AZ Central – Proposed apartment development wins council continuance

The developer of a proposed apartment complex along south Scottsdale’s McDowell Road corridor Tuesday avoided facing a super-majority vote for approval by the City Council.
Chason Development wants to build the complex, Las Aguas, on the 5-acre parcel that formerly housed Pitre Buick, on the northern side of McDowell west of 68th Street. The $25million complex would include 154 units.
At its Tuesday meeting, the council voted 4-2 to continue until its March 5 meeting consideration of a rezoning with amended development standards and a development plan for Las Aguas. The continuance was requested by John Berry, a zoning attorney representing Chason.
Councilmen Bob Littlefield and Guy Phillips voted against the continuance. No discussion took place prior to the vote.
A legal protest filed by adjacent property owners would have forced a super-majority 6-1 vote for approval of the project. Kim Chafin, senior city planner, confirmed that the legal protest is still valid and that the applicant sought more time to work with neighbors who continue to oppose the project.
Phillips said the council should first have a discussion about the need for more apartments before considering this and any other apartment proposals. The council already has approved “too many apartment units.”
“It’s just irresponsible to keep approving these without a discussion on do we need them, where are the people going to go, do we have room for the traffic, is there work for them, etc.,” he said. “It’s putting the cart before the horse.”
Littlefield said obtaining “endless continuances” is the developer’s way of wearing down the neighbors.” On the other hand, if the residents weren’t ready to present their arguments, the council wouldn’t grant them a continuance, he said.
“The developer’s attorney knew he didn’t have the votes, so he continued it,” he said. “Why should we let this guy just continue to vote shop … for when he thinks he has enough votes?
“It’s disrespecting the residents while fawning over developers.”
A small number of residents attended the council meeting, but weren’t allowed to speak because of the continuance. They wouldn’t comment after the vote.
The council previously granted a continuance at its Jan. 22 meeting. The first continuance is granted automatically, according to council procedure. The second continuance required a council vote.
“We continue to discuss issues the neighbors have raised with them and hope to be able to move forward successfully with the case with additional neighborhood involvement and input,” Berry said. “We’re just talking to folks.”
The proposal has been unpopular with nearby residents from the start. Chason has made numerous changes in the proposal to gain the support of nearby residents, such as no north-facing balconies, a higher buffer wall along the northern side, higher-pitched roofs on the one-story garages along the northern side and a construction sequence to buffer the neighborhood.
Berry has said those who remain opposed don’t want apartments built on the site.
“We’re looking at all the alternatives,” he said.
The council also is tentatively set to consider at its Feb. 26 meeting another apartment proposal that faces opposition from nearby homeowners.
Woods Partners, a developer of multi-family residences, wants to replace Rural/Metro Corp.’s Scottsdale billing and call center with a 223-unit apartment complex at the northeastern corner of of Indian School and Granite Reef roads.
Opponents plan to mobilize in the coming weeks and present a stronger opposition than when the proposal was considered and recommended for council approval by the Planning Commission.