Tempe mayor: Phoenix-sent mailers on Coyotes arena plan is ‘scare tactic’

Oct 7, 2022, 6:55 AM | Updated: 7:15 am

Tempe mayor Corey Woods took offense to Phoenix’s aviation department and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport sending residents of his city a mailer warning them about the results of a yet-to-be-approved entertainment district that would house the Arizona Coyotes’ arena.

Woods took special notice of a call to action for residents to act against a decision that would lead to a domino effect of flight path changes. That, the airport said, would force it to send planes over homes previously out of the current flight path.

“That to me is a scare tactic in an effort to try to concern my residents in terms of their safety and well-being — or their property values, perhaps,” Woods told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “That to me, it’s inappropriate. If people want to have a conversation with myself or members of the city council of Tempe or our city manager’s office, we are always willing and ready to have those conversations.

“As a matter of fact, I have a meeting with the aviation director at the city of Phoenix within the next week and I’m looking forward to sitting down with him and having a conversation.”

Currently, Tempe has not approved any plans for the Coyotes-led entertainment district. The parties are in an exclusive negotiating window to determine if Tempe wants to move forward with planning a hockey arena, as well as hotels, offices, retail and residential spaces.

Sky Harbor said it sent the mailers to another city’s residents “so they understood the risks associated with Tempe’s upcoming decision and have an opportunity to participate in the process,” a spokesperson told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The airport stressed that the east flight path requires planes to fly over the Salt River bed before being able to turn after the Loop 101 to protect residential noise.

If Tempe builds more residential units in the flight path, the airport said it would have to also break a prior intragovernmental agreement from 1994 between Phoenix and Tempe. That agreement aimed at allowing the airport to continue growing while keeping residents in all of the flight paths around it safe and away from noise.

Woods on Thursday released a public statement with the hopes it would stop the neighboring city and its airport from distributing mailers that threaten his residents.

“I don’t want that kind of thing repeated,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Phoenix and Sky Harbor have been at odds with the Coyotes’ arena plans that received a 5-2 “yes” vote to continue in June. They and Tempe have different interpretations of that 1994 intragovernmental agreement.

Phoenix believes all residential units fall under the agreement, including single- and multi-family residences. But Tempe believes the agreement only included single-family homes, which are not part of the entertainment district plans currently on the table.

Tempe said a 1999 updated Noise Compatibility Plan — one that was requested by the Federal Aviation Administration when the Arizona Cardinals were pushing to build a stadium nearby — was not agreed upon.

Tempe wrote Phoenix director of aviation services Chad Makovsky a letter dated Wednesday that said:

“The City of Phoenix repeatedly points to the 1999 F.A.R. Part 150 Noise Compatibility Plan (NCP) and its recommendations that mixed use designations within the 65 (decibel noise level) be amended to exclude residential, stating that the City of Tempe obligated itself to participate in and comply with the (plan) … There is no such language in the (intergovernmental agreement) and the City of Tempe has in no way obligated itself to follow the recommendations provided by the 1999 NCP. In fact, Tempe could not have obligated itself to abide by recommendations that were not in existence at the time when the IGA was signed. For an agreement to exist between parties, there must be an offer, acceptance, consideration and terms sufficient so that the obligation created can be determined.

“In short, it is fairly fundamental to conclude that, if the City of Phoenix wanted Tempe to agree to obligate itself to any of the 1999 recommendations, it should have made an offer to amend the IGA according to its terms. There is no evidence of any such offer, nor any acceptance or consideration.”

Woods points out there are already multi-family residences within the Salt River bed flight path.

“People who move into certain areas would be properly informed about exactly what flight path they would be moving into,” he added.

The mayor added he hopes the cities will be able to negotiate through the disagreements as the plans for an entertainment district come together before legal interpretations would need to be hashed out.

“This is an ongoing process,” he stressed. “No decisions have been reached, no developmental agreement has been signed by either party. We’re still in a negotiation phase. My concern is I don’t want any people or outside entities frankly meddling in those negotiations.

“We will always work together, we will always be partners in the region,” Woods added of working with Phoenix. “But at the end of the day … we need to sit down and have conversations and have honest dialog. We should not be spending money … for mailers to an adjacent city.”

Tempe will hold a neighborhood meeting on the project on Saturday, Oct. 15 with a development review commission on Nov. 15.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this story.

Here is the mailer sent to some Tempe residents and others within the Sky Harbor flight path that Woods objects to.

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