A master-planned community of 476 residences is coming to 94.2 acres near Recker and Warner roads in northeast Gilbert with concessions after the Town Council originally rejected the project.
Council this month on consent agenda approved the final plat for Phase 2 of Warner Meadows, which calls for 163 townhomes.
In January it approved in January the final plat for Phase 1, which includes 313 single-family homes.
But there are more steps to go before ground is broken.
“Town Council approval of the final plat is one of the first steps in the approval of construction plans and permitting,” said Tom Condit, development engineering manager and floodplain administrator.
“There are a combination of civil, architectural and landscaping improvement plans that must be approved, permit fees paid, and construction assurances posted,” he said.
“In the case of Warner Meadows, the project also has off-site easement –dedications to the Town and dedications from the Town to other agencies.”
Lennar bought the site from Recker and Warner LLC and later sold the land to AG Essential Housing Multi State 2 but remained the project developer.
Although it’s been smooth sailing through town government so far, that has not always been the case for the project.
In 2018, developer Lennar Arizona proposed 560 homes on 116.6 acres with 8.2 acres set aside for neighborhood commercial at the northeast corner of Warner and Recker roads.
But the Council majority in December 2018 voted down the requested major General Plan amendment and rezone, which would have changed the land use from mostly light industry to residential.
The developer’s attorney at the time argued the land had drawbacks such as a lack of visibility that made it impossible to attract commercial interest to the site.
Although the project got the backing from the Planning Commission and the nearby residents from two sizeable communities, the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and planning staff did not support it, voicing concerns with losing land that could bring jobs to town.
Weeks after the Council rejected the developer’s request, it rescinded its vote and allowed Lennar to work on a new proposal for the site and fast-tracked the process.
In October 2019, the Council unanimously approved the developer’s application, after changes in the project now include reserving 30.6 acres of the site for light-industrial development. The chamber also voiced its support.
“When we see properties of this magnitude and this large that has been designated for commercial, light industrial and so forth, we tend to want to maintain and keep those properties as is in anticipation of possible revenue generation from commercial or light industrial or even retail,” then-Vice Mayor Eddie Cook said at the meeting.
He noted it was nice to see some give-and take from both the developer as well as staff on the project.
“This is actually a good compromise for both sides,” Cook said. “This is really a good example of a win-win for everybody.”
Former Councilman Jared Taylor said previous councils have planned development well and as a result purchased extra commercial lands that gave the town flexibility.
“This is one of those cases where you can ‘down-zone,’” he said. “As the town develops some (commercially zoned lands) are less viable than others.”
Warner Meadows also has 20.97 acres of open space and a central amenity area that includes a pool with restrooms, shade structures with seating, playground and lawn areas, according to a town staff report.
Six additional parks are located throughout the overall community with each including a shade structure, children’s play equipment and seating.
Other amenities such as grills and game areas like shuffleboard/ping pong table, sand pits, play mounds and pipe crawl structures also are planned throughout the community.