Gilbert struggles to mix lifestyles - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Gilbert struggles to mix lifestyles

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Posted: Monday, March 28, 2005 5:31 am | Updated: 9:55 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

In Gilbert, some say attracting businesses and retailers is more important than keeping land open for large homes on lots big enough to keep horses. Others argue that horse trails and nighttime desert skies unblemished by streetlights are vital to their lifestyle.

The question that faces the town as it nears buildout is, is there room for both lifestyles?

A minor general plan amendment that goes for a Town Council vote on Tuesday is another sign of rapid growth in Gilbert. It was spurred by landowners who want to begin developing their land. If approved, the amendment would change land-use labels in Gilbert’s general plan for an area southeast of town.

• A 12-acre parcel about half-mile west of Higley Road on Riggs Road would be designated for neighborhood office use instead of residential.

• A 25-acre parcel at the southeast corner of Higley and Riggs roads would be labeled for a shopping center instead of homes on acre lots.

• And 153 acres in the area near the intersection of Higley and Riggs roads would be labeled for one to two homes per acre instead of zero to one home per acre as they are now.

Most of the area affected is in an unincorporated area of Maricopa County, but because it is in Gilbert’s planning area, the town is responsible for guiding land use.

If the Town Council approves the amendment after a public hearing Tuesday, property owners interested in developing the area would have to submit annexation and zoning applications, said town planning manager Linda Edwards.

So changing the labels in the general plan doesn’t mean development will be immediate, but some rural residents worry the amendment means Gilbert is beginning to disregard their lifestyle.

Denise Head, chairwoman of the Chandler Heights Community Organization, said the town could better work with her group to accommodate rural areas as well as commercial development. The organization represents residents in the area affected as well as residents in nearby Queen Creek’s planning area.

The Town Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers at 50 E. Civic Center Drive.

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