Homeowners lose patience, mountain views - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Homeowners lose patience, mountain views

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Posted: Monday, August 18, 2003 11:40 am | Updated: 1:45 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

From her house in north Mesa, Julee Brady used to be able to see the Superstition Mountains and an expanse of orange groves.

The orange groves disappeared years ago. Recently, so has the view of the mountains.

Today, steel girders fill the view from Brady's second-floor balcony.

A metal roofing company is building a manufacturing plant in an industrial park behind Brady's home in Somerset Estates.

"All we see is a horribly huge building," Brady said.

Because the 35-foot-tall, 27,000-square-foot building meets city design and zoning regulations, Brady and her neighbors are powerless to stop it.

Since the mid-1990s, Brady and dozens of others have lived in the development near McDowell Road and Val Vista Drive, where home values range from $500,000 to $850,000. It's a neighborhood they moved to because of its rural character — citrus groves, equestrian trails and mountain views.

But since 1997, they've been battling the Commons Industrial Park, located at 4050 E. McDowell Road, which borders their neighborhood to the east. Neighbors claim the industrial park is threatening their lifestyle.

"Everyone has been sympathetic, but nobody has done anything," said Helen Williams, whose ranch-style home is closest to the manufacturing plant.

Brady said the most frustrating thing is that she has tried to work with city officials, to no avail.

In 1997, the industrial park's developer cut the water supply to hundreds of mature orange trees on the property, Brady said.

When the trees began dying, workers cut them down and mulched them, clearing the way for industrial use. The trees were meant to serve as a buffer for the neighborhood, Brady said.

In 1999, city officials allowed a maintenance facility for garbage trucks to be built in the industrial park. It sits 100 feet from one home. Residents have complained about odors, noise and excess light.

When he was mayor, Wayne Brown toyed with the idea of using city money to buy the garbage truck facility and relocate it. Nothing came of it.

City leaders said they sympathize with the neighbors, but there is nothing they can do.

"We should have been more sensitive to the neighbors in that area," said Mayor Keno Hawker. "I'm afraid I don't have any solutions at this point."

Hawker pointed out that after the garbage truck facility went in, the city built a 10-foot wall to shield the neighborhood.

Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh said the industrial park received its zoning in 1984, more than 10 years before Brady built her house.

Brady countered that a number of restrictions went with the 1984 zoning that would have prevented the objectionable uses.

In 1997, the Reeb Group, a developer that oversees the industrial park, amended the restrictions with approval from a city staff member.

Those changes allowed more uses. At the time, Brown said the staff member's action was a mistake. The city attorney said it was legal and binding.

Attempts to contact the Reeb Group last week were unsuccessful.

The manufacturing plant is being constructed by Bemo USA. The Mesa company bought 2.3 acres in the industrial park about a year and a half ago to build its new national headquarters, a company representative said.

At the time, the company had no idea that neighbors opposed the industrial park, he said. The dispute came to light during the design review process, when the company was told to add extra architectural features and landscaping, he said.

The representative, who asked not to be identified, said he feels for the neighbors, but the building is too far along to stop. The company will begin moving into the building in September, he said.

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