APNA Concerned About Baffert Project

The most important discussions of the meeting were regarding the proposed Baffert project at Five Points. While some have expressed concern about the height of the proposed building or its impact on the on-street parking situation, those are not the most important problems with this proposal.  The mechanism being used by the developer and the Tucson planning department is to remove the project’s lot from our Historic Preservation Zone. The precedent created is a threat to the historic character of our entire neighborhood and others across the city. Continue reading “APNA Concerned About Baffert Project”

A Busy Evening at APHZAB

The November APHZAB meeting was a little different than usual because it opened with a presentation by Michael Taku, lead planner in the PDSD historic office. A central message was that the board has a recommending role and is not a final decision maker. The PDSD director has the final say subject to appeal to Mayor and Council. He also asked for feedback from the board to streamline the review process. Streamlining will be easier said than done because of the many obstacles: a split building- historic permit process, shortage of staff, staff inexperience and a culture that does not seem to value customer service. I will remain a hopeful skeptic until I see concrete improvements. Continue reading “A Busy Evening at APHZAB”

More About Fry’s – Houghton and 22nd

This rather lengthy piece  was taken from Steve Kozachik’s latest newsletter. You may recall my earlier piece on the subject based on my attendance at a public hearing. Steve’s interest is the same as mine, the casual way that city government treats its legal and ethical obligations to our communities. The motivation is economic with our local politicians prioritising economic growth and tax revenue over the environment and community wellbeing. With all of the economic activity near the city center, we should expect similar problems sooner or later. There is a lot of detail here but Steve laid out the issues better than I did.  Continue reading “More About Fry’s – Houghton and 22nd”

Houghton East Has Lessons for Armory Park

Earlier this month I attended a Zoning Examiner hearing for a large Fry’s store, gas station and other stores in the Houghton East neighborhood planning area. The community was annexed into the city with a detailed and restrictive neighborhood plan as a precondition. The debate is about whether the project complies with the neighborhood plan. This was a rehearing because the first one did not include sufficient  notice. Continue reading “Houghton East Has Lessons for Armory Park”

APHZAB Gives Useful Feedback

At its October meeting, our historic board had one informal review to consider. Informal reviews are offered to help those who propose projects in our historic zone to avoid design problems at an early and hopefully less expensive point in their project’s development. This is what was posted in the Legal Action Review: Continue reading “APHZAB Gives Useful Feedback”

Historic Board Offers Help, Gets Updates

The text in italics is extracted verbatim from the Legal Action Report of the board posted on the city website.

Formal Review, HPZ 17-59, 822 S 3rd Ave. Mellow Dawn and Thoger Lund, property owners, proposed accessory structure: studio/sleeping quarters. The owners plan to build a 1,005 sq. ft. accessory structure on a lot with a 1,336 sq. ft. principal structure and an existing 290 sq. ft. accessory structure. Board members pointed out the issues the plan as presented raises, offered suggestions on how the owners could accomplish their construction objectives within Code requirements, and referred them back to the City.822 S 3rd Action Taken: The Board rejected the plans as presented because the combined size of the proposed accessory structure and the existing accessory building exceeds more than 50% of the gross floor area of the principal structure, contrary to Tucson UDC 6.6.3.d: “The total gross floor area (gfa) of all accessory structures shall not exceed 50% of the gfa of the principal structure. Accessory structures less than 200 square feet gfa are exempt from this requirement.” Ms. McClements moved, Mr. Burr seconded. Eight votes in favor, none opposed, no abstentions.  This is another example of the city staff not fulfilling their responsibilities by sending, for formal review by the APHZAB, a project that does not meet an explicit requirement of the city code. Our board’s mission is to consider historic preservation issues. It should not be forced to police non-historic code compliance issues. The board went to some effort to offer some alternatives which might meet the applicant’s objectives without violating city code. Continue reading “Historic Board Offers Help, Gets Updates”

Historic Review Players

If you follow the AP listserv, you already know that there is a lot of confusion regarding the historic review process in Armory Park (and probably the other four HPZs).  The Historic Review Improvement Initiative (HRII) is a small group of your neighbors trying to drive improvements to the process. As a byproduct of our efforts, it sometimes becomes obvious that there is some misunderstanding within our community. The Roles of APNA (our neighborhood association) and APHZAB (our historic board).  Continue reading “Historic Review Players”

Historic Review Improvement Initiative

We are a grass roots initiative in Armory Park with an objective to cause positive changes to the historic review process and ensure Historic Preservation Zones (HPZs) remain vital and visible reminders of the history and cultural heritage of Tucson. We are concerned that the process for approving the preservation and rehabilitation of properties in Tucson’s historic districts discourages proper maintenance by property owners as needed to preserve the historic character of our community. An unreasonably difficult review process can even discourage people from buying HPZ properties. Adequate maintenance and strong property values are essential to maintaining our historic properties. Continue reading “Historic Review Improvement Initiative”

APHZAB Approves 3, Debate Continues

I am trying a different approach in covering August’s meeting. To have more precision on the board’s formal actions and to make my job a little easier, the board’s Legal Action Report is reproduced verbatim. It is shown in italics to differentiate from my comments.

Informal Review, 617 S 3rd Ave. Debora Oslik, property owner. Proposed fence. In Ms. Oslik’s absence, she had a friend present on her behalf. Members expressed support for 617 S 3rd 2adding a trellis wall facing 3rd Ave. on the south side of the house for privacy, 6’ high if the wall facing the street were built flush with the house façade and 4’ high if the wall were extended out to the sidewalk. Members suggested using plantings to provide screening if the shorter wall provided insufficient privacy. No formal action taken.  The property is on a corner lot and so has no proper rear yard. It is fenced on the street side with a low fence that gives no privacy. The board’s recommendation allows for a privacy screening feature from the SW corner of the house to the south property line. The second option adds nothing significant to privacy. Of course, plantings are also an option since landscaping is not subject to historic review. Continue reading “APHZAB Approves 3, Debate Continues”

Change at Five Points

The August APNA board meeting had an interesting discussion about development of the lot at the NE corner at Five Points. The project is titled The Baffert Mixed Use Building at 5 Points. The Baffert family once owned the property. Our late neighbor, Annie Laos, was a Baffert. Larry Kappler, the developer/owner of the property, made a good presentation to the board asking for support of the project.

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View Looking Northeast

The key issue is the allowed building height. The proposed project would be restricted to a height of not over 44 feet. If the property is moved out of the historic zone without an agreement, it could be much taller. Since there is no legal mechanism for waiving height restrictions in an HPZ, another mechanism is needed to make the development economically viable. I won’t go into the technical details but an innovative approach termed doughnut rezoning (part of the property rezoned) will allow a compromise between protecting our HPZ and allowing economically feasible development of an otherwise unproductive vacant lot. Continue reading “Change at Five Points”