Forewarned is forearmed.
Despite the fact there are no official plans to extend a roadway through their community if an adjacent parcel of land is sold, residents in a Queen Creek neighborhood have made their objections to such an extension clear to the Queen Creek Town Council.
About 100 residents of the Montelena community filled the council chambers during the Oct. 19 meeting of the Queen Creek Town Council.
“How many of you are here regarding Montelena?” Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney asked the audience immediately after the meeting convened. The majority of those seated in the chambers and extending back into the Founders’ Room of the chambers raised a hand.
Their message was clear. Allowing Via Del Jardin, which forms the spine of its road system, to become a major thoroughfare would negatively impact the high quality of life the residents enjoy, according to a presentation to the council by Montelena Master Community Association President Anthony Del Corsano.
He told the council extending the roadway would increase traffic through the community, decrease property values, put a strain on public safety resources and endanger local children.
Montelena is a 403-home community on the northeast corner of Chandler Heights and Hawes roads. Speculation about Via Del Jardin began when Fry’s Food considered adding a store nearby, on the southeast corner of Chandler Heights and Ellsworth roads, Mr. Del Corsano said during an interview after the meeting.
Although Fry’s opted for a site at Riggs and Ellsworth roads, Montelena residents considered the possibility that having a grocery store nearby could make the undeveloped parcel of land immediately east of the community more attractive to buyers.
The parcels directly adjacent to the east of Montelena are owned by Ellsworth Enterprises Limited Partnership and Duane G. Ellsworth Family Revocable Trust, Sidney Urias, a planner II for the town, said in an e-mailed response to questions. The parcels are zoned R1-18 (Suburban Residential Type B District) and R1-43 (Rural Estate District). Approximately, all parcels total 180 acres.
Montelena residents wanted to go on record they would oppose extending Via Del Jardin if such a proposal were made in the future. Mr. Del Corsano said he presented the council with petitions signed by residents in 382 of the 403 homes in the subdivision.
“You don’t wait for someone to purchase the land and then fight for it. Then it’s too late,” Mr. Del Corsano said during his interview.
The HOA president’s presentation began earlier than originally scheduled. The day before the council meeting, Town Assistant Manager Bruce Gardner told Mr. Del Corsano his presentation would take place after 7 p.m.
However, after seeing the packed audience Oct. 19, Mayor Barney invited Mr. Del Corsano to give his presentation immediately after the meeting began at 5:30 p.m. The mayor said he anticipated the council’s executive session, which is held behind closed doors, would last about an hour. Moving up the presentation would prevent the community members from having to sit and wait, he said.
When asked about the timing after the meeting, Mr. Gardner said he was unable to notify the mayor he had discussed the Montelena presentation begin after 7 p.m. as indicated on the meeting agenda. The item was scheduled as a presentation only; the council would not act on the matter.
Robert and Debra Burgess have lived in Montelena since 2009. They have four children ages 12-17 who regularly walk and bike along Via Del Jardin. If the road were extended and traffic increased, her children and others would have to cross the major thoroughfare to get to parks and other neighborhood amenities and friends’ homes, Mrs. Burgess said during an interview after the presentation.
“There is a large population of kids here. On Halloween, it’s hard to drive through the community because there are so many kids walking and trick-or-treating,” Mr. Burgess said during an interview. “On Fourth of July, we all gather at the end of Via Del Jardin to watch fireworks. Kids ride their bikes to Queen Creek and Desert Mountain elementary schools and the American Leadership Academy nearby. People are concerned about the increased traffic that could arise. Already people are driving faster than they should.”
The posted speed limit on Via Del Jardin is 25 mph, Deputy Ivan Lopez, public information officer for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, said during a phone interview. The town contracts with MCSO to provide public safety service.
Katherine Strong and her husband, Michael, are empty-nesters who have lived in Montelena since 2013. The couple purchased their home as an investment for their children and grandchildren and would prefer the tranquil atmosphere there not change, Mrs. Strong said during an interview.
“Right now it feels private. Extending Via Del Jardin would completely change the feeling of the neighborhood,” she said. “It still feels like a ‘Leave It to Beaver’ neighborhood.”
Mr. Burgess said the community is just trying to head off future complications.
“When things are in the planning stages, we want the town to take into account that we have a very strong opposition to a thoroughfare and the negative impact it could have on our community,” he said.
After the meeting, Queen Creek Vice Mayor Dawn Oliphant said in an interview she was puzzled by the presentation because no projects have been proposed on the undeveloped land adjacent to Montelena. She confirmed this with Mr. Gardner.
However, she said she was pleased to hear from the residents because listening to constituents’ concerns and needs is what town government is all about. She said she would contact Mr. Del Corsano and tell him so.
The Queen Creek Independent was not able to contact the Ellsworth family for comment by press time.
The Queen Creek Town Council generally meets at 5:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road. Public hearings are not held before 7 p.m.
For more information, visit the town’s website at www.queencreek.org.
News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123. Be sure to like us at www.facebook.com/Queen Creek/San Tan Valley Independent.