September 3, 2004
Gilbert’s plan to create an urban district similar to downtown Tempe’s Mill Avenue is in jeopardy.
The developer of the proposed Village Center at the intersection of Williams Field and Recker roads has submitted a request for a major general plan amendment to end a ban on "big-box" stores and allow more single -family homes within the area expected to serve the growing student population of Arizona State University East and the Williams Gateway Airport region.
The Village Center — which town officials hope will feature specialty stores, restaurants and entertainment venues in a pedestrianfriendly downtown setting — is part of the larger Cooley Station master-planned community featuring single-family homes, condominiums, apartments, shopping centers and offices.
Gilbert senior planner Jim Cronk said the town staff has not issued a recommendation, but has asked for additional information and identified areas of concern.
Town officials are concerned the request asks for apartment zoning to be reduced to 50 acres from 180, while increasing the area for single-family homes to 474 from 305 acres. Officials also are concerned that the Village Center retail area would be reduced to less than 500,000 square feet from more than 1 million square feet. The final area of concern relates to supermarkets and big-box discount retail in the Village Center.
The amendment request by landowner Jeff Cooley was introduced for the first time Wednesday to the Gilbert Planning and Zoning Commission. Commissioners asked for a special meeting to discuss the plan in detail. A date has not been set.
"This is a very, very significant change to what is a key part of our general plan," commissioner Dan Dodge said. "I’d like to see justification or at least an explanation."
Cooley said he would wait until the next commission meeting to present his reasons for altering his plan.
In addition to the special session, the commission will meet Sept. 15 and Oct. 6 to discuss the proposal. The Gilbert Town Council, which makes the final decision, will vote later this year.