Sky Harbor officials remain opposed to building residential units under flight paths in the proposed Tempe entertainment district but are “grateful” for the work that has been done to mitigate potential problems for the airport.
The Tempe City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 29, approved key aspect of a plan for an entertainment district, which would include an Arizona Coyotes hockey arena, on 46 acres at the northeast corner of Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway.
The vote could leave it to Tempe voters to decide the fate of the project, which also would include a music venue, hotels, multi-family residential units, retail and restaurants.
The Arizona Coyotes, according to Tempe, have pledged to collect the necessary petition signatures to refer the project to the ballot as soon as May 16.
Leading up to the Nov. 29 vote, Sky Harbor officials met with the Tempe and worked with the developer to ensure the airport “is provided protections to support its long-term growth and future development,” Julie Rodriguez, Phoenix’s deputy aviation director, said.
“Negotiations wrapped up successfully prior to the Tempe City Council vote.”
Phoenix officials said they “must continue” to oppose building residential units in a high-noise area under flight paths.
"While the airport must continue to oppose building residential units in the high-noise area under two converging flight paths, the City of Phoenix Aviation Department is grateful to the City of Tempe and the developer of the Tempe Entertainment District for taking actions to largely mitigate potential impacts of the development to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport," Phoenix officials said.
"We will continue to work with Tempe and the developer to move forward on the commitments made."
Among others, they include:
Tempe officials would not elaborate on details that have “evolved over time,” citing attorney-client privilege.
But a spokesperson responded in an email: “Tempe appreciates the sentiments expressed by the airport on Tuesday and shares the desire to continue working collaboratively.”
According to Rodriguez, Sky Harbor also is working with Tempe to seek a permanent resolution "on our differences in interpretation of the binding intergovernmental agreement that exists between our two cities,” Rodriguez said.
Phoenix leaders previously said including residential units as part of the project violates a longstanding intergovernmental agreement.
They reiterated their opposition at that time by sending out thousands of mailers to Tempe residents and others stating the airport’s opposition and potential effects a project that included housing units would have on the area.
Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said the mailer was an “alarmist tactic.”
“This is not a game, and Tempe residents should not be used as pawns,” he said in an earlier statement. “No one should try to manipulate our community’s basic feelings of safety and security."
As for the intergovernmental agreement, Woods has said the statement by Sky Harbor that multifamily housing in the proposed development would violate a 1994 deal is “significantly inaccurate.
“People interested in living at the proposed site would be well informed before making decisions – just like the thousands of other Tempe Town Lake-adjacent residents who already have chosen to live in an area with aircraft noise. Moreover, they do so in developments that saw no opposition from the airport when they were proposed and built.”