Originally published Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 06:02a.m.

After a third and final look at the proposed Brook Apartments Tuesday, July 3, the Chino Valley Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously forwarded the matter to council with a recommendation to deny the project.

Located at 740 W. Road 1 North, the proposal is to rezone the property from Multi-Family Residential-1 Acre Minimum to Multi-Family Residential 1-Acre Minimum with a Planned Area Development Overlay. The commissioners got their first look at the project in March where Development Services Director Jason Sanks said it was the third proposed apartment complex for the area and includes 192 units spread across four three-story buildings. It would be the first three-floor apartment building in Chino Valley, Sanks said.

“The code is silent on restrictions regarding the number of floors you can have. It just says a building height,” he said. “They’re able to propose this without asking for a deviation from code. They just were able to make it fit.”

Currently, most of the homes in Chino Valley are on one acre and are single family and Brook Apartments would fill a need for a variety of housing options, which the general plan recognizes, said applicant Ruth Mayday. There’s a scarcity of affordable housing in the quad-city area and bringing it to the community is a benefit, Mayday said.

Additionally, the development is within the boundaries of a major community core where uses are more concentrated than other parts of the town, she said.

“If this were translated into a single-family residential subdivision of a typical urban nature, you’re talking about 48 acres of land, roughly, plus about another five to 10 acres for things like street, sidewalks, road, setbacks, parks, recreational things and so forth,” Mayday said. “Rather than eat up more than 50 acres, we’ve concentrated that development on this seven-acre parcel.”

The town would also benefit with receiving more than $960,000 in construction sales tax and building permit fees and nearly $300,000 annually from rental tax and water and sewer accounts, she said.

OPPOSITION

Neighbors still had concerns over the project, including Larry Holt who said he is a recent resident who moved to Chino Valley after 32 years of law enforcement, 12 of which were spent as a chief in a small community. He has seen this exact same thing happen elsewhere.

“You cannot put high density in with rural homes, it doesn’t work,” he said. “What happens is your high density homes, which allow all sorts of incomes, come into an area with a lot of custom homes, some of these people don’t have jobs, some have very low paying jobs, and you’re going to see your crime rate go up.”

Holt said he polled 65 neighbors in five days and none of them supported the project.

The project has one exit and resident Cindy Cole said she writes insurance and has a hard time justifying that. She cannot write a homeowners policy of there are not two exits nor can she do so if there is not enough room for two vehicles to get by. The amount of proposed units means 192 vehicles or more and if there’s an emergency, people won’t be able to get that many cars out of one exit with fire trucks in the way, Cole said.

Jackie Gilbert said she lives in Chino Valley because she doesn’t want to live in Phoenix, Prescott or Prescott Valley. She does work in Prescott Valley though and driving down Robert Road, she sees residential, a gas station, residential, a Subway restaurant, residential, a mechanic, she said.

“Please don’t do that to Chino Valley, we deserve better,” Gilbert said. “We are an agricultural community. I have just over two acres … we love our space, that’s why we are here. If we didn’t like it, we wouldn’t be here. Please help us preserve that, keep it Chino Valley.”

Project Owner Cole Johnson said he grew up on a ranch in the community and his family is still in the ranching business. In responding to concerns, Johnson said crime in Chino Valley is not concentrated to multi-family residential housing.

Further, he appreciates the uniqueness of Chino Valley and its attributes not shared by Prescott Valley, he said, adding that Robert Road is the way it is because there wasn’t intelligent growth like what can be done in Chino Valley.

“This project comports with your zoning, with the overlay that’s here. There is a designation for some concentration, for some high density around the center core so that it’s not sporadic,” he said. “Adopting a project like this with the zoning that’s in place actually precludes us ending up with a Robert Road situation.”

Chino Valley does need affordable housing and while he’s not opposed to the project, the question of how to maintain the highest density project the town has ever had on the edge of the community core while maintaining the surrounding neighborhood comes up, said Commissioner John McCafferty. The general plan clearly suggests the project as its presented is not the intent of the core area. Commissioner Michael Bacon also said that is why he does not believe the project is in conformance with the general plan.

The border of the community core should be a transition area rather than a maximum density project, said Chairman Charles Merritt. “There was a comment made that if these were single-family homes, they would cover 50 acres with the roads and amenities,” he said. “That drives home how dense the thing really is.”