An effort by two board members of the Foothills Paseo II HOA to drum up opposition to a Quik Trip service station planned near their community may be in vain, but they and other residents aren’t going away quietly.
Although the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee will be getting the neighborhood hot potato when it meets next Monday, the city legally cannot stop the service station from being built, according to the chief of staff for City Councilman Sal DiCiccio.
The panel, which meets at 6 p.m. April 15, will be reviewing plans for a Quik Trip on the southeast corner of 40th Street and Cottonwood Lane – less than a mile from the South Mountain Freeway and near the only entranceway to Foothills Paseo II.
Next week’s hearing comes as the Arizona Department of Transportation prepares more bad news for the area. On May 6, it will close 40th Street from Willis Road to Cottonwood Lane, though the park ‘n ride lot will remain open.
The proposed Quik Trip site “is subject to stipulations from a 2001 master planning zoning case that proposed a large-scale commercial complex along 40th Street. Since that time the development has remained stagnant and the entire area is a vacant dirt lot,” according to a city Planning Department review of Quik Trip’s plans.
Chief of Staff Sam Stone said the city is forbidden from interfering with those plans.
He said Quik Trip is seeking “not even modifications, really.”
“The only thing they’re asking for is a timeline change to present final elevations to the Village Planning Committee,” he said. “Even then, since they are not asking for height that is above current zoning, it would be only for comment.”
Noting “the property is already zoned for what they’re trying to do,” he said that since the case is currently in the zoning process, “it’s quasi-judicial, so we aren’t legally allowed to interfere in the decision.”
Two board members, Alvaro Diaz and Eric Nielsen, posted social media requests to homeowners to oppose the application and attend either the planning committee meeting or a meeting two days later before the city planner.
They stressed that they were acting as individual homeowners and not on behalf of the board since the Quik Trip is not an HOA issue and the board has taken no position, Diaz noted.
“The main access to this high-traffic business will be from Cottonwood Lane,” they complained.
“Please don’t wait; we need your feedback,” the post read. “The more emails we have, the more impact we will make.”
A Foothills Paseo resident for 10 years, Diaz said he realizes the zoning was approved a long time ago.
“But that was before half the homes here were built,” he told AFN.
The problems he and Nielsen cited in social media include a “significant increase in traffic congestion” at 40th and Cottonwood; light/noise/air pollution for nearby homes; and more traffic exiting the freeway to hit the station.
In addition, they said the station would “increase transient population and non-resident pedestrian/vehicle traffic in Foothills Paseo II. Traffic will attempt to exit thorough our community before realizing there is no outlet.”
They also asserted it will slow emergency response time for first responders to residents by causing traffic congestion on Cottonwood Lane and “negatively impact home values for all of the above reasons.”
“Contact your neighbors and ask that they get involved by attending one of the two meetings next week,” they wrote, adding:
“We have been informed that significant community resistance has prevented construction like this in the past, so we need ALL the support we can get.”
The two men said, “It is extremely unusual for a gas station/convenience store to be built so close to a residential community, especially a community with only one access point.”
They also said customer traffic will use Cottonwood Lane because 40th Street “will be too congested or blocked by the traffic flow pattern.”
Some residents joined the discussion on Facebook over the weekend, though one called Quik Trip “the Nordstrom of gas stations.”
And in that discussion, some of the more ardent opponents of the freeway appeared resentful of the effort to mount a protest, suggesting too many Foothills Paseo homeowners failed to support the effort to block the freeway in the long court fight with state and federal highway agencies.
Some commenters pointed out that the service station was just the beginning of fallout from the 22-mile link between the Chandler and West 59th Avenue interchanges on Interstate 10 would generate an influx of commercial development.
“This is just the first of many convenience stores, fast food, gas stations, etc.,” one commenter wrote. “Where was everyone when the rest of us were fighting this freeway? Oh, I remember... you weren’t right next to it, so you told us to stop whining! Welcome to reality!”
Added another: “I hate the freeway, but there is 0.0% chance of stopping QT from going in there. There’s no other practical use for that plot, and it will keep traffic from going up to Chandler for gas at Circle K.”
Diaz said a number of residents have answered their social media calls and “the overwhelming number of them oppose this.”
And even if the city can’t stop it, he added, “We’re hoping they will make some adjustments.”
The big concern is traffic and with a giant park-and-ride lot not far away, Diaz said he fears more accidents.
“There are already a lot of accidents there and with cars coming in and out of Quik Trip, this will pose a hazard,” Diaz said, noting its proximity to the only road leading into his community.