development

Buckeye P&Z recommends approval of 252 apartments

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One of the longest presentations and discussions at the Buckeye Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday meeting was about affordable housing.
However, there was some opposition to that housing.

Thompson Thrift is a proposed 252-unit apartment complex, planned for a 10.6-acre, L-shaped lot near the southwest corner of Yuma and Watson roads, south of Interstate 10. The property wraps behind the Buckeye Marketplace shopping center, on the side that includes a Fry’s grocery store.

The developer sought a zoning change from commercial center to residential/multifamily, Class 2. The three-story complex will have a density of about 23 units per acre. The board unanimously voted to recommended approval of the rezoning to allow higher housing density, subject to Buckeye City Council approval.

City staff said the zoning density is typical for a three-story complex in the Valley.

W. Ralph Pew, of Pew & Lake LLC, pointed out the complex’s western side abuts a property line. On the other side of that line is a buffer zone for homes along South 237th Lane.

That didn’t seem to console Tim Ward, a resident who lives on a nearby street who expressed concerns during the meeting about water supplies and other issues.

“There’s no chance that a criminal element isn’t going to pop up in that neighborhood?” Ward asked. “Where and how did a complex this big get is [Arizona Department of Water Resources] certification? If you could answer those questions, that would be great.”

Board chair Deanna Kupcik said water supplies and many other issues aren’t covered in a rezoning hearing. Yuma Road has a raised median; a traffic study will take place before site plan review to determine if entrance and exit for the complex will be right-turn only.

The board did not vote unanimously on recommending a major general plan amendment approval. There was at least one vote against recommending approval of the TGV Rexcon Nexgen amendment.

The amendment, which will allow a change from neighborhood to “employment” zoning in the southeast part of Buckeye, near farmland and a school, on more than 1,300 acres.

The proposed amendment is land owner-initiated. Like the Thompson Thrift apartment rezone, the board’s recommendation is going City Council.

A preliminary hearing on the amendment was held earlier this month. Some residents spoke against it; a school superintendent raised a concern, and a public input meeting asked if there could be a wider buffer between industrial use and nearby housing.

At Tuesday’s hearing, one speaker pointed out Liberty Elementary School used funds for a major remodel, planning on more residential housing and increased enrollment that might not happen if more industrial zoning is created.

Industrial zoning is designed for areas not suitable for any other purpose, the speaker said, pointing out there is active farmland and established new housing in the area.

Tuesday’s agenda was a hefty one. The board voted unanimously to approve two preliminary plats.

The board voted to recommend approval of the preliminary plat for the Arroyo Verde development. Already zoned as planned-residential, the 400-unit, single-phase housing development on about 100 acres will have a density of almost four homes per acre, with about 32 acres devoted to open space.

There will be entrances on Thomas Road and Encanto Avenue. A newly constructed curving parkway down the middle of the development will be 202nd Avenue, according to a staff report.

The Homes at Susan’s Ranch is a planned 144-unit single-family residential subdivision. It’s located east of the northeast corner of Miller and Lower Buckeye roads.

Its preliminary plat was recommended for approval by the board Tuesday, though it’s part of the previously approved Susan’s Ranch Planned Area Development.

Miller Road has been undergoing extensive reworking to widen it and make other improvements from I-10 south beyond downtown Buckeye.
The Homes at Susan’s Ranch is a 22.8-acre site. The 144 planned units would give it a density of about 6.3 units per acre.

The St. Henry Roman Catholic Church abuts the east edge of the project site, according to a staff report.

The development would have about 26% of the property planned for open space, with included amenities per the approved Susan’s Ranch PAD.

The board also voted to recommend the council approve the State Route 85 Corridor major general plan amendment. This staff-initiated amendment will not only create a 2,650-acre employment zone along the north-south highway in Buckeye.

The amendment will define what qualifies as employment land use. It also will emphasize and strengthen expectations for industrial development in proximity to existing or planned residential uses, according to a staff report.

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