By Bob McGovern and Jay Taylor

Maricopa City Council tonight will consider final rezoning approval for Home at Maricopa, a proposed 536-unit apartment complex near Walmart.

Council’s action will come days after the plan was approved by the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission despite a group of residents voicing opposition due to concerns about its effect on Porter Road traffic.

Another contingent of residents is expected to attend and express disapproval with the project at the council meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Councilmembers are slated to vote on two ordinances for Home at Maricopa, which is being developed by Shelter Asset Management and El Dorado 27 LLC.

The first would approve and adopt a Minor General Plan Land Use Amendment to change land use from Public/Institutional (P) and Mixed Use (MU) to Mixed Use (MU) for 25.3 acres of vacant land.

The second would approve and adopt an amendment to the city zoning map to rezone those acres to Planned Area Development from Light Industry & Warehouse.

Public comment will be heard before the council votes on the resolutions.

At P&Z’s meeting on May 9, the commission unanimously approved the site, landscape, elevation and photometric plans for Home at Maricopa after a number of Glennwilde residents expressed concerns about the project.

The small group of Glennwilde residents who spoke against the development said they fear hundreds of additional vehicles along the four-lane corridor would exacerbate an already-dangerous situation, especially at the busiest times of the day. The commission heard their comments while reminding them it had taken up the rezoning request at its previous meeting on April 25.

‘Quality-of-life issue’

Retiree Sue Van Gosen said the afternoon traffic is horrible on Porter, where the speed limit is 35 mph in some places and 45 mph in others.

“I’m addressing the amount of traffic as a quality-of-life issue,” she told the commission.

“If you add any more traffic, I won’t be able to leave my home between 2:30 and 4:30 in the afternoon,” she added. “The bravest person I know is the crossing guard by Saddleback Elementary School – she’s risking her life every day.”

On Monday afternoon, cars were lined up in the middle turning lane in both directions waiting to enter the school driveway (see video below).

“We’ve had three students hit and one adult hit this year,” resident Brittany Pisola told the commission. “Adding more cars isn’t going to help that. It’s going to make it worse.”

Pisola, who said she will attend tonight’s meeting, noted a number of other residential projects are planned in the immediate area of the proposed Home at Maricopa complex.

Moreover, she said, she didn’t like that “all the apartments in Maricopa are in that one area because it will create a huge traffic problem,” she said. “We already have a problem with the traffic we have now.”

Kyle O’Hara, a resident of Santa Rosa Springs, wrote the city Development Services Department the day after the P&Z meeting to express similar concerns about the project.

“My problem is, our roads, if we have ALL of the apartments going on one side of the city, ALL of those major roads need to be upgraded, and I mean 3 Lanes in each direction at least,” he wrote. “Additionally, all of the charter schools are over here… so there is ALREADY a massive traffic problem and we’re not even accounting for two new apartment complexes being completed.”

“All of this is seriously making me second guess purchasing in Maricopa rather than somewhere else,” he concluded.

More traffic ahead

Porter Road, which bisects the Glennwilde community and its 1,950 homes, has proximity to five charter schools, a public elementary school and a community college. For most of those schools, Porter is the primary access point. Desert Passage, which shares a border to the east with Glennwilde, has about 700 homes. South on Porter, the 125 apartments at Oasis at the Wells were occupied last year; the complex has 246 parking spaces.

According to 2021 data from the Maricopa Association of Governments, Porter Road just north of Bowlin Road had an annual average daily traffic (AADT) of 8,162 vehicles. (AADT is the total volume of vehicle traffic divided by 365 days.) Bowlin Road, just east of Porter, had an AADT of 6,946 vehicles. That means Porter and Bowlin at those measurement sites have total annual traffic of 2,979,130 and 2,535,290 vehicles, respectively.

More traffic is most definitely coming to the Porter corridor.

Commercial development is burgeoning at the end of Porter Road. The Shops at The Wells shopping center, already home to Walmart and about a dozen other businesses, has more on the way, including an AutoZone, BoSa Donuts and three restaurants – Chili’s, Slim Chickens and Burger King. Another retail center across Porter Road is proposed as the sixth and final phase of development at Home in Maricopa.

The major addition of traffic along Porter in the coming months and years, however, will be from thousands of new residents.

A total of 1,902 housing units, most of them apartments, are proposed or approved along the corridor between Maricopa Casa Grande Highway and Honeycutt Road. Construction has already started at two of those six communities.

Using the City’s standard of 3.2 residents per housing unit, that means about 6,000 more residents and their cars will settle within a half-mile of Porter Road.

Including Home at Maricopa, those six residential developments combined will have parking for more than 3,200 vehicles. Several communities will have entries and exits directly onto Porter.

While Home at Maricopa awaits a decision on approval by City Council for its zoning change, three other developments have already been rezoned to residential zoning or zoning that allows greater residential density.

Here’s a rundown of the projects, including current status, zoning history and number of units and parking spaces:

Copa Flats
North Porter and West Applegate roads, just north of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway
Units: 312
Type: Apartments
Site size: 13 acres
Density: 24 dwelling units per acre
Estimated population: 998
Zoning: General Mixed Use
Status: Under construction
Parking spaces: 592

Hancock Gunsmoke
Southwest corner of Honeycutt and Gunsmoke roads in 7 Ranches
Units: 253
Type: Single-family homes for rent
Site size: 27.8 acres
Density: 10.14 dwelling units per acre
Estimated population: 809
Zoning: Rezoned to Mixed Use from General Rural
Status: Approved by City Council
Parking spaces: 568

Home at Maricopa
Northeast corner of North Porter and West Applegate roads, just north of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway
Units: 536
Type: Apartments
Site size: 18.8 acres
Density: 28.5 dwelling units per acre
Estimated population: 1,715
Zoning: Requesting approval to rezone to Planned Area Development from Light Industry & Warehouse
Status: Awaiting City Council approval
Parking spaces: 918

Southeast corner of Porter and Bowlin roads
Units: 194
Type: Single-family homes for rent
Site size: 20 acres
Density: 10 dwelling units per acre
Estimated population: 620
Zoning: Rezoned to RM Multiple Unit Residential from CB-1 Zoning (2020)
Status: Under construction
Parking spaces: 399

Roers Maricopa
Porter Road, south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway
Units: 289
Type: Apartments
Site size: NA
Density: NA
Estimated population: 924
Zoning change: NA
Status: Planning

Villas at Stonegate
Southeast corner of Stonegate Road and Alan Stephens Parkway, just west of A+ Charter School
Units: 318
Housing type: Townhomes for sale
Site size: 16.1 acres
Density: 19.75 dwelling units per acre
Estimated population: 1,017
Zoning change: Rezoned to High Density Residential from Light Industry & Warehouse
Status: Approved by Planning & Zoning; awaiting City Council approval
Parking: 724 (estimated)