By Richard Smith
Despite concerns from neighboring residents in Maricopa County, the Surprise Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval for all three parcels of Bonita Ranch, a medium-density development mostly surrounded by the larger Rancho Mercado planned area development in the city’s northern reaches.
Two separate motions were required to recommend changing the density from residential ranch to residential medium density at the July 20 meeting. Two parcels are in the city and effectively an island within Rancho Mercado, but the third is a county island awaiting annexation with Rancho Mercado on three sides and the county to the west.
“For all intents and purposes this (and Rancho del Rey) are infill pieces. And the idea idea is to make these blend seamlessly with the Rancho Mercado development,” Robert Kuhfuss said.
Ray Moran owns the property in the county directly to the west, and has since 1976. He said hever has seen an impact study on this development.
Mr. Moran said he moved there for rural ranch living. And he is concerned about two-story condos and other more dense development coming in on these parcels.
“There’s a lot of concern from the people that live in the county out there,” Mr. Moran said. “I’ve lived out there since 1978. I’d hate to see it change.”
Four other county residents supported that statement by speaking at the meeting. The area relies on wells for water and development will kick up more dust on private, dirt roads.
Since development picked up, Mr. Moran said, the last study period showed the water level at one of his wells lowered 75 feet.
“From what I’ve seen in other parts of the United States, it does affect our water, especially because we have so many wells and dirt roads,” said county resident Allison Yorke.
Billy Hunter grew up in that county island and raised other environmental concerns. He said that desert is a prime area for dumping trash.
“Have there been many studies done on what’s happening to the wildlife out there? There’s three neighborhoods being put in right now. Coyotes are going rampant right now. They’ve all combined together and are fighting for territory. There’s a huge issue with wildlife as it stands,” Mr. Hunter said.
Community development director Eric Fitzer said the city’s priority is to maintain natural wash corridors. Arizona Game and Fish will relocate animals if needed.
He also said more corridor area is planned along Beardsley Canal.
“We do the best to conserve the natural environment we can out there,” Mr. Fitzer said.
Mr. Wingard said William Lyon Homes will build a water campus for Rancho Mercado on Happy Valley Road. Bonita Ranch will be a part of this.
Reclaimed water lines will be included within development, Mr. Fitzer said.
William Lyon Homes also is working on Happy Valley Road as a thoroughfare in that area and cannot start work on Rancho Mercado until that road provides a way in.
The same is true for Bonita Ranch, which is dependent on the larger development for infrastructure
“I can guarantee that no development would get approved without adequate roads in and out,” Commissioner Matthew Keating said.
Annexation of 2.5 acres for the third Bontia Ranch parcel will be discussed at Aug. 1 City Council meeting.
Surprise resident Andy Cepon attended the June 24 community outreach meeting. He said the property owner went above and beyond to answer concerns of residents.
“He’s a little doughnut hole surrounded by two giant subdivisions that have been already approved and already platted,” Mr. Cepon said.