Real estate official Robert M. McNichols envisions a day when people will live in apartments above businesses adjacent to – and outside the flight paths of – Falcon Field Airport.
He is managing member and chief executive of Daedalus Real Estate Advisors, which owns the Longbow Golf Club north of McDowell Road between Higley and Recker roads and is seeking a Major General Plan Amendment to allow mixed-use residential on the property. The business has owned the golf course and surrounding area for 14 years and wants to develop it, Mr. McNichols said.
“We don’t have zoning and we are not proposing to build anywhere yet until we get this approved. Then someday we’ll come back and say, ‘OK, now we’ve got a builder who wants to build over here’ or ‘we’ve got a retail development where they want to build apartments above retail,’” he said April 23 at the golf club, 5601 E. Longbow Parkway. “It’s not new; it’s old. Our parents, when they were growing up, lived in small towns in the Midwest and that was the way they lived – they lived above stores… It’s an old idea, but what makes it new is it is affordable and it is more urban-style living, changing the character and occupancy of suburban land and developments,” Mr. McNichols said.
“We’re trying to modernize the development and if there is housing and if there are people to work that live in apartments somewhere on this property, we’re going to have an easier time attracting employers who would find places for their employees to live. And they cannot all afford houses,” he said.
The Mesa Planning and Zoning Board on April 16 got its first look at the Major General Plan Amendment to surround the golf course with businesses and apartments or townhomes. An informal presentation was made to provide general information on the amendment request.
“The amendment would permit the development of high-density residential uses (10-20 dwelling units per acre) on a limited 30 percent portion of the property to complement the golf course, the business park, retail uses and integrate into the surrounding area,” according to the General Plan application.
A General Plan is a long-term, comprehensive document that guides the future growth and development of the community. The Mesa 2025 General Plan was adopted by the council and voters of the city of Mesa in 2002. Mesa voters will consider a new plan for 2040 at the Nov. 4, 2014, election. A draft plan for 2040 is at the city’s website.
Mesa Planning Director John Wesley on April 16 showed slides to the planning and zoning board including that the General Plan for the property is presently 256 acres of business park and 49 acres of community commercial. The amendment is for a land use change to 305 acres of mixed use/residential, according to the slides.
The planning and zoning board will hold public hearings on the proposed change and another major amendment in August and September, and the Mesa City Council will discuss and approve it to be on the Nov. 4 ballot, according to Mesa City Council documents.
A total of 500 housing units are planned, Mr. Wesley told the board.
“It has to be at least 15 units per acre,” he said. “We would expect some type of apartment development – at least some detached-townhomes project.”
Board members said during the meeting that they were concerned with plans to have housing near Falcon Field Airport.
Beth Coons, vice chair of the planning board, said April 16 that she is concerned that the development is in the path of the planes going to and from the adjacent Falcon Field Airport. The airport is generally between McKellips and McDowell and Greenfield and Higley roads.
“I feel such need to protect the airport. This comes right kitty-corner with the airport and the runways. I would feel much better about this if somehow it was carved-out that residential was not in the southwest corner of this. I have a huge concern with that,” she said.
Board Chairman Randy Carter had a similar concern.
“How can we follow that through so that when the time comes that they develop that area, which hopefully will be soon, that that could be watched and not slip under the doorway unannounced?” he asked April 16. “Making sure that the housing portion moves away from the airport. That’s going to be a constant problem. They may get avigation easement sign-offs and everything, but every time something big goes over they are going to be calling the city and complaining about the noise. So that’s moved over into another area so it’s off of the landing or flight pattern that they use that it would be so much better,” Chairman Carter said.
No homes in flight path
Mr. McNichols said April 23 that the commissioners were misled by the April 16 presentation.
“What was wrong with the way the case was presented was that it was assumed and it was allowed to be assumed that it was a zoning change and it is not. And it was also assumed that we were going to build homes in the flight path of the airport, and we are not. We have enough land here that some of it is in the flight path but some of it is not, and the airport master plan dictates what kind of development you can pursue smack down in the middle of the flight path, to the left of it, to the right of it and at certain distances away from it,” he said.
“‘A,’ we’re not a zoning case and ‘B,’ we’re not building in the flight path, and those two perceptions were not contradicted by the presentation,” Mr. McNichols said. “He wasn’t there to make a presentation; he wasn’t there to make a case. He wasn’t there to say anything but, ‘Hey, these are the two applications that have been filed and we’re bringing them back to you in a few months.’”
Mr. Wesley also gave a presentation on a Major General Plan Amendment for property northwest of Crismon Road and U.S. 60. He showed slides to the planning and zoning board including that the General Plan for the property is presently 38 acres for business park and the proposed change is for 25 acres of medium-density residential (six to 10 dwelling units per acre) and 13 acres community commercial.
A draft summary of the Mesa General Plan through 2040 was also discussed at the planning and zoning board meeting.