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ACC Board votes 3-1 for Lennar development annexation


Elizabeth Medora

ANTHEM – Circle Mountain Ranch, the development to be built on the north end of 43rd Ave., will be annexed into the Anthem community. The Anthem Community Council Board of Directors voted 3-1 at their Wednesday night meeting to approve the annexation and extend their formal go-ahead to Pulte. Board members Roger Willis, Rob Linder, Bob McKenzie, and John Balzer voted; John Birdseye was absent, Ryan Halleran abstained, and Tim Fyke, as Board President, did not vote.

Pulte will be building 77 homes in Circle Mountain Ranch. Lennar will build 125, for a total of 202 new Anthem homes. Construction is slated to begin in 2016; home sales are scheduled for 2017-2019. The new homes will provide about $150,000 in yearly revenue to the Anthem community through quarterly assessments. Builders will also be paying upfront transfer fees.

Now that the Lennar deal is going through, Pulte is giving up annexation rights in Anthem. Any future communities that wish to be recognized as Anthem and have use of Anthem amenities must appeal to the ACC Board of Directors. Pulte previously held the legal right to annex within a 25-mile radius of Anthem. They have agreed, in writing, to forever relinquish those rights to the community.

Residents’ reactions to the annexation have been mixed, with questions regarding traffic, schools, and amenity use. However, since the development was scheduled to be built whether it was annexed into Anthem or not, many residents have reacted favorably since now Circle Mountain Ranch will be paying assessments into the upkeep of Anthem.

ACC Community Executive Officer Jenna Kohl provided background information when discussion on the annexation was opened at the Sept. 16 meeting.

“There has been much discussion on this topic,” Kohl said. She noted that Pulte had held two community meetings regarding this, saying, “They wanted to get the Board’s feedback and the community’s feedback.” She added that this wasn’t required, but that it was “something they (Pulte) wanted to do.”

Commenters expressed feedback before the vote.

Several commenters agreed that the homes to be built were getting increased value from being part of Anthem and that the builders should be paying a larger capital contribution on each home sold.

The overcrowding of the Anthem Community Center was a recurring topic. No solution for this was reached, beyond the new funding from the additional homes.

A commenter asked what would happen to the annexation agreement if Pulte and/or Lennar sold the development or were no longer in existence. The ACC legal team responded that any future owners would be bound by the supplemental agreement. Going forward, only the ACC Board of Directors will have the right to annex property into Anthem.

Phil Turner, Vice President of Land for PulteGroup’s Arizona Division, noted regarding the traffic issues, “The development will be built by somebody.” Turner said that the City of Phoenix collects from the builders on each home; the funds paid are at the city’s discretion for use.

“We will be asking the City of Phoenix to take a look at the traffic situation,” Turner said, noting that Pulte does a lot of work with the City of Phoenix and may be able to negotiate.

“It’s not something that we’re just going to walk away from,” Turner emphasized.

Board members gave statements prior to the vote.

Willis, who voted in favor of the annexation, noted that it was not a “perfect deal” but that he would vote yes, calling the deal “as good as we’re going to get.”

“I certainly would have enjoyed, or expected, to hear from Lennar directly on this thing, but they chose not to do that,” Willis said. He added that he wanted to learn more about residents’ expectations, since he has heard more about this through these community meetings.

Linder also voted in favor of the annexation.

“Let me speak to the family,” Linder said. “I have five children, I live in Parkside, and I’m at the community center every day.” He noted that he has advocated for a second community center; however, he does not think there will be a major increase in community center usage due to the annexation. He added that the Board had started with zero in the deal and was able to gain the capital contributions.

McKenzie voted against the annexation.

“Is there enough in this proposal to provide value for Anthem and its families? My answer is no, there’s not,” McKenzie said. “We need to get a better deal, or we need to say no.”

Balzer provided the third vote in favor.

“I’m going to vote yes because I think the declarant’s rights being turned over to us is a big deal,” he said.

Halleran, who abstained from voting, asked to put the vote off, saying it was “premature to make a decision tonight.”

“I do believe that I’m in favor of the agreement in general. I think with a little more time, we could come to a better financial agreement,” Halleran said.

Turner provided Pulte’s position as to putting off the vote.

“We’ve delayed this project several times already to accommodate this process,” Turner said. “My report back is a non-vote is a no vote going forward,” he added.

Fyke did not vote, saying he generally votes only when a vote is tied. He did speak at the meeting, noting the Board’s limited resources and the impact of future annexation if this deal was not passed. He noted that the capital contributions and additional funds from the new homes would add needed funds to the ACC.

“This takes away a lot of our long term risk and gives us capital we’re not going to get any other way,” Fyke said.