Traffic, safety and their neighborhood as they know it — these were among the concerns voiced by a full house of Green Valley RV Resort residents after receiving notice from the Town of Sahuarita that an apartment complex could be going up next door.
More than 100 residents met Monday to discuss an application from the Park Corporation to rezone about 15 acres from GR-1 (Rural Residential) to B-1 (Local Business) near the northeastern corner of Duval Mine Road and La Canada Drive.
Filed with the Oct. 12 rezoning request were two potential development plans that include up to 13 three-story multi-family or apartment buildings with up to 276 units.
The application stated that opening is planned for 2025, though no developer has been named.
The applicant, Morgan Neville of Park Corporation, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. The company sold land in Gilbert for a luxury apartment project in 2020.
RV park resident Nancy LeVey said she and other residents oppose the zoning change.
“If there’s three-story buildings and you live next door, there’s going to be no more view,” she said. “We're really special in Green Valley and the community is very close. A lot of people built nice homes there and with this development change those homes would be worth nothing. It seems pretty sad and fast and nobody wants this to happen.”
Property in the area have a Green Valley mailing address but are within Sahuarita town limits.
What is it?
Green Valley RV Resort is east of the proposed building site and Santa Rita Villas townhomes is north of it.
As part of the rezoning application, Park Corporation submitted two preliminary development plans, each with multi-family buildings. One option has less residential space and includes commercial/retail space.
The town held a neighborhood meeting about the project in July, where the applicant and representatives of Freeport McMoRan (vacant land west of the property), the Santo Tomas Villas HOA and the RV Park attended.
David Barnes, Freeport-McMoRan’s Environment, Land and Water manager, said that Freeport McMoRan likely will not stand in the way of this application, but they are generally not “super-excited” by additional development near their property. He also said quality, multi-family housing nearby would benefit Freeport.
Melinda Mills, representing Santo Tomas Villas Owners Association, asked if the applicant knew what the crime statistics are like for Sahuarita apartments.
Both parties raised concerns about the turn access from Duval Mine and how current westbound traffic on Duval Mine Road turning north onto La Canada Drive gets backed up.
They also raised concerns about storm drainage.
During the Monday meeting led by the Green Valley RV Resort HOA, residents asked questions about the application, signed a petition opposing the rezoning and came up with a plan to voice their concerns.
Park Manager Jeff Holzman, who attended the July meeting, said the RV park owners are neutral on the zoning, but said he will be speaking at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Feb. 6 in opposition to the request.
“As park manager, I can see the direct impact it could have and by changing the zoning, people who invested here, purchased homes, been here 10 to 20 years or just got here…you come here with the understanding this is zoned residential and now they’re talking about changing it,” he said. “As a manager I am going to speak against the change of zoning. I’m not opposed to development because everything will be developed, but what kind of development and how that happens we do have some say on.”
Residents are concerned about the height of the apartments. The proposed maximum height of the buildings is 39 feet. HOA President Dale Powers said he doesn’t know of any other buildings in Sahuarita that are three stories.
Residents said the views are part of the reason they chose to live in the community, and three-story buildings could alter that. It would also bring in additional people and congestion to the area.
LeVey, who is organizing the petition, said traffic is a concern for them. The developer submitted a traffic survey as part of their rezoning application, conducted in August.
Park Corporation’s study conducted by Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., found the site would generate about 127 trips in the peak morning hour and 155 new trips at peak night hour.
They also stated the development would not have a significant impact on operations on La Canada Drive or the intersection, “therefore, no mitigation measures are recommended.”
Residents felt that number did not accurately reflect the busiest season.
“There's going to be more traffic,” Powers said. “There’s plans for over 500 parking spaces so there’s going to be a lot of vehicles in the area.”
A resident also mentioned an increase in students and school buses, given this is planned as multi-family housing.
Several residents also thought the intention was to make these low-income housing units, spurring safety concerns. But Holzman said the plan appears to be high-end apartments, and the Town of Sahuarita confirmed the project would not be low-income housing.
For many of the residents in the meeting, the project seemed to be moving fast and “blindsided” them.
Along with the July meeting, over the last couple weeks the town has mailed notices to property owners within 300 feet and courtesy notices to individual residents within 300 feet. Three signs have also been posted on the property about the Feb. 6 meeting.
Town of Sahuarita Economic Development Director Victor Gonzalez said the rezoning application is an effort by the owner to make the property more marketable to a potential developer. Staff is recommending the commission support approval of the rezoning to the Town Council.
“What they have to do is demonstrate conceptual uses so there is no end user or confirmed developer, but because of the rezoning application they have to demonstrate the type of uses.”
The application packet received by the Planning and Zoning Commission noted that “the applicant also indicated that they would seek quality developers for the project and that there have been a few that expressed interest in the project.”
Gonzalez said in the past the town has looked into expanding multi-family housing inventory, and the “property owner has taken it a step further now submitting the rezoning application.”
If the rezoning is approved, Gonzalez said the development plans could shift, but big changes would require a new plan.
“The development plan establishes use and activity, it establishes the shapes and forms that will be developed over time,” he said. “There could be slight adjustments like on open space portion adjustments, the mix of buildings and facilities.”
“Certainly, if there were major changes and adjustments like going from multi-family to single family, there would need to be a new development plan.”
Gonzalez said the property would be “used as intended in the specific plan” but couldn’t say specifically whether the property would house apartments.
Residents of Green Valley RV Resort are determined to make sure the town hears out their concerns and what they love about their community through email and carpools to the meeting Feb. 6.
For LeVey and many of the residents, the biggest fear is seeing the neighborhood turn into something it’s not.
“We have a slice of heaven here,” she said. “Neighbor to neighbor, if someone has fallen, someone comes to help, we call on the phone. Someone’s always there for you and our activities are amazing.”
“This will be gone if we don't fight this. Traffic has been dangerous for all of us, storm water mitigation is needed. It's kind of taken us by surprise and I think it's unfair.”