Sky Harbor, Tempe make progress over disagreements about Coyotes arena plans

Nov 30, 2022, 3:17 PM

A rendering of the Arizona Coyotes' proposed Tempe arena revealed June 2 after a 5-2 Tempe City Cou...

A rendering of the Arizona Coyotes' proposed Tempe arena revealed June 2 after a 5-2 Tempe City Council vote to continue negotiations on the plans. (Courtesy Arizona Coyotes)

(Courtesy Arizona Coyotes)

The City of Phoenix Aviation Department, which owns and operates Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, said in a release Wednesday that it has finalized negotiations with Tempe and developers of the Arizona Coyotes’ arena project to protect the “long term growth and future development” of the airport.

The statement came after the Tempe City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the zoning and development of the Coyotes’ proposed entertainment district, setting up a May 2023 public vote to begin revitalizing the land and then building on it at Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway.

Phoenix’s aviation department said negotiations have been ongoing over the recent weeks.

The department said Wednesday that the developer protections after negotiations include: “consultation on crane heights and mitigations should any crane create performance issues for our airlines, full indemnification against litigation over noise and vibrations caused by aircraft, noise mitigation and insulation, noise disclosures, avigation easements, wildlife studies, traffic mitigation studies and funding, glare/reflectivity mitigation, good neighbor agreement, and restrictions on events that may impact the operation of Sky Harbor.”

That news of progress comes less than two months after the aviation department sent mailers to Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale residents around the east flight path over the Salt River, pushing against the planned Tempe project. Then, Phoenix officials worried Sky Harbor would be forced to change flight paths, creating backups and more safety and noise issues, if the entertainment district was to be built as planned.

Tempe mayor Corey Woods in early October told KTAR News 92.3 that the mailers were a “scare tactic.” At the time, he had yet to begin meeting with the Phoenix aviation leaders about the Coyotes’ plans.

The airport had 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 the planned 2,000 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 the noise.

On Wednesday, the City of Phoenix Aviation Department said it is currently “working with Tempe to seek a permanent resolution on our differences in interpretation of the binding Intergovernmental Agreement that exists between our two cities.

“While the City of Phoenix Aviation Department still officially opposes the incompatible residential component of the Tempe Entertainment District development, we are grateful to the City of Tempe for taking actions to largely mitigate potential impacts of the development to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport,” the statement added. “We will continue to work with Tempe and the developer to move forward on the commitments made.”

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