Sonorita area could see welcome changes

By: 
DARRELL JACKSON, Glendale Star Reporter

Home owners in the Sonorita Community Overlay could be allowed to rebuild, repair or add on to their homes if council approves the planning commission changes to the zoning text amendment.

Glendale Planning Commission unanimously recommended a change during the Nov. 8 meeting to the Sonorita Community Overlay zoning text amendment, which would allow existing single-family resident homeowners to make improvements to their homes in the area.
The recommendation came after Ocotillo Councilmember Jamie Aldama requested staff research a zoning text amendment that would allow existing homes to construct additions in accordance with specific standards within the Sonorita community.
“This amendment would allow existing homes to remain in this community and to potentially expand should the property owner wish to construct something, such as a room addition,” Senior Planner Thomas Ritz said. “It would also allow them to apply for additional funding.”
The Sonorita Community, which is bounded by Grand, 59th and Maryland avenues, is currently zoned light industrial and the amendment would allow current residential properties in the community to apply for local, state and federal assistance for home repairs.
“New home construction on vacant lots would not be permitted with this change,” Ritz said. “Aldama had requested staff to research if establishing a residential overlay would allow Sonorita residents to apply for assistance for any needed repairs.”
Planning Commissioner Jon Froke asked if such changes to existing houses would be limited to room additions.
“Along with room additions, could homeowners add something like a patio or porch to existing homes or are they not allowed?” Froke asked.
Ritz said any expansions of current homes would be allowed, and homeowners would have a one-year time frame to rebuild the current residences in the area.
“This change would allow for them to repair or add on, as well as rebuild if they do it within one year of the zoning change,” Ritz said. “It would not allow for any new home construction in the overlay area.”
During public comments, a business owner in the area, Pat Reid, asked if any of the proposed changes would change property taxes, to which staff said it would not and there would be no additional taxes added to the area.
Commissioner Warren Wilfong asked if a homeowner had vacant land next to their current residence and wanted to open a machine shop (or something similar), could they do that currently.
“Basically, because it is zoned light industrial, if they wanted to do that, they could open that type of business,” Ritz said.
“So, if they wanted to put a machine shop on their vacant property, that would be allowed without restriction?” Wilfong asked.
“They would have to follow codes for noise issues, but their vacant lots, by rights, would be available to be used for light industrial uses,” Ritz said.
In August 2016, Aldama originally requested staff research whether alternative funding was available for the Sonorita neighborhood since the area is exempt from federal Community Development Block Grant funding for rehabilitation activities.
Any changes from residential to light industrial would be allowed, given that homeowners followed all codes and compliances, but they would not be allowed to change back.
“They can change their homes to light industrial, following all zoning codes in their changes,” Ritz said. “But once it is completed, it would not be allowed to be changed back to residential.”
The changes will now be brought to a future council meeting for further consideration and final approval.
 

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