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Wittmann neighbors look to stop new developments

Posted at 8:32 PM, Aug 17, 2022

WITTMANN, AZ — The opportunity to have livestock, horses and land are some of the reasons folks in the rural community of Wittmann say they moved to the area in the first place.

Now with nearly 2,000 new homes proposed, the community is preparing to fight the developer and the county.

Neighbors have come together to form an unofficial town council. ABC15 was there for the group's second meeting at neighbor Jeffrey August's kitchen table.

"This is important to me because I moved out here to be in the country, out to be in a rural area. I love watching the cows. I had six cows in my front yard last night," August told ABC15.

Be he's afraid a proposed zoning change would make the country more like the city.

Back in May, neighbor Sherry Krueger told ABC15 something similar after a developer filed a county rezoning application for Walden Ranch and Rancho Maria subdivisions.

Currently the area is zoned rural which means one home per acre. The change to residential would permit three to five homes per acre.

"That changes the dynamic of a rural community," she told ABC15. "That now means complaints about your horses."

Attorneys for the developer have told ABC15 the plan was always to have this number of homes built on the land.

"Orderly growth in master planned communities such as Walden Ranch and Rancho Maria ensure that all growth is managed responsibly by following all applicable laws while providing housing options for the growing employment area north of Surprise," developer attorney William Lally said in a May statement to ABC15.

County records show the planning process is progressing.

At the meeting, residents discussed how to get surrounding communities involved.

"If they sign a petition and they're actually active with what we're doing, I think we'll have more of a standing," resident Heather Abbate told the group.

She recently purchased land to build her home in the area with the belief that it would be rural.

"We are a community of 2,800 residents," Abbate said.

The neighbors said there are too many questions and not enough answers about what this community would become if it were to nearly double in size. August, who has been leading the effort, says he has emailed county planners and their county supervisor but hasn't received any replies.

The group says they don't plan on giving up anytime soon.

"We're worries about losing our beautiful desert out here. We're worried about you know, losing the habitat for the free-range cows. We want to try to keep it one house, one acre," August said.