By Richard Smith, Independent Newsmedia
While still early in the revamp of a proposed rental community near Sanalina, one planned change has the attention of residents who first rallied against the project in January.
Parent company NexMetro Communities presented changes for its planned Avila Homes development with detached single family homes for rent in a meeting with the Sanalina HOA and a separate meeting with Sanalina residents in March. The response was positive enough for the developer to submit its new plans.
“The meetings went very well and we are pleased by the positive feedback we received. Residents expressed to us that they were very appreciative that we listened to their original concerns and made meaningful changes that were important to them,” stated Brian Rosenbaum, NexMetro vice president, in an email.
If Surprise approves a zoning change on the northeast corner of Reems and Waddell from commercial to residential, NexMetro would build Avila on the corner. Sanalina surrounds this 11-acre corner parcel and residents spoke out in force against the proposal at a Jan. 17 Surprise City Council meeting and Jan. 26 community meeting.
Traffic and safety were their prime concerns. Waddell Road narrows to one travel lane in each direction just west of Reems, so many Sanalina resident cut through to the north on Ludlow Drive and take 153rd Drive south to Waddell.
Avila’s original configuration included an exit on Ludlow Drive. In the new proposal, this has been removed and changed to Reems.
“As suggested by the residents the access to Ludlow Drive has been removed. Access to Avila would be made from Reems Road and Waddell Road. Those were certainly huge issues, but my position is unchanged until we can fully vet the project,” stated District 3 councilman John Williams, who represents the area.
In January, Councilman Williams said he was opposed to the project, primarily due to traffic concerns and issues with the Waddell and Reems intersection. He stated he has not received any formal responses from residents recently.
The councilman stated in an email that city staff has just received the revised proposal and will be vetting through these changes. Once this is complete it will need to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission.
This project requires a rezoning relative to a major planned area development amendment and a site plan review. The major planned area development rezoning will be scheduled for public hearing by both the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council and be reviewed by both bodies.
The site plan will be schooled for review and approval or denial at a planning commission meeting. These dates have not been scheduled.
“No resident has shared any change of opinion or ongoing concern since our community meeting at the Holiday Inn. At this point my opinion is unchanged until I’m able to further analyze changes made, weigh the pros and cons of the development in this area, address whether it supports our vision, and ensure that it has been well vetted through the formal process of rezoning,” Councilman Williams stated.
After hearing concerns from Sanalina residents about children from the nearby “casita” rentals using the Sanalina park, NexMetro decided to add a playground area in the center of the community. The revamped proposal also moves a proposed dog park away from adjacent neighbors.
The developer has planted four Avila communities in the Valley and another in Dallas. Eight more openings are planned in metro Phoenix in the next year.
Avila Homes communities feature private backyards and gated entrances. The casitas — similar to town homes — will be priced to rent at $1,000 or more a month.
“The product targets consumers who desire the luxury of living in their own freestanding home and the flexibility and high service of a luxury rental agreement,” Ms. Rosenbaum stated.
The final change, reducing the plan from 133 rentals to 127, appears to be more for the city’s benefit than any large reduction in traffic.
Taking away these six homes changes the proposed parcel from high-density residential to medium-density residential.
“I don’t believe this is significant one way or another for residents, I think this was more or less a developer initiated adjustment to meet a specific definition of medium density,” Mr. Williams stated.