Letter to the Editor: San Tan Foothills and the Coming Assault on Suburban Ranch Zoning

Letter to the Editor: San Tan Foothills and the Coming Assault on Suburban Ranch Zoning

There sure is a lot going on as this economy begins to rebound. The development industry is coming off the ropes, shaking off the dust from a long dry spell and is now heading off to make as much money as it can during this upswing in the business cycle. That tells me we need to be aware the San Tan Foothills (STF) is in the cross hairs for proposals to change zoning and increase densities on our remaining open spaces.

In most instances the story propagated by the industry goes something like this: Absentee property owners, many of whom are not residents but investors and land speculators, see the 10, 20, 30 and up to 80+ acre parcels they bought in the foothills years ago as being ripe for development. They believe these parcels could make them more money if they could rezone, subdivide and place additional homes on smaller properties because more people can afford smaller properties. They argue that this is progress and a reflection of existing market conditions that need to be accommodated, so they can make money. They further argue it is time for us to accept that the Foothills is the next Gilbert and give up this idea of rural lifestyle or go somewhere else.

There is nothing new about this strategy.

That idea exemplifies their whole world view and they can't even imagine that anyone might see it differently. By the way, most everyone in the STF doesn’t have any problem with developers making money, but not when it takes away from someone's lifestyle. A few days ago two of us from the STF met with folks from City to City and their pitch is “it would be to their client’s advantage to change zoning for some SR properties (3.3 acres) to GR (1.25 acres)”. These properties are located south of Judd Rd., west from Gary Rd. to the San Tan Mountain Regional Park. They argue the STF has SR and GR zoning....so why not just make a bunch more GR....after all it is still 1.25 acre lots? It is said so “matter of factly”.

The hitch is, people who actually live on the SR zoned properties in this area bought those properties because they wanted to be in an area surrounded by other SR.properties. Suburban Ranch.zoning means small rural ranches. These folks have property rights as well. They counted on and still count on the zoning to be maintained and the value they assign to their property is based on the life style it provides to them and their children. One SR property doesn’t create a rural zone. It takes a bunch of them together if a place is to have a rural character. The land speculators these folks represent bought their properties for investment but they bought under existing SR zoning. They figured that over time perhaps folks would forget all that and they could dice up those properties and make big bucks by getting the zoning changed to GR or even smaller lots sizes. They don't really care about the impact on your lifestyle or future. They seem to feel it is their right to get more money out of their property by changing zoning and capitalizing on opportunity....but what about the neighbor’s right to expect zoning to protect their life style? When asked about how this change might benefit the community....the developers have no answer and no clue why that would even be a question….how do you spell self-absorbed or egocentric?

This is a terrible deal for folks who want their lifestyle to continue as it is now.

These same developers will next head over to Florence to wave their spreadsheets touting more potential impact fees in front of the noses of our representatives to try and entice them to grab the new revenue stream for the county coffers. Fortunately, that has not worked so far and we have been able to fend off these kinds of assaults on our life style. Our representatives have had our back in most all instances. But remember….this is just the beginning of this business cycle.

Several months ago, we started ringing the alarm that this kind of development onslaught was coming and now it’s here. We started the "sign" campaign to ward off these kinds of proposals. If you don't know about the "signs" to protect the rural STF rural community please check the website...stmrural.com.