Residents rap proposed S. Chandler community | News … – Chandler Arizonan

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Updated: October 18, 2023 @ 7:35 am
Attorney Ralph Pew presented the plans for a proposed community called Viviendo during a neighborhood meeting Aug. 29 at the Hamilton High School Library. The proposed project would have 92 homes on just over 15 acres. (Ken Sain/Managing Editor)

Attorney Ralph Pew presented the plans for a proposed community called Viviendo during a neighborhood meeting Aug. 29 at the Hamilton High School Library. The proposed project would have 92 homes on just over 15 acres. (Ken Sain/Managing Editor)
There are two paths for developers to take in moving their projects from blueprints to reality in Chandler.
 The first is relatively easy: If the proposed project fits within existing zoning the developer can get started right away because of the state’s land use laws.
However, if it does not fit in existing zoning, then it will require a lot more work, both with city staff and residents who live near the project.
K. Hovnanian Homes began the second path on Aug. 29 when it held a neighborhood meeting for its proposed Viviendo development.
Ralph Pew, a land use attorney, presented the proposal to residents at an Aug. 29 neighborhood meeting at the Hamilton High School Library.
The proposal is to build 92 single family homes on 15.4 acres on the southeast corner of Ocotillo and McQueen roads. The L-shaped property is currently zoned commercial in the large portion along Ocotillo, and office or medical in the skinny part along McQueen.
Because it will require a zoning change, the developer is seeking feedback from neighbors before submitting a proposal to city staff.
The feedback from about two dozen neighbors included concerns about the project’s density and its impact on traffic.
“If you cut the number of lots in half, cut the number of houses in half, then I think we can be there,” said resident Darla Orndorff.
A few other residents endorsed her sentiments.
The development is still in the early stages and will likely change in the coming months based on feedback from neighbors and city staff. As of now, the homes are expected to be about 2,500 square feet on 4,000-square foots.
Because the homes are on smaller lots, they would need to be two stories.
Residents said if the developer does not reduce the density, they will fight the proposal, pointing out they fought and won the last time someone made a proposal for that land. That proposal would have built a gas station and 88 homes on the site.
Chuck Chisholm, the planning project manager at K. Hovnanian Homes, told the residents his company needs to build that many homes to make a profit. He said the cost of land is much higher, as is the cost of construction. 
While he could not put a price point on the homes because they won’t be ready for market for at least a couple of years, he said houses of similar size in attractive areas are selling between $600,000 and $700,000 today.
While doubling the home size and increasing the lot size sounds good, there are just so many people who can afford homes that sell about $1.5 million, and most of them don’t want to live near two major streets that get a lot of traffic, he added.
“We want to work with you guys,” Chisholm told neighbors. “But, I just want to be upfront and honest, some of the proposals just wouldn’t be a project that we could do.”
This is the second project K. Hovnanian Homes has proposed for Chandler this year. 
Earlier, Council approved a plan for the Honeysuckle Trail development, which will have 48 homes, a new city park and a retention basin near Warner Road just east of Loop 101 Freeway.
Chisholm and Pew told the residents that at some point, someone is going to develop that property. If a charter school wanted to buy it and start building, it could because state law would allow it. 
A charter would not need support from neighbors, they said.
Same if it was a grocery store or office building, they continued, pointing out those uses would bring more traffic to the area than 92 residences.
Chisholm told them they had a similar project planned for Peoria, and the neighbors there opposed it. Eventually, it was rejected.
 He said a charter school with its long line of cars waiting to drop off and pick up students twice a day was eventually built.
Pew said he and his client wanted to meet with neighbors and hear their concerns before they submit their application to the city. They are also waiting for completion of a full traffic impact study.
City staff reviews all applications and will suggest changes before it will either recommend to approve, or reject, a proposal to the Planning & Zoning Commission. The panel can suggest more changes before it decides to recommend or reject the project to the City Council, which has final say on whether the project will go forward.
A few of the neighbors said they would prefer that the property become residential instead of something else that would bring in more traffic, specifically mentioning multi-family housing.
One of the suggestions they made was to place one of the entrances to the property on McQueen, instead of Alamosa Drive. Chisholm said they are open to that, but that decision is up to city staff, which usually tries to limit the access to major roads.
A couple of homeowners with large properties in the Geneva Estates subdivision said they are worried because they could have up to seven houses behind their property.
Others said traffic is already bad on McQueen during rush hour, making it nearly impossible to make a left-hand turn off Alamosa to go south. They worry their new neighbors will drive through their subdivision to get to Chandler Heights Road. 
Another concern raised was that the planned amenity area for Viviendo was too small, and families there may try to use the green space in Geneva Estates instead. 
Pew reminded them they are in the early stages of planning the community and that plan will likely change so the amenity area may increase in size.
“It’s a little bit different today than it was when the Geneva Estates homes were built,” Pew said. “Today, the trend in residential development is clearly to small lots, and generally speaking — not always — but two-story structures of this nature. 
“It’s the trend, it’s the cost, it’s expenses – all of that goes into it to help make homes attainable and achievable.”  
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