Glendale annexed the 865-acre Allen Ranches property this week, the city’s second-largest addition in 25 years, and approved a controversial housing development within it.
Southwest Valley residents who opposed increasing the allowed density on the 250-acre housing development within Allen Ranches won a victory earlier this month when the Glendale Planning Commission rejected the developer’s request for increased housing density. That victory was short-lived, however, as the Planning Commission’s action on the density change is only a suggestion to City Council, which has final say. Council disagreed with the Planning Commission and voted unanimously approved an increase from a maximum of 2.5 homes per acre to 3.5 homes per acre. The developer can now build the 760 homes it had planned instead of the 625-home maximum it would have been reduced to under the Planning Commission’s recommendation.
Dozens of Southwest Valley residents had written letters or spoke at Glendale city meetings in opposition to the density increase, urging City Council to consider their feelings as neighbors even though they’re not Glendale residents. Many said adding lots smaller than theirs in the area would lower their property value.
The state representative for the area, Joanne Osborne, has written to and talked to Glendale City Council members, echoing her constituents’ concerns.
Cholla District Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff, who has worked as a Realtor for 15 years, disagreed with the assessment of Ms. Osborne and many of the neighboring residents, saying that what they’re calling for — more lots the size of their own homes — could hurt their property values.
“Scarcity of a product increases its value, and if this proposal was all homes on one acre, half acre…it would probably hurt your values. I don’t think this is going to have any effect on your property values, because it’s a completely different product than where you live,” Ms. Tolmachoff said.
Council was more concerned with the wallets of current Glendale residents Tuesday, as most of the discussion around the proposed general plan and zoning changes were whether the property would become a burden to the existing Glendale taxpayers.
Barrell District Councilwoman Bart Turner and Ms. Tolmachoff were concerned, although it falls on the developer to build the roads in and around the housing development, that it would become a burden on the city to maintain those roads 7-10 years down the line when they need resurfacing.
Mr. Turner pointed out that all of the nearby commercial businesses are not in Glendale, so the city won’t be seeing much sales tax revenue from future the Allen Ranches residents.
“I’m not comfortable, I don’t like the idea of burdening the rest of Glendale with repairing these neighborhood streets when we don’t have sales tax revenue coming in for it,” he said.
Yucca District Councilwoman Joyce Clark, who represents the district to which Allen Ranches will be added, noted that the majority of the development, 615 acres to be used for industrial and commercial land uses, will generate income for the city.
By staff’s estimates, Allen Ranches will bring in $52.3 million in one-time revenue from construction sales taxes and permit fees and then net $1.9-2.1 million a year.
“This development is not a vacuum. It does generate some revenue for the city,” she said, saying that those revenues should be more than enough to cover any periodic road upkeep.
Sahuaro District Councilman Ray Malnar agreed that the whole picture of the development had to be considered.
“I don’t buy the argument that this project is going to cost the city so much that it’s going to be a burden to the rest of the city. I don’t think that’s the case. I believe this industrial area will more than compensate for the expense of taking care of the roads,” he said.
Mr. Turner suggested an amendment that all of the residential roads on the property be required to be private roads so the cost wouldn’t fall on existing Glendale taxpayers.
Jason B. Morris, partner at the Withey Morris, PLC law firm, representing the developer, was adamantly opposed to that suggestion.
“You would be creating a second class of Glendale resident. That class of Glendale resident, unlike other Glendale residents, would be asked not only to pay property taxes as they usually would but they would be asked to pay again to take care of their own streets…I think is a very dangerous precedent,” Mr. Morris said.
Mr. Turner’s amendment failed 2-5, with only Ms. Tolmachoff joining him. He changed the amendment to locking the developers into their plan to have private roads in the western portion of the residential area, which includes 238 of the 760 lots. Mr. Morris was fine with that requirement, as it was the developer’s plan anyway. That amendment passed 4-3, requiring the western portion of homes to have private roads. Mayor Jerry P. Weiers and Mr. Malnar joined Mr. Turner and Ms. Tolmachoff to put the amendment over the top.
The Allen Ranches property will officially become part of Glendale 30 days after Tuesday’s vote on Thursday, July 23.