Writer opposes proposed Box Canyon residential project in Queen Creek

Aug. 10. The town of Queen Creek planning and zoning meeting had only one agenda item that was to grant rezoning for the proposed Box Canyon development.

And the public saw, once again, that what they had to say means absolutely nothing.

In addition to having that insult revisited upon us, we were admonished by one of the Planning and Zoning commissioners that we had presented a whole bunch of problems but no solutions. (Isn’t that what they get paid to do?) Next time we should come better prepared to speak. Condescending, arrogant, insulting.

Of all the people who got up to speak only one was in favour of the project. Mr. Hall, who lives on Bell Road near the boundary of this project, feels that this big, modern development is going to solve the problems he enumerated. He seems to feel that there will be no more crime, specifically robberies.

He also seems to think that it will put a stop to people riding their ATVs and noisy vehicles on the roads of the neighborhood. Unfortunately he just cannot grasp the fact that adding close to 3,000 homes with an average of four people in each, a minimum of two cars in each is going to increase the things he’s complaining about exponentially.

Case in point: There is a 40-acre gated community on the south side of Skyline Drive, between Bell Road and Lazy Loop. It shares a boundary with the San Tan (Mountain) Regional Park and is in close proximity to Box Canyon.
Since that parcel has been developed, numerous cases of teenagers shooting into the San Tan  Mountain Regional Park and also cars from the community have been speeding up and down this square mile of rural properties. Construction vehicles have been rumbling up and down the roads as well as construction noise very early in the mornings.

This has been going on for a couple of years now and the property is not completely built out Which means houses will be under construction for who knows how much longer.

Now imagine that there are going to be almost 2,800 housing units being built. This build-out could take 10-20 years. And there’s going to be a lot of infrastructure prior to the housing Construction.

Think of all the disruption that’s going to create. Noise, dust and traffic. So let’s discuss the traffic situation that will be created. First there will be all the construction vehicles — bulldozers, cement trucks, 18-wheelers of building supplies, workers doing electrical, plumbing work and on and on.

There are going to be  thousands of vehicle trips daily (people going to and from work, taking the kids to school and soccer, going shopping, deliveries, etc.) added to the already congested Hunt Highway between Power Road and Bell Road.

The developer seems to think that their solution will alleviate all of these concerns. And what is that solution?
They intend to divert Hunt Highway south and into their development area using two roundabouts for traffic control.

That’s going to be one interesting situation for all the construction vehicles going in and out of Box Canyon, not to mention all of the large trucks and vehicles that already use Hunt Highway. It’s going to be interesting to see if 18-wheelers and big flatbed construction vehicles will be able to maneuver a roundabout.

The traffic jams will be of unimaginable proportion.

Another problem in taking a public roadway and placing it on private property — who’s going to be responsible for the maintenance of this road: the HOA or the municipalities?

Hunt Highway is a dividing line between the two counties: Maricopa on the north and Pinal on the south. What a mess this is going to be.

They have no plan for what will be done with the strip of land that will be left where Hunt Highway used to be.
Looking into the future one would have to pity anyone living at the south end of this community. The only way people in Box Canyon are going to get out of there is north along the narrow roads within this development to the diverted section of Hunt Highway and the lovely roundabouts. Then they have to go either east to Ellsworth Road or west to Power Road.

Anybody who lives in this area knows that both of those thoroughfares are already congested with all of the traffic created by the ongoing development in the area as well as the congestion from all of the development that already exists.

In addition, all of the traffic that comes from down near Johnson Ranch and Copper Basin is funneled on to these two main roads.

Box Canyon starts at Hunt Highway and goes south in a 2-mile-wide zigzag 4-miles-long between the San Tan Mountain Regional Park and the Gila River Indian Reservation. There is only one way out.

If there was ever a situation that called for evacuation, no one will get out. And this does not even begin to address the other engineering problems this folly will create.

We’ve seen it happen many places before. Developers come in and clear grade the land, divert natural washes and plunk down a bunch of houses.  The developer claims that they have a very costly and very accomplished engineering team to address all the concerns of this development. But they cannot control Mother Nature. And she does not like to be messed with.

The washes have been created over a very long time by the natural flow of the water. No engineer, no matter how expensive or how many degrees they have, is going to be able to control the runoff.

This area is bound to see flooding like nobody has seen yet.

What will the remedy be for the residents surrounding Box Canyon? I’ll tell you what it will be — Nothing. The people living on property surrounding Box Canyon will lose their properties, their homes, their lives.

And while we’re discussing water, what about the extensive, water-sucking landscaping using non-native vegetation?

The massive increase in the use of groundwater to supply this project not only with potable water but for a waterpark and a huge resort is going to create a problem for those people who live with well water.

It will lower the water table to such a point that those who do have wells will probably have to re-drill at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

Not to mention the air pockets that will be left behind when the water is removed, which will create fissures large enough to swallow a good portion of the community.

The commission seems to feel three minutes was more than enough time if we would only get organized. Then why does the developer always get unlimited time to speak and present their project? The public is also denied an opportunity to ask questions whether it be of the commission or the developer.

Steve Sossaman suggested that those of us who are in opposition should get together and each of us speak to one item and that the three minutes would be enough time.

The logical explanation for granting whatever these people want is that there’s so much money behind Box Canyon (and I suspect there’s a lot of political “influence” that has been going on for years) that the town would probably be facing a huge lawsuit that would cost the town quite a bit of money and in the end could very well lose.

So the town has chosen destructive development over the pleas of the public.

And on a final note to the planning and zoning commission — the solution to all the problems is to not build Box Canyon.

Regina Whitman
Queen Creek

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