More than 500 residents attend meeting with county representatives
By Bill Van Nimwegen
The sanctuary of the Gold Canyon United Methodist Church was nearly filled the afternoon of March 28 when 550 residents of Gold Canyon and Peralta Trails neighborhoods gathered for a scheduled community meeting.
The purpose of the meeting was to gather information, dispel rumors and address concerns surrounding Peralta Canyon, an approved development of 761 new homes to the north of Peralta Trail. To most of the attendees, the most pressing issue was the expected increase in traffic on Peralta Road and a perception that the developer did not provide sufficient access and egress in the plan.
Other attendees who own property on Sleepy Hollow Trail—a road to the north of the new homes—were concerned by a proposal to connect their street to the new subdivision.
Moderated by Gold Canyon resident Roberto Reveles (see Letters to the Editor, A-6), a panel that included Pinal County Supervisor Todd House, Community Development Director Himanshu Patel and staff from county planning made efforts to answer questions from a sometimes “boisterous” audience.
Also in attendance was Superstition Fire & Medical District (SFMD) Chief Mike Farber.
Peralta Canyon, a phase II subdivision, was planned, platted and approved by the county in 2006. Since then, an economic downturn stopped construction, but the property was sold again last year, and plans were made to begin construction of new homes. In the plan, there are two entrances at Emma Parkway and Peralta Heights Rd.—both streets connect to Peralta Road, which empties onto US-60 to the south.
Some residents of Peralta Trails—the 832-home phase I subdivision to the south—support an emergency access road that would connect the new subdivision to Sleepy Hollow Trail to the north. They contend that it would provide an emergency east-west bypass to US-60 and Peralta Road, with a direct connection to Kings Ranch Road to the west.
Supervisor House cited an incident that occurred last month, on March 4, as evidence that an alternate route out of the subdivisions is necessary for safety: SFMD and the Queen Valley Fire District responded to a motor vehicle accident on US-60 near the entrance to Peralta Trails. A pickup truck had rear-ended a propane truck.
The resulting fatality necessitated an investigation, and a hazardous materials team was also deployed to secure the remaining contents of the propane truck. An extended closure of westbound US-60 was required, effectively stranding residents.
House stated that students and staff at Peralta Trail Elementary School, as well as the Peralta residents should have an emergency route available to them.
There are currently no plans submitted for the suggested emergency access road, but it will be discussed at a future Pinal County Planning & Zoning (P&Z) meeting.
One resident complained that he had been requesting an alternative route out of the subdivision for two years.
According to P&Z, Sleepy Hollow Trail is the only right-of-way available to the Phase II planners; however, it is not part of the subdivision and not built to accommodate the traffic as a regular arterial road.
One resident whose property abuts the road, said that there are 68 driveways on Sleepy Hollow; kids play there and joggers regularly use the road. He was concerned about an increase in traffic and asked for an impact study.
Supervisor House said that building another road on State Trust land would take too long. He said that Sleepy Hollow Trail had easements for a reason, but assured the audience that it’s not a done deal.
Mr. Reveles planned the meeting, along with an ad hoc steering committee, and he says that the county P&Z commission is responsible for conducting public hearings for the next phase of the subdivision and that no date has been announced for the next hearing on Peralta Canyon. Reveles also said that P&Z recommendations for approval or denial are forwarded to the Board of Supervisors, which schedules public hearings, and the Board can modify, approve or disapprove P&Z recommendations.
Photo above: Community Development Director Himanshu Patel addressed past and present Peralta Canyon concerns at a community meeting in Gold Canyon.