City grants zoning change for Roers apartments

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This site southwest of Porter Road and Iron Point Drive, was rezoned to high density residential Tuesday by the city council. Construction on the Roers Apartments, a 200-unit, 3-story apartment complex, will begin in about a year. [Google Earth]

The Maricopa City Council Tuesday unanimously approved changes to the city’s general plan future land use and zoning maps, clearing the way for construction on the 200-unit Roers Apartments.

The project, which will rise at the southwest corner of Porter and Iron Point roads, just south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

The council’s actions created a minor land use amendment for the 10-acre parcel from Public/Institutional to High-Density Residential. The council also approved a zoning change to High-Density Residential.

The Roers apartments will feature a mix of 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units ranging from 850-1,250 square feet. The Santa Rosa Springs community lies to the west, undeveloped land planned for single-family homes is to the east and a future school site is immediately north of the parcel. Walmart and other commercial areas lie north of the property on the other side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

There have been traffic concerns from citizens in relation to several apartment projects slated for the southern end of Porter Road, and the city addressed those in a presentation by senior planner Byron Easton of the city.

“As we are developing quickly, we want to make sure all traffic concerns are analyzed,” Easton said. “The current zoning is that commercial zoning. Even though it’s been left vacant, it can be developed tomorrow with the commercial zoning that is currently on the property. The zoning we are proposing is actually going to create much (fewer) daily trips than is currently zoned. It would generate significantly more traffic (if left as commercial zoning).”

Easton showed a city traffic study that indicated the commercial zoning would create an average of 226 trips per hour during the morning peak hours and 678 evening peak hour trips. The proposed high density residential zoning would create 76 and 78 trips per hour, respectively, for the morning and evening peak hours. There are more than 7,900 fewer total daily trips in the area with the high-density residential zoning and with the commercial.

During the public comment period, Glennwilde resident Sue Van Gosen claimed the spate of apartment construction is putting a drag on property values in the area.

“I and my neighbors ask that no more parcels on Porter Road be zoned high density residential,” she said. “The concentration of approximately 1,700 rental units – almost a third of what the city has requested – is concentrated right there and has created an undesirable area of the city. It has impacted our property values and the re-salability of our homes because there are not many people wanting to own a home in an area that’s primarily apartments.”

City manager Rick Horst disputed Van Gosen’s claims and said the apartment construction is necessary for the city grow as it wants to and attract industry and employment.

“We obviously don’t have data for here because we are a young city,” Horst said. “But if you look at the data from Tempe, from Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale – we went on a study mission not but a few weeks ago where we saw it too – the evidence is clear that it is not hurting property values, in fact it is increasing property values.

“There seems to be this perception that the quality of personnel that might live in these facilities is less,” Horst continued. “That’s not the case. We’ve shown that over and over again. These are the people who make our community work, and without them…we will not have the hospitals will not have the retail, we will not have the job centers. We couldn’t fill the jobs if we got them. This is not an art; it’s a science of building cities and it comes from hundreds of years of study of cities that have succeeded and cities that have failed.”

Construction on the Roers apartments is not expected to begin for at least a year.