Former city manager takes out referendum petitions on Somerton development
City of Somerton residents concerned about possible negative effects of a proposed subdivision on the city's infrastructure may have the opportunity to vote on whether the 80 acres of land should be used for development or not.
But a special election would only come after the legal process is complete for a referendum pulled earlier this week by resident Frank Carrillo, who resigned as city manager in 2002 after two years in office.
The subdivision would be located south of town on the northeast corner of County 17th Street and Somerton Avenue. And it would be located south of the Valle Sereno subdivision where the concerned residents live.
City council approved the general plan amendment for the land's development Feb. 17 with a 6-1 vote after it had voted against the amendment two months earlier, officials said.
The plan calls for about 200 homes valued from $120,000 to $165,000. The 1,300-square-foot homes would include of two-car garages and be built on 6,000-square-foot lots.
Carrillo and other residents of Valle Sereno have expressed some concerns that the subdivision could lower the value of their properties and put a strain on the city's roads, police and fire services and its general infrastructure, Carrillo said.
Somerton City Manager Cliff O'Neil said a referendum "refers a council's decision to the voters," which could potentially lead to a special election that would cost the city $10,000. But he added the referendum means nothing until it is complete with a petition of 49 signatures from registered Somerton voters. He said the deadline for the referendum to be returned to the city is March 18.
Robert Hawkey, real estate broker for developer Compadre Properties, said he has already met with residents of Valle Sereno and settled the concern that the homes would lower the value of their properties. He said the residents had a misunderstanding that the homes were going to be valued less than the developer had planned.
The developer is scheduled to meet with the city's planning and zoning commission March 15, where the commission members would recommend the approval or disapproval of the zoning of the land for its development to the city council, O'Neil said. Then, the council would most likely vote on its approval or disapproval in the city council meeting March 16, he said.
Mayor Agustin Tumbaga said the city wants to address any of the residents' concerns before the referendum leads to an election. He said the city has a tight budget, and he does not want another expense added to the city's budget if it is not necessary.
Jacob Lopez can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6872.