Rio Verde community — the one with water — could get grocery store, restaurants under plan

A proposed commercial development could bring a new grocery store to the unincorporated community of Rio Verde, where residents currently must drive about 10 miles just to get groceries.The site is not part of the nearby Rio Verde Foothills community, which has struggled with extensive issues regarding access to water, after the area was cut off from Scottsdale’s water supply.Rio Verde is an unincorporated, master-planned community, which has water service from Epcor. Rio Verde Foothills was developed using a loophole in state law that did not require an assured 100-year water supply, creating a major issue when Scottsdale stopped allowing the area to use city water.Park West Partners, a Scottsdale-based developer that has specialized in neighborhood-scale retail centers, submitted plans to Maricopa County to develop a roughly 17-acre site at 174th Street and Rio Verde Drive. Plans submitted to the county call for a grocery-anchored center with other small-scale commercial buildings, which could include restaurants, coffee shops, salons or medical offices.According to the application submitted to the county, commercial development was historically discouraged in the area because of limited infrastructure, but population growth in nearby neighborhoods, which include Tonto Verde, Trilogy and Rio Verde Foothills, has increased demand for commercial development, Wendy Riddell, zoning attorney for the project, wrote.In addition, another master plan was already approved in the area east of the site, which could bring even more residents.The project, called the Shops at Rio Verde, is within Rio Verde and will get its water from Epcor, a private water utility that serves the area already, Riddell said.  The Maricopa County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-1 in favor of recommending the County Board of Supervisors approve a zoning change to allow construction of the project. The plan is scheduled to go before the board in July, Riddell said in an email.Opponents, supporters of project make their caseAt the commission meeting, county staff said it had received more than 100 messages in support of the project and about 40 in opposition. Those opposed to the project raised such issues as preserving the area’s rural character, concerns about water and sustainability, adding traffic to the road and opening the door for more commercial development in the area.Riddell said the development is designed to serve the surrounding neighborhoods and would not be a destination for anyone who does not live nearby.Those in support of the development said it would bring the area a much-needed grocery store and would improve access to services for the community, especially for senior citizens.Commission member Francisca Montoya was the only member to vote against recommending the board approve the rezoning, saying that she did not think it fit with the neighborhood and residents’ needs. She said residents chose to live in the area because it is remote and knew they would have to drive for access to goods and services when they chose to live in a rural setting.In the pipeline:Second legislative solution for Rio Verde Foothills water woes heads to Hobbs’ deskReach the reporter at Follow her on Twitter @CorinaVanek.

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