Wednesday, November 24 2021

Representatives of the Arizona Coyotes said an arena and shopping district the team is proposing to build in Tempe meets applicable aviation rules and would not impact operations at the airport Phoenix Sky Harbor International.

The National Hockey League team wants to move to a new 16,000-seat arena to be built on the dry south shore of the Salt River near Priest Drive and the Rio Salado Parkway. The team’s $ 1.7 billion proposal also includes hotels, apartments, a theater, shops and restaurants on 46 acres of city-owned land.

Airport officials have raised questions about the development’s proximity to the airport, the estimated heights of the buildings and the team’s intention to build residential units which they believe constitute an incompatible use of the land. The property lines up with the airport’s two busiest runways and is 10,000 feet east, or less than 2 miles, of the runway approach.

The concerns are similar to concerns raised 20 years ago when the Arizona Cardinals proposed a football stadium in Tempe on a site just north of where the Coyotes are proposing to build their arena. The Federal Aviation Administration ruled in 2001 that a stadium on the site would create a hazard for planes entering and exiting Sky Harbor. The proposal was then dropped.

Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez and other team representatives defended the scope of the project in a hearing before the Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board on Thursday.

Representatives said the height of the buildings would not create a danger for planes descending into the airport and dismissed concerns about residential construction, noting that there are other residential buildings in the area.

They vowed to work with Phoenix and airport officials to address concerns, but warned they had yet to secure a contract and the process was only in its early stages.

Coyotes: the project complies with FAA rules

One of the main issues raised by Sky Harbor staff is that the heights of buildings and construction cranes can pose a hazard to air navigation.

Buildings should be short enough for aircraft to take off and land above them. The airspace should provide room for so-called “One Engine Inoperative” procedures which require that there be sufficient airspace for an aircraft to complete its take-off, turn around and return safely to the aircraft. Sky Harbor in case the plane loses an engine during take off.

Airspace requirements vary by airline and aircraft.

Ed Pascual, a real estate expert representing the development, said the proposed height of the arena is 120 feet and will not protrude into the airspace.

Chase Field in downtown Phoenix is ​​255 feet tall and is closer to the North Track than the Coyotes development, and the Summit at Copper Point condominiums next to the stadium are just as tall, Pascual said.

The team’s project is designed to a more stringent standard and the heights of buildings and cranes will be examined under FAA rules and considered safe by the agency before construction progresses, he said. declared.

The FAA has determined that residential construction is an incompatible land use for this site due to noise from takeoffs and landings. This makes the 1,600 residential units proposed by the project another problem for the airport. Sky Harbor officials have said that due to the FAA designation, they must oppose any residential development in the area.

But just because Sky Harbor is required to oppose residential units doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed, said Nick Wood, a zoning attorney representing the development.

There have been 21 residential projects with 4,800 apartments developed around Tempe Town Lake and west of the airport in the same decibel noise level area as the Coyotes development since 1999, he said. declared.

Wood said residential developments in these areas must include sound attenuation to reduce noise pollution. Developers must provide Phoenix with a noise abatement easement, agree to a pledge that would bar tenants from suing the city for noise, and disclose noise to commercial tenants and residents, he said.

The developers of the Coyotes project will follow the same recommendations, he said.

“We want to make the residential units habitable,” Pascual said and added that was “critical” for the success of the project.

Additional concessions

In addition to ensuring that building heights and noise issues are addressed, the team told the aviation council they will commit to making other concessions requested by airport staff. to ensure that airport operations are not affected.

The Coyotes will provide Sky Harbor with a development navigation easement that would allow the airport to use airspace.

The team agreed to ban activities that may pose a danger to pilots, such as laser shows, fireworks and promotional spotlights typically associated with large entertainment districts. He said he would follow FAA regulations for the use of drones near the airport.

The team also agreed not to allow presidential debates or other security sensitive events that would require a temporary closure of the airport.

While increased activity around the Salt River and nearby Tempe Town Lake may attract more birds, the team said it will work with a biologist to study the impact of development on wildlife hazards. .

The team is committed to working with Sky Harbor

The meeting is the latest in a two-month battle between the Coyotes and Sky Harbor over whether the team’s proposal is appropriate for the country.

Representatives of the team met with Phoenix Aviation Services Director Chad Makovsky on September 16 to present their proposal. Makovsky sent a letter days later asking Coyote officials for additional information on the construction of the project and proposed use to determine how this might affect airport operations now and in the future.

Makovsky and other airport officials said the team failed to cooperate and provided the necessary documents, including a copy of the team’s proposal submitted to Tempe. Without more information, airport officials said they could not support the development.

Team officials have said that some of the design elements and other details sought by the airport have not been finalized and therefore cannot be provided. The team also argues that government procurement laws prohibit the team and Tempe from providing a copy of the proposal. Wood on Thursday challenged airport officials to file a public registration request with Tempe for the document and let the city decide if it is confidential.

Last month, airport staff made a presentation to the advisory board on the expected impacts the development could have on airport operations. Representatives of the Coyotes were not invited, according to the team.

This led to an email exchange between the team and airport officials in which each alleged the other party was not acting in good faith.

But on Thursday, team representatives pledged to work with airport staff to ensure the project’s success.

Pascual said the team is committed to holding regular working sessions between project consultants and Sky Harbor engineers to review the technical aspects of the proposal.

Aviation Advisory Board member Andrew Cohn supported Pascual’s suggestion and encouraged increased dialogue between the team and the airport.

What happens next?

The Coyotes’ proposal is still in the early stages of a bidding process. The team, which was the only respondent to submit an offer to develop the land, did not get a contract and a decision could take months.

Tempe has established an evaluation committee that has studied the team’s proposal and the review is ongoing, Tempe spokeswoman Nikki Ripley said.

The committee will make a recommendation to City Council, which will then decide whether or not to award a contract to the team. There is no timeline for when this could happen, Ripley said.

“Given the complexity and importance of this procurement process, we do not have a target date for the completion of the committee review process at this time,” she said.

Wood said he hopes the council will make a decision within 60 days.

If the contract is approved, city officials will define the details of a development agreement, submit building permits, and proceed with a zoning change. The development agreement would include stipulations on building heights, design and other elements of the project.

Wood said noise abatement efforts and many concessions agreed to by the team will be included in the development agreement. The team is ready to sign a separate agreement with Phoenix if it makes airport staff more comfortable, he told the board.

Contact reporter Paulina Pineda at [email protected] or 480-389-9637. Follow her on Twitter: @ paulinapineda22.

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