Phoenix sues Tempe over development tied to Arizona Coyotes
PHOENIX (AP) — The city of Phoenix is suing Tempe over a planned residential development near Sky Harbor International Airport, echoing a legal fight from over 20 years ago when a new stadium for the Arizona Cardinals was planned.
Phoenix’s aviation department filed a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court on Tuesday, accusing the neighboring suburb of breach of contract.
In May, Tempe voters will decide in whether the city can move forward with a Tempe Entertainment District. The development would include a new hockey arena for the Arizona Coyotes, retail stores and restaurants and apartments.
In a news release, Phoenix officials say they have issues with the proposed residential units that would be in a 1.2-square-mile area that belongs to Tempe but is in a high-noise flight path. The two cities agreed in 1994 that there would be no housing developments within the airport’s 65-decibel noise contour lines. The lines were drawn to help protect nearby residential neighborhoods from extreme noise.
“After more than a year of meetings and negotiations, we are disappointed that these efforts did not resolve the dispute,” Chad Makovsky, Phoenix’s director of aviation services, said in a statement.
The city wants a judge to affirm Tempe would be violating the decades-old agreement and repeal any recent zoning and land-use changes.
Nikki Ripley, a Tempe spokesperson, said the city does not typically discuss litigation.
In a letter dated March 17, Tempe city manager Andrew Ching told Phoenix city manager Jeffrey Barton that Tempe was still examining potential legal liability if it shut down development of property in that area. Tempe officials also wanted to hire a consultant to look at the contour lines.
This is the second time that Phoenix has gone after a sports-related project of Tempe’s based on airport issues.
In 2001, Tempe won a bid to be the new home of the Arizona Cardinals, who wanted their own stadium instead of using Arizona State University’s Sun Devil stadium. But construction never started after the Federal Aviation Administration said the stadium would create a flight-navigation danger with its height.
Similar to today, the city of Phoenix threatened to go to court to get a temporary restraining order to stop Tempe from building the $335 million stadium, just a couple miles east of the airport’s north runway.
Tempe ceded the stadium bid when it became clear construction could lead to lawsuits.