Local Government and Community Outreach for Land Use Entitlements

The firm was retained by an international aerospace manufacturing firm to assist on a land use case associated with one of their facilities that produced ejection seats for military aircraft, along with other aerospace products. Accordingly, by the nature of the manufacturing and testing being conducted at the facility, the 155-acre site had several different buildings and bunkers that stored explosive materials that were used in the production of the ejection seats.

The facility had been in existence for more than 25 years and operated on an Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) lease that was due to expire in the then-near term. The facility was also operating under a non-conforming use permit, as prior to the property being annexed into the City of Phoenix, Maricopa County approved the facility in which little or no residential development was within the immediate vicinity of the facility. Over time, however, the facility experienced increased residential encroachment that did not exist during the original zoning proceedings in Maricopa County.

As the ASLD lease was in the process of expiring, a small, but very vocal group of residents initiated an aggressive campaign to close the facility by advocating for the lease to terminate without a renewal. Accordingly, in response to the residential opposition, the ASLD required the client to obtain the appropriate zoning in the City of Phoenix.

Upon being retained, the firm, working in conjunction with the existing team, led the efforts to identify and mobilize supportive residents, community leaders and employees of the site to offset the opposition at various meetings and public comment opportunities.

Working with the supportive stakeholders, the public affairs team launched a campaign that focused on the preservation of 100 acres of open space that was associated with the facility. Moreover, maintaining the aerospace manufacturing facility would preserve high-paying jobs. Lastly, significant attention was placed on the mission of preserving the lives of pilots by producing ejection seats for military aircraft.

At the Deer Valley Village Planning Committee, the first public meeting during the entitlement, the firm helped to generate more than 150 individuals to attend and show their support.  The large show of support caught opponents by surprise and essentially ended their standard theatrical presentations. In turn, the Deer Valley Village Planning Committee approved the zoning case, as requested by the entitlement team.

Subsequent to the Village Planning Committee, nearly 250 supporters attended the Phoenix Planning Commission, representing one of the largest displays of public support for a zoning case in recent memory. The Planning Commission approved the case.

In the end, the Phoenix City Council observed a packed Council Chambers with over 300 supporters in attendance wearing bright orange t-shirts that identified their support for the project.  Ultimately, the City Council approved the requested zoning for the facility.