• Gary

SOS-P meets with Taylor Morrison

Updated: May 31, 2019

In April of this year Taylor Morrison (the home developer seeking to rezone the MacEwan 480 property) invited the SOS-P leadership team to their Scottsdale headquarters to discuss our concerns. The invitation to meet at their headquarters came to no surprise to us as SOS-P has always maintained an amiable relationship with Taylor Morrison. We have been to so many Desert View VPC meetings we actually know each other on a first name basis. We may sharply and whole-heartedly disagree but we always hope to have an open door and respectful relationship.

In attendance were several members of the Taylor Morrison development team, a legal representative of Gammage & Burnham Law (Taylor Morrison’s legal counsel), the project director from RVI landscape design company (who will be designing the proposed development), and a representative from SunBelt Holdings (who are representing the current property owners).

We focused our discussion on two of our concerns: 1.) Respect for the existing zoning laws and ordinances i.e. the current S-1 zoning and the Desert Character Overlay, respectively 2.) Traffic concerns on an already congested Sonoran Desert Dr., although we at SOS-P have several more concerns regarding this development (flooding, archaeology, ecology, school access, etc).

In regards to zoning, Taylor Morrison was very firm that in order to make the financial bottom line work for them and the property owner, 1400 homes is necessary. Thus to achieve these 1400 homes there is an absolute need to remove the S-1 zoning and the Desert Character Overlay (both of which would limit development to 1-2 homes per acre, leaving them only 473 potential homes to build).

We then asked the possibility of, at the very least, keeping and respecting the Desert Character Overlay (which was written specifically for the Sonoran Preserve in order to avoid high density developments abutting the hiking trails) but they again declined. The Desert Character Overlay only applies to the top 1/3 of the MacEwan 480 property. Their response was if they keep the Desert Character Overlay they would need to squeeze most of those 1400 homes in the bottom 2/3’s of the property, which doesn’t make sense from a community design perspective.

This obviously was disappointing to hear that Taylor Morrison was not willing to compromise.

In regards to the traffic issues, Taylor Morrison fully acknowledges the current traffic congestion on Sonoran Desert Drive. They are also aware that their community will add to this congestion but affirm that it is the City of Phoenix’s responsibility, not theirs, to address adding more lanes, something that has not yet been planned.

Overall, the meeting was not productive but our concerns were at least heard. They did relate that they are working with the National Wildlife Federation on the MacEwan 480 project to make the development more wildlife friendly. This was very encouraging to hear and I whole-heartedly applaud this effort. I do ,however, believe respecting/maintaining the Desert Character Overlay (whose density limits address wildlife concerns) would be an even better show of wildlife stewardship.

We entered hoping to find some middle ground but unfortunately this was not possible. We now know, more than ever, that the onus is on us to email, call and show up at VPC, Parks Board, Planning Board and City Council meetings. If the Sonoran Preserve is to maintain its current zoning it will be our voice clamoring for attention from the decision makers. We see no pressing reason to remove the S-1 Zoning nor the Desert Character Overlay. As with any zoning change there should be a compelling reason, we see none. We only see 1400 homes immediately next to the Preserve as a financial decision that unfortunately is not our problem.

Please join me, as you already have, to evoke more people to advocate for our Sonoran Preserve. Make no mistake, the look and feel of the Sonoran Preserve will forever change IF WE LET IT.

Most Sincerely,

Gary Kirkilas

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

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