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Surprise adds 20 acres in latest annexation

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The recent wave of annexation adding to the northern side of Surprise has now hit a lull — if not ended.

During it Oct. 19 meeting, the city council approved annexation of 19.9 acres of unincorporated Maricopa County land north of Happy Valley Road and east of 163rd Avenue by a 6-0 vote.

Councilman Jack Hastings was excused from the meeting because he was getting married the next day.

The land is for a development called Windstone Ranch North, which would align with the northern end of Tierra Verde East on the west and the project dubbed Saddlehorn Ranch on the east.

“Going back to the list of the concerns on the annexation, I did the Windstone Ranch to the east of this and I had zoned the north 20 acres of that parcel in 2017 and annexed it. Basically this is a mirror image of that. I had adjacent neighbors, seven or eight of them, that I worked with,” said Kent Xander of KAX Group LLC, the annexation applicant, on behalf of property owner Farhad K. Shokoohi.

The council also unanimously approved rezoning for the property immediately after the annexation. When annexed, Windstone Ranch North adapted Surprise’s rural residential zoning.

The approved rezoning allows for low-density residential (R-1) zoning on the property. While the plan for lots in Windstone Ranch North are still in the conceptual stage, the early plan is for a maximum of 62 homes in the development, or 3.12 dwelling units to the acre.

“I think it’s great that you’re looking at a reduced density for this particular area. Some of the neighbors in that community were concerned about density,” councilwoman Aly Cline said Oct. 19.

A neighborhood outreach meeting in mid-May revealed concerns about traffic, drainage and access. More than anything, Maricopa County residents wanted to know if there will there be a buffer to county parcels to the north.

Xander said one man called with his concerns about the drainage. He said the development has a wide channel that goes from 40 to 90 feet.

“He was concerned that if the water got to be too much it would backfill onto his property and his wall. I wanted to put on the record that my engineer, flood control and the city wouldn’t sign on to something by that,” Xander said.

Windstone Ranch North will have no road access to the north and the county lands.

Early plans have a green space buffer along the development’s northern edge. The eight northernmost lots closest to county land are planned to we wider than usual at 70 feet.

“In addition to that 50-foot wide open space buffer, they are also adding language in their zoning documents that requires lots along the north side to be at least 70 feet wide to help with the transition from this property to the rural lots to the north,” Surprise planner Sergio Angulo said.

The other lots are planned to be 60 feet wide.

“It’s nice to see bigger lots coming in. So many of these plats that go through it’s tiny, sardine-style lots, which speaks to that affordability issue,” Judd said.

Xander’s group has been the catalyst for that area’s annexation during the past three years. Another project he applied for, Paloma Creek, included total annexations of 259.2 acres, Surprise Community Development Director Chris Boyd stated in an email.

Boyd stated the city does not have any current annexation applications.

The area east of 163rd Avenue is likely to boom with new homes in the near future as communities such as Rancho Mercado and Escalante fill out and building starts at Paloma Creek, Tierra Verde and Windstone Ranch.

Happy Valley Road will be the main thoroughfare while development allows the rest of the streets to fill in.

“Happy Valley Road is now open from 163rd Avenue to the east,” Boyd stated. “As for additional roadways in that area, all of the projects that are adjacent to an arterial road will be required to complete their half-street improvements. Each developer has their own schedule, and the roadway completion requirements are tied to certain advancements of the development, so the completion dates are uncertain at this time.”

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