COGS on the Las Aguas Debacle

Sonnie Kirtley sent the following out this morning. Looks like yet another vintage Scottsdale neighborhood is going to be thrown under the bus by Mayor Jim Lane, the Scottsdale City Council, and the staff which are all supposed to be working for the residents rather than out-of-state developers.

Good morning, COGS E-Newsletter Readers,  This morning edition will update you on one single project and later this evening we will update you on the action-packed April 9th City Council agenda.  You will recall when the western portion of the Waterfront Phase had a residents’ Legal Protest in opposition to the increased height and density of a proposed project just south of the Nordstrom garage at Fashion Square.

The project was east from 3 major, existing residential subdivisions.  The “end-run” to make that Legal Protest invalid was for city staff to agree (without public hearing or public notice) to move the proposed project boundary lines eastward enough to be outside the Legal Protest limit.  Result: the project was approved by the City Council with a simple majority vote,  Legal?  yes….    Ethical and fair to residents? No.

And now the participating Legal Protest residents in the 64th/Almeria area just north of McDowell Road regarding the apartment project, Las Aquas”,  are learning of last minute project site changes and the removal of eight signers who live on the north side of Almeria (their front yards qualified them to be part of the Legal Protest).

Announcement from the Scottsdale City Clerk’s Office to the City Council Members tells all:

The applicant for the Las Aguas Rezoning (Item No. 25 on the April 9, 2013 Agenda) has amended the proposal to eliminate a 30-foot by 30-foot portion of land located at the northeast corner of the site. As a result, the exhibits to Ordinance No. 4056 and Resolution No. 9251, which are related to the case, have been amended to reflect the change. Because the changes to the exhibits occurred less than ten days prior to the meeting, the April 9, 2013 Council Meeting Agenda has been amended to add Consent Agenda Item No. 1A, Added Items, to require a separate vote to keep Item 25 on the agenda. A copy of the amended agenda and the revised documents for Item 25 are attached, have been posted online, and are available in DropBox.

Also related to this case, eight letters were filed in the Clerk’s Office this afternoon by residents seeking to have their names removed from the Las Aguas legal protest. The amended rezoning proposal and the eight letters are being reviewed by the staff in Planning to determine what, if any, effect this will have on the legal protest.

COGS strongly supports developers working with the adjacent neighbors to promote an appropriate and compatible project.  Dialogue and project tweaking is constructive and results in a better project. But, we are greatly concerned when we get reports that homeowners were offered various “gifts” such as new windows on the front of their home if they would approve the project.

Comment on  recent Arizona Republic editorials and My Turn columns: More than a week ago City Councilman Phillips had an excellent article in the Arizona Republic stating his opinions about the pending surplus of apartment building projects coming through council for approvals.  Follow-up responses totally missed one of his major points.

Property that is ALREADY ZONED for such construction deserves approval if the design, height and density fit the existing zoning/land use. Then it does not negatively impact the existing homeowners or businesses in the area. What he did emphasize is that REZONING—changes in the land use—should benefit the neighborhood and the city as a whole.

Zoning-specified land use– provides a predictability for surrounding neighbors when they purchase their property.  It should also be the zoning expected by a developer when purchasing a property.  For the past 8 years the developers have been successful to get those existing zonings changed through the use of text amendments to the General Plan,  amendments to the development standards, approval for the Infill Incentive District (without a rush to build) and repeated trips back to the staff for stipulation changes.

Tuesday, April 9th, at 5 pm should be an interesting City Council meeting.  We hope that you will tune in to CityCable Channel 11.  If you have DirectTV you cannot watch your local government in action on TV.

For the COGS –Coalition of Greater Scottsdale– Board of Directors, Sonnie Kirtley, Chair    e-mail  website

3370 North Hayden Road, Suite 123  PMB 766, Scottsdale AZ 85251

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1 Comment

  1. It must be frustrating to live in Las Aguas or any of the old neighborhoods in Scottsdale knowing you have no chance against the developer owned council.

    They are ruining the town and don’t care. Total losers.

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