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"Arizona mayor asks appointee to resign over land use complaint to FAA"



Friday, October 21, 2011

Mayor Lane asks appointee to resign over complaint to FAA
By Edward Gately
The Arizona Republic


Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane is calling for the resignation of Airport Advisory
Commissioner John Washington for complaining to the Federal Aviation
Administration about the City Council's decision to allow an apartment
complex to be built near Scottsdale Airport.
 
In a letter to Washington dated Thursday, Lane said the FAA complaint has
"given rise to a serious concern as to your motivation with respect to the
city and the airport."
 
"It is important to the council that its appointees to any advisory
commission refrain from attempts to overrule the council's right to accept
or deny their advice or recommendations," Lane states in his letter.
 
"John, your actions have seriously impaired your ability to serve as an
Airport Advisory commissioner. They appear to be an attempt to undermine the
authority of the council, to usurp its decision, and to damage the city's
relationship with the FAA in an effort to make your point of opposition to a
council action."
 
Washington said he sent the complaint as a Scottsdale resident, not as a
commissioner, and that the city should have consulted with the FAA or had an
FAA representative at the council meeting before the council voted on the
proposal.
 
"I'm not going to resign," he said. "I'm not sure that (Lane) has the
authority to speak for the council without them having a meeting and taking
a vote. This is just Jim Lane asking for my resignation and obviously I
disagree."
 
Lane wasn't available for comment on his letter.
 
J.P. Twist, Lane's chief of staff, said the mayor is asking Washington to
resign, "in lieu of having to make this more public" in an open forum with
the council.
 
"The council has the authority to agendize (Washington's removal)," he said.
"The council can vote for his removal with a . . . simple majority vote."
 
The council voted 6-1 on Oct. 18 to approve a non-major General Plan
amendment, rezoning and amended development standards for the Residences at
Zocallo Place. It calls for a four-building, 240-unit apartment complex near
the northwestern corner of Greenway Hayden Loop and 73rd Street, north of
the Scottsdale Quarter and south of the Scottsdale Promenade.
 
The site is about 3,600 feet northwest of the airport runway. The four-story
complex could attract an estimated 543 residents.
 
Councilman Bob Littlefield was the only no vote, saying it will hurt the
airport and drive business to other Valley airports. The council will
consider two other proposals to build apartments near the airport on Oct.
25.
 
Earlier this month, the Airport Advisory Commission recommended the council
reject all three proposals, fearing that nearby residents would complain
about noise and push for flight restrictions. The city's Planning Commission
recommended approval of all three.
 
In his letter to the FAA, Washington said the council's vote constitutes a
violation of one of the FAA's grant assurances that land use will be
restricted to "activities and purposes compatible with normal airport
operations." The FAA has verified this grant assurance.
 
"I believe a little education from the (FAA's) Airports Division on both the
legal obligations of the city as sponsor benefitting from FAA grants and the
reasons behind the grant assurances might help the City Council rethink this
unwise decision before it is too late," Washington said in his letter.
 
Washington said he hasn't yet received any response from the FAA.
 
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor wouldn't comment on the proposal approved by the
council.
 
Airport Advisory Commission Chairman Gunnar Buzzard said commissioners serve
"at the pleasure of the council" and it's the council's decision as to
whether they continue serving on the commission.
 
"I do believe that John Washington submitted his comments as a citizen, not
as a commission member," he said. "I believe as a citizen anyone has a right
to do that."

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http://www.californiaaviation.org/dcfp/dcboard.php

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