P&Z recommends approving 224 apartments

Residents express concerns about traffic, water

When Hawksnest was first proposed in 2006, it was envisioned to become Chino Valley’s first gated community. Just as the backers were getting all the approvals they needed from the town, the worldwide economy collapsed.

Hawksnest at Chino Valley returned last week before the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, but it has changed substantially. Now, a portion of the 90 acres will be used to build much-needed apartment housing in two phases, totaling 224 units.

“We intend to start as soon as we have our zoning approved,” said Bill Watson of Construction Management Services, which is the developer of the project. “We intend to go immediately into construction drawings.”

The proposal brought out a number of people who live close to the site, which is north of Road 2 North, behind and west of the Walgreens on Highway 89.

Ruth Mayday, the town’s director of development services, said that there is a 94 percent occupancy rate on rental housing in the region, so there is a huge need for projects such as Hawksnest.

“There’s virtually no rental housing in Chino Valley,” Mayday said. “Rental houses, anything.”

Residents who attended the public hearing were mostly against the idea, saying they were worried about the impact on the aquifer and also traffic on Road 2 North, which gets busy with parents dropping children off at Del Rio Elementary and Heritage Middle schools in the mornings and afternoon.

Commissioners mostly shared their concerns on the traffic. They voted to recommend approval to the Town Council, which will consider granting the zoning change to allow it to proceed. Commission Annie Lane voted in favor of the proposal in her last meaningful vote as a member of the commission. She was due to be sworn in on Tuesday, Dec. 13 as the newest member of the Town Council.

As part of the approval process, developer Watson and his backers would have to extend the sidewalk on Road 2 North from where they end now, all the way to their property line. That would not extend it all the way to the schools, because there is another 90-acre property to the west.

“Right now, that’s all private property,” Mayday said. “So until he either wants to develop, or the town gets money and decides to purchase the right of way, there’s nothing we can do.”

Watson said his backers have owned the property since 2010, but have held off developing it. Now, he said, is the time to do so.

Mayday said many projects have been on hold because banks have tightened lending requirements to developers after the 2008 market collapse, but that many of those restrictions are now relaxing.

“The market conditions are right, there’s a demand for them in Chino,” Watson said. “We’ve discussed other types of projects there, but the apartments beat them all, because there is a demand.”