Despite protests by Riverview neighbors, including one who gave a Powerpoint presentation, Mesa City Council appeared poised to approve a developer’s request to expand the Waypoint office development.
But, just as Council was poised to vote on the request, Councilman Mark Freeman suggested delaying the vote until April 5, “to hash this out and provide more mediation and dialogue” between the developer and neighbors who live near the 30-acre office park at Alma School Road and Bass Pro Drive.
The majority agreed with Freeman’s idea.
“I support the continuation,” Mayor John Giles said. “I think the more dialogue the better.”
Councilman Kevin Thompson begged to differ.
“How much more time will be spent by the developer to satisfy residents who may never be satisfied?” he grumbled.
One Riverview neighbor said she read Thompson’s comment at a previous meeting –“The property owner has the right to build. If that affects the view, I’m sorry” – and said she was “offended” by his words and over-simplification of the issue.
“I was offended when (the neighbor) was offended by my comments,” Thompson countered. He reiterated his position that neighbors are unjustly fighting for views with developers who “seem like they are trying to accommodate the neighbors.”
At issue is owner Salt River Point’s plan to build a three-story, 55-foot office building and four-level, 44-foot garage.
There are currently four office buildings in the development. The first two, both two-stories, went up in 2007. Two more were built in 2014; neighbors complained that the view-disturbing three-story office buildings received “administrative approval” and they were not informed about it.
According to City Attorney Jim Smith, “There’s no agreement between the city and the developer what the building height will be.”
But Steve Brown, who moved to the appropriately-named Mountain View Drive in 1989 “to enjoy expansive views of the mountains,” said the original agreement with the developer included “promises to preserve views … Then, one day without any notification a three-story office building showed up and took away our view.”
Shawna Boyle seconded that in her 9-minute presentation. The time limit for public speakers is 3 minutes, but two other speakers “donated” their time to Boyle.
She called the proposed Waypoint expansion “an invasion of privacy – anyone (would be able to) enter the garage and see into our homes.
“We are asking for a compromise,” she stressed. “Why would the developers have more say than we do?”
“If this was being built in your backyard, you would fight for a compromise,” she told council.
Representing the developer, Adam Baugh stated the plan was completely appropriate, with buildings no higher than the existing ones.
Answering a question from Councilwoman Julie Spilsbury, he said it would cost $8 million to build the garage partially underground, as some neighbors suggested.
The debate is likely to continue at the next council meeting, scheduled for 5:45 p.m. April 5.
In an interview with the Tribune, Giles was asked about how to strike a balance in cases like Waypoint and Eastmark, where residents also are vehemently opposed to development plans.
“There is tension inherent in growth,” Giles said. “When you have raw land and undeveloped infill pieces, people are happy they get to walk their dogs there and assume it’ll stay undeveloped. There are some reasonable expectations, and some that are not.”
As is the case in many cities, residents often don’t want any more growth – while the city government’s Economic Development Department is actively recruiting companies and residential developers.
But, Giles insisted, “We don’t get paid by just growing. There’s no financial incentive for us just to grow for the sake of growth … What is on our agenda is a city that has good jobs ... for that reason we do put forth an effort to attract high-paying jobs to the community.”
And Giles again hinted at more “world-class businesses coming here.
“We’re continuing to land some big fish in Mesa.”