Chandler residents, city oppose county-island apartments

One proposed development, which was a hot topic at some recent Chandler City Council meetings, was not about urban developments at all.

The Landings at Ocotillo is connected to a large planned apartment complex located on a county island along Ocotillo Road a few blocks east of both Arizona Avenue and Hamilton High School, between a mall anchored by a Target store, to be built, a small lot designated as a proposed area development and Chandler Unified School District bus station.

The main objections raised at both the October and December Council meetings had to do with expected traffic and overall density. The fact that the 518-unit plan is not well suited to the city’s senior housing needs also seemed to be raised frequently.

The problem is that Chandler City Council and the city’s planning and zoning commission cannot vote on anything formal regarding The Landings at Ocotillo. The County Island project is not within the jurisdiction of the City of Chandler as it is the subject of a Maricopa County proposal.

The proposed complex was scheduled to be heard for approval or rejection by the Maricopa County Planning & Zoning Commission at a meeting in December. However, two days after a Chandler City Council meeting in December, Attorney Brennan Ray filed a motion to indefinitely postpone the hearing for Case #Z2021175 while more public input meetings were held.

Regardless of how the planning and zoning committee votes on a recommendation after a hearing, applicants have an opportunity to present their case to the board of directors for final approval.

It’s complicated

There are many complicated aspects of the fill schedule, including water. In a Jan. 2 letter from Derek Horn — Chandler’s development service manager — to Maricopa County’s planning and development department, Horn said the city could only provide enough water to meet about a quarter of the condominium’s expected needs.

“Under the 2018 Water/Wastewater/Reclaimed Water Master Plan, the potable water demand allocated to the referenced lots for use of workspace is estimated at 34,376 gallons per day,” Horn wrote. “The project, a multi-family housing development, would generate drinking water needs estimated at 139,310 GPD.”

Those who came to speak at Chandler City Council meetings largely supported what the city had already expressed and hoped that their concerns about the proposed use of the 25-acre property would be addressed by Maricopa County officials be heard.

At the December 5 council meeting, a representative from developer Dominium spoke before a unanimous decision was taken by the council to adopt a resolution opposing the district’s permitting of the development. He said none of the 14 other Dominium sites shown were either big enough for their plans or the owners were unwilling to sell, citing the need for senior housing.

Others speaking at the December 5 meeting also mentioned the need for affordable senior housing. However, Mayor Kevin Hartke said the reason the development is on a county island is because it would not pass “the sniff test” of the stricter Chandler requirements.

Also, Hartke said, the massive complex would be located in an industrial area and within flight paths of planes bound for nearby Chandler Municipal Airport.

The developer wants to build one-, two- and three-room apartments on the property. However, only 182 of the 518 proposed units would be senior housing.

Hartke said he and the city each sent letters of objection to the project, as described in the Maricopa County documents.

The site is an island of Maricopa County, which means all development applications go through the county government. Case #Z2021175 involves the Housing Authority of Maricopa County and its developer.

Feedback to Chandler City Council

Lisa Ritchie, a realtor and Chandler homeowner who has worked in the city for 16 years, said she doesn’t mind affordable housing. She said not only is she opposed to developer Dominium’s use, she also fears the traffic swamp near Hamilton High School will get much worse.

“We want all council members to oppose it,” she said. Minutes later, the Council granted that wish. However, since Chandler does not technically have jurisdiction over county island development, the resolution is primarily symbolic and a position statement addressed to Maricopa County.

Another speaker said she believes it is the council’s duty to resist plans by neighboring jurisdictions that not only impact a Chandler community, but also do not fit with the city’s master plan or any area plans.

A speaker, who submitted a map read by Mayor Hartke, added that police and firefighters for 518 apartments on a county island would likely incur new costs for the city.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors hearing is expected to be approximately 30 days after the Planning & Zoning Commission, regardless of Planning & Zoning’s recommendation.

The Planning and Zoning Commission agenda and staff report are generally available on the online agenda center website on the Friday before each meeting. Those interested must keep an eye on the Agenda Center website.

The commission typically meets on the second and fourth Thursday of each month in a virtual format, but only meets once a month when not many hearings or cases are scheduled.

The hearing, if and when held, will be a hybrid in-person and virtual hearing using GoToWebinar. The registration link for virtual participation will be included on the committee agenda. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information on how to participate in the webinar.

supervisory board
Chandler will be represented at the district level by District 1 Supervisor Jack Sellers, who would be one of the five board members who would vote on a pass or fail approval of Dominium’s application when it comes to a planning and zoning hearing.

Sellers didn’t directly respond to questions about that story, but Fields Moseley, a spokesman for the board of supervisors, said supervisors typically don’t hold meetings or seek feedback from stakeholders until technical issues related to a project are resolved.

Moseley said that in the case of Domninium, that applies to Sellers.

“Supervisor Sellers did not meet with stakeholders in this case, but he is aware of opposition from Chandler and a number of neighbors,” Moseley said. “I have been informed that the case has not yet been scheduled for a Planning & Zoning hearing as it is still being technically reviewed by staff. The big hurdle for this project is the lack of water supply. Water supply issues are usually resolved before a case is scheduled for a hearing.”

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