The Gavilan Peak Estates Development

This proposed New River development was brought to our attention in mid-July. It has the potential to impact many aspects of our lifestyle in this area, including light pollution, traffic, well water levels, and the appearance of Gavilan Peak, a prominent landmark enjoyed by area residents. Some of this information was obtained through public records. Some was obtained from Coe & Van Loo Consultants, the planner and developer for the land owners. Their spokesperson, Theresa H. Evidente, was quite helpful in providing us answers to our questions. To be fair, their job is to get the best deal for their clients, and our conversations with Ms. Evidente cause me to believe that Coe & Van Loo are trying to do this development with minimal environmental and aesthetic impact. Still, we have concerns regarding the effect this project will have on light pollution in this area. Here is what we already know ...

1. Gavilan Peak Estates, LLC, formed in 2006, has acquired 130 acres of land surrounding Gavilan Peak. To see the aerial photographic image of this land, click here (449k). To see the lot numbers of this and adjacent properties, click here (658k). The posted notice (below), required by Maricopa County Planning & Development, was discovered by an area resident during an ATV ride.

2. As you can see from the posted notice, they will be applying for a zoning change from R43 (one home per acre maximum) to R1-35 (one home per 0.8 acres). Our search of county records shows that they have not yet officially filed for the zoning change. It is still listed as "I/P" (in process). When they do apply, they will be required to post another notice to that effect, including case number, hearing date, and means for local citizens to provide their input. They have already been working with the County on preliminary issues, but to our knowledge, there have been no formal applications filed to date.

3. R1-35 zoning also allows two-story residences, but Ms. Evidente says that is not in their plans. According to her, "These will be high-end homes, integrated appropriately into the existing landscape."

4. This will be a private (but not gated) development, set up as an HOA. This further leads me to believe the aesthetic impact on Gavilan Peak should be minimal.

5. The main entry will be via a private extension to 29th Avenue, which currently dead-ends north of Gavilan Peak. Alternate access via connections to other area roads will also be provided.

6. Sewage will be handled by an on-site sewage treatment plant.

7. Water will be provided by two wells, supplemented by two storage tanks.

8. Of course, DFAC's primary concern is with lighting. According to Coe & Van Loo, there will be no street lights. All residential lighting will be shielded, and no up-lighting will be used. This is good, but could be even better. In our letter to Coe & Van Loo we argue for LPS (low pressure sodium vapor) lighting for both porch and yard lights, as well as fully shielded lights all around. Current code requires full shielding only on lights brighter than 150 watts. To read a PDF copy of our letter to Coe & Van Loo, click here. To read a PDF copy of our letter to Rachel Applegate at Maricopa County P&D, click here.