Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Scottsdale City Council rejects airpark apartment complex

A divided Scottsdale City Council Tuesday rejected a proposal to build an apartment complex in the Scottsdale Airpark despite assurances from the property owner's attorney that it wouldn't harm operations at Scottsdale Airport.

The council voted 4-3 against adopting a non-major General Plan amendment to the Greater Airpark Character Area Plan that would have allowed a 605-unit apartment complex south of Hayden Road and west of Northsight Boulevard.

Sunrise Luxury Living, a multifamily residential developer, wanted to develop a complex on the site, which was vacated by an auto dealership more than two years ago.

"We're obviously disappointed, especially with some of the changes that we had agreed to," said Michael Curley, an attorney representing property owner Joe Cardinale. "We thought that we addressed the council's concerns, but reasonable people can reasonably disagree. You win some, you lose some."

Mayor Jim Lane, and council members Lisa Borowsky, Bob Littlefield and Ron McCullagh voted for a motion to reject the proposal. Vice Mayor Linda Milhaven and council members Suzanne Klapp and Dennis Robbins, who favored the proposal, voted against the motion.

The council has approved two other plans to build apartments in the airpark. One will be a complex near the northwestern corner of Greenway-Hayden Loop and 73rd Street, and the other will be a mixed-use development on the site that currently houses CrackerJax Family Fun and Sports Park.

Opponents of the proposals, including Littlefield, members of the Airport Advisory Commission, pilots and others, have said allowing residential at the airpark will constitute a violation of land-use policy approved by the council and the Federal Aviation Administration, and therefore jeopardize existing and future grants to the airport.

Last month, Curley asked the council to postpone consideration of the Hayden-Northsight proposal because his client wanted to get more information from the FAA. On Tuesday, he told the council FAA officials via conference call said none of the three proposals would be a threat to federal-grant assurances.

He also told the council the site plan would be revised to move all residential units out of the 55-decibel, day-to-night average noise level contour surrounding the airport. Doing so would reduce the number of units and no residential would be located along Hayden, he said.

Littlefield said Curley assurred the council that he would bring back a letter from the FAA, and instead relayed information from a phone call with the agency.

"Why are we threatening the airport for apartments?" Littlefield said. "Even if those grant assurances were not in danger, the vitality and survivability of the airport are threatened."

Lane said Airport Advisory Commission Chairman Gunnar Buzzard spoke with FAA officials and was told grant assurances wouldn't be threatened by the Hayden-Northsight proposal. However, the mayor said he couldn't support the proposal because it represented an "encroachment" of the noise-level contours and is an incompatible land use in that area.

Milhaven said it comes down to a "matter of opinion" as to whether residential should be located in the airpark, and that the city can't afford to wait for the economy to rebound before the airpark sees improvement. If the city doesn't provide housing in the airpark, "businesses will relocate elsewhere."

by Edward Gately The Arizona Republic Dec. 7, 2011 12:44 PM

Scottsdale City Council rejects airpark apartment complex

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