Ahwatukee’s golf courses and other open spaces would get some additional protection under proposed changes to one of the city’s major guides for future development.
The protections are among proposed revisions that city officials and the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee have been discussing for the Village Character Plan.
That document is part of Phoenix’s General Plan, which often guides future development decisions as well as zoning changes by providing the vision and policies for future growth.
Phoenix Principal Planner Joshua Bednarek said the character plan for Ahwatukee and the city’s other villages “carves out a space for each village to tell their story about what they value, what they want to work on, and how policies and plans in the General Plan apply to them.”
“New development should match the character of the community,” Bednarek added. “Future developers can then see what the community’s expectations are of new development. It becomes another factor in our discussions with the developer and property owner about a project.”
Bednarek stressed that items in the General Plan or the character portion don’t preclude a developer from proposing something “inconsistent with the vision.”
“But it gives city staff something to fall back on if it recommends the project be rejected,” he said.
The Character Plan will again be discussed at the next meeting of the planning committee at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at Pecos Community Center, 17010 S. 48th St., Ahwatukee.
Village planning committees throughout the city are wrapping up their character plans in preparation for a citywide summit of such panels slated for April 29 at South Mountain Community College.
One of the major discussions during that meeting will involve the establishment of “power centers,” large concentrations of commercial, industrial or other types of development that would serve several villages.
For example, the discussions could lead to the creation of a power center that would serve Ahwatukee, Laveen and other nearby city neighborhoods.
For Ahwatukee’s Character Plan, planning committee members have insisted on specific wording that affords golf courses specifically and open space generally some additional protection.
“This affects the future marketability of this community,” committee member Michael Schiller said during one discussion recently. The current draft of the Character Plan states that parks and other open space comprise 41 percent of Ahwatukee.
But planning committee members want it to be more specific, breaking down that percentage represented by South Mountain and the rest by golf courses, parks and other open space.
Such a focus on open space would be consistent with the plan’s statement of what kind of development is welcome in Ahwatukee: “The Ahwatukee Foothills Village supports development that respects and maintains the quiet atmosphere of its neighborhoods and the spacious, open and exurban feel of this unique community.”
The proposed plan revisions do not currently name the golf courses. Nor does it address the future of the defunct Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course, which is the focus of a bitter battle between residents who want it restored and a development company that wants to convert it into an “agrihood.”
But it states, “The continued operation of existing golf courses has been threatened by redevelopment proposals that eliminate the open space character they provide.”
The proposed plan also says, “South Mountain Park shields the village from the urgency and noisy tumult of the city to provide a quiet respite amidst urban lifestyles.”
The proposed plan lists several challenges that threaten that “quiet respite” – including the South Mountain Freeway. It says the freeway “may disrupt daily lifestyles and commercial activity and obstruct view corridors to open space and natural landmarks” and “runs the risk of creating negative environmental and physical impacts.”
Another challenge the plan identifies is the need to “continue to promote enhancements to its parks and recreational infrastructure.” And it said improved safety for cyclists is another challenge, especially along 48th Street, Warner Road, Ray Road, Chandler Road and other arterials. These streets “are lacking safe infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists,” the plan states.
It also says, “Public streetscapes throughout the village lack amenities that would make streets more appealing and promote walkability.”
And it suggests the absence of light rail is a challenge for Ahwatukee, suggesting that “extending the light rail corridor to Ahwatukee may assist in supplanting some I-10 corridor traffic.”
The plan revisions also include several priorities, such as bringing city and state staff together to discuss the freeway’s design and construction.
It also calls for bringing together “relevant stakeholders” to “discuss pertinent issues regarding golf course developments” and analyzing development proposals “to identify opportunities to propose and promote new recreational amenities.”
And it calls for city staff and other professionals “to discuss opportunities for retrofitting dangerous intersections to improve pedestrian safety” as well as to “analyze and evaluate development proposals to identify opportunities for streetscape improvements.”
Final approval of every Phoenix village’s Character Plan would be the first step in a lengthy process for amending the city’s General Plan, which voters must approve every 10 years under Arizona law.
Voters in 2015 approved a revised General Plan, and the amendments to it likely won’t be on the ballot before next year.
Save the Lakes/Save Open Space - Ahwatukee appreciates your support as we continue to address the very important issue of upholding the CC&Rs for the golf course properties. This battle for our community has been ongoing since 2008 and continues to require your informed attention.
Recently the developer of the Ahwatukee Farms concept, The True Life Companies (TTLC), mailed out a 31-page promotional booklet designed to convince ABM homeowners to sign the consent form to allow TTLC (and future owners!) to amend the golf course CC&Rs.
Please do not be swayed by the pretty concepts and official-sounding reports marketed by TTLC. Be sure you and your neighbors are aware of the negative consequences of infill development (increased traffic, increased flood risk, loss of open space) and the reasons we have a say in this matter of private property.
Read TTLC’s promotional booklet with a critical eye. Our corrections to two examples of their marketing spin - pages 4, 8 (pages 7, 11 online) from this latest "Information Packet":
Our corrections to page 4 (page 7 online) from this latest "Information Packet".
Our corrections to page 8 (page 11 online) from this latest "Information Packet".
Thank you to Diversamedia! Diversamedia 3145 E. Chandler Blvd. Phoenix AZ 85048
COMMUNITY TOWN HALL Thursday - Nov. 17, 2016 - 7pm AHWATUKEE RECREATION CENTER Hear EXPERTS presenting information and answering YOUR questions.
Moderator: Jim Elwood Panelists:
Wayne Smith: land planner for Ahwatukee, Mountain Park Ranch, Scottsdale's Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt, Ocotillo, and Rio Verde
Tim Barnes: attorney who represents the homeowners who are suing True Life to enforce the golf course CC&Rs
Buddie Johnson: golf course appraiser and master developer
Don Rea: PGA: owner/operator of Augusta Ranch GC; board member, PGA of America, National Golf Course Owners Association, and Arizona NGCOA
RJ Hawley: PGA: manager, City of Tempe golf courses; owner, Millenium Golf Management
Lew Wilmot: former Presley Homes VP of Engineering
Pete Meier: former Presley Homes VP of Sales
Jeffery Hall: Civil engineer, Attorney, Realtor
Cheryl Haselhorst/AFN Staff Photographer ---
More than 300 people listened for nearly two hours to eight experts discuss the "agrihood" proposed to replace the 101-acre defunct golf course at Ahwatukee Lakes
Cheryl Haselhorst/AFN Staff Photographer
:( AIready signed??? :( Your consent may be rescinded AT ANY TIME.