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  Item # 3.       
Meeting Date: 04/04/2018  
Requested by: Bayer Vella
Submitted By: Milini Simms, Community Development & Public Works
Department: Community Development & Public Works  

Information
SUBJECT:
PUBLIC HEARING: DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION REGARDING ORDINANCE NO. (O)18-06, REQUEST TO REZONE AN 85.2-ACRE PROPERTY LOCATED NEAR THE NORTHWEST CORNER OF NARANJA DRIVE AND LA CHOLLA BOULEVARD FROM R1-20 and R1-144 TO R1-7
RECOMMENDATION:
The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
The applicant proposes to rezone an 85.2-acre property from R1-144 and R1-20 to R1-7 to develop a 178 lot single-family residential subdivision, located near the northwest corner of Naranja Drive and La Cholla Boulevard (Attachment 1). The request includes two flexible design options enabled by the Environmentally Sensitive Lands regulations: 1) smaller building setbacks and 2) reduced lot size and width (Attachment 2).  

The accompanying Tentative Development Plan (Attachment 3) proposes the following:
  • Lot sizes ranging from 6,500 square feet (sf) to 16,000 sf
  • Average lot size of 7,320 sf
  • Approximately 33 acres (39%) of preserved environmentally sensitive open space and preservation of significant saguaros
  • A 3.5 acre recreation area
  • Several pedestrian trails including a trail connection for Poppy Trail No. 33
  • Three access points: Glover Road (north), La Cholla Blvd. (east) and Naranja Drive (south)
On March 6, 2018, the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) considered this request and recommended denial (for meeting minutes see Attachment 4). The specific concerns of the Commission are shown below in italics, followed by staff commentary.

1. Increased traffic on Naranja Drive
  • In 2015, the Town widened Naranja Drive to create a painted center median which doubles as a continuous left-turn lane for westbound vehicles entering Ironwood High School (located southwest of the subject property). These improvements met the intended results and Naranja Drive, between La Cholla Blvd. and Shannon Rd., is relatively free flowing and provides a good level of service for motorists even during peak school times.
  • Primary traffic flow entering and exiting the proposed development will be from La Cholla Boulevard. Naranja Drive will be secondary and rationally avoided during peak school times.
2. Timing of traffic improvements to Glover Road and La Cholla Boulevard
  • Off-site improvements to Glover Road will coincide with development of this subdivision or the Phase 1 of Saguaros Viejos (immediately west of the proposed rezoning), whichever connects to Glover Road first. After the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, this condition was refined and revised to reflect the extent and timing of improvements (Attachment 1).
  • Construction for the widening of La Cholla Boulevard to four lanes, is anticipated to begin during the latter half of 2018. The roadway design includes accommodations for the Saguaro Viejos intersection and completion is expected to take approximately 2 years, which coincides with the probable timing of this development.
3. Compatibility between the proposed development and surrounding uses
  • The proposed subdivision is located between varying land uses ranging from large and small lot residential to potential commercial.
  • To provide an effective transition between these varying land uses, the applicant proposes the following measures:
    • Placement of larger (approx. 16,000 sf) and fewer lots along the northern and eastern perimeter
    • Using the existing La Cholla Boulevard right-of-way along the eastern perimeter as a 150'-plus buffer
    • Using the existing wash along the western perimeter as a 150'-plus wide natural buffer
    • Internalizing the majority of small lots within the subdivision
A more detailed analysis of the traffic impacts and compatibility to surrounding areas is included in Section C of this report. As such staff recommended approval, subject to the conditions in Attachment 1, during the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
BACKGROUND OR DETAILED INFORMATION:
A. EXISTING CONDITIONS AND CONTEXT
Land Use Context
The existing General Plan land use and zoning districts for the property and surrounding area are provided in Attachment 5.

