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MESA, AZ-The city of Mesa has proposed changing its guidelines for commercial development that will make it much more expensive to build in the Phoenix suburb.

The city, which lies just east of Phoenix, is the third largest city in the state. The suggested changes in landscaping, setbacks and public spaces. The impact would be felt the hardest by developers of all commercial product types, including hotels, apartments and condominiums.

Some of the proposed changes call for the amount of curbside landscaping to double from 15 feet to 30 feet and landscaped islands in parking lots. The new codes also would encourage developers to include more pedestrian friendly elements and more public art in their projects.

The city began drafting the changes some months ago, intent on just looking to improve standards for big box retailers. As the thought process evolved, officials expanded the changes to include all commercial projects.

In the past, developers have had a significant amount of say in drafting of the development standards, but with this effort they have been mostly left out in the cold. They will have a chance for input when the proposal reaches the city council level. Developers are already expressing concern about just what changes are in store and when they will be implemented.

Over the next several months, the proposed changes will be subject to public hearings. Then, it’s off to Mesa City Council for final action. A number of cities in Arizona recently adopted changes in their development guidelines, most of which are aimed at limiting construction on big box retail projects.

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