Residents fight developer over views and building height - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Residents fight developer over views and building height

PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Residents of a north Phoenix neighborhood are speaking out against a proposed apartment building they say will ruin their views, hurt their property values and violate the city's general plan for their part of the Valley.

"This building would really be imposing on the neighborhood and not imposing in a good sense of the word," said Michelle Lombino, who lives within the sight line of the proposed building.

"From my house right now, I have a really nice view of Squaw Peak, the mountains, and it would pretty much be a block wall behind my house," said Nancy Miller, who has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years.

The Phoenix City Council is set to vote on the project called View 32 on Wednesday. In order for it to get off the ground, the council will need to approve a zoning change that will allow for a four- or five-story building in an area where current zoning allows for only one- and two-story buildings.

The developers are using a process called a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, which allows for changes in the zoning for projects on a case-by-case basis. According to the city code, limitations are supposed to be placed to promote neighborhood compatibility.

The project passed the Paradise Valley Village Planning Committee by a vote of 10 to 3. It passed the city Planning Commission on a vote of 5 to zero. The planning department staff is recommending the City Council approve the development.

But opponents say the planning department's report to the City Council is flawed. Page six of the report states:

"The proposed multi-family residential development is harmonious with the North 32nd Policy Plan, specifically the Vision Statement, a Land Use Focus Area, and the results of the working group mapping exercise."

That statement is inaccurate, according to Amelia Zlamal, who took part in the city's mapping exercise.

"I don't understand how it made it past the first desk," Zlamal said. She said residents did not agree on a need to rezone the area during the mapping exercise.

"A five-story building does not conform to a neighborhood with single-story homes," said Michelle West, another neighbor.

The property developer, Michael Martindale, said the project will inject $25 million into a part of the community that is in dire need of redevelopment.

"We have the support of 125 businesses that are in the immediate area," said Martindale, who says he also has petitions signed by 640 nearby residents.

But at least one petition signer told CBS 5 Investigates she was misled by the petition gatherers.

"That was not the structure that I was shown when I signed to support the building," Jackie Kimbrell said.

"I can understand miscommunication, but to claim factual misrepresentations, I have a hard time with that," Martindale said.

Martindale said he has listened to neighbors' concerns and as a result he has lowered the height of the building from five stories to four.

Phoenix City Councilman Bill Gates, whose district would be home to the View 32 development, issued the following statement to CBS 5 News:

"As you may know, I have been working with neighbors and businesses to encourage the revitalization the North 32nd area for a number of years. I am proud of what we have accomplished together and am committed to continuing an open and honest dialogue with everyone in the area.

"Public input is the cornerstone of the City's development process. This project is no different. In addition to the attention the North 32nd Corridor has received in traditional format and social media, the project was required to go through the City's zoning process that includes public meetings hosted by the applicant, and then hearings at our citizen review boards – here, the Paradise Village Planning Committee and the Phoenix Planning Commission. The case was heard at those two review boards and will now come before the City Council for final consideration. 

"There is a significant amount of attention on this project. There are a number of people who support 'View 32' as an important part of the revitalization of North 32nd. There are also those who have concerns about the project. Specifically, objections have been raised with respect to the project's height, size, and number of proposed units. I took those concerns to the applicant in this case and he has agreed to lower the proposed height, reduce the size of the project, and lower the number of units.

"I look forward to further input from the community via email, on social media, and at the City Council meeting on Wednesday afternoon when the City Council will hold a public hearing and vote on this project."

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