Falen: Scottsdale self storage case illustrates weak ear for resident voices

We, homeowners in Scottsdale, would like to make the public aware of the apparent disregard by our local political leaders of long established zoning standards in Scottsdale that will impact our entire city.

Vickie Falen

With the likely well-financed help of Jordan Rose of Rose Law Group, George Bell of Bell Self Storage Group with the bizarre and unprecedented approval of the Scottsdale City Planning Commission, is now on track to exert irrational far-reaching changes to the zoning of a large parcel of land on the south side of Shea corridor from residential (S-R) to commercial (C-1).

This unprecedented request for a commercial zoning change in a residential area in the city of Scottsdale has put the predatory profit rights of an absolutely unnecessary storage facility above the property rights and taxpayer rights of all nearby homeowners and all citizens of Scottsdale who had previously approved what are clearly designated through the city as residential versus commercially zoned properties.

Read the Independent’s coverage of this pending zoning case

There is no commercial zoning on the south side of the Shea corridor east of 96th Street in the area Bell Storage proposes to build and such a change would demonstrate a willful disregard of Scottsdale zoning precedents and the rights of homeowners across the city.

We thus ask you, in the face of the egregious precedence set by Bell Storage and their handlers demanding the change from residential to commercial zoning, why every Scottsdale citizen should not be concerned that their neighborhood will be next where our city’s leadership will choose the rights of wealthy predatory corporations and their friendly politicians over the rights of homeowners and regular Scottsdale citizens?

Homeowners near the intended storage facility have built and bought in Montana Ranch with the understanding that the current zoning would remain the same; and that there would be no C-1 developments on the south side of Shea corridor East of 96th Street. No arrangements regarding height and style can justify the impact to our community, which a permanent change to commercial zoning (C-1) would have.

Commercial endeavors like storage facilities bring with them increased after-hour traffic, crime, and commercial patterns that have a permanent impact on livability and value of our neighborhoods. Our political leadership cannot allow itself to become a tool of predatory commercial enterprises.

It is beyond disbelief the developer and his hired promoters are trying to advance the false assertion that a self storage facility is “the only thing that can be built” on the parcel in question. That is frankly insulting. The testimony of their so-called expert that home values will not be impacted is patently false and deceptive.

There are numerous professional opinions from independent parties that underscore that a self storage facility will have a material negative impact on home values in Montana Ranch and on community and public safety.

The Planning Commission has not encouraged, considered nor heard proposals for alternative developments that other cities/developers have successfully implemented on parcels similarly situated under power lines that are materially less impactful to home values, views and safety. A neighboring Storage Facility professional who has been in the storage facility business since 1987 said on Oct, 25, 2017 this proposed facility will devastate the market. There is no demand as there are eight to nine new storage facilities in a five-mile radius.

He also said Jordan Rose/George Bell developer’s demand at 93-98 percent is not correct.

His storage facilities have occupancy being 70-85 percent. The Planning Commission meeting Oct. 25, 2017 would have defeated the measure with a 4-2 vote in favor of the homeowners until the developer was given a “continuance.” Homeowners were stunned and had to attended a “special” Planning Commission meeting Nov. 8, 2017 when the vote turned to 3-4 in favor of the developer.

The city council should delay its vote on the Planning Commission’s recommendation to provide time for a formal legal protest and for our communities to present again to the Planning Commission more factual, independent — not provided by the developer — information on the impact of a self storage facility on home values, view obstruction and community/public safety; and possible alternative developments for the parcel.

The parcel in question has been vacant since the city of Scottsdale was founded. There is no evidence that developing on the parcel is now urgent. The city zoned the parcel as it is for a reason. Before any controversial development is approved and the city’s master plan is amended all of the facts and alternatives should be more thoroughly considered.

We insist that our political leaders stop becoming a rubber stamp for wealthy developers and listen to the voices of every concerned homeowner in residential-zoned areas across the city who will become open season for predatory corporations invading their residential areas if political leaders allow it.

Editor’s note: Ms. Falen is a resident of Scottsdale

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