Mountain View Medical Plaza redevelopment hinges upon perception of Paradise Valley compromise

The Town of Paradise Valley Planning Commission and staff met on May 21 to discuss local planning and zoning issues. The Mountain View Medical Plaza was the main topic at hand, with several residents attending to hear the discussion. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission is nearing its June deadline to make a recommendation on the Mountain View Medical Plaza, meanwhile neighboring residents are attempting to address issues associated with the proposed expansion.

On May 21, the Planning Commission discussed the Mountain View Medical Plaza’s request for a Special Use Permit for nearly three hours, allowing the public to make comments at the end of their conversation.

The Mountain View Medical Plaza, at 10555 N. Tatum Blvd., is seeking to demolish all structures on the property in three phases, replaced with four new buildings — two of which are planned to be 30-feet tall. In addition, they would add more parking and replace the existing parking canopies with new parking canopies.

The proposed project expands the campus from a six-building configuration totaling 59,969 square feet, to a four-building arrangement with 93,262 square feet.

The three phases for the property are eyed to be completed between 2020-23, the plaza’s application states.

Homeowners of the Firebrand Ranch community, which neighbors the medical plaza, have been outspoken and involved in the municipal process since late 2018 when the project first came online.

At the May 21 meeting, many residents showed up to Town Hall to listen as the Planning Commission combed through the project’s proposal piece by piece, weighing the outlined stipulations. Topics such as the use of the buildings, traffic, construction and height were among discussion points.

For residents, height was a big concern.

While some members of the Firebrand Ranch neighborhood appear to be open to compromising on aspects of the project, others have voiced a strong opposition to any type of development.

The applicant was not present at the May 21 meeting.

Paradise Valley Senior Planner Paul Michaud sits in front of the staff computer to walk the Planning Commission through the Mountain View Medical Plaza application on May 21. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Local voices opine proposal

Firebrand Ranch resident Dr. Kenneth Goldstein has several letters to town officials on-record since late 2018 outlining concerns with the Mountain View Medical Center. He says he is dead-set against the expansion.

Dr. Goldstein shared some of his thoughts with the Independent prior to the meeting.

“My overriding concern about the MVMC proposal is an increase to an already dangerous traffic situation,” he explained.

“The direct access to our homes on Beryl Avenue and surrounding streets is from Tatum Boulevard. Especially during rush hours the traffic around the Shea Boulevard and Tatum Boulevard intersection is extremely heavy.”

As a consequence, Dr. Goldstein says, in order to make it safely to and from their homes, some residents have taken indirect routes through the neighborhood. By doing this, there is additional traffic, and potential accidents to the residents of the community.

Dr. Goldstein says the resolution proposed by the applicant to quell concerns of increased traffic is to “work with the City of Phoenix to complete the right-of-way improvements along Tatum Boulevard … this includes the striping for the deceleration lane on northbound Tatum Boulevard onto Beryl Avenue and the revised signal timing at the Tatum Boulevard and Shea Boulevard intersection.”

Secondly, Dr. Goldstein is concerned about the expansion impacting the families in the community.

“The combination of increased and dangerous traffic congestion, the increased building heights, the probable parking problems that will lead to on-street parking, etc., do nothing but detract from the quality of life that many families have always expected from residence in Paradise Valley,” he said.

Overall, he says residents wants to be “listened to” not just “heard.”

“I have never heard any discussion about whether there should be an expansion at all, whether it is in the community’s best interest,” he said.

“Our concerns about traffic, noise, duplication of medical facilities, years of building noise and pollution seem to be non-issues. What do Paradise Valley residents gain from the expansion in an already stressed location? The owner doesn’t seem to care, but the Planning Commission should.”

Continuing the fight

Four Firebrand Ranch homeowners spoke to the Planning Commission at the end of the meeting.

Resident Paul Couture says he has taken a position of compromise on the project, but he is seeing little compromise from the applicant.

Listing five key points identified at the start of the project, he detailed how agreeable terms or lack there of have been made.

“The setbacks, too short on the neighborhood side — I haven’t seen anything there — there hasn’t been any compromise from the applicant,” he explained. “We said the building height, the 25-feet two-story high proposal was acceptable and 30-feet was too high. It sounds like that’s being fought again today.”

In addition, he says the proposed 3-5 year construction period was unacceptable from the get-go, noting a “little headway” has been reached on that point.

“We talked about increasing traffic concerns, adding the 50% size in the center does not help the existing problem. That hasn’t gone away — no compromise there,” he said. “The fifth one was our home values, we thought they could all be negatively affected up to 20%.”

Part of the reason Firebrand Ranch residents were willing to compromise with the applicant is because the medical center had historically been good neighbors, Mr. Couture said.

“We really have had a good relationship with this center; that’s what I was using as a historical viewpoint on making compromise,” he said. “Now I’m looking at this saying, ‘maybe they’ve decided not to be good neighbors.’ That’s the message we’re getting.”

Mr. Couture posed the question to the Commissioners of what they would want out of this medical center if it was in their backyard.

“The last thing we’re all asking you to do is go back and say ‘look, we need a compromise on both sides.’ Right now all I’ve seen is added landscape,” Mr. Couture said.

“I think it’s time to go back to them and say you want to build this thing 50% more, you’re going to have to go subterranean. I think it needs to be a mandatory requirement. At this point it’s up to you, because I don’t know (how) to go back to my neighbors and continue this fight without getting something in return.”

In the discussion stage

Chair Jon Wainwright says as a volunteer group, the Planning Commission is there for the residents.

“We’re here to listen, we’re here for you,” Mr. Wainwright said, following Mr. Couture’s statements on May 21.

Planning Commission Chair and longtime Paradise Valley resident, Jon Wainwright. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

“We volunteer our time to help our fellow citizens. Nothing here is a final decision.”

Mr. Wainwright says the Planning Commission’s stipulations may not be acceptable to the applicant, and therefore the project won’t move forward; or, the Town Council may decide the project isn’t acceptable.

“We’re still in the discussion stage,” he said. “I think we’re open to the idea that if we can make it a better version of what it is, that’s better than something that might not be acceptable. I think everyone can live with what’s there. The distance of what we’re allowed to do and what the developer is allowed to redevelop may be too great — that’s what we’re in the process of trying to figure out.”

Mr. Wainwright encouraged the Firebrand Ranch residents to continue voicing their opinions and concerns via written comment to the town or during meetings when public comment is allowed.

Heading toward a recommendation

The Mountain View Medical Plaza was built over 30 years ago, and abuts Phoenix city limits. Due to redevelopment occurring on the nearby three corners, the medical plaza seeks future viability and its ability to attract premier medical providers to Paradise Valley.

The site is 9.79 acres.

Possible tenant types include physicians, dental offices, sleep centers, massage therapy, pharmacy, hospice administrative services and more.

The Planning Commission has previously, and at the most recent meeting, talked extensively about the uses that are proposed to extend past regular business hours. Primarily, the Commission questioned uses that are 24 hours, such as sleep centers and surgery centers, and concerns about an urgent care facility not being a Class A use.

Changes and updates to the application, according to Senior Planner Paul Michaud, include the applicant remaining with two-story buildings at 30-feet, and not proposing a garden level option; and adding a screen wall to parking spaces facing Beryl Avenue.

Planning Commission has a June 4 work study session planned on Mountain View Medical Plaza, before they make a recommendation later in the month.

The Planning Commission has already requested an extension on this project once, so come June 18 the volunteer group must make a recommendation of approval or denial, Mr. Michaud said.

The Town Council would then make their own determination on the project, ultimately approving or denying the expansion.

News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at mrosequist@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mrosequist_

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment