[Source: Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix] — Maintaining a favorable quality of life in established neighborhoods is challenging. Citizen developed and approved area plans are one of the tools used in the struggle to preserve established neighborhoods and define their desired character. The City of Phoenix Special Planning District Plan (“SPD”) originally known as a Special Conservation District (“SCD”) is one form of such an area plan. At present, there are 12 SPDs:
- Roosevelt SPD – Central City Village
- Story SPD – Central City Village
- Coronado SPD – Encanto Village
- Encanto Vista SPD – Encanto Village
- Willo SPD – Encanto Village
- Arcadia Camelback SPD – Camelback East Village
- North Central Avenue SPD – Camelback East Village
- Squaw Peak Heights SPD – Camelback East Village
- Windsor Square SPD – Camelback East Village
- Royal Palm SPD – Alhambra Village
- Saguaro SPD – Paradise Valley Village
- Mountain Park SPD – South Mountain Village
Shortly after the Squaw Peak Heights SPD had been approved (July of 2006), a dissident property owner subject to the terms of the plan, filed a suit in Superior Court challenging the way the final votes for the SPD were tabulated. In August of 2008, the court issued a Minute Entry favoring the claimant. If the City of Phoenix fails to appeal the Squaw Peak Heights SPD Court decision within 30 days after the formal decision is handed down (could be sometime soon after the first of the year), it will cause this particular SPD to be voided. A replacement SPD is estopped from being a possibility because of the passage in the fall of 2006 of Proposition 207. A failure to appeal could jeopardize the validity of all of the other SPDs because they tabulated their final votes according to the same procedures as were followed in the case of the Squaw Peak Heights SPD.
The Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix believes that the loss of the existing SPDs under such circumstances will be detrimental to all neighborhoods whether or not they fall under an SPD. This is due to the fact that an unwillingness on the part of the City of Phoenix to at least appeal the Superior Court’s decision in this instance will be interpreted by developers as a softness on the City’s part to support other existing citizen authorized/passed area plans such as the existing Specific Planning District Plans. Such an interpretation will embolden developers to propose projects that will not be in keeping with these plans. The same holds true for adhering to rezoning for sites throughout the city that was passed subject to approved site plans and stipulations.
Individuals and organizations in agreement with the Coalition’s position on this matter are encouraged to send a letter or e-mail by the middle of January 2009 urging Mayor Phil Gordon and Members of Council to oppose the Superior Court decision in the matter of Madison Positive Alliance of Neighbors v. Phoenix City (case on Squaw Peak Heights SPD). The cost of such an appeal does not come from the City’s operating funds. It is an insurance matter. All such letters should be addressed to the party intended at 200 W. Washington Street, 11th Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85003-1611.
For more information, contact Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, at 602-840-1579 or e-mail.