Pinal County officials should listen closely to Gold Canyon residents who are raising concerns about a proposal to double the number of future homes in a proposed development near Peralta Road and U.S. 60.
If the residents are lodging legitimate objections about traffic snarls and hazardous driving conditions, the county should reject any additional density unless it can guarantee highway improvements to eliminate those dangers will be finished before the final houses would be built.
But some people suspect these allegations about traffic problems are simply a smokescreen so current residents can dictate their preferences for the new subdivision’s layout, or so they can thwart the developer’s legitimate interest in a profitable venture to protect their desert vistas a while longer. If that’s the case, then the county shouldn’t stand in the way of the exercise of private property rights.
As Tribune writer Art Martori reported Tuesday, MPB Holdings has asked Pinal County to change zoning at the future Peralta Canyon development to authorize construction of up to 650 homes instead of 320 homes that’s allowed now. The developer says that level of density would mirror nearby subdivisions the county had previously approved.
But complaints are pouring in from a number of local groups, led by Gold Canyon Community Associations United and the Peralta Trails Homeowners Association. Their arguments focus on the emerging bottleneck of U.S. 60, a once-rural highway that passes right through Gold Canyon and already has several stop lights to make turning into neighborhoods easier. Anyone who has traveled to the Arizona Renaissance Fair, Superior or Globe has noticed how Gold Canyon’s stretch of U.S. 60 becomes more difficult to drive each year.
State and county transportation officials know something must done eventually, but have been cautious because of financial costs and impact on the community of the potential alternatives — elevating the freeway or establishing a bypass.
Pinal County officials must decide if they can use the traffic situation to justify denying MPB Holding more density after approving similar land uses for other nearby property owners. Gold Canyon resident Terri Rozzini told Martori she believes MPB Holding’s plan would create a critical mass of people and traffic headaches, echoing the feelings of many in the area.
But Pinal County needs concrete evidence — not just hostile attitudes — if it’s going start changing development policies for the Gold Canyon area.