By Richard Smith
During its June 15 meeting, the Surprise Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the second phase of the Bell Pointe development, contingent upon city staff working with the Maricopa County Department of Transportation to mitigate traffic concerns on its western boundary.
The Bell Pointe II preliminary plat was on the June 20 City Council agenda. Results were not available at press time.
The lone concern with adding 141 lots to finish this development is the increased traffic on Bell Pointe Boulevard and the difficulties for drivers turning left on Bell Pointe to head east on Bell Road into Surprise.
Bell Pointe Boulevard also serves as the only point of access for the westernmost portion of Arizona Traditions. That’s where councilman Roland Winters lives, and he shared his concern as a private citizen during the commission meeting.
“Anyone who exits out of Bell Pointe (Boulevard) to go east onto Bell Road has to really watch the traffic coming from the Sun Valley Parkway. There’s a significant dip and coming over the hill you don’t even see Bell Pointe,” Mr. Winters said.
He said he likes the project but worries about the speed of drivers heading east from the parkway on county land to Bell Road on city land just west of Bell Pointe. The dip makes it difficult for drivers exiting Bell Pointe onto eastbound Bell, and he said many drivers are exceeding the parkway’s 50 mph speed limit as they head into Surprise.
Commission member Gisele Norberg agreed, saying that area is particularly scary at night, with virtually no light out there.
Mr. Winters asked if traffic studies validated the (as-yet-unnamed) developer putting in a traffic light. Planner Hobart Wingard said studies showed the expected traffic from only 141 additional lots does not require the builder to put in a signal at their expense.
Planner Dennis Smith said he typically sees patrols in the area, and asked if including flashing speed signs warning drivers of the dip and traffic nearby would work.
“I would like the transportation department to see if that’s viable to address some of the citizen’s concerns,” Mr. Smith said.
To do so the city needs to work with MCDOT, as they oversee the parkway, with its 50 mph speed limit. The limit drops to 45 mph at the Surprise border.
Commission Chairman Ken Chapman said he thinks one solution may be to start the reduction of speed further west on the Sun Valley Parkway for traffic heading into Surprise.
“At this point staff would want to be more general. We would need to look at many different options, whether they’re the flashing light signs or specific signage,” Community Development Director Eric Fitzer said.
Then, staff can recommend to the City Council, as well as the county on their portion of the parkway west of the city.
Bell Pointe II is composed of a small triangle of land north of current Bell Pointe homes and a larger square-shaped patch to the south of phase I and north of RiverBoat Acres.
“The original plan for this was 167 lots. With the revise we are down to 141 lots,” Mr. Wingard said.