The first public step in the Canyon Reserve developers’ effort to get the city approvals they need to begin building the mammoth Canyon Reserve community on the former State Trust Land parcel in Ahwatukee has turned out to be a stumble.
Though Reserve 100 LLC/Blandford Homes was scheduled to go before the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee next Monday, the virtual hearing was abruptly canceled last week by the city Planning and Development Department.
The committee was scheduled to hear a formal presentation on the developers’ request for a General Plan Amendment to reclassify Chandler Boulevard from 19th Avenue to 27th Avenue, along Canyon Reserve’s northern and western boundaries.
Specifically, the street classification map amendment will remove S. Chandler Boulevard and reduce that section from a collector to a local roadway. Additionally, modifications to W. Chandler Boulevard are being requested to reduce the roadway classification and right-of-way from an arterial to a collector roadway.
The reclassification basically would keep both Chandler Boulevard segments as they are and the developer would not be required to pay for either stretch’s widening.
“The reason the GPA is not scheduled for May is because the Street Transportation Department is still analyzing the request and has not provided any recommendation,” Planning Department spokeswoman Angie Holdsworth told AFN. “As a result, we would not be comfortable providing any hearing dates.”
City transportation department officials had no immediate comment.
During an informal presentation at the VPC’s April meeting, the developer’s zoning consultant, Alan Beaudoin of Norris Design, gave the panel an overview of the timetable for city approvals set out by Reserve 100, a Blandford Homes subsidiary, for a development that will include 1,050 mostly single-story houses, 150 build-to-rent townhouses and 329 apartments.
That timetable envisioned a planning committee recommendation May 23 and a hearing before the city Planning Commission June 2 that would lead to a recommendation to City Council before its last pre-summer-recess meeting July 1.
Since the VPC meets only once a month and is not scheduled to meet next month until June 20, City Council likely won’t get the Planning Commission recommendation until late August at the earliest.
The impact of the delay on the developers’ plans to begin construction late this year or early next and begin selling homes in 2024 is unknown.
But it won’t stop the development, since the land was zoned more than 20 years ago for homes.
A traffic analysis performed for the developers by Kimley-Horn and Associates projects Canyon Reserve will generate 13,704 vehicle trips a day with roughly 1,100 during the morning and evening rush hours.
It also determined that: both West and South Chandler Boulevard don’t need widening; a signal will not be needed at the planned Liberty Lane-South Chandler Boulevard intersection once Liberty Lane is extended across the development; and traffic at 17th Avenue and Liberty Lane will experience rush-hour delays and could eventually need a signal after build-out.
In new documents related to the development obtained last week by AFN under a state records law request, Norris Design told city planners that reducing S. Chandler Boulevard’s classification to a local street “will not impact the roadway’s capacity to operate sufficiently and will better suit the limited trips that this roadway incurs.”
It also said that W. Chandler Boulevard can be kept as-is because “the roadway will still provide expected service capacity without over-building.”
“With the replacement of Pecos Road with the Loop 202 freeway, and no provided access, there is no need for S. Chandler Boulevard to continue south of the future Canyon Preserve entrance or remain classified as collector roadway,” it continues.
“The proposed modifications to the roadway classifications will be sufficient for planned development and match the character of this Ahwatukee Foothills Village neighborhood,” Norris Design states, adding “ the proposed roadway sections will meet traffic demand and anticipated capacity.”
“Maximizing the efficiency of roadways is beneficial economically for the City of Phoenix,” the application continues, stating “reducing the size of roadways lessens the burdens of infrastructure and maintenance costs.”
It also says reclassifying the two boulevard stretches “will not detract from the walkable and bikeable nature of these roadways but instead enhance them.
“Six-foot bike lanes will be provided on both sides of W. Chandler Boulevard, with the bike lane on the south side of the roadway being placed behind back of mountable curb for added bicyclist safety. Additionally, a seven-foot detached sidewalk will be provided along the southern edge of W. Chandler Boulevard, as well as crosswalk striping and pedestrian warning signs at 19th Avenue and W. Chandler Boulevard. S. Chandler Boulevard will incorporate a five-foot detached sidewalk along the east side of the roadway.”
It also said that besides being less harmful to the environment, keeping the boulevard at its present width “will enhance the active lifestyle and Sonoran desert character of the area.”
The General Plan Amendment application does not discuss Liberty Lane, which would be extended through Canyon Reserve as the development’s main artery to South Chandler Boulevard.
Kimley-Horn also said that based on its analysis of traffic at Chandler Boulevard/Shaughnessey Road and 17th Avenue at Chandler Boulevard, Liberty Lane and the freeway “all existing study intersections are anticipated to operate at a satisfactory (level of service) by buildout of the development with the exception of 17th Avenue and Liberty Lane.
“The intersection of 17th Avenue and Liberty Lane is expected to experience delays for eastbound left turns during the PM peak hour and westbound left turns during both peak hours,” it said. “A large reason for this delay is anticipated from the large number of northbound left-turning vehicles at the intersection, which decreases the number of available gaps for minor street left turns.”
It recommends restriping that intersection for “exclusive left turn lanes for all approaches” but notes: “It is not expected that a signal will be warranted at this intersection."
However, noting "this intersection is anticipated to operate with acceptable delays as an intersection by buildout of the development," it concedes a signal may eventually be needed.
“It is recommended that vehicular volumes be monitored and evaluated as surrounding development occurs in order to determine the appropriate time for the addition of signal control at this location,” it states,