Published in The Glendale Star
As a proud member of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce and the city’s business and residential communities, I appreciate the dialogue about StoneHaven, a proposed master-planned community on the city’s southern border with Phoenix.
StoneHaven is an important and meaningful plan for our entire city, which is why I support it. Its positive economic impact to the city of $49 million is particularly necessary and impressive.
Open, honest, and civil discussion between those who disagree on an issue is a cornerstone of our community. That discussion, however, must rest upon truthful and well-supported facts in order to be of any value and lead to a result which best serves us all. As a result, it is necessary to correct some information which has been – likely inadvertently - promulgated by opponents to the StoneHaven zoning amendment.
The first issue is that of lot size. StoneHaven will have a variety of single-family housing options to fit a variety of homeowners’ needs and preferences. Opponents of the project have inexplicably focused on the size of smaller lots as some type of detriment, notwithstanding the existence of similar size lots throughout the Valley. While they suggest that smaller lots will negatively impact the home values of larger lots in the area, they have failed to provide any evidence, examples, or expert opinions to support this assumption. To the contrary, having a variety of lot sizes available is an advantage to a neighborhood as it allows potential new neighbors multiple options and is more likely to lead to a diversity of family sizes and ages.
John F. Long Properties and Pulte Homes understand this market. John F. Long Properties has a long and distinguished history in Arizona, especially the West Valley. Moreover, they are selling the land to Pulte, Arizona’s No. 1 homebuilder. Pulte has a distinguished reputation of doing the research and providing quality that will stand the test of time. StoneHaven will be no exception to that rule. These experts have determined that in order to ensure that lots are bought – thereby avoiding vacant homes and lots which lead to blight and crime – they need to offer some smaller lots. As distinguished experts in their field, I am compelled to defer to their research and judgment over the supposition of those with no relevant experience.
Visiting any Pulte project in the Valley with a similar mix of houses to that which is being proposed at StoneHaven will demonstrate the value and quality of the proposed plan. StoneHaven has no apartments, but instead, has a wide range of housing sizes and options, including portions of the community that are gated. Additionally, the current proposal seeks to add only 204 homes to a previously approved plan over 395 acres. Delay or denial of this $450 million investment in Glendale is not only indefensible, but it hurts the entire community. Many local businesses - including the Glendale Chamber of Commerce - welcome and will benefit from new customers and also support keeping shopping dollars in our city rather than exporting them to Phoenix, as currently occurs due to the lack of available services in that section of Glendale. StoneHaven will not only help keep these dollars in Glendale by bringing these services to the local community, but it will alleviate the significant traffic issue in that area by building out Bethany Home Road, a desperately needed improvement.
The second issue upon which the opponents of StoneHaven have focused - again without evidence - is the alleged “negative impact” on the area schools. Once again, the experts, i.e. the school districts themselves – have taken a contrary position to the opponents’ supposition. The school districts have already stated they are ready, willing and able to accommodate new students and welcome the opportunity to do so.
Third, we are all familiar with Westgate’s challenges with the Arizona Coyotes. That property is very important to Glendale’s welfare due to the large amount of city sales tax revenue and attention on the city as a desirable destination that it generates. Supported by many Westgate businesses, StoneHaven means new customers for the shopping and restaurant complex, perhaps at the very time it will need them the most.
While Glendale has seen a number of great successes, as part of its comeback, StoneHaven is the exclamation mark. Glendale cannot afford (and does not deserve) any less right now, nor should we, as Glendale’s community, accept less.
For the greater good, for more Glendale momentum, and based on the actual facts (not incorrect supposition), it is critical that the Glendale City Council approve StoneHaven.
Lynda R. Vescio