Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sorry for the Cheap Tires

I've come to accept that I may have made a slightly regrettable choice as a member of the Laveen Village Planning Committee, but I'd like a chance to defend that choice. It was to vote for a zoning change from C-1 to C-2 for Discount Tire at 51st Avenue and Baseline Road (SWC). The motion passed with a solid but not overwhelming majority and I took some flack for my vote in the affirmative. There were some unkind things said in the aftermath of this vote, which was our first contentious issue in a while, so I think it's important that we clear the air.

First, some basics. In order for the applicant to build a tire shop on the location, they needed to change the zoning designation -- I recommend reviewing the city zoning ordinance here for a more thorough understanding. Had the property remained designated as C-1, it would have been restricted to what we call "Neighborhood Retail". This means any number of business types, including thrift store, coin-op laundry, smoke shop, liquor store, or other such small and localized uses (and yes, plenty more benign ones too, but then I've already established my bias above). Basically, C-1 includes all of the things we think belong scattered throughout our neighborhoods. C-2, on the other hand, is called "Intermediate Commercial" and accounts for most other commercial uses one might imagine -- it usually connotes more business traffic from the neighborhood and beyond.

Here's the rationale for voting down the application, as I understood it. We know that Discount Tire wants in on all the lucrative tire business in Laveen, but we don't like the location. We expect more for the space in front of LA Fitness and we figure that if we say no, the tire shop will go elsewhere. This move will not only push the tire shop away to a less desirable location, but it will also hold that C-1 spot for something we want more, like a restaurant (or coin-op laundry).

My rationale in voting to approve the rezoning application was simply that I saw little need to block it from a community standpoint and I have a relatively high regard for Discount Tire, as compared to some of the non-local chains out there (not that we could ensure that Discount Tire is the end user, but the developer would be foolish to mislead us). Plus, there's no restauranteur planning to build in this location, so why are we saving a spot? The same shopping center already has (yet another) fast food restaurant planned..... and Denny's, last I heard, has completely walked away from this intersection. Any nicer sit-down options that would build out a pad site would be smarter to either move into the center at 35th Avenue and Baseline or wait for one of the power centers adjacent to the Loop 202 to be built and go there. Meanwhile, we had the opportunity to bring another amenity to Laveen and get some dirt moving -- this time with a developer that has always responded well to community feedback. I thought this was a very practical move.

So now I wonder what other people think about this. Would you have done differently than you planning committee? Did you want to see the LVPC take a unified stand against this rezoning application? Please keep in mind that there is no legal way that we could have colluded before the meeting to do so, but a group of concerned residents could have spoken out during the public comment period and asked at the time that we consider it. I think we did ok, but I'm open to feedback and urge those who are concerned to get more involved in both the LVPC and the LCRD.

I'll even take it one step further. If you are disturbed by the fact that we have another tire shop being built at this intersection, I will go so far as to personally demand an explanation from the developer, Terrazona, as to why the Discount Tire wasn't placed on Terrazona's property at 35th and Southern. If they were to move the location, we would have two there and one at 51st/Baseline rather than the opposite. But seriously, would you rather get your tires changed and hit the gym while you wait, or would you prefer to browse Office Max? I'd rather be on a treadmill or across the street at Scooptacular.


kesham13 said...

I actually think this was a great decision and use of this land. In my opinion, any business that benefits the community and is willing to build in Laveen should be welcomed with open arms! We can't be picky, and as more businesses move here, that will spur more growth.

PTB said...

Thanks, that was sort of my thinking. More importantly, I just couldn't come up with a solid reason to say no.

mikeinlaveen said...

I think this was a great idea! i love discount tire and i think Laveen needs more places like this. whats wrong with growth?

mikeinlaveen said...

That was a great choice! now all we need is a car wash!

Unknown said...

I'm Johnny Come Lately here, But I the Discount Tire (Now Built) is a nice addition to the area and since then (The time of this blog) The restaurant that was hoped for has moved in across the street in the Old Sleep America Unit... I agree whole heartily that the Big restaurant chains will not build into such a small spot, they need large power centers with heavy foot traffic and additional draws like large box retailers to support them. Now with the impending finalization of the 202's placement, these longed for restaurants will soon be reality, among other great things for our community. I know a lot of people would like to see the mom and pops, but those typically don't come in until gentrification sets it... Laveen is really to new of a community to support a mom and pop, especially one that could afford costly build out that would have to adhere to strict association/development guidelines.