MARICOPA — Planning and zoning commissioners are concerned the city of Maricopa has too many residential areas compared to commercial, industrial and others.

During discussion on a rezoning proposal for a residential southeast corner of North Porter Road and West Applegate Road, commissioners expressed some concern about the city’s residential growth.

Michael Sharpe, vice chair, said the site was originally to be used for a hospital. He wanted to know whether there was another site designated for a hospital.

He was told there should be other options for sites for a hospital. This change wouldn’t harm the potential land use opportunities for creating another hospital or other things.

Sharpe and Rachel Leffall both were concerned about having too much residential growth compared to commercial, industrial and others. They wanted to make sure there is room for other options than residential.

The proposed mixed use development area would include 312 one-, two- and three-bedroom units with 24 units per net acre.

Currently public/institutional zoning doesn’t allow commercial. City staff believe the mixed use zoning should include commercial, otherwise they would have only approved residential on a mixed use and not used it to its full potential.

When assessing the housing, it was found there was more room for diversity stock and more workforce housing with different levels for different incomes. It will also create a safe and functioning way for pedestrians and bikes.

One resident spoke during the call to the public. He is from Desert Passage and “absolutely loves this town,” though he’s only been living in Maricopa for a year.

He was worried about the stress to State Route 347 and also the number of residents being brought into such a small area, which would create more traffic issues. He said he wants to “keep this community as beautiful as it is.”

Commissioner Jim Irving doesn’t feel the need for housing in 2021 compared to 2018 had been “adequately addressed.”

He would like to know how many houses have been built since 2018 and been approved since then.

He was told there was an assessment done on housing need and an action plan was adopted. The assessment showed the shortage and the plan gave the staff a direction to get multifamily dwellings in Maricopa.

This plan aims for 5,000 multifamily dwellings and currently there are about 120 built and if this project is approved, it would add over 300 more.

Commissioner Dan Frank, who was on the housing needs assessment committee, said the city did identify the need for more diverse housing, but he doesn’t think anyone ever envisioned the rate at which it would happen.

“I think we need some kind of reevaluation of that, whether it needs to come from council and give that direction to staff or what, but I think it’s something we need to watch and just be mindful of, of the impacts. Be careful what you wish for kind of situation,” Frank said.

Commission Chair Linda Huggins said she was concerned about when the commercial or mixed use area would be developed since there wasn’t a time frame.

“That’s kind of scary to me because if we’re going to sit there and take this away, how long is it going to sit there when it could be sitting there for the other use,” Huggins said. “I know we need the housing, but are we going to be throwing more housing out there next to empty lands. That’s what my concern is.”

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Kimlye Stager covers Maricopa and the surrounding area for PinalCentral, including city, education, business, crime and more. She can be reached at kstager@pinalcentral.com.

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