and landing at Luke, but he didn’t expect they would put thousands of trucks on the surrounding streets daily.
“No one is looking at the impacts for the 4,000 people who live across the street,” he said.
Other developments planned in the area include Alsup 303 and PV 303 business parks. In May, the city of Glendale annexed the 234-acre Park 303 property at Glendale and Sarival avenues, and the city is expected to annex the truck terminal property, which is currently in unincorporated Litchfield Park.
Ginny Solis-Wright, a Realtor who grew up in Litchfield Park, said she is torn by the amount of development planned for the area.
While it’s good for her real estate business, she said, personally it’s not so great.
“I am absolutely against the cross-dock,” she said. “I’m fine with industrial, but a cross-dock is a whole other thing entirely.”
She worries about how the increased large-truck traffic will affect her mother, who recently moved into nearby La Loma Village, an independent living facility near Litchfield and Camelback roads.
“I’m nervous for her driving,” Ms. Solis-Wright said. “Why don’t they push it down a little further?
While she hasn’t seen a large impact on potential buyers, Ms. Wright said, “I have a couple of sellers who said ,‘we sold in the nick of time.’”
“Residents I feel the worst for are Palm Valley Phase V. I don’t think property values, especially the homes near the cross-dock, will increase in value,” she said.
Ms. Solis-Wright also worries about the impacts to those who live and do business east of the facility, like the Litchfield Park Historical Society. LPHS has been working to raise more than $3 million to restore the historic Paul W. Litchfield estate off Camelback and Litchfield roads and turn it into a heritage center to replace its small museum at 13812 W. Camelback Road.
Ms. Solis-Wright, who used to own a catering business and catered several events on the site, said she fears a truck terminal a few blocks away from the heritage center will impact outdoor events.
“It was so quiet,” she said of the grounds.
Both Ms. Solis-Wright and Mr. Connolly said they felt blindsided by the county’s lack of outreach to residents before the cross-dock project went before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The developer was required to inform those living within 300 yards of the site and did so. Palm Valley V is 500 yards away.
They also said they felt that Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, who lives in Litchfield Park and represents District 4, has been too quiet on the issue.
“In my seven years as a county supervisor, I have seen a number of these types of cases,” Mr. Hickman said in a statement July 14. “I always encourage residents and applicants to listen to one another and work together, before the issue comes to the board, so that we can find the best possible outcome for the region.”
State Rep. Joanne Osborne, who lives in Goodyear and represents Legislative District 13, weighed in in a June 23 letter to Mr. Hickman, saying the proposal lacked significant collaboration with the community.
“Although I am excited for economic growth and business development in the West Valley, I also stand with the citizens who want to safeguard their community and desire to shape a more liveable future,” she wrote, adding that she was encouraged that the developer reached out to Goodyear, Litchfield Park and Luke officials to mitigate their concerns.
“Encouraged by this momentum, let’s continue to work together to solve the concerns of the affected neighboring community,” Ms. Osborne wrote.
Litchfield Park Mayor Thomas L. Schoaf said the city is working to minimize the impact of traffic headed east on Camelback Road from the cross-dock facility and other developments.
In May, the City Council approved an ordinance changing its truck route from Litchfield Road to Dysart Road and prohibiting “through-truck” commercial traffic in city limits.
“We hope they’ll go on Northern Parkway” north of Luke Air Force Base, Mr. Schoaf said of trucks that don’t have delivery destinations in the city.
Enforcement is expected to being once signage is in place, which Mr. Schoaf said should take about 90 days. That also will give city officials the chance to discuss the ordinance with impacted businesses, he said.
The city also is working with the county and Sun Health management on a project to realign Camelback Road slightly to the north to create wider rights-of-way on the south side of the thoroughfare, which will allow for addition of curbs, gutters, walls and landscaping. It also is considering installing traffic-calming devices like signals or roundabouts on Camelback Road west of Litchfield Road.
“We’re leaning toward roundabouts because they’re quieter,” he said.
Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-963-1697.