More than 1,000 people offered some level of input regarding the Daybreak apartment development proposed for Fountain Hills, probably as much input as the council has had regarding any issue short of a public vote.
The comments came in the form of petitions presented to the council, comment cards from residents who did not wish to speak publicly and about three dozen who stepped to the podium during the public hearing before the council Oct. 1.
Town Clerk Liz Burke provided the council with the numbers staff had tallied prior to the council consideration. There were 678 comments opposed to the project with 408 in support.
This story presents comments from a number of the speakers at the hearing, but not all. They are presented here in the order they were called to speak.
Rick Ponzo thanked the council, staff and planning commission for their hard work in review of the project.
“This is not being done by the seat of the pants, there has been careful discussion,” Ponzo said. “Daybreak is not being forced on Fountain Hills; this is a (housing) option that is beneficial to the town. Everyone is working together to resolve concerns presented by the project.”
Bob Courtney is president of the Westridge Village Homeowners Association, which has voiced the strongest opposition.
“This plan is incomplete and inadequate,” Courtney said. “They need to come back with a full package and through the public process, showing amenities for residents.”
Former Mayor Sharon Morgan was in support of the project.
“If former mayors and councils had listened to NIMBYs [Not in my back yard] we would not have the Fountain Hills we have today,” Morgan said. “There are many excellent developments and the Target center would not be here.
“Also, there has been much said about apartments bringing ‘low life’ and ‘second class’ citizens. I now live in an apartment and do not consider myself to be either.”
Robert Hahn is a resident of Westridge and former HOA president. He spoke about traffic concerns that the residents have.
“This will have an impact on Palisades Boulevard,” Hahn said. “Forty-five percent of the traffic in and out of Fountain Hills uses Palisades and (this project) plans its main entry 600 feet from Shea Boulevard with a roundabout.”
He said a roundabout works well in a proper application, but not at this site. The proposal approved by the council had the roundabout and possible traffic signal removed from the plan. There will be no additional traffic control at the entry. According to staff, studies show nothing would be warranted.
Cassie Hansen is a former Council member and the first town clerk for the Town of Fountain Hills.
“I hope you will make your decision based on professional advice and not on the desire of those who want no development,” Hansen said. “The developer has worked hard with the town. This project will attract new residents who will enhance the community, not detract.”
Barbara Goldstein said she envisions many unintended consequences from the project.
“There is a lack of parking, it is 107 spaces short and there is no visitor parking,” Goldstein said. “We need to see proposed changes. We are not anti-development, we just want it to be right.”
Andi Bell spoke in support of the plan.
“Both nationally and locally the demand for apartment rentals is increasing,” Bell said. “It is cheaper than ownership and is in high demand. “The Daybreak developers will comply with everything the town asks.”
Michelle Webb, a Crestview resident across Palisades from the project, believes the current General Plan and zoning for a resort is proper.
“Apartments are the lowest revenue-generating project you can have,” Webb said. “Make sure you are getting the best value for the money.”
Supporters also made points concerning additional population present to support existing business and act as an attraction for new.
Opponents also believe the complex will not be able to attract young professionals with families and cited specific input to support that point of view.
In its approval of the PAD proposal the Council stipulated that the developer needs to bring back an enhanced plan citing more specifics regarding design and amenities for council approval (see separate story).