Longform

This Old $811,000 House

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The Manistee Ranch project was on the Stouts' agenda from the very beginning.

"When John [Sands] died, we knew that the plans were going to go in. I bugged planning and zoning regularly about it," Carol Stout says.

"We immediately called a meeting of the neighborhood," she recalls. "Usually when we call a meeting, we don't call them for no reason. The neighborhood turns out."

In this case, Stout says, there were 100 people. They sent letters to the city council and they showed up at public hearings in force.

Objections to development ranged from questionable to absurd.
Stout and her neighbors balked at the 243 apartments proposed on 12.8 acres of the property near Northern Avenue, despite that it is well within Glendale's general plan and existing zoning.

In a letter to the city, Glendale Elementary School District Superintendent Dick Terbush urged that the property be zoned only for single-family homes because of the "large volume of students" that could come with an apartment complex. But according to commonly accepted planning formulas, single-family homes actually bring more children. (The Sandses agreed to drop the apartment complex in favor of either "assisted senior adult living" or, if that couldn't be marketed, town homes.)

Neighbors said the development might constrain firefighters' ability to contain a blaze; Glendale Fire Department officials assured them that was not the case.

The activists also complained about the increased traffic, despite engineering reports that showed traffic projections to be well within capacity.

"I don't believe those [traffic projection] figures," Bill Stout says. "They keep having the development come in, and I don't think they've got the water. I don't think they've got the sewer. And, with the traffic, I don't think they know what to do."

Valley West Mall owners raised concern that the grocery store and shops planned for the corner would hinder sales and discourage tenants from moving into their mall.

Finally, after more than a year of meetings and tinkering, the city approved the Sands development plan late last year--but left out of the plan was the corner tagged for commercial development, the corner containing the Manistee house.

On that the community would not compromise.
The Sandses offered to move their family home to Sands Park or Sahuaro Ranch Park, which already contains historic buildings and has roots in the Sands family tree.

"We thought [moving it to Sahuaro Ranch Park] would have some historical significance," Marilyn Harris explains.

No dice. City officials feared that moving the Manistee house to Sahuaro Ranch Park would harm the historical integrity of the buildings already in place there.

Besides, Glendale had a different idea.

In 1990, Arizona voters approved a ballot initiative establishing the Arizona State Parks Board Heritage Fund. It provides $20 million a year in Arizona Lottery proceeds for cultural and recreational activities. Half is allocated to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the other half goes to state parks.

Within the state-parks share, grant money is dedicated each year in three categories--historic preservation; local, regional and state parks; and trails. Each of the three is administered separately, but all grants are ultimately approved by the State Parks Board.

The Heritage Fund has been a regular target of legislators who would just as soon raid the fund and spend the money on something else.

The Heritage Fund is now the lifeblood of Manistee Ranch--which could make the fund vulnerable to a new round of legislative assaults.

In response to the ground swell from neighbors and local historic preservationists, Glendale Mayor Scruggs formed a task force to save the Manistee house.

"I didn't want this to spin out of control into something negative," Scruggs says. "I wanted to meet this head-on."

Moving the house at little or no cost to taxpayers would not have prevented it from qualifying for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Despite the Sandses' offer to move the house, Glendale activists ruled it out from the start. It just wouldn't be the same in a different setting. And the corner wouldn't be the same with a shopping center, even though the northeast and northwest corners of the intersection are already home to commercial development.

"One of the real significant losses would be its setting," Dick Coffinger, president ofGlendale Downtown Development Corporation, told the Arizona Outdoor Recreation Coordinating Committee, which reviews grant applications.

"If you ... try to relocate it on a small downtown lot or on a park that it was never historically located on, from the historic preservationists' point of view you lose a great deal of the significance of the property."

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Lisa Davis