As a Homestead resident and a member of the Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission, Michael Sharpe listened to his own neighbors express their concerns about proposals to shrink lot sizes and add houses to fill in the rest of the Homestead subdivision on the southeast side.
They were concerns he shared about increased density, HOA fees and transportation levels that could impact him personally.
He heard from Homestead residents like Robert Stock, who worried about increased crime and the impact on the surrounding environment. “I don’t see this as a step in a positive direction,” Stock said.
“Affordable homes go hand-in-hand with crime,” Breeana Stock said.
Sharpe boiled down his unease with the major amendment to one question to developers: “Would you pursue this without the additional homes?”
Receiving no answer at that time, Sharpe’s concerns were not eased, and he was the P&Z Commission’s lone nay vote.
Much of the debate came from the definition of “additional.” Neighbors said the plans would squeeze in 113 more homes than were supposed to be there. The developers said that is not the case.
“We’re not increasing the approved number of lots. Not at all,” said Jordan Rose of Rose Law Group, representing the developers.
That is careful wording. The approved number is up to 2,408 lots.
That approval came from Pinal County in 2003. The lots were intended to be rather large, ranging from 65 feet wide to 80 feet wide.
After Maricopa became a municipality, it adopted the same platting. The developer at the time was DR Horton, which planned for only 2,295 lots. In between the approved 2,408 lots and the 2,295 planned lots lies the debate.
Starwood Land Ventures acquired Homestead in 2008.
“Homebuilders aren’t going to build on an 80-foot lot,” Rose said. “The market just isn’t there.”
So Starwood proposed the smaller lot sizes and smaller home sizes. At buildout in 2027, there will be probably fewer than 2,408 homes. But there will be more than the 2,295 DR Horton planned for, up to 113 more.
Though the depth of the lots remains at 125 feet, the width will be 45 to 55 feet. The setbacks remain the same to prevent crowding.
When the amendment came before the city council Sept. 6, Sharpe came forward to speak as a resident of Homestead.
He said the city staff did a “phenomenal job” turning lemons into lemonade to work with the developers’ request in a way to meet the newest zoning code. While some residents had expressed worries that HOA fees would go up for everyone in Homestead to account for additional open space maintenance in those parcels, Sharpe said there is a joint use agreement in place on a prorated basis to balance that.
After pointed questioning of the developer, the city council unanimously approved the amendment to change lot sized.
But other worries remained. Starwood has stipulations to meet regarding traffic impact. Traffic signals are required
at both ends of Homestead Parkway – Smith-Enke Road and Porter Road. An alternative configuration at the intersection of Honeycutt Road and Continental Boulevard is also requested.
“The subdivision was not designed with this additional traffic in mind,” Sharpe said.
Calling himself “pro-growth, pro-development,” Sharpe pleaded for smart growth and smart development.
A look at Homestead’s planned properties
Smaller homes on smaller lots are the plan for filling in the last of the Homestead North development.
After getting approval from Maricopa City Council, owner Starwood Land Ventures is changing the platting of parcels 15, 16, 18 and 19. In the process, developers want the look of the neighborhood to be different than other communities in Maricopa.
A percentage of the homes will be required to have front porches.
“That front porch emphasis was a particularly important highlight that we wanted to bring,” city planner Ryan Wozniak said. “We just thought that was a good addition to the social capital that our community would benefit from.”
The streets will have tree-lined sidewalks, with the trees between the sidewalks and the curb.
As proposed, each parcel has a theme tree. For instance, Parcel 15’s requested tree would be the thornless hybrid mesquite and the Parcel 18 tree is Chinaquapin oak. The trees and their maintenance are the responsibility of the homeowner.
The streets are planned to be 32 feet wide, with parking on one side.
The current plans are the result of city staff requiring specific details rather than allowing Starwood to design smaller lots, sell homes and then “go on down the road.” One representative of the developer said it turned out to be a benefit.
“Now we’re very excited to be able to bring this product that’s going to be tree-lined streets, porches, patios, enhanced communities,” said Shane Graser of Copper Nail Development.