Annexation of Lennar development discussed at community meetings
ANTHEM – The planned Lennar development Circle Mountain Ranch, to be located at the north end of 43rd Ave. on the west side of Anthem, may be annexed into the Anthem community. The Anthem Community Council will vote on this at an evening meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 16 and make their recommendation to Pulte. (Updates on this continuing story will be available at www.TheFoothillsFocus.com after the Sept. 16 vote.)
Originally, the homes were slated to be built as part of Phoenix and, while located across the street from Anthem homes, the new homeowners would not have use of Anthem amenities or pay Anthem assessments. Pulte has put forth a proposal to annex Circle Mountain Ranch into Anthem. The homes will be built whether or not the annexation proposal goes through. The proposed annexation was discussed at two community meetings. At each meeting, Pulte provided details on what the home sites would look like and the projected impact on the Anthem community. Construction would start as early as 2016, with the last homes sold in 2019.
According to Pulte representatives, the annexation will bring in additional capital for the community, including an up-front transfer fee from the builders and over $150,000 each year in quarterly assessments to the Anthem Community Council.
“I’m hoping that a large amount of that money is going to be put towards new facilities and expansion and improvement,” Phil Turner, Vice President of Land for PulteGroup’s Arizona Division, said at the Sept. 9 meeting.
Resident reaction to the proposed annexation was mixed. Several residents brought up traffic issues and community center use. It was noted that the development has already been approved by the City of Phoenix, including traffic impact. The 202 homes to be built would have Anthem Community Center privileges if the homes are annexed into Anthem; however, if annexed, the homeowners there will also be paying assessments and contributing to the upkeep of the community. One section of the Pulte presentation at the Sept. 14 meeting noted that, “The negatives of the development are inevitable.”
If the Lennar annexation goes through, Pulte has agreed to give up annexation rights for the Anthem community and put any annexation requests into the hands of the Anthem Community Council. Currently, Pulte has the right to fulfill any annexation requests for new developments within a 25-mile radius of Anthem. If the Lennar annexation does not go through, there will be no change to Pulte’s annexation rights.
Anthem Community Council Board of Directors President Tim Fyke noted at the Sept. 9 meeting that, if this deal is approved, the annexation rights would come back to Anthem through the ACC.
“Pulte will not have a say after this to annex anything back to Anthem,” Fyke noted. “That was, as a Board, one of our primary goals, as well.”
While Pulte has the right to annex these homes into Anthem over residents and Council’s objections, Pulte has previously shown deference to the Board. The Board of Directors will be voting on this issue at their Sept. 16 meeting and will then give Pulte their feedback.
Turner noted that Pulte has planned to give back annexation rights to the community, calling that the “right thing to do” and “always our intention.”
Ryan Halleran, one of the ACC Board Directors, noted in the Sept. 14 meeting that, if the deal goes through, future annexation “would only happen if residents wanted to do so.”
“Going forward, Pulte would agree to basically give those declarant rights to the ACC, to our community, so they would not be in the position to annex any future homes in our community,” Halleran said.
Turner noted at the Sept. 14 meeting that he couldn’t guarantee that Pulte would walk away from the annexation if residents didn’t want it, but that he would tell his superiors that there was resistance from residents. While Pulte has the legal right to annex, they are asking the community and the Board for feedback to see how the community feels about it.
Commenters asked questions and gave feedback at each meeting.
“What’s in it for us?” one commenter asked at the Sept. 9 meeting. Another noted that there were many questions asked but no “real answers” presented.
At the Sept. 9 meeting, a commenter suggested a compromise, asking that Pulte donate land for new amenities. The response was that it is not financially feasible at this time. A commenter at the Sept. 14 meeting suggested that one of the two parks in the new development include a splash pad. Pulte representatives did not commit to this idea, but they did not turn it down outright.
Towards the end of the Sept. 9 meeting, another commenter stood up and shared his views, saying he had served on several Anthem committees, noting that it was clear that one way or another, the project would be built.
“Pulte has represented to all of us tonight and to the Council and it will be in writing that they will no longer have any ability to annex,” he noted. “When I heard that, I said, that is worth gold.”
At the Sept. 14 meeting, another resident noted that the project was going to happen anyway, so why not benefit?
“It’s going to happen – let Anthem have control of it and get money from it to help our community grow,” she said.
Turner closed the meeting by noting Pulte wants Anthem to stay beautiful and that as long as their name is on the door, Pulte will remain part of the community.
“I consider it our responsibility to watch out for this community,” Turner said.
The annexation issue will be voted on at the Wednesday, Sept. 16, 6:30 p.m. meeting Anthem Community Council Board of Directors meeting, located at the Anthem Civic Building. Updates will be posted at www.TheFoothillsFocus.com after the vote.