About 90 people from Gilbert and Chandler packed a room at Willis Junior High School on Thursday night to get some answers about a proposed auto mall expansion.
The majority told Chandler Auto Park developer Marty De Rito they didn’t approve of plans to expand the 95-acre auto park planned for the northwest corner of Gilbert Road and the future Santan Freeway segment of Loop 202.
De Rito Partners Inc. and Kimco Development are proposing an expansion onto 16 acres north across Pecos Road, next to Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
Siobhan Clark of Chandler said the property should be a neighborhood shopping center as outlined in Chandler’s College Area Plan.
"It’s going to be an eyesore," Clark said. "It’s not going to be beneficial to the community."
De Rito and his attorney, Mike Withey, heard concerns ranging from safety and traffic to noise and aesthetics.
"If I didn’t care I wouldn’t be here," De Rito said. "I really wanted to know what people thought."
Withey said people testdriving cars would most likely use Loop 202 and not residential streets. He also said buildings would cover about 10 percent of the property, compared with 25 percent for a shopping center. Withey said traffic for a shopping center also would generate three to four times the traffic.
De Rito said his plan was to expand east across Gilbert Road, but a secret agreement with Gilbert auto mall developer Bill Lund prohibited it. The two had entered into the agreement in August to settle litigation claims and a months-long battle between the two over development of Chandler’s auto mall.
Sheila Tybur, who lives on the property north of the proposed expansion, said she supports the project.
"I’d rather see that than another Fry’s or Bashas’ or McDonald’s," she said. "What none of these people seem to realize is that for them to have their nice, big houses I had to give up my view of the mountains. We had to give up the wildlife. I don’t have a problem with the auto mall."
De Rito needs a general plan amendment to expand the auto mall. It will be heard by the Chandler Planning and Zoning Commission at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in City Council chambers, 22 S. Delaware St. The amendment must be approved before a development agreement can be approved by the City Council at 7 p.m. Thursday.