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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Manual against mini-dorms approved

George Milan, who has lived in Jefferson Park for 34 years, met with other neighborhood members to protest the building of mini-dorms in the historic neighborhood on January 20, 2010.

A design manual limiting the construction of mini-dorms near the UA is one step closer to being passed after receiving the City Council’s preliminary approval last Tuesday.

Multiple-bedroom mini-dorms typically house students and have been a point of contention in the Jefferson Park neighborhood for more than 10 years. The council approved homeowner recommendations for limiting construction and renovation in categories like house size, height and architectural style over less stringent suggestions from developers and City of Tucson staff.

Developers sought to make all construction restrictions advisory while the council approved them as mandatory.

Local developer Michael Goodman said the manual would severely limit development and therefore housing options for students. Goodman builds mini-dorms in the neighborhood and said they provide a necessary service to the city.

“”I’m building projects that are nicer than anything in that neighborhood,”” he said.

The approval is encouraging, said Bob Schlanger, a Jefferson Park resident and a member of the design manual’s advisory board. He said the manual faces several more steps before actually being passed.

“”Yes, it’s a good sign and a positive move, but it’s by no means the end of the line,”” Schlanger said.

The council voted 5-2 to give preliminary approval to the measure, though it will have to come back to the council for final approval at a later date. Councilman Steve Kozachik and Mayor Bob Walkup voted against the standards.

Kozachik said the council had three options: pass standards suggested by developers, homeowners or the city. He said reaching a consensus between the developers and homeowners is impossible, though they have met for more than a year to discuss the manual.

“”Both sides are at the point where they’re at such a level of animosity with the other that trying to get them into the same room at the same time to reach a compromise just isn’t going to be productive,”” Kozachik said.

Kozachik said the suggestions of homeowners would leave the city vulnerable to being sued.

Goodman has already sued the city under Proposition 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act. The act requires the government to provide compensation to property owners when laws or regulations reduce property values.

“”I’ve already filed four lawsuits against the city and now I’m going to have to file another one,”” Goodman said.

Kozachik said Goodman currently has a lawsuit against the city for over $3 million regarding the design manual passed in Feldman’s neighborhood. He said the City of Tucson staff recommendations were a compromise between the groups and may protect the city from another legal battle.

“”They (the recommendations) were kind of a middle ground between the neighborhood and the developers,”” Kozachik said. “”According to the city attorney, the more restrictive you make the building codes, the more vulnerable you are to being sued successfully.””

Schlanger said homeowners were adamant that their input become mandatory in the manual.

“”We would rather not have the NPZ (Neighborhood Preservation Zone) at all if it doesn’t have all the recommendations we made,”” Schlanger said.

Schlanger said the zoning administrator hearing may be held in March with the final hearing in mid-May.

“”We’re encouraged slightly,”” Schlanger said. “”We’re still a long way from getting the mayor and council from approving it.””

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