The Planning and Zoning Commission began the public hearing for a 263-acre development at the intersection of Butler Avenue and South Fourth Street.
The owner of the development, which has been called Canyon del Rio, is asking the City of Flagstaff to rezone the north eastern section of the development, 83 acres in all.
Brian Rhoton, one of the owners of Capstone Homes which is managing and developing the property on behalf of owners, told the Planning and Zoning Commission the land they hope to rezone is currently designated as light industrial and research and development.
When the land was zoned, it was the expectation that a company like W.L. Gore might decide to build a campus in the area. But that was not to be, Rhoton said.
“Close to 20 years now, the owners have not seen any interest in those type of users coming in,” Rhoton said.
As a result, Rhoton said as they are now looking to develop the rest of Canyon del Rio, they are seeking the zoning change, with commercial buildings and apartments intended for the land.
Of the 83 acres the owner wants to rezone, Planning Development Manager Neil Gullickson said they are asking 27 acres be made into medium-density residential, which could mean as many as 180 units.
They are also asking that 30 acres be designated high-density residential which could mean 672 units in apartment-style buildings. The last 25 acres would be commercial, Gullickson said.
The latter would allow for as much as 225,000 square feet of commercial space, almost all of which would be along Butler and South Fourth Street, Gullickson said.
At the moment, Rhoton said they are still in the early planning stages for what could move into the potential retail space, but they have been approached by a few interested parties.
“We’ve been approached with a small grocery store,” Rhoton said. “We’ve been approached by a couple of office users on the property, we’ve been approached by some churches. Then we’ve had some discussions about a small corner store, a coffee shop things like that.”
Rhoton did acknowledge that at the beginning, there may not be the traffic to support many businesses, but said he suspects that will change after the city completes the connection of South Fourth Street to J.W. Powell Boulevard to the south. Voters approved that project during the last election.
Portions of those road improvements, as well as other public works projects, will have to be completed before any construction can begin.
As such, and to offset the traffic effects of the Canyon del Rio project, Gullickson said the developer has agreed to provide over $2.4 million for projects on Butler and Fourth Street.
The developer is also providing $1.3 million for a second water line to access the area, Gullickson said, something else that must be completed before construction on the project begins.
However, not everyone is so happy about the project and several members of the public raised concerns they have with the project. Anne Vonesh, who lives nearby to the proposed development, was one such member of the public.
“I understand that things need to change and develop, the one thing about the plan that I really disagree with is the high-density apartments. I’d rather see townhomes or the duplexes there.”
Vonesh said because of the area's geography and where the developers are considering building higher density apartments, they will likely be visible from all around. Vonesh also said she opposed commercial buildings going up in the area and worried that would mean the sound of trucks making deliveries and increased traffic.
Vonesh added she hopes the city will implement a safer school crossing for children attending the nearby Sinagua Middle School and Knoles Elementary School, especially if the development means increased levels of traffic.
The Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to make a decision on the development April 24. If the commission approves the rezoning, it will then be forwarded on to city council for final approval.
Updated for correction at 1:18 p.m. on April 25.