Beauty is in the eye of the property owner, according to a group of city officials at the center of a controversial east Mesa commercial development project.
Mesa’s planning staff is recommending the Planning and Zoning Board approve a modern-style office building at the northeast corner of Thomas Road and Raftriver Street that some residents of an adjacent subdivision say does not belong in their community.
“We feel that it’s not appropriate,” said Dave Bender, a resident of Red Mountain Ranch subdivision.
The residents have complained that occupants of the proposed 30-foot-tall structure would be able to peer into their backyards and that traffic exiting the property onto Raftriver would endanger schoolchildren.
They have asked for a single-story building with a more Southwestern design and no access from the residential street.
The project’s architect says he met with neighborhood representatives to reach a compromise, but some in the group simply do not want any type of development on the commercially zoned property.
“This was, in my 25 years as an architect, one of the most volatile groups I’ve ever dealt with,” said the building’s designer, Rob Burgheimer, who also sits on Mesa’s Design Review Board.
The Design Review Board approved the project’s design unanimously May 2, with Burgheimer abstaining.
The board’s vice chairman, Dave Richins, said it’s not unusual for the board to review a project submitted by one of its members, and that, if anything, those projects receive greaterthan-average scrutiny.
Still, Richins said the controversy over the design boils down to a matter of personal taste and that it’s not the board’s job to police taste.
The project goes before the planning board today for a site modification from a previous application to build a bakery and restaurant on the property. The new applicant, Red Mountain Ranch resident Martin Maslonka, wants his financial services firm in the building.
Burgheimer said that since the project does not require rezoning, he doesn’t understand why it should even be brought to the board.
Resident Marilyn Baker said she objects to the building partly because it won’t provide any services residents are likely to use. And they’ll still have to see it every day.
“We look out our front door, and there’s going to be this big, tall glass building. It’s going to blind us.”
If you go
What: Planning and Zoning Board meeting
Where: Mesa City Council Chambers, 57 E. First St.
When: 4 p.m. today