House Cowley development

At its Aug. 18 meeting, Peoria City Council unanimously approved a resolution to rezone 280 acres near Ridgeline and Dysart roads, an area in northwest Peoria near Trilogy at Vistancia.

Despite “pump the brakes” protests from neighbors and concerns from the Peoria Unified School District, council authorized the development of a residential community with an overall density of three units per acre, clearing the way for up to 838 new homes.

Council concurred with the planning and zoning commission, which earlier found the rezoning request to be appropriate for the area.

According to Peoria Planning and Community Development Director Chris Jacques, 80 acres will have a minimum lot size of 1 acre and will allow for two-story construction. The plan calls for 75% of the lots to be over 7,000 square feet. Cowley Properties owns the land, which Peoria annexed in 2010.

A January letter from the Peoria Unified School District said the development would “adversely impact the capacity of our schools in this part of the district.”

A letter the following month said PUSD  had accepted “an agreement that will help with future capital needs” with the developer, Mattamy Homes. But, the letter noted, “completing this agreement will not eliminate the potential for overcrowding the area’s schools.” 

At an Aug. 7, 2019, public meeting, at least 30 residents voiced concerns over the proposed plan. After a planning and zoning commission meeting on the matter in January, more than three dozen neighbors emailed their concerns.

Jon Horton asked Peoria to “pump the brakes” on the Crowley Property development: “It appears to us that the end result of these plans will be to reduce available open space while cluttering this area with more relatively high-density residential homes. 

“We are already witnessing residential developments spring up like weeds. ... Further, people our age are already heavily taxed for education, which we no longer use. Adding more unplanned residential areas will only increase this burden.”

Dan and Kim Hicken cautioned about  “the effects of aggressive overbuilding of housing without the appropriate infrastructure or services.”

Bronwyn and Elgin Mason were among several people expressing concerns that the new development would obstruct views: “We live in the Trilogy at Vistancia homes, and we believe two-story homes will not be conducive to maintaining the ambiance of the community and the surrounding mountain.” 

As was noted at the city council meeting, Cowley and the developer agreed to limit homes along the perimeter of the development to one story to protect neighbors’ views.

“I think we have listened to the citizens and made changes and requirements to this process that are in their best interest,” Councilwoman Bridget Binsbacher said.

Several others were concerned about overcrowding schools in the area: “This development will add approximately 1,200 to 1,400 students to the existing K-8 schools (Vistancia and Lake Pleasant) that are already at or over capacity. The normal class size at these schools is already 35-plus,” Stephanie Herrick Kays wrote.