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03/30/16

Good evening, COGS E-News Reader. The city council made several decisions last night. They approved all Consent Agenda items in the usual single vote. Agenda Items #7 and #8 were heard together--as related items with #7 a Text Amendment and #8 a new high rise office building and parking garage north of the Galleria on Scottsdale Road and south of the Arizona Canal. Agenda #9 was Medical Marijuana Text Amendment Initiation. This newsletter summarizes that March 29th council meeting.  Also read about the Old Town banyan tree update....free AARP tax help for qualified residents....your feedback on downtown parking.

 Agenda #7. Text Amendment to increase building height in Downtown Planned Block Development areas. From 2009 to 2011 citizen volunteers served on a city council-appointed Downtown Task Force. Following considerable public comment from Downtown merchants, property owners and residents, the Task Force members recommended that the maximum roof height is exactly that. No elevator shaft, antennae, HVAC units or other objects may protrude as appurtenances. So, when the public is told a building is 48 feet—it is THAT.  The 2012 city council approved the limit and new projects have complied. This Text Amendment would allow an additional 6 feet above building “maximum” and appurtenances to be setback 15 feet from the edge and cover not more than 20% of the rooftop.

 Councilman David Smith stated that he saw “no justification” [to change the existing standards] ”for one building”.  Mayor Lane stated he was “not concerned about 90 feet plus”. Councilman Guy Phillips asked staff what are the building heights in the surrounding area. [ranged from 35-36 feet and an approx. 90 ft. W Hotel to 150 feet Waterfront across the AZ Canal]. He opposed allowing the requested additional 6 feet to accomplish another office building floor [and subsequent profit].

Councilwoman Virginia Korte asked clarifying questions and how many downtown buildings are in PBD potential height increase locations [40%--This area is generally Camelback Road to Earll Drive and 68th Street to Miller Road].   Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield opposes the use of Text Amendments that apply to a whole area and prefers case-by-case council decisions. She described “40% PBD is significant”.  Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp “was okay to add 6 feet”.

 Councilwoman Linda Milhaven made the motion to approve an additional 6 feet on all future

Planned Block Development buildings within the Downtown Overlay. The council approved the motion 4 to 3 (Littlefield, Smith,Phillips) Councilman Smith’s alternative motion to deny the Text Amendment lost 3 to 4 .(Klapp, Korte, Lane, Milhaven).

 Agenda # 8 Shoeman Lane Office Building and Parking Garage at 4419 N. Scottsdale Road and 7223/7233 E. Shoeman Lane This project was detailed in the Monday, March 28th COGS E-Newsletter.  Councilwoman Milhaven began the focus on the potential employee parking problem  if the use of the building mirrors the [call centers] Galleria or other intense employee numbers not accommodated by the planned 970 garage spaces. She requested a Plan B from the developer knowing that the city cannot request them to demonstrate a search for “traditional office” tenants.  Councilman Smith pointed out that in a business area that is already parking-scarce, the public 125 surface parking spaces north of the Galleria and 18 Shoeman Lane street spaces would be removed by this project.  And, their garage is for employees only. He asked why the applicant had not made any changes in the plan presented when at the December 3rd Development Review Board which he chaired, commissioners made recommendations to meet the Downtown Development Standards. He firmly stated that he could not support the current project because of building mass, taking of Shoeman Lane public property for setback and “lacking compliance”.

 Mayor Lane considered the re-location of the Shoeman Lane curb and removal of public street parking as “the city participating” [in this project]. He encouraged the developer dollars [contributed to achieve a “bonus” 15 ft height from the base allowed] to be used for parking solutions in the area.

Councilman Phillips could not support and listed the lack of upper floors stepping back for 9 stories and no street setback plus too massive for the area. He said more time is needed to improve the project.  Councilwoman Korte worked through the area parking count including the Galleria recent addition of two more levels on their garage. As an advocate for light rail/Tucson-style street car in Scottsdale, she stated that Phoenix has reduced parking requirements for new development because they have a transportation system. Staff responded that Phoenix has for-pay parking garages.  Councilwoman Littlefield agreed with other members on the need for a Plan B parking strategy, provide upper floor step-backs, provide street-side setback without removing public parking. She further encouraged an appropriate plan for allocating the developer’s “bonus” money. Councilwoman Klapp supported stepping back the upper floors and a trigger for Plan B.  COGS NOTE: Plan B options could include staggered employee shifts, arrange leased parking nearby, and/or provide employee shuttles to outlying parking.

 Councilman Guy Phillips made the motion to Continue the rezoning request to the April 12th council meeting. It passed 7-0.  [Councilman Smith’s motion to deny failed by 3 to 4 (Klapp, Korte, Lane, Milhaven). Council asked staff to work with the applicant to address the concerns regarding 10 foot step-backs (an additional bonus) and provisions that would insure sufficient tenant parking and public parking for the retail element of the development.

 Agenda #9   Medical Marijuana Text Amendment Initiation 65-PA-2016. With the potential for the State of Arizona to approve Recreational Marijuana use, the council wants to set new limits that would discourage more applications to locate in the city. Options discussed were to increase the distance between sites (now 1,320 ft), increase the distance from grade and high schools (now 500 ft), change operation hours (now 6 am to 7 pm), reduce zoned areas allowed but provide Grandfathered status to existing approved Conditional Use Permits. Councilwoman Korte moved to direct staff to provide further analysis of regulatory options and to come back to Council on May 17th, 2016. The motion passed 7 to zero.   The meeting was adjourned.

 GOOD GRIEF! Who attacked the beloved Old Town banyan tree?  COGS e mails skyrocketed following the Friday evening surgery on the shade tree at Brown Avenue and Main Street next to Mexican Imports. The city’s Risk Management was concerned that the large limb over the sidewalk to Civic Center might break off and harm a pedestrian. A professional arborist assures everyone that the tree is now in balance and its long term health and structure is improved. Its massive canopy and 30 plus foot height is not “historic” as it was planted in 1996 as a sapling. When you stroll by to inspect, please stop at the Downtown Ambassador cart for some brochures for your house guests.

 DOWNTOWN PARKING SURVEY ONLINE: Can’t find a parking space to shop or dine downtown this time of year? To improve the overall Downtown experience for residents, visitors and businesses, Scottsdale is examining public parking solutions that include:

  • Offering free Downtown Trolley service at 5 a.m. to encourage Downtown workers to park in unrestricted public parking lots farther from where they work.
  • Implementing and enforcing two-hour parking limits for public street parking in the northeast quadrant of Downtown.
  • Providing information to area employers about mass transit services that could help their employees.
  • Improving the availability of parking information through way-finding signage or a mobile app.

To provide feedback, request additional information or a meeting with staff, Downtown businesses and property owners can visit www.scottsdaleaz.gov   and search “Downtown parking.”

 AARP offers free tax preparation to those who qualify at senior centers – through April 15  The AARP Tax-Aide program is available to help low-to-moderate income residents prepare and file their income tax returns. Schedule an appointment by calling the Via Linda Senior Center at 480-312-5810 or the Granite Reef Senior Center at 480-312-1700

   For the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) Board of Directors, 
 
     Sonnie Kirtley, Chair e-mail sonniek@cogsaz.net 
     Coalition of Greater Scottsdale
     7904 E. Chaparral Rd., Suite 110, PMB 127
     Scottsdale, AZ 85250

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