Log in

Split Surprise planning commission approves Avilla rentals

Posted 6/6/17

This Avila Homes detached home rental community in Chandler includes elevations similar to those proposed at Waddell and Reems roads in Surprise, according to officials from Avila’s parent company …

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already have an account? Log in to continue.

Current print subscribers can create a free account by clicking here

Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

To Our Valued Readers –

Visitors to our website will be limited to five stories per month unless they opt to subscribe. The five stories do not include our exclusive content written by our journalists.

For $6.99, less than 20 cents a day, digital subscribers will receive unlimited access to YourValley.net, including exclusive content from our newsroom and access to our Daily Independent e-edition.

Our commitment to balanced, fair reporting and local coverage provides insight and perspective not found anywhere else.

Your financial commitment will help to preserve the kind of honest journalism produced by our reporters and editors. We trust you agree that independent journalism is an essential component of our democracy. Please click here to subscribe.

Charlene Bisson, Publisher, Independent Newsmedia

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor

Split Surprise planning commission approves Avilla rentals

This Avila Homes detached home rental community in Chandler includes elevations similar to those proposed at Waddell and Reems roads in Surprise, according to officials from Avila’s parent company NexMetro Communities.
By Richard Smith
Independent Newsmedia

The changes NexMetro Communities made to its proposed Avilla community full of one-story rental properties impressed a plurality of residents in neighboring Sanalina and a majority of the Surprise Planning and Zoning Commission.

By a 4-2 margin, the commission recommended approval of a zoning change to the 11-acre parcel on the northeast corner of Reems and Waddell roads from commercial to residential, and the plan with 127 detached single-family homes for rent.

Commissioners Dennis Bash, Eric Cultum, Gisele Norberg and Mitchell Rosenbaum voted in favor of both measures June 1 while Ken Chapman and Dennis Smith voted against. Commissioner Matthew Keating was absent.

Sanalina resident Lisa Terror said NexMetro did everything the HOA asked for during a contentious Jan. 26 community meeting, primarily removing an exit onto Ludlow Drive, which residents said was already overloaded by traffic.

“Today my husband and I visited their facility in Goodyear and it’s top notch. They didn’t know we were coming, but they were very professional. Inside they were top notch and geared toward executives,” Ms. Terror said. “Their policy for renting leaves no stone unturned. I’m all for it. I don’t want to end up with a strip shopping center that dumps into our community and people cutting through our community to get to it.”

Brennan Ray, an attorney with Phoenix-based Burch and Cracchiolo, said Ludlow Drive and 153rd Avenue are designed as a collector street system in that area. The developer’s 2016 trip generation study shows apartments generate a bit fewer daily trips in that area than a single-family home would, and nearly five times less traffic than a commercial development would.

Commentary during the public hearing June 1 was split.

Sanalina resident Joe Carle remains opposed to the development. He said the lawyer representing NexMetro did an excellent job of putting fear into residents of what else could go into that parcel if it remains commercial — which drove down the number of people opposing it.

“I have a hard time getting on board with a rezoning where a developer is going to profit. I hope you would too,” Mr. Carle said. “The concept has been around for a while, but NexMetro is pretty new to the game. What happens in five or six years? Do they exit the market after recouping their investment and profit?”

Resident Julie Helms said she went door-to-door gathering resident opposition to the project at first. Traffic on Ludlow Drive, as well as Reems and Waddell roads is still her concern, but she said she has warmed to Avilla after it was changed.

Sanalina residents shared fears that Avila kids, having no place to play, would use the Sanalina park. NexMetro decided to add a playground area in the center of Avilla and moved a proposed dog park away from adjacent neighbors.

Mr. Cultum said the developer bent over backwards to address resident concerns like few he has seen and would bring a good development to a difficult corner.

Ms. Norberg said it is a tough location to plant a business, and the spot may not be attractive.

“One of the things I don’t like is having a commercial property that ends up being empty. I think the last thing people want is to put up something that ends up not being successful, with empty buildings,” Ms. Norberg said.

Conversely, Mr. Chapman said it is a valuable piece of property that has been sitting around for many years like others in the city. He said the market will prevail when this property is ready.

Mr. Smith said resident viewpoints have largely been negative on the project, though less so recently.

“I don’t like to see commercial property be turned into residential. Long term we’re going to need commercial property to properly serve all the residents that we have around it. At this point, I can’t support this particular project,” Mr. Smith said.

Former councilman Gary “Doc” Sullivan said the property owner has done nothing in 20 years to bring commercial in there, while two corners nearby have flourished.

“In the very beginning I decided I wanted to find out, who are the players in this whole thing? Players are people who are going to benefit financially by your decision. Obviously the lawyer will benefit, the property owner who couldn’t do his job for the last 20 years, and of course the developer,” Mr. Sullivan said. “You folks have to make a decision here pretty quick. So I’m going to consider everyone who votes to rezone as part of the players.”

Rev. Cheryl Hawkins said no matter how nice the “upscale” rentals with rates around $1,000 a month are, homeowners are more committed to the neighborhood and greater community.

Bill Tomsa has lived in Sanalina for about a year and said many of his neighbors in Sanalina are renters, and he hasn’t noticed a difference in how they treat their property.

“When I first heard about this project I had the misconception that it would have three-story apartments and I voiced my opposition to it. Then I went to the first community meeting and I was pretty ticked off,” Mr. Tomsa said during the meeting. “At the second meeting the developers gave I told them about their revised plan, ‘I don’t like it. I really like it.’ The reason is they listened to us and they did make changes that I think are an improvement.”