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Glendale residents add to nixed options for Glen Lakes parcel

Rezoning at busy intersection process continues

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The residents of Glen Lakes don’t yet know what commercial enterprise their neighborhood will be getting, but they’re a lot more sure about what won’t be coming in.

The one-and-a-half acre northeast parcel at the busy corner of 55th and Northern avenues that once housed the parking lot and main entrance to the former Glen Lakes Golf Course is the remaining piece of land still owned by the city after Glendale in 2019 sold off the once 43-acre, 9-hole course. Towne Development is in the process of building a new 173-home community, Trevino at Glen Lakes, on the site.

That remnant parcel, though, is the final piece to be decided in terms of land use.

Existing homes in the neighborhood are already directly across the street from the spot, and new homes eventually will be right behind it.

Meanwhile, the City Council came away from a February workshop discussion leaning in favor of rezoning the land from agricultural (from its days as a golf course) to Planned Area Development, or PAD. The PAD designation would provide more selective options for the residents and the city to consider once the parcel goes up for sale unlike, for instance, a straight general commercial, or C2 zoning, which would allow for virtually zero input from residents or the city about a potential developer on that neighborhood spot.

Before any formal decisions are made, Glendale Interim Planning Manager Tabitha Perry hosted a brainstorming public meeting with residents on March 17 at Glendale American School, 8530 N. 55th Ave., just up the road from the parcel in question.

The meeting was set up at the request of Councilmember Bart Turner, in whose Barrel District the 1.5-acre spot exists.

About 20 residents attended the informal discussion to get a first-step idea from those who live in the neighborhood about what potential commercial endeavors they would or would not want to take up residence under a PAD, which will eventually be written with these ideas in mind.

With just about any commercial property bound to add traffic to the residential area, mitigating traffic is an obvious concern for the neighborhood’s residents. Before much of the discussion started, Perry was frank with the residents when it comes to managing traffic expectations with 173 new homes going in anyway, and that shouldn’t be the primary focus when being selective.

“It’s going to happen,” she said of new traffic. “So we’ve got to find a balance when we’re concerned about traffic.”

They all went one-by-one down the list of potential commercial uses that could qualify — or not qualify — under a PAD.

The straight-up “no” options easily crossed off a list of considerations were: hotel/motel; nightclub; bar/cocktail lounge; heavy equipment sales/service; mobile home sales; new/used vehicle sales; leasing/rental for automotive; auto repair, including minor ones like an oil change shop; thrift store; pawn shop; tattoo parlor; liquor store; and dispensary. Churches were also nixed, due to resident concerns that overflow parking would spill out onto 55th Avenue where there are existing homes.

Other possible commercial land uses were given preliminary approval, including business/trade school; small appliance service/repair; emergency medical care, like Urgent Care or Dignity service; independent living, assisted living or memory care facilities; a children’s residential care facility; or a recreational club, like a YMCA.

Other concerns raised were potential uses that could fit under a PAD, yet would include a drive-thru. Perry explained that conditional use permits could regulate such use after the city’s transportation department performed traffic studies to analyze a potential impact.

Big-box stores were also discussed.

While a single-use retail greater than 75,000 square feet could in theory be an applicant for the site, in reality the available space would likely not be useful to such a retailer. But residents warmed to the idea of a single-use retail less than 75,000 square feet like, for instance, a Trader Joe’s.

Residents appeared split on the idea of a self-storage facility on the site. While some opposed the idea, others voiced that such a facility would be a mostly quiet neighbor with little traffic, and that neighborhood residents could actually make use of a facility themselves.

Some residents seemed resigned to a reality that the busy intersection corner could yield a familiar L-shaped strip mall.

One resident said such a use could have potential.

“I think we all need to think about what we want to see there,” Bill Black, who lives less than a mile from the parcel, voiced to those gathered about an L-shaped mall. “I’d love to see entrepreneurial spirit; people that are small business owners.”

He then referenced a restaurant he and his wife frequent at a similar strip mall at Olive and 47th avenues.

“You know it’s a small little restaurant, privately owned, very quiet, very clean, and we don’t want to lose that in Glendale,” he said.

Like the Council in February, the neighborhood voices came away favoring a PAD zoning option.

Should a developer purchase the property from the city, and then want to amend the PAD, that property owner would go before the area homeowners and start this similar process all over again with residents and Councilmembers to allow for only certain land uses.

Next up in the process will be Perry presenting the findings from the neighborhood meeting in an upcoming Council workshop, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, April 26.

The best case scenario could then see the process of rezoning beginning in May. Council will take its annual July break, so it could be September or October for the zoning to officially be in place.

At that time, another neighborhood meeting would likely take place before the city puts the parcel up for sale.

Perry invites Glen Lakes residents to reach out to her with comments or questions by emailing  tperry@glendaleaz.com or calling 623-930-2800.

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