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Developer walks back plan to request annexation to build hotel

Seek direct talks with residents
Posted at 7:27 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-05 01:24:43-04

UPDATE:
Tucson's City Council would have voted, Wednesday evening, to annex the area clearing the way to rezone it so the developer could begin planning it's own next step.

Keri Silvyn, an attorney for the developer spoke before the council making what some people called a surprise move in the annexation process.

"At this time we want some more time to work with the neighbors before beginning that one year annexation process which what was supposed to start this evening."

The process of annexing the area into the City of Tucson starts all over.

This gives the developer a chance to bring the neighbors into direct talks with them over the future of the site.

"We're actually quite surprised that they want to postpone the start of the annexation process," said Andrea Sullivan, a resident who lives near the church, "but I think it is a smart move because they weren't anticipating a public outcry from the neighborhood as we weren't notified of the process at all."

Sullivan said now that she and her neighbors have had a chance to organize their position on the issue, they look forward to talking to developers and coming to a compromise about what could be constructed on the site.

There is history on the agenda at Tucson City Council for Wednesday night----councilmembers are set to decide whether they'll pull land near St Phillips Episcopal Church into the city's jurisdiction.

That move could allow a four story hotel overlooking the church.

St. Phillips Church is a local landmark, designed by Josias Josler, architect for some of Tucson's most historic buildings.

The land just north of the church is vacant, but developers want to build a restaurant there and a hotel there.

Right now the land is in unincorporated Pima County. The land owners want Tucson to expand it's borders to bring the land into the city where zoning could allow a four story hotel instead of the two story limit Pima County requires.

People who live near the property worry about increased traffic, and spoiling the environment around the historic St. Phillips Church.

St. Phillip’s Rector Father Robert Hendrickson says, “The Murpheys who gave us this land and built this church, Josias Joesler, those were our first parishioners and they had a particular vision for where the church sat at the heart of a village but also in the middle of a ecologically and environmentally sustainable way of living and I think a four story hotel, my question becomes how does that fit into that founding vision."

The attorney for the developers says they are committed to a plan that will be compatible with the area and says a separate re-zoning process could still result in a hotel that is less than four stories tall.

The attorney also says using the land for a hotel would lead to less traffic impact than using the spot for office space that could concentrate traffic during rush hours.