The only thing that’ll be fenced at a new 276-unit Gilbert apartment complex is its dog park and that’s leaving some nearby homeowners upset.
The Gilbert Planning Commission on Oct. 2, approved the Springs at Cooley Station’s site plan, landscaping and other design elements – but no fence – on 15-acres near Recker and Williams Field roads.
“It seems like kind of a done deal,” said Joshua Jeter, president of the HOA for Fincher Fields at Cooley Station after the vote. “I thought the whole Planning Commission thing was a joke.”
Jeter said he was reaching out to the mayor for help via email and if he didn’t get a response, he planned to speak during the public comments session at the Oct. 17, council meeting.
Jeter and other homeowners came away from the Sept. 19, Town Council meeting with some assurance their request for a fence could be addressed during the design review process.
Council at its meeting approved the project’s minor general plan amendment and rezone.
Continental Properties originally designed the project with walls and gates but town staff requested their removal in order to promote connectivity.
Cooley Station is within the 4,300-acre Gateway Character Area, which encourages development of traditional neighborhoods with standards such as minimal use of fencing to create a more open feel in neighborhoods.
Jeter said that after the council meeting, Greg Davis, representing the property owner, expressed interest in working with the homeowners to address their concerns.
Shortly after, Davis sent Jeter an email – which he shared with Gilbert Sun News – stating the developer found it impractical to put the fencing back in.
“We went back to Continental to discuss the viability of adding fences and gates back in,” Davis wrote. “In order to add gates and fences back in, as is their typical design format, we would have to go back and substantially redesign the project.
“Being this far down the road and being this vested into the design path we’ve been directed to follow, that is not feasible. Even if it was, we would not have town support and would yet again be firmly directed to eliminate gates and fences.”
Jeter questioned how the project could be set in stone so soon after the council vote.
“I think where some of the confusion goes is where the Town Council approved it and the design review is running concurrently with the rezoning and general plan,” Planner Sydney Bethel told the Planning Commission.
“So, therefore there is only about 2.5 weeks in between the land use and approval and now the design review so it doesn’t leave as much room as the council was kind of discussing up there to make changes to the design.”
At the planning meeting, Jeter expressed some of the reasoning for a fence.
“They are talking about starting at $1,000 a month, which being so close to ASU-East (in Mesa), $1,000 a month is not a lot of money compared to the other apartment complexes right there,” he said. “It’s just going to end up being a dorm room with no fence separating our neighborhood from the apartment complex.”
Eric Gumm, a development director with Continental Properties, disputed that notion.
He said rent ranged from $1,000 for a studio to over $2,000 for a three-bedroom unit. He added there is an income level that has to be met in order to rent.
“We don’t have any concerns with interactions with ASU or any concerns about it turning into more of a dorm-like community,” Gumm said.
Springs at Cooley Station will have 10 buildings, two- and three-story tall offering a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Amenities also include a 4,000-square-foot clubhouse, a 24-hour fitness center, kitchen area, coffee bar and pool.
Vehicle access would be from both Williams Field Road and Haskell Street