Surprise City Council approval of the less disputed Enclave at Paloma Creek annexation May 18 added nearly 5.5 acres to Surprise over the objections of some Maricopa County residents.
The annexed area is dubbed Enclave at Paloma Creek III. Previously annexed in 2019, Enclave at Paloma sits on more than 200 acres off the northeast corner of 163rd Avenue and Happy Valley Road.
The Enclave III annexation is an “end cap” just east of 153rd Avenue and Paloma Creek’s previous easternmost boundary, unlike Enclave IV — which was proposed on 10 acres north of the development’s current northern boundary. The Surprise City Council unanimously approved the annexation.
Bill Lally of law firm Tiffany & Bosco PA in Phoenix represents developer KAX Group LLC. He said during the council meeting that infrastructure in rural areas gets paid for when developers offer an orderly, organized development plan consistent with city development goals.
“People want to be in Surprise in beautiful neighborhoods with beautiful amenities and beautiful mountain views. And they’re coming. We can either do it in orderly, master-planned communities that take care or drainage, roadway and sewage and water. Or not. That’s the choice before you today It’s kind of a philosophical choice,” Mr. Lally said.
While a group of more than 250 county residents signed a petition against both annexation proposals, more of their angst was reserved for Enclave IV. Yet a smaller group of people living on county land just north of Paloma Creek showed up to oppose the Paloma Creek III annexation and rezoning proposals to Paloma Creek II and III known.
Michelle Brown, Mark Graham and Jane Peiffer spoke for the contingent during the public hearing portions of the meeting.
Mr. Graham made clear he and the group he spoke for were against all three motions. But, he said, if the council approved the annexation he hoped they would not approve rezoning to a higher density.
“Make this two or three (dwellings) per acre so there’s a real buffer zone and not just a curtain hanging in between two operating rooms,” Mr. Graham said.
Under the rezoning proposal, the category of both Enclave II and Enclave III changes from rural residential to medium-density residential, with an overlay that limits Enclave II at Paloma Creek to a maximum of 4.01 dwelling units per acre and Enclave III to 3,9 dwelling units per acre.
Surprise Planner Joshua Mike presented a map of lots for both parcels.
The plans include larger plots to the north and undeveloped open space to serve as a transition between Paloma Creek homes and the one-acre county properties to the north.
“The general intent of that is to provide buffering and transitioning. it’s separated by an open space tract from the rural residences to the north. Part of the transitioning is ensuring wider lots are adjacent to the rural residential. We seek out a 2-1 ratio. If there is one rural residential lot, we allow no more than two lots next to it,” Mr. Mike said.
In the last month, Ms. Peiffer said she met with Councilman Roland Winters, City Clerk Sherry Aguilar and Community Development officials.
She asked for the three items be delayed to the first council meeting in June because there was a community meeting May 24.
While that meeting focused largely on seeking compromise on Enclave at Paloma Creek IV, Ms. Peiffer said waiting two weeks to annex and rezone would let her neighbors see how plans for Enclave II and III fit into the whole of Paloma Creek.
Surprise City Council unanimously approved both rezonings.
“The community members had asked the developer for a meeting to discuss all of the areas and get a big picture view. The request was made two days after the April 20 council meeting,” Ms. Peiffer said. “The developer refused to meet with us. We felt the City Council tasked both sides to meet and try to work some of these issues out. The fact that the developer was unwilling to even meet with us prior to Tuesday’s meeting should have prompted some concern on the council’s part. The fact that it did not indicates that the decision had been made before the meeting.”
Mr. Lally said Paloma Creek was put together through 14 separate purchases from landowners during the past 12 years.
Desert Oasis resident Raymond Grim originally moved to Surprise in 1995.
“When I first moved here, I knew growth was going to come. I moved to 163rd and Jomax about six years ago and over time Jomax has been paved and Happy Valley is soon to come,” Mr. Grim said. “With growth comes a little bit of struggle but we’re going to address that. I don’t think you can move out to a spot and say, ‘I’m here, I love it. I don’t want anyone else to move out here.’”