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Scottsdale Planning Commission Draws Criticism

By Edward Gately for The Arizona Republic

A growing area of criticism centers on the Scottsdale Planning Commission, an advisory board to the City Council on land use and zoning matters. Critics say its members, appointed by the council, are too cozy with the development community because most have close ties to the industry.

According to documents reviewed by The Scottsdale Republic, all commission members except Vice Chairman Ed Grant are involved in development, and many are involved in Scottsdale projects.

A commissioner who has a direct tie to a project that comes before the commission typically will abstain from a vote. That has not deflected critics, who say that the members are too close to a development community. Others, however, say the members’ experience is critical for a panel that is assessing proposed developments and making recommendations to the City Council, which has final say.

Sonnie Kirtley, chairwoman of the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale, a citizens and small-business owners advocacy group, said the council’s practice of appointing only “real estate or developer businessmen” has resulted in a high percentage of unanimous recommendations for approval and high number of conflict-of-interest declarations, she said.

Commission Chairman Michael D’Andrea calls criticism of the commission “unfortunate and inaccurate.”

Mayor Jim Lane said he hasn’t heard any complaints about the commission or its decisions.

Scottsdale Planning Commission Members

Michael D’Andrea

Chairman Michael D’Andrea is a development and construction project executive with Phoenix-based Alliance Residential, one of the nation’s largest private apartment owners. Also, president of Mirmor Development & Consulting Services.

Vice Chairman Ed Grant is senior economic development project manager for Salt River Project.

Commissioner Jay Petkunas is chief operating officer of the Wolff Co., a Scottsdale-based real-estate private equity firm that focuses on multifamily assets.

Commissioner Matthew Cody is owner/president of Scottsdale-based Cachet Homes.

Commissioner Michael Edwards is an architect with Tempe-based Davis architectural and design firm.

Commissioner David Brantner is co-owner of Fairway Homes in Scottsdale.

Commissioner Erik Filsinger is chief operating officer of Site Consultants Inc., a Tempe-based consulting civil engineering and land surveying firm.

Read more at AZCentral