Site Conditions
  • 85.2 acres
  • Property is vacant
  • Two critical wash corridors traversing the site from north to south
  • Numerous saguaros onsite, 13 of which are 24' or taller with 2 or more arms
Approvals-To-Date
  • 2007-Rezoning from R1-144 to R1-20 approved for both phases of the project.
  • 2014-Conceptual Site Plan approved for both phases of the project, which expired in 2016
Since the previous approvals, the project was split into two phases. The applicant's request for this phase in comparison with the previous approvals is provided in the table below and shown graphically in Attachment 6:
 
  Previous Approvals  Current Proposal
Land Area  Approx. 83 acres  85.2 acres
Number of lots  74 lots  178 lots
Lot size  16,058 sf to 59,502 sf  6,500 sf to 16,000 sf
Average lot size  28,371 sf  7,320 sf
Open space conserved  8.2 acres-26% (of entire site)  33 acres-39%

B. PROPOSED REZONING
The applicant proposes to change the existing zoning from R1-144 and R1-20 to R1-7 to develop a 178 lot, single-family residential subdivision (Attachment 2).

1. Zoning Analysis
The proposed rezoning has been reviewed for conformance with the Zoning Code and the Your Voice Our Future General Plan. A discussion of the application’s conformance with each of these items is provided below.

2. Tentative Development Plan (TDP):
The proposed TDP (Attachment 3) depicts 178 lots with a minimum lot size of 6,500 sf, three access points, a recreational area and multiple trails. Additionally, the design conserves the critical washes onsite (approximately 33 acres of environmentally sensitive open space) and maintains the intent of the original rezoning by placing larger and fewer lots along the northern and eastern perimeters. 

The following development standards are notable for this proposal:
  • Access and Circulation: The property is accessed by three driveways 1) Glover Road (north) 2) La Cholla Blvd. (east) and 3) Naranja Drive (south). The proposed development also incorporates trails and pathways throughout the design, connecting to larger regional trails in the area. To ensure there is sufficient infrastructure to support traffic from the proposed development, several rezoning conditions are included in Attachment 1. For further information regarding traffic, please see Section C.
  • Neighborhood Compatibility: The proposed development is located near two schools, between larger lot and smaller lot residential and adjacent to either proposed commercial or medium-density residential (Capella). Additionally, it is located along the La Cholla Boulevard corridor, which is experiencing growth due to the planned road widening project. To provide an effective transition between these various uses, the applicant proposes placing larger (approximately 16,000 sf) and fewer lots along the northern and eastern property lines, which effectively internalizes the smaller lots within the subdivision. For more information about compatibility and a full list of mitigation measures, please see Section C.
  • Drainage: The property has two critical washes flowing in a southernly direction through the development. Through the use of detention basins, the proposed development will not increase pre-existing storm water run-off exiting the property and the drainage system will be designed to ensure that all proposed habitable structures adjacent to the wash will be protected from flooding and erosion.
  • Grading: The proposed development will be mass graded and all code requirements for native plant preservation and mitigation will be met.
3. ESL Flexible Design Options
Through the Environmentally Sensitive Lands (ESL) Ordinance, flexible design options are available to property owners when open space is applied to at least 25% or more of the property. The subject property has two ESL designations (for specifics, see Attachment 5) as well as numerous Saguaros onsite. The applicant is preserving 39% environmentally sensitive open space and therefore requesting the following flexible design options shown below in italics, followed by staff commentary.
  • Smaller building setbacks: Reduce the side setbacks from seven and a half (7.5’) feet to no less than five (5’) feet, and the front setbacks from twenty (20’) feet to no less than fifteen (15’) feet, provided that it does not result in an on-lot driveway less than twenty (20’) feet in length.
    • The proposed setback reductions is a reasonable request because it would allow a more varied and attractive streetscape, while maintaining a sufficient driveway length for on-lot parking.
  • Lot size and width reductions: Reduce the minimum lot size from 7,000 square feet to 6,500 square feet, and the minimum lot width from 70 feet to 50 feet for the 103 of 178 lots.
    • In R1-7 zoning, this ESL incentive allows for a lot size reduction up to 5,500 square feet with a concomitant lot width reduction. The proposed lot reduction for 103 lots of the 178 lots is reasonable because it allows the proposed residential development to conserve more environmentally sensitive open space while maintaining an effective transition between uses.

