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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Scottsdale approves 2nd plan for apartments near airpark

The Scottsdale City Council this week approved a second plan to build apartments in the Scottsdale Airpark but postponed consideration of a third proposal until after the Federal Aviation Administration weighs in on allowing residences close to Scottsdale Airport.

By a 6-1 vote, the council Tuesday approved a non-major, General Plan amendment to the Greater Airpark Character Area Plan. The change creates a mixed-use residential designation that allows apartments on a 32-acre site along Scottsdale Road south of Paradise Lane. The site currently houses CrackerJax Family Fun and Sports Park.

Mayor Lane asks appointee to resign over complaint to FAA
Scottsdale council OKs first plan for apartments near airport

Councilman Bob Littlefield was the only no vote. "This is about protecting one of Scottsdale's biggest assets, the airport," he said.

Residents in the airpark will complain about aircraft noise, prompting political pressure to restrict flight times, therefore driving business away to other Valley airports, Littlefield said.

The Herberger family, which owns the property, and Woodbine Southwest, which developed the nearby Kierland Commons on the Phoenix side of Scottsdale Road, want to develop a similar mixed-use project on the CrackerJax site.

"This is a fine project and will bring great value to the airport and the airpark," Mayor Jim Lane said.

Mike Withey, an attorney representing the Herberger family, said his client will be returning to the council with a rezoning request and site plan in the future, so the council will have a second chance to vote on the project.

Multifamily residential will be just one component of the project and it hasn't been determined how many units the project will include, he said.

"Kierland Commons only has 84 units," he said.

Withey said Kierland residents have not complained about noise from the airport.

Also, the proposal is in full compliance with all city and FAA land-use requirements, he said.

Airport Advisory Commissioner Stephen Ziomek told the council the CrackerJax property is in the path of helicopters flying below 500 feet.

"I would not want a helicopter coming over my head at 500 feet," he said.

Helicopters currently fly right past Kierland and there has never been concern from residents, Withey said, adding the helicopter route likely will be altered once the project is completed.

Vice Mayor Linda Milhaven said the acreage is outside the 55-decibel, day-to-night average noise level contour surrounding the airport, and that 55 decibels is the equivalent of a "quiet office."

Gary Mascaro, the airport's aviation director, said 55 decibels is an average, and that the actual noise level may be higher or lower based on a single event.

Last week, the council voted 6-1 to approve rezoning and other changes that will allow development of the Residences at Zocallo Place, a four-building, 240-unit apartment complex near the northwestern corner of Greenway-Hayden Loop and 73rd Street. Littlefield was the only no vote.

A third proposal for a 605-unit complex south of Hayden Road and west of Northsight Boulevard will be considered by the council at its Tuesday meeting. Sunrise Luxury Living, a multifamily residential developer, wants to develop a complex on the site, which was vacated by an auto dealership more than two years ago.

An issue in all three cases has been whether allowing residential in the airpark, which surrounds the airport, will constitute a violation of land-use policy approved by the council and the FAA, and therefore jeopardize existing and future FAA grants to the airport.

The FAA has stipulated that land use in the immediate vicinity of the airport should be restricted to "activities and purposes compatible with normal airport operations, including landing and takeoff of aircraft."

Mascaro said the FAA will be responding to Airport Advisory Commissioner John Washington's complaint about all three proposals for residential in the airpark, and the response will be reported to the council. Lane has asked for Washington's resignation for filing the complaint, saying it has "given rise to a serious concern as to (Washington's) motivation with respect to the city and the airport."

Earlier this month, the Airport Advisory Commission rejected all three proposals. The city's Planning Commission recommended approval of all three.

by Edward Gately The Arizona Republic Oct. 26, 2011 01:50 PM




Scottsdale approves 2nd plan for apartments near airpark

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