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Homeowners in Tempe 'downzoning' to protect from developers

Posted at 7:22 PM, Feb 28, 2018

Jenny Lucier has called Tempe's Ash Maple neighborhood home for 32 years. It looked a lot different back then.

"You could see Camelback," Lucier said. 

That view from her front yard is now blocked by tall buildings and cranes being used to build even more tall buildings.

She doesn't mind the development, but she wants to make sure it's done right. That's why she's filed an application with the city to voluntarily downzone her property, protecting it from development.

"The planning is a balancing act," said Ambika Adhikari. He's a principal planner with the city.

Adhikari says city officials decided to make downzoning easy for residents by waiving their zoning and signage fees. Rezoning changes the number of homes or apartments the city allows on a property. The city also says the move isn't popular with some developers but homeowners like the idea.

"Good planning is where people can preserve and who want to preserve their neighborhoods," Adhikari said. "There's enough area in Tempe to put the growth back on."

Adhikari says even if the downzoned properties aren't grouped together, having them scattered through a neighborhood makes it difficult for developers to assemble their project.

On the flip-side, by downzoning, the homeowners are giving up the chance to be bought up for what could be a lucrative deal.

It is possible, if a homeowner sells, someone could buy it and rezone back up. That process though is expensive and does take a long time, and there's no guarantee the city will approve it.