Here in west Glendale, which just a few weeks ago was unincorporated Maricopa County, farmland is being paved over, with heavy machinery leveling land and laying asphalt.
As Glendale charges ahead with multiple annexation projects sucking hundreds of acres of land into the city limits, residents of nearby Waddell and Litchfield Park are enraged.
Land-hungry Glendale is steamrolling them, they say.
“I don’t know if Glendale is going to take our advice into consideration, because we’re not their tax base,” said Tim Callahan, who lives in Litchfield Park.
Other speedy annex-and-build city projects near Loop 303, such as Red Bull, Mark Anthony Brewing and other large-scale commercial projects, were approved at Glendale City Council meetings with nary a whisper of protest.
But what set off scores of Waddell and Litchfield Park residents were three words:
Love’s Travel Center.
A truck stop, they say, will bring excessive traffic, noise, fumes, drugs and crime.
John Kidwell, who lives in the Russell Ranch development of Litchfield Park, said he has personal experience to back up his concerns.
“I’m definitely against the Love’s truck stop,” he said. “I had two previous homes, in Nevada and California, where they tried to put truck stops in within a mile-and-a-half of my home. We fought against it.”
He said he and his neighbors won one of the battles but lost another.
So what was having a truck stop in his neighborhood like?
“It was terrible,” Kidwell said. “It was loud, it was congested, it stunk of diesel fumes - and the noise.”
Ironically, Kidwell had to yell to be heard, as Luke Air Force Base jets raced overhead. But, Kidwell noted, the jets stop at night. He and others are concerned about big trucks idling all day and night.
Kidwell and a dozen of his neighbors met with the Glendale Star last week at the Cotton Lane Baptist Church parking lot. They pointed across narrow, two-lane Cotton Lane at the sprawling farmland.
As the year began, as it had long been, the farm was unincorporated Maricopa County.
After Jan. 14, it became Glendale.
“That’s Glendale,” said Jennifer Bloomberg, of Waddell, pointing across the street. “This is not. The residents of Glendale are not affected by this.”
Many in the protest group attended the Jan. 14 council meeting. Many of them spoke against the project, even after Mayor Jerry Weiers said, “All we’re doing is annexation. We’re not approving a business if you are concerned about that. At a future meeting, you may want to come back and voice your opinion on that.
“If you’re here for that item you don’t need to worry about that. That’s the 303 (crossing) everyone’s concerned about the truck stop.”
Later, Weiers reiterated: “If you came here to talk about the 303 project, the truck stop … We will not be talking about that tonight.”
Despite the mayor’s advice, a half-dozen spoke against the project.
Not one citizen spoke in favor of the annexation.
Though a few councilors expressed sympathy with the non-Glendale residents, council unanimously approved annexing 161 acres, running from Glendale Avenue to Bethany Home Road.
Councilwoman Joyce Clark had even asked city staff if a Love’s truck stop was going there. Lisa Collins, a planning administrator who presented the annexation, said there was no proposal for a truck stop on the property.
She said development would require a Planning Commission recommendation and council approval.
The Waddell/Litchfield Park contingent left the meeting convinced it was a smokescreen and the plan all along was for a Love’s truck stop.
They were right about the truck stop.
Though, technically, the land must be rezoned before anything can be built there, the Glendale Star received confirmation last week the words of Randy Huggins, of Glendale Economic Development, were correct.
Using a pointer to show the area of Bethany Home Road from Cotton Lane east to the 303, Huggins said: “This area here is a Love’s Travel Center. .. We haven’t said the name but now they’ve said they’re ready to announce. A Love’s Travel Center is going here.”
The group protesting the truck stop was told a development plan would be presented at a March 5 Planning Commission meeting. Representatives from the city confirmed the land developer will ask for a change to Planned Area Development (PAD) at the 6 p.m. Thursday, March 5, Planning Commision meeting.
The Star asked the city for a copy of the Cotton Properties development plan, which had not been posted online as of Monday.
“Regarding your inquiry on the Cotton Property, at this time the property is going through annexation and there are no plans submitted into our planning department for the site,” said Lori German of Glendale’s Economic Development department.
Members of the group who met at the church last week said they are not opposed to development, which they say is inevitable in the area.
They just don’t want what they hear is roaring their way.
“I’d welcome anything other than a truck stop,” said C.J. Unzen, of Litchfield Park.
Bob Tevault, of Waddell, pointed south, toward Goodyear’s PV303 development of offices and commercial developments along Cotton Lane.
“The buildings down the street are fine,” he said. “They’re clean looking, they’re attractive. They’re OK.”
Unzen said it wasn’t just the dozen who met at the church who are upset. She said another 100 or so in the area have been sharing their fury over the truck stop on Nextdoor and other social media sites.
“We want to continue to spread the word. We’re putting up fliers. We want to make sure everyone shows up at the March 5 meeting,” Unzen said.
She said the neighbors are planning to wear red to show their protest and speak out at the March 5 Planning Commission meeting.
Standing next to Cora, her fidgeting 9-year-old daughter, Jennifer Bloomber emphasized she and her neighbors are not giving up without a fight:
“Our quality of life is more important than their truck stop.”