By Cecilia Chan, Managing Editor

A clash between a developer’s property rights and those of Layton Lakes homeowners is slated to come before the Gilbert Planning Commission for a second time Oct. 3.

New Home Co. wants to build 222 townhomes on 19 acres at the southwest corner of Lindsay Road and Layton Lakes Boulevard.

The site is one of two remaining undeveloped parcels in the Layton Lakes planned area development. The master-planned lake community is located in Gilbert and Chandler.

“This is a community that will not have any impact to the surrounding neighbors,” said attorney Cameron Carter for New Home at a commission meeting earlier this month. “The project meets or exceeds all of the town’s requirements.”

The original proposal in 2017 called for single-family homes on the land but the developer decided the project was not viable and elected to go with the zoning already in place, which is 12 dwelling units per acre, he explained.

The density proposed for Mosaic at Layton Lakes is 11.6 dwelling units per acre.

Resident Krista Bilsten, who sits on the Layton Lakes HOA Board, said her neighborhood always understood the land would have a higher-density residential development but worried about so much housing in one area with the proposed townhomes.

No townhouse has a driveway, which means overflow of vehicles parking would spill out onto Layton Lakes Boulevard to the north of the project, she said, adding that the proposed parking is for single-family homes and not townhouses.

She also said the builder did a poor job reaching out to residents about the development.

Resident Ben “Trip” McKinnon chimed in, saying he never got complete answers to his questions about the proposal. As a Phoenix firefighter and paramedic of 30 years, he said, he had questions about the project’s safety.

Given the density, he voiced concerns that the 26-foot-wide private streets would allow an aerial platform fire truck to make turns in the neighborhood.

“I don’t understand how they can jam so many people in that space,” he said.

According to the staff report, the private streets are to be 33 feet wide and the alleys, 27 feet wide. Both are in general conformity with the town’s requirements.

Senior planner Nathan Williams said the town’s fire plan examiner and fire marshal have reviewed the plan, which has received more scrutiny than most.

According to planning staff, the town has received two phone calls and a letter with 53 signatures opposing the developer’s request for a preliminary plat and open space plan for the project.

McKinnon added having such a dense community will tax the town’s services, such as police for ticketing and illegal parking.

“We are going to have people live in this community who have more than two cars (per household) and we are not giving them enough space,” he said, citing stats that 35 percent of households have three to four cars.

The project proposes 510 parking spaces, 444 garage spaces and 66 uncovered guest spaces. The gated community will have a total of 62 building with three to four units each.

James LeSueur, president of the Layton Lakes HOA Board, acknowledged the zoning was already in place before any of the current homeowners moved to the community and was in favor of the project.

“I’m for it mainly because I don’t want to have dirt there,” he said. “I want homes there.”

Carter said the developer was following the parking standards for multi-family homes, not single family.

He again emphasized to the commissioners that the project was vested and backed by planning staff.

“Our use and density is by right,” he said. ‘Your town residents will be safe living here.”

Williams confirmed the owner of the parcel has a vested right to develop as granted in 2001.

Commissioner Carl Bloomfield said the developer can develop by right and that there was not a whole lot of latitude the commission has on this issue.

Commissioner David Cavenee said he hoped that the applicant will hear the discontent and be a good neighbor and keep the doors of communication open.

Commissioner Joshua Oehler asked to continue the decision to the Oct. 3 meeting, which prompted Bloomfield to question how the additional time will change anything.

The delay could force the developer to communicate more with residents and hopefully work out differences, some commissioners said.

The motion to continue the issues to Oct. 3 passed on a 4-3 vote with Commissioners Seth Banda, Cavenee and Bloomfield voting against the continuance.

If you go:
What:Planning Commission meeting
When:  6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 3
Where: Gilbert Municipal Center, Council Chambers, 50 E. Civic Center Drive.