The city council Tuesday unanimously approved a Major General Plan Amendment changing the land use from undesignated land use to Master Planned Community for 995 acres at Santa Cruz Ranch, located at the northeast corner of N. Anderson and W. Miller roads. The other 891 acres of the total 1,886-acre development already are classified as a Master Planned Community.
The approval was not without opposition. As with the two meetings of the city Planning & Zoning Commission, residents of the area turned out to speak against the project, with objections ranging from train traffic potentially blocking emergency vehicles from the community to water use and encroachment of growth into existing rural areas to the developing in a current flood plain.
Dave Klingensmith of Stanfield voiced the concern that if the community relies upon pumping ground water to supply the potentially more than 6,000 homes in the project, the existing wells of current residents could run dry in five to 10 years. He claimed that at full buildout, the community could use more than 3,100 acre-feet of water per year, which would account for more than 13% of Global Water’s annual allocation for Maricopa. Global currently uses about 7,000 acre-feet of its 23,000-acre-foot allocation.
Jackie Shields of Stanfield requested that the city consider asking the developer W Holdings fo Scottsdale to consider larger lots and fewer homes as a way to mitigate the impact to the rural lifestyle in the area by reducing traffic and maintaining open space.
Council members took the approach that the community fits with the general plan initially approved by city voters in 2005 and
Voters of Maricopa passed the general plan in 2005, then re-adopted it in 2015. Council member Vince Manfredi asked the city’s acting Director of Development Services Rudy Lopez if the project fit within the city’s general plan, and Lopez confirmed that it did.
In an amusing moment, Council member Henry Wade asked Jason Sanks of Iplan Consulting, the land use and planning consultant to developer W Holdings of Scottsdale, what the primary objections from the surrounding community were to the project, Sanks said they included density, traffic, water use and drainage.
Wade then followed up by asking if there was a feeling of camaraderie or coming together between the community members and the developers after those public meetings, which elicited chuckles from the audience, including the approximately 30 Stanfield residents there to oppose the project.
“I would answer that by saying that I wore my running shoes,” Sanks replied. “I believe that inherently speaking they do live in a lovely community with 3½-acre lots and 3.3 acre lots. Our master plan is in broad keeping with the city’s general plan. Did we come to a consensus? I would perhaps say no. But I believe we diligently answered their questions to the best of our ability at this time and we will agree to continue to work with them through the multiple stages that will occur after this process tonight.”
At full buildout, the 1,886-acre, master-planned community would be home to more than 15,000 people and be almost double the size of Maricopa’s largest existing community, Rancho El Dorado.
Rancho El Dorado has 3,132 homes and about 8,000 residents. Combined with its sister communities, the Lakes and Villages at Rancho El Dorado, RED’s nearly 5,000 homes and 13,000 residents is still less than Santa Cruz Ranch’s projections.
Santa Cruz Ranch is within Maricopa’s planning area but south of the city limits, so the site would need to be annexed into the city to provide fire, police, and other essential services.