Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio joined five of his colleagues in turning back an attempt by neighbors in one council district to stop a luxury apartment development in his.
City Council last week voted 6-2 to approve the 229-unit, four-story Alta Marlette complex on Marlette Avenue and eventh Street in North Phoenix.
Although City Council members traditionally don’t involve themselves in development squabbles not in their districts, both Kate Gallego and Laura Pastor voted against the plan.
Neighbors in an adjoining council district opposed the plan, calling the complex’s density “irresponsible” and “reckless.”
But the city Planning Department staff disagreed after a lengthy study of the proposal on a site originally zoned for 130 units.
“The recent proliferation of commercial development, including numerous new restaurants, along Seventh Street in the surrounding area has led to the emergence of a corridor offering opportunities for residents to connect to services, resources and each other,” it said, calling Alta Marlette “consistent with the character of development in the surrounding area” and “consistent with the diverse, existing land-use pattern east of Seventh Street.”
Approving the zoning change wiht DiCiccio were Mayor Greg Stanton and Council members Michael Nowakowski, Daniel Valenzuela, Jim Waring and Thelda Williams.
DiCiccio said the “nature” of the opposition determined his vote.
“A handful of residents living north of the project in some of Phoenix’s oldest neighborhoods had objected to the new development as being too large. I understood and carefully considered those arguments. However, Phoenix has a robust neighborhood-based, citizen-driven process to consider new developments and zoning changes,” he said, adding:
“This is absolutely critical because it allows neighborhoods to decide what kind of new construction is in their best interests. The citizens charged with that responsibility in this case approved of the project.”
DiCiccio said opponents “crossed a line I was and will remain absolutely unwilling to support” because they were interfering in another council district where the village planning committee had recommended approval of the project.
“They wanted to create a precedent for city-wide opposition to local projects,” DiCiccio said. “That would be an unmitigated disaster. In every state, every county, every city in the world there are people who will (and do) object to every single new development that comes along.
“Giving these folks the power to stop any and all development anywhere in the City of Phoenix would have been a colossal mistake.”
DiCiccio also hailed an unrelated development proposal – which passed unanimously – involving construction of three massive data-storage facilities at 40th Street and McDowell Road.
The QTS Data Centers’ plan “will pour hundreds of millions of additional tax dollars into the city and our local schools over the coming years,” he said.
“If Phoenix is going to continue to attract high-tech firms from all over the country to relocate or expand here, we need the digital infrastructure in place to do so as well,” he added.