City consultants pitched potential land uses for the Seven Ranches area to Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission Monday. Mark Soden of SWABACK Architects & Planners presented a vision that includes low-, medium-, and high-density single-family residential; multi-family residential; office space; mixed-use commercial; and open space and trails.
But the meeting also highlighted the obstacles to redeveloping the area.
There are more than 90 landowners in Seven Ranches, which would make land acquisition for any major development difficult. Just to do construction work along Seven Ranches Road, the city would need to acquire 23 different properties, according to Soden.
“There are some great ideas for the area, but it could be difficult to put ideas together because there are so many different property owners (making) it a challenge to build the streets and the utilities and solve the flooding and drainage problems,” Soden said.
“One guy may want to develop in 2021 and the guy next door might want to live in his house forever, and since each developer is responsible for developing the roads in their area, you’d end up with a road to nowhere.”
Commission chair Linda Huggins raised the issue of ensuring residents don’t feel they are being pushed out just for more homes or businesses.
“What I’m worried about is I’m wanting to make sure these homeowners are not in any way, shape or form feeling that we’re pushing them out,” she said. “That we want to work with them as long as they’re willing to stay there. If two of those parcels want to stay there forever and a day, OK, that’s great.”
Commissioner Ted Yocum seconded Huggins’ feelings about not pushing owners out while outlining the obstacles to development of the area.
“It’s going to be very difficult,” Yocum said. “I know there are developers who are very active in Seven Ranches. I don’t know how aggressively they are trying to buy the properties, but we all know that’s going on. But it’s the underlying conditions that are there – the flooding issue, the drainage issue, the sewer, and the water service. It just gets very complicated.”
Results from the community meetings held in the area unsurprisingly showed a preference for open space and trails, and strong resistance to both multi-family and low-income housing.