4. General Plan Conformance
The applicant’s proposal has been reviewed for conformance with the Vision, Goals and Policies of the Your Voice Our Future General Plan. An analysis of notable goals and policies is included in Attachment 5.  

C. PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION
On March 6, 2018, the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) considered this request and recommended denial (for meeting minutes see Attachment 4). Specific concerns from the Commission are shown below in italics, followed by staff commentary.  

1. Increased traffic on Naranja Drive
Concerns were expressed about Naranja Drive congestion in the morning and afternoon during the start and end of a typical Ironwood Ridge school day. Notable points are:
  • The main cause of congestion is the strong prevalence of westbound traffic for entry into the parking and drop-off/pick-up areas within the school campus.
  • The congestion issue is compounded by the fact the school is located on the south side of Naranja Drive which forces most motorists to make left-turns into the campus. This results in a long back-up of vehicles, particularly during the morning peak periods.
However, traffic is free-flowing during peak hours in the thru-lanes due to the Town widening Naranja Drive in 2015 to create a painted center median which doubles as a continuous left-turn lane for westbound vehicles entering the school. The purpose of the center lane is to free up the westbound through lane by providing a separate storage area for motorists waiting to enter the school from the east. The Naranja Drive improvements met the intended results as the westbound through lane from west of La Cholla Boulevard to Shannon Road is relatively free flowing during the morning and afternoon peak periods.

The other main issue resulting from the heavy morning and afternoon traffic is the difficulty for motorists to turn left out of new or existing subdivisions along the south side of this segment of Naranja Drive. The easiest solution to alleviate this issue which is the result of westbound left-turning traffic essentially forming a solid barrier between west and eastbound lanes is to turn right and proceed to La Cholla Blvd. 

For the proposed development of Saguaros Viejos, there are two important points to be noted:
  • Saguaros Viejos has two other access points to the public right-of-way. Future residents desiring to head south towards Tucson, north towards Tangerine Road or east towards Oracle Road will be able to get by utilizing the La Cholla Boulevard or Glover Road access drives. Other subdivisions along Naranja Drive also have secondary access drive connections such as The Estates at Cappella to La Cholla Boulevard and Saguaros Viejos West to Glover Road
  • During all other times beyond the heavy morning and afternoon peak periods, Naranja Drive has relatively low in traffic volume and therefore provides a good level of service for motorists in any direction.
2. Timing of traffic improvements to Glover Road and La Cholla Boulevard
Glover Road: Similar to Naranja Drive, Glover Road west of La Cholla Boulevard provides direct access to a school. As a result, the morning and afternoon peaks create area traffic congestion that lasts a relatively short duration. To mitigate for additional traffic, a rezoning condition (Attachment 1) is for the developer to widen Glover Road to incorporate through and multi-use lanes in each direction, a painted center median and a shared use path on the south side of the road.

Timing of the Glover Road improvement is to coincide with development of Saguaros Viejos West (Phase 1) or Saguaros Viejos East (Phase 2, this project), whichever connects to Glover Road first. It should also be noted this segment of Glover Road is currently owned and operated by the Amphi School District. However, the developer will be dedicating right-of-way and working with the Amphi School District to dedicate their portion of right-of-way for the Town to take over this improved section of Glover Road once completed.

After the Planning and Zoning Commission, this condition was refined and revised (Attachment 1) to reflect the extent and timing of the aforementioned improvements. 

La Cholla Boulevard: Construction for the widening of La Cholla Boulevard to four lanes, as funded by the RTA, is anticipated to begin during the latter half of 2018. The roadway design already includes accommodations for the future Saguaros Viejos intersection, including a left-turn median opening for northbound traffic into the subdivision from La Cholla Boulevard. Completion of the La Cholla widening improvement project is expected to take approximately 2 years, which coincides well with the potential timing of this development.

3. Compatibility to existing homes east of the property
The proposed subdivision is located between varying land uses and along the La Cholla Boulevard corridor, which is experiencing growth due to the planned widening of the road. Specifically, the subject property is:
  • Located near two schools, located to the north and south adjacent to either potential commercial or medium-density residential located on the northwest corner of La Cholla Boulevard and Naranja Drive.
  • Proposes a zoning designation (R1-7) similar to the existing zoning designations established east (R1-10 and R1-7) and south of the property (R1-7).
  • Fits within a wide array of varying lot sizes surrounding the property, which include:
    • North - Average lot size: 4.47 acres; ranging from 3.37 ac to 4.14 ac
    • East - Average lot sizes: 1) La Cholla Ridge Estates = 8,150 sf; ranging from 7,770 sf to 12,997 sf;  2) Ironwood Ranch = 18,500 sf; ranging from 14,673 sf to 28,884 sf; and 3) Proposed Capella PAD = average lot size unknown & minimum size of 6,600 s.f -- or commercial use 
    • West - Average lot size: 30,087 sf; ranging from 16,000 sf to 63,195 sf
    • South - Average lot size: 7,898 sf; ranging from 6,546 sf to 13,266 sf
To provide an effective transition between the varying uses surrounding the property, the applicant proposes the following measures:
  • Placing larger (approx.16,000 sf) and fewer lots along the northern and eastern property lines
  • Internalizing smaller lots within the subdivision
  • Using the existing La Cholla Boulevard right-of-way along the east property line as a 150'-plus wide buffer between the proposed development and existing homes
  • Using the existing wash along the west property line as a 150’-plus wide natural buffer between the proposed development and future large lot subdivision (Saguaros Viejos Phase 1)
D. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
Summary of Public Notice
Public notice has been provided:
  • Notification of all property owners within 600 feet and extended area
  • Homeowners Association mailing
  • Advertisement in The Daily Territorial newspaper
  • Post on property
  • Post at Town Hall and on website
Neighborhood Meetings
Two neighborhood meetings were held on March 22, 2017, and December 7, 2017, with approximately 18 and 3 residents, respectively. The main topics discussed at the meetings included access points, view preservation, building height, open space, land use transition, school capacity, and mass grading. A copy of the neighborhood meeting summary notes are included as Attachment 7.

RECOMMENDATION:
The Planning and Zoning Commission initially made a motion to approve the proposed rezoning. However, this motion failed as a tie vote. Upon which, staff encouraged the commission to make another motion to move the request to Town Council. This concluded with a recommendation for denial (for meeting minutes, see Attachment 4) passing 5-1.

Denial was recommended due to specific concerns regarding traffic on Naranja Drive, timing of traffic improvements and compatibility to existing homes east of the property. These items are addressed in Section C of this staff report. As such, staff recommended approval during the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
FISCAL IMPACT:
The additional rooftops will help support existing and proposed commercial sites along the La Cholla Corridor.
SUGGESTED MOTION:
I MOVE to APPROVE Ordinance No. (O)18-06, approving the Saguaros Viejos East Rezoning from R1-144 and R1-20 to R1-7, including the use of ESL’s Flexible Design Options, based on the finding that the request is consistent with the Zoning Code and the Your Voice Our Future General Plan, subject to the conditions in Attachment 1.

OR  

I MOVE to DENY Ordinance No. (O)18-06, approving the Saguaros Viejos East Rezoning from R1-144 and R1-20 to R1-7, based on the finding that the request is not consistent with the Zoning Code and/or Your Voice Our Future General Plan, specifically ____________________________________.
Attachments
ATTACHMENT 1 - ORDINANCE NO. (O)18-06
ATTACHMENT 2- APPLICANT'S REQUEST
ATTACHMENT 3- TENTATIVE DEVELOPMENT PLAN
ATTACHMENT 4-PZC MEETING MINUTES 3.6.18
ATTACHMENT 5-PZC STAFF REPORT 3.6.18
ATTACHMENT 6- PREVIOUS APPROVALS
ATTACHMENT 7- NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING SUMMARIES


    

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