Scottsdale council OKs first plan for apartments near airport
Edward Gately – Oct. 20, 2011 08:40 AM
The Arizona Republic
The Scottsdale City Council this week approved the first of three proposals to build apartment complexes in the Scottsdale Airpark despite warnings from Councilman Bob Littlefield and others that it will hurt Scottsdale Airport and drive business to other Valley airports.
The three proposals are non-major, General Plan amendments to the Greater Airpark Character Area Plan that call for mixed-use residential buildings. The change could lead to more than 3,300 residents in the airpark area.
The council voted 6-1 to approve the General Plan amendment, rezoning and amended development standards for the Residences at Zocallo Place. It calls for a four-building, 240-unit apartment complex near the northwestern corner of Greenway-Hayden Loop and 73rd Street, north of the Scottsdale Quarter and south of the Scottsdale Promenade. The four-story complex could attract an estimated 543 residents.
Littlefield was the only no vote.
The other two proposals will be considered by the council at its meeting on Tuesday. One calls for a 605-unit complex south of Hayden Road and west of Northsight Boulevard, and the other a mixed-use development with 720 apartment units on the CrackerJax site, on Scottsdale Road south of Paradise Lane.
Earlier this month, the Scottsdale Airport Advisory Commission rejected all three proposals, fearing that nearby residents would complain about noise and push for flight restrictions. The city Planning Commission, however, recommended the council approve all three proposals.
“Five years from now, when people are down here complaining about the noise, these (council members), if any of them are left, better hope that the voters forget that they voted for this,” said Littlefield, who is a pilot. The property that would house the Zocallo complex is owned by Scottsdale Place LLC. John Berry, a zoning attorney representing the property owner, said the proposal exceeds all Federal Aviation Administration and city requirements in the area. “The case is about balancing the needs of the entire community,” he said.
Jim Haxby, a Scottsdale resident and pilot, said he’s witnessed the effects of residential encroachment on other airports, and this complex will prompt complaints.
“The end result will be restrictive flight hours,” he said.
Apartments in the airpark would prompt noise complaints from residents and “noise is the No. 1 killer of airports,” added Arthur Rosen, a representative of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
Airport Advisory Commission Chairman Gunnar Buzzard said adding residential to the airpark is “not good for the city” and will prompt strict scrutiny by the FAA.
Gary Mascaro, the airport’s aviation director, told the council that approving the Zocallo proposal wouldn’t constitute a violation of any federal grant assurances.
Numerous residents spoke in favor of the Zocallo proposal. Michael West, who lives in a multifamily complex at Kierland, west of the airport, said too much was being made of the noise coming from the airport.
“I have no problem whatsoever,” he said.
Lindsey Smith, who owns a salon near the airport, said the complex would bring welcome customers to her business. She also said the airport is right behind her business and that noise never has been an issue.
Planning Commission Chairman Michael D’Andrea, speaking as a resident, told the council that all three sites are “extremely valuable” for residential use, and that, with proper handling, the proposals don’t pose a risk to the city of losing future FAA funding.
FAA officials could not be reached for comment by press time Wednesday.
Several council members saw benefits to the new apartments.
Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp said adding residential at the airpark will eliminate some of the traffic congestion on Loop 101, and help support commercial and retail in the airpark, she said.
Mayor Jim Lane said the city has protected the airport for decades and the outcry toward this and the other proposals, in a sense, represents “overzealous protectors.”
“I think this is a good project and it brings an awful lot of positive growth,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity … and it’s not harmful to a major asset to the city.”